What Is The “Hollywood 28” Vintage Prime Lens & Why Is It Still So Highly Sought After?

I have come across mention of the “Hollywood 28” cinema prime lens a few times lately in Fujifilm websites and online fora discussing what lenses need to be added to Fujifilm’s XF lens roadmap now that the company is taking video production more seriously, so I began investigating this legendary lens. 

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Zeiss Contax T* Distagon 28mm f/2.0 “Hollywood 28” prime lens with Contax/Yashica lens mount, based on the famous Zeiss cinema lens designed by Dr Erhard Glatzel, one of the 20th century’s greatest lens designers. The lens with its 9 elements in 8 groups is loved for its aesthetically pleasing imperfections. Clones based on its optics were also made for Nikon, Pentax and the Rollei SL35 system. Zeiss makes two versions of this lens, the Zeiss T* Distagon 28mm f/2.0 ZF and Zeiss T* Distagon 28mm f/2.0 ZE.
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Dr Erhard Glatzel of Zeiss, designer of the original Hollywood 28 as well as other significant breakthrough lenses for NASA and movie director Stanley Kubrick. Image courtesy of Zeiss.

Vintage manual focus lenses remain popular in video production and less so amongst stills photographers, with the available pool steadily drying up resulting in prices continuing to rise.

The most popular and common vintage manual lenses remain those made made for 35mm analog film cameras, though prime and zoom lenses made for medium format roll film cameras are no longer the relatively affordable sleeping giants they were a few years ago.

Bargains could still be found in flea markets throughout Europe until the COVID-19 pandemic, but eBay now seems to be destination number one for buyers and sellers, accompanied by an increase in asking prices.

Chinese lens companies continue to release more manual focus lenses in common focal lengths but are slowly turning their attention to less common focal lengths and quirkier lens designs, following the fine lead set by Venus Optics and its Laowa brand some years ago.

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Panagor PMC Auto 28mm f/2.8 M42-mount manual focus prime lens with Gobe adapter and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 with Pentacon Auto 50mm f/1.8 M42-mount manual focus prime lens attached via a Gobe M42 – M43 adapter.

It may only be a matter of time that the supply of great vintage lenses dries up or becomes affordable only for professional movie production, and Chinese lens makers may then be poised to became the new default for lens affordability, character and quirkiness.

Character and quirkiness have been proposed as key features of at least one consumer version of the Hollywood 28, the Zeiss Contax Zeiss T* Distagon 28mm f/2.0 with Contax/Yashica mount that was made in Germany with the designation of AEG.

Later versions of this lens were made in Japan with the designation MMJ, reportedly without the same 6-blade iris that resulted in “ninja star” bokeh at f/2.8 and with the smallest f-stop painted white instead of green.

Views of the desirability of this ninja-star feature, or bug, are mixed and online fora such as FM Forums are good places to read the pros and cons.

My interest in this lens

Accounts by users of the Zeiss Contax and the Pentax Hollywood 28 lenses suggest that their character and quirks such as ninja star bokeh can be beneficial in narrative-style documentary video and photographic portraiture.

Event documentary photography and video relies more on plenty of well-depicted detail right across the frame, foreground to background, left to right, which is why I swapped 35mm cameras for Micro Four Thirds as well as APS-C/Super 35.

For me, the documentary photography sweet spot is in the latter two sensor formats with non-quirky lenses though I would love to make portraits in digital medium format had I the means right now.

Given that, the alternative is to enlarge images made with smaller formats with Topaz Labs’ Gigapixel AI for print and exhibition work and hope it is effective enough.

Wikipedia’s ‘Normal lens‘ page defines one as “a lens that reproduces a field of view that appears ‘natural’ to a human observer. In contrast, depth compression and expansion with shorter or longer focal lengths introduces noticeable, and sometimes disturbing, distortion.”

Wikipedia later states that “for a 35mm camera with a diagonal of 43mm, the most commonly used normal lens is 50mm, but focal lengths between about 40 and 58mm are also considered normal.

Due to the decades-long standardization of 50mm as normal for 35mm, I prefer to refer to it as “standard normal”.

Perfect normal in documentary photography

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Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 pancake prime lens, equivalent to 40.5mm focal length in the 35mm sensor format.

Given a choice between the two normals, I always choose perfect over standard as 50mm and its equivalents feel just a little too like a short telephoto for my up-close and personal approach to documentary photography and portraiture.

I currently have two perfect normal near-40mm equivalent lenses, Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 and an adapted vintage manual-focus Panagor PMC Auto 28mm f/2.8 M42-mount lens and each has its pros and cons.

I approach documentary and portrait photography partly as exercises in helping viewers feel as if they are standing in the same place as I was, seeing an feeling the same things, and I choose lenses on that basis.

“Perfect normal” lenses work well when I can choose my subject-to-camera distance and am not constrained by dense crowds.

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SquareHood for Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 prime lens. Image courtesy of SquareHood.

Dense crowds are when I choose a 28mm-equivalent medium wide-angle as my standard, though I have been known to pick a 21mm-equivalent lens when I need my viewers to feel as if they are right in the middle of a mass of people.

I am really looking forward to Fujifilm releasing its coming Fujilux-style Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 lens sometime early in 2021, making my new core set of documentary focal lengths 14mm, 18mm, 27mm and 50mm in APs-C/Super 35, or 21mm, 28mm, 40mm and 75mm in 35mm sensor format aka “full frame” or “full format”.

On terminology

I do not use either “full frame” or “full format”, though, as they are the product of marketing men and not fact-based, and instead will refer to 35mm from here on in.

The same applies to the equally silly marketing-man term of “crop sensor” – if we are talking about sensors smaller than 35mm such as APS-C or Micro Four Thirds then let’s call them by those names.

The Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 pancake lens for documentary photography

Patrick DiVino’s excellent Fuji Rumors website tells us that Fujifilm will be releasing an updated version of the Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 alongside the Fujifilm X-E4 rangefinder-style camera sometime in the first half of 2021.

It remains to be seen what the new 27mm lens will look like, but it is likely that it will be similar to the current version but with the addition of an aperture ring.

I acquired a copy of the current 27mm f/2.8 lens over a year ago and have used it to document events and make portrait photographs most often in conjunction with other Fujinon lenses as well as using it as the only lens on my camera when appropriate.

The following events were shot entirely on the 27mm lens:

Although I have yet to purchase one for myself, I recommend the SquareHood lens hood for the Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 in order to provide physical protection and to reduce lens flare and halation when pointing toward light sources.

At present I am using a couple of other brands of screw-in 39mm diameter lens hoods but a SquareHood is well overdue for my XF 27mm f/2.8 given I am now carrying it every day.

I have yet to use the XF 27mm f/2.8 for video due to:

  • 39mm filter diameter – I have standardized on 82mm diameter fixed and variable neutral density and other filters for video, and stacking step-up rings from 39mm to 82mm risks damaging the lens due to their weight.
  • Lack of clicking/declicked aperture ring – Apertures on the current 27mm lens must be set via command dial but a built-in aperture ring is optimal for “riding” exposure while shooting, especially in available light and darkness.
  • Narrow fly-by-wire focusing ring – Although I have used the current 27mm lens’ focusing ring for critical manual focus when making portraits with the aperture almost wide open, pulling focus is difficult and using focus pulling devices is impossible.
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Comparing the optical design and MTF curves of the Zeiss Distagon ZF 28mm f/2.0 ZF.2 with the Contax Distagon 28mm f/2.0.

The Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 lens’ 40.5mm equivalent focal length is near as damn it to the “perfect normal” 40mm focal length that should have been adopted by Oskar Barnack of Leitz when he developed the Ur-Leica, the very first Leica 35mm film camera.

Instead he picked up a 50mm that was already lying around in his workshop and so 50mm “standard normal” lenses became the accidental defacto prime lenses supplied with most new 35mm cameras.

Leica finally produced a 40mm lens for the Leica CL, Leitz Minolta CL and later Minolta CLE compact analog film rangefinder cameras, the former often described as “the most Leica-ish of Leica cameras” and the latter as “the best rangefinder camera Leica never made”.

Special 28mm and 90mm lenses were also made for the CL and CLE which could also use most other M-Series lenses, and vice versa.

An excellent companion focal length: the Minolta Rokkor-M 40mm f/2.0 for Leica CL, Leitz Minolta CL & Minolta CLE

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Nikon Nikkor-N.C Auto 28mm f/2.0 F-mount prime lens with 9 elements in 8 groups with 1 floating element.

Leica Summicron-C 40mm f/2.0 and Minolta Rokkor-M 40mm f/2.0 lenses remain in demand in the online secondhand market and I would love one for myself for adapting to a range of mirrorless lenses.

No version of the lens or its intended cameras, Leica CL, Leitz Minolta CL or Minolta CLE, were available locally where I was living when relying on Leica rangefinder cameras for my professional work, but had I known about them I most likely would have added a Minolta CLE plus its 28mm, 40mm and 90mm three-lens set to my kit for discrete documentary photography.

The 40mm focal length seems to have been mostly forgotten about by manufacturers these days but Cosina makes a number of different 40mm lenses in several different lens mounts under the Voigtländer brand name while Sigma recently released its Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM | Art prime for several mounts alongside the Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM | Art prime for the same lens mounts.

The contrast in size between Cosina, Leica and Minolta’s 28mm and 40mm lenses compared to Sigma’s could not be bigger, attributable in part to Sigma’s two lenses being autofocusing DSLR-style designs rather than native mirrorless lenses.

There is something about the matching up and the spacing in focal lengths of the three lens set that Leica then Minolta specially made for the CL then CLE that really speaks to me for documentary photography especially for documentary video.

With that trio of 28, 40 and 90mm in 35mm, or 18, 28 and 60mm in APS-C/Super 35, I feel as if I could tackle damned near anything well, though I would always have a 21mm in 35mm, that is, a 14mm in APS-C/Super 35, handy for those special shots that get close and personal and try to say it all.

The Panagor PMC Auto 28mm f/2.8 M42-mount manual focus lens for documentary photography

So for me, the perfect normal of 28mm (or 40mm) is the pivot of a perfect set of prime lenses for documentary work.

I bought M42-to-X adapter from Gobe, now renamed Urth, for my Panagor PMC Auto 28mm f/2.8 last year for use in portraiture and documentary stills on my X-Pro2 and a loaner Fujifilm X-H2.

The images above, which are not multiple exposures, are colour versions from the project below, shot with the 28mm and a 50mm plus a Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR.

Can you pick which ones were made with the 28mm lens?

Due to being staged inside and outside the ground floor of a shaded inner city office building, this protest gave me the opportunity to explore multiple layers of reflections of people and scenes both sides of the glass.

I found it easy to rapidly flip through all the possible planes of focus with the Panagor 28 than I have when making the same sort of photographs with autofocus lenses, though it is a little faster and easier with manual clutch focus-equipped lenses than with fly-by-wire only lenses.

I use both lenses for portraiture in narrow-beam, minimal lighting and find it easier to nail perfect focus on, say, just one eye manually than with autofocus lenses.

Other versions of the “Hollywood 28”

All these lenses reportedly have the classic “9 elements in 8 groups with one floating element for close focusing” of Dr Glatzel’s original design in common.

Only one of them is currently in production, the high-priced Zeiss CP.3 XD 28mm T2.1, and the others can only be purchased secondhand with prices for all of them constantly rising due to demand from moviemakers of all backgrounds.

It is becoming even harder to assemble full sets of matched vintage manual-focus primes nowadays, so you may need to look towards the growing band of Chinese, Korean and Japanese lens makers.

Some possible alternatives to the “Hollywood 28” for Super 35/APS-C or 35mm aka “full frame” sensors

Although I have yet to discover the complete optical design, glass and coating recipe that led to the qualities for which the “Hollywood 28” is sp beloved, surely a large part of its success is in its optical formula of 9 elements in 8 groups plus 1 floating element.

None of the lenses above share that formula.

Samples by Paul Leeming from his Contax T* 28mm f/2.0 “Hollywood 28” prime lens with Contax/Yashica lens mount

Screen grabs reduced down to 1920 pixels wide from 4K originals. 

Mr Leeming uses this doll’s head to make the footage used to create his celebrated Leeming LUT Pro LUTs due to its accurate skin colour and skin-like translucence.

He tells me that the Contax 28mm f/.20 “does have a very movie-like rendering quality to it, probably more so because it’s wide angle for a movie lens and it has that famed Zeiss 3D ‘pop’ (it’s why I bought most of the fast Contax Zeiss primes).”

“ECU1 is the nicest example I guess, showing how 3D the image is, plus the cool ‘ninja star’ bokeh at f2.8 of the older AE version of the lens (as opposed to the MM version which ditched the ninja stars).”

“ECU1” is the first image in the gallery above, and he is referring to AEG version of the lens that was made in Germany and the MMJ version that was later made in Japan.

I strongly recommend looking into Paul’s Leeming LUT Pro look-up table sets for your cameras so long as you adopt the ETTR – expose to the right – exposure method.

Paul Leeming’s rig used to shoot the Contax T* 28mm f/2.0 “Hollywood 28” samples above

Screen grabs reduced down to 1920 pixels wide from 4K originals. 

Paul adapts his set of Zeiss Contax fast primes to a range of cameras, sensor sizes and lens mounts, and has directed and photographed a number of feature films and event videos with them over the years, ample testimony to  their suitability as hardy professional-quality optics.

Links: articles & reviews

Links: purchasing

  • B&HZEISS CP.3 XD 28mm T2.1 Compact Prime Lens – cinema prime reportedly made with the same optical design as the “Hollywood 28”.
  • Camera WarehouseZeiss Distagon T* 28mm f2.0 ZF.2 Nikon Mount Lens – although Zeiss has sadly discontinued its legendary ZF.2 and ZE.2 prime lenses, rare examples may still be in stock at retailers around the world, such as this one in Sydney.
  • KamLan28mm F/1.4 Manual Lens
  • Leeming LUT Pro – “Leeming LUT Pro™ is the world’s first unified, corrective Look Up Table ( LUT ) system for supported cameras, designed to maximise dynamic range, fix skin tones, remove unwanted colour casts and provide an accurate Rec709 starting point for further creative colour grading.”
  • SquareHoodSquareHood for XF 27mm f/2.8
  • Urth, formerly Gobe – eco-friendly Byron Bay-based makers of lens adapters and camera filters.

DZOFilm Adds Vespid PL-Mount Cinema Prime Lenses to its Affordable Pictor Parfocal Cinema Zoom Lens Range, Plus Octopus PL to E, L, RF and X-Mount Adapters

DZOFilm, a second Chinese-made lens brand has thrown its hat into the affordable cinema prime lens ring alongside Meike, now adding a seven-strong set of Vespid 35mm sensor aka “full frame” interchangeable PL-mount cinema prime lenses to its current lineup of Pictor Super 35 and Micro Four Thirds EF and PL mount cinema zoom lenses. 

The company has also just announced a series of Octopus adapters for PL-mount lenses, converting them for use on cameras with E, L, RF and X-mounts. 

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DZOFilm Vespid 25mm T2.1 35mm sensor aka “full frame” cinema prime lens with interchangeable PL mount. Image courtesy of DZOFilm.

Some time ago I had noticed the appearance of two Micro Four Thirds mount cinema zoom lenses by an until-then unbeknownst to me Chinese lens company named DZOFilm, but it is only recently that I have seen enough behind-the-scenes photographs of cinematographers using these and other, newer, DZOFilm lenses to note they are being taken seriously in the movie production world.

As DZOFilm lenses gain traction and users, no doubt we will see more examples of what can be done with them but for the time being most descriptions imply that they are “character” lenses with a vintage look suitable for some though not all projects so best to make your buying decisions on that basis.

For the price, though, they seem remarkably good.

DZOFilm adapters, cinema prime and cinema zoom lenses

Links

Philip Bloom: Can you TRUST the FUJI X-T4 video AUTOFOCUS? – Commentary

“This isn’t a review of the excellent Fujifilm X-T4 but a detailed look at whether the improved autofocus abilities over the X-T3 get close to the superb AF of the Sony and Canon mirrorless cameras.”

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Fujifilm X-T4 with Fujifilm VG-XT4 Vertical Battery grip and Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens. The battery grip is essential if you need a headphone port for monitoring audio while shooting. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

Commentary

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The “best camera ever made” according to Philip Bloom. ALPA XO Exoskeleton aka cage for Fujifilm GFX 100 medium format camera with ALPA Switar 140mm cinema prime lens. Image courtesy of ALPA.

I came across this video by Philip Bloom while researching recently-released Super 35 video-capable cameras.

Autofocus capabilities of current affordable Super 35 hybrid cameras are a constant subject of discussion online, with different manufacturers achieving various degrees of success with it.

Theoretically all makers of such cameras should be able to achieve near-parity in autofocusing given time and R&D dollars, but there is a question of when and whether all current makers will stay in business until they do.

Having grown up as a photographer and videographer during the analog era before autofocusing cameras and lenses even existed, I have always seen autofocus as something of a luxury and fall back on manual focus and back-button focusing anyway.

Philip Bloom has an obsession with autofocus in video and speaks about it well and in detail.

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More substantial grip and better hardware design. Fujifilm X-H1 with VPB-XH1 battery grip and Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR professional zoom lens. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

Meanwhile I believe it is a good idea to keep an eye on developments in affordable manual-focus Super 35 prime and zoom lenses that are native to Fujifilm X-mount or that can be adapted.

Keep an eye also on the coming Fujifilm X-H2 professional hybrid camera, successor to the under-rated X-H1, though its arrival may be some time off.

I found the X-H1 much easier to use handheld all day long than the X-T3 and its more hand-friendly design ranks alongside the X-Pro2 for ease of use and of carrying.

As for autofocus on Fujifilm cameras, perhaps the X-H2 may see it come to fruition and match if not beat that in Sony and Canon’s mirrorless cameras, along with new and redesigned Fujinon prime and zoom lenses made for video as much as stills photography.

We can only live in hope.

A “phenomenal” manual focus lens and adapter combo for Fujifilm video

Links

Meike Global: Meike 35mm T2.1 Super 35 Cinema Lens – Commentary

https://meikeglobal.com/products/meike-35mm-t2-1-super-35-frame-cine-lens

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Meike 35mm T2.1 Super 35 Cinema Prime with EF or PL mount, on Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K. Image courtesy of Meike.

Commentary

Panasonic’s recent announcement of the amazing Lumix DC-S5 had me wondering where Meike and other makers of manual focus cinema prime lenses might be in their offerings for Super 35 hybrid and cinema cameras.

I was pleased to see that Meike, currently offering an attractive range of cinema primes for Micro Four Thirds cameras, has just announced the first of its range of cinema primes for Super 35 cameras with EF and PL mounts.

Investing in Meike lenses with Canon EF mounts gives owners of non-EF cameras the most options when adapting to L-mount cameras such as Panasonic’s 35mm sensor-equipped S-Series Lumix S5, S1H and S1, Micro Four Thirds cameras like the Lumix GH5 and GH5S, Blackmagic Design’s cinema cameras and Fujifilm’s X-mount and G-mount Super 35/APS-C and medium format cameras.

A good first cab off the rank

Meike’s 35mm T2.1 Super 35 prime is a good choice of first cab off the rank given its equivalence to 52.5mm in the 35mm sensor format, with 50mm and equivalent focal length lenses often being first choice when investing in new lens systems.

I look forward to seeing more examples of stills and video shot with this lens, given I currently don’t have a cinema lens at this focal length and that Meike is offering a decent prerelease discount right now.

I would choose the EF-mount version and then adapt it for L-mount, Micro Four Thirds mount, Fujifilm X-mount and G-mount hybrid cameras.

Meike states that its coming “Super35-Prime Cine Lens Series with industry-standard 0.8mm pitch gears on the focus and aperture ring” includes “18mmT2.1, 25mmT2.1, 35mmT2.1, 50mmT2.1, 75mmT2.1, 105mmT2.1” focal lengths.

I would love it if Meike added 14mm, 21mm and 40mm lenses as they are three of my favourite Super 35 video and stills focal lengths.

Meike 35mm T2.1 Super 35 Cinema Lens

Images courtesy of Meike.

Links

Meike Hints at ‘Full Frame’ aka 35mm and Super 35 Cinema Lenses Coming Soon

While researching for my previous article on the ever-growing Meike Cinema Primes collection of manual ciné lenses for Micro Four Thirds, Sony E and Fujifilm X mount cameras, some images of other possible upcoming new lenses caught my eye. 

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Meike 35mm T2.1 Super 35 cinema prime lens mounted on Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K aka BMPCC 6K. Sign of things to come? Image courtesy of Meike Global.
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Meike cinema prime lenses marked “6K” in 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 65mm and 85mm focal lengths. Mockups or coming new releases? Image courtesy of Meike Global.
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Meike 50mm T2.1 “Full Frame” cinema prime lens for 35mm sensor cameras and presumably for Super 35 cameras too, as well as smaller sensor cameras via adapters. Image courtesy of Meike Global.
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Meike poster image for Meike 50mm f/1.2 “Full Frame” lens for Nikon Z-mount camera with 35mm sensor. What other mounts might this lens be coming in? Image courtesy of Meike Global.
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Meike T2.2 Series 6x Cine lens Kit for MFT + Cine Lens Case, containing Meike cinema prime lenses for Micro Four Thirds cameras. Looks like a great option for users of Micro Four Thirds cinema and video cameras including Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K and Panasonic’s M43 cameras. Will Meike be making kits like this available for its possible coming Super 35 and “full frame” cinema prime lenses? Image courtesy of Meike Global.

Given the praise that Blackmagic Design’s 6K raw-capable  Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K aka BMPCC 6K is receiving, it appears to be a more attractive alternative to the smaller sensor-equipped BMPCC 4K provided it is used with so-called “full frame” or 35mm sensor lenses, or lenses designed for motion picture industry standard Super 35 cameras.

I will be intrigued to see what focal lengths Meike will be releasing in these formats, how good they are and how affordably they may be priced.

Links

Meike Cinema Prime Lenses for Micro Four Thirds & Super 35 Fill the Chasm Left by the Demise of Veydra Mini Primes

The sudden closure of Ryan Avery’s Veydra cinema prime lens design and manufacturing enterprise several years ago created a huge gap in the affordable ciné lens market and many self-funded independent moviemakers were dismayed if not devastated by the ending of the line. 

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Meike Cinema Prime Set in 12mm, 16mm, 25mm, 35mm and 50mm T2.2 lenses with Micro Four Thirds mounts. Meike Cinema Primes in 65mm and 85mm focal lengths are coming later this year, 2020. Image courtesy of Duclos Lenses.

Luckily, HongKong Meike Digital Technology Co., Ltd has ramped up its lens division to the point where the company appears to be rivalling if not outstripping Mr Avery’s noble efforts.

Veydra, thwarted

Duclos Lenses came up with a Fujifilm X-Mount option for Veydra’s Mini Primes that can cover the APS-C format. Image courtesy of Veydra LLC.

I had been planning on obtaining my own set of Veydra Mini Prime lenses for native use in documentary production on Panasonic and Blackmagic Design cameras, spurred on by Duclos Lens’ creation of its interchangeable mount to enable using a subset of the Veydra lenses on Fujifilm X-mount Super 35mm/APS-C cameras.

Two things dampened my enthusiasm, however.

First was the sheer cost of a complete set of Veydra lenses in M43 mount along with the Duclos X-mount kits needed when adapting them for Fujifilm X-mount cameras.

Compare the cost of the Meike primes with the now discontinued Veydra primes by looking at the Duclos Lens product pages for proof of the radical price differences between lens lines.

Compare the Meike lenses’ USD400.00 average price and reported superior quality to the Veydra lenses’ USD1200.00 average price and the conclusion is clear – consider investing in a set of Meike cinema primes.

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Meike 4 Lens Cinema Prime Set 12mm, 16mm, 25mm, 35mm T2.2 for Micro4/3 MFT at Revar Cine website. Image courtesy of Revar Cine.

The current price of the four-lens set for Micro Four Thirds as above at Ryan Avery’s Revar Cine website is USD1595.00, about one Meike lens above the cost of just one Veydra lens.

At time of writing, seven focal lengths are available as Meike Cinema Primes in M43 mount :

  • 12mm = 24mm in the 35mm sensor format
  • 16mm = 32mm
  • 25mm = 50mm
  • 35mm = 70mm
  • 50mm = 100mm
  • 65mm = 130mm
  • 85mm = 170mm

A subset of the Meike Cinema Primes is available for Super 35/APS-C cameras in Sony E-mount and Fujifilm X-mount:

  • 25mm = 37.5mm in the APS-C/Super35 sensor format
  • 35mm = 52.5mm
  • 50mm = 75mm
  • 65mm = 97.5mm
  • 85mm = 127.5mm
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Meike 65mm and 85mm T2.2 Cinema Primes, listed by Meike as coming later in 2020. Image courtesy of Meike.

Whether for  M43 or Super 35 cameras, the Meike Cinema Primes provide a well-spaced and feature-matched set of focal lengths that should meet most cinematographers’ daily needs.

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The Voigtlaender Nokton f/0.95 Micro Four Thirds lens set, minus the matching and more recently released Voigtlaender Nokton 60mm f/0.95 M43 lens. Left to right: 10.5mm, 17.5mm, 25mm and 42.5mm focal lengths. Duclos Lenses offers ciné-modded versions of these stills lenses, making them more suitable for video production. Meike needs to offer a wider lens than its current 12mm.

I would very much like to see Meike release a super wide angle in the 10mm to 10.5mm range, and an 18mm moderate wide angle lens with coverage enough for M43 and Super 35.

I have written before about the need for a professional-quality 18mm lens for stills photography with Fujifilm X-mount cameras, as an alternative to Fujifilm’s quirky and semi-pancake Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R.

Meike’s current cinema prime lens offering for Super 35 goes no wider than 25mm and a complete lens set needs, nay, demands, a medium wide and an ultra wide lens in the equivalent of 28mm and 21mm.

That is, an 18mm and a 14mm.

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Veydra 50mm and 25mm Mini Prime Cinema manual focus lenses with imperial or metric markings, made by Veydra LLC.

Ryan Avery had been pursuing an 8.5mm ultra wide-angle Veydra M43 lens design but eventually ruled it out due to cost and size considerations.

And then disaster struck with a break-in at the company’s lens storage facility, followed by a court case with Mr Avery’s Veydra business partner.

Matthew Duclos of Duclos Lenses recently shared all he knows about Veydra’s demise at his personal blog.

Meike Cinema Lenses with Ryan Avery

Meanwhile, Ryan Avery is retailing Meike Cinema Primes at his Revar Cine website.

“Meike Cinema Prime lenses are designed specifically for mirrorless cameras. Available for MFT, Sony E, and Fuji X Mount cameras from Micro4/3 to APS-C size sensors. Compact, lightweight and perfect for a true cinematography experience on most mirrorless cameras.”

Meike Cinema Primes on Fujifilm and Panasonic hybrid and Blackmagic Design cinema cameras

Meike’s cinema lens lineup for Micro Four Thirds, Sony E-mount and Fujifilm X-mount are welcome indeed given their affordability and the absence of OEM cinema prime lenses by brands such as Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony.

After the end of Veydra, I was contemplating the direction to take with video-capable prime lenses for Super 35/APS-C and Super 16/M43.

I grew up relying on prime lenses for filmmaking and still feel most comfortable with cinema primes for video production over the reportedly excellent zoom lenses in several lens mounts made by Fujifilm in its Fujinon MK pairing for X-mount, E-mount and M43.

With Olympus’ recent announcement that it had sold its camera and lens division, and the possible outcome of its excellent M.Zuiko Pro zoom and prime lenses going the way of Veydra, I have been wondering if my beloved Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro should plan on welcoming some M.Zuiko Pro siblings if there was a sudden sell-off of the lineup.

But the M.Zuiko Pro lineup does not answer the need for X-mount cinema lenses whereas Meike appears to be on the right track not only with its current Meike Cinema Prime offerings and possible additional focal lengths but also its coming so-called “full frame” aka 35mm sensor format cinema prime lenses.

More power to Meike’s arm, though I do hope the company will see fit to loaning cinema primes to a range of well-qualified stills photography and video production reviewers so we can get the full measure of these exciting new lenses.

Now to find out if there is a way of converting their M43 mounts to Fujifilm X-mounts when needed.

Links

Fuji X Forum: Complete Overview over the available and upcoming Fuji X-Mount lenses – Commentary

https://www.fuji-x-forum.com/topic/998-complete-overview-over-the-available-and-upcoming-fuji-x-mount-lenses/?page=1

“Posted September 1, 2015 (edited)
Fujinon (Native Lenses) (29 in total)

Fujinon lens designation translation: R: aperture ring – – LM: linear motor – – OIS: optical image stabilization – – WR: weather resistant – – APD: apodization filter – – – – Super EBC: electron beam coating, also called electron beam physical vapor deposition…”

fujinon_xf_8-16mm_f2.8_02_1024px_80pc
Fujifilm Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR wideangle zoom lens on Fujifilm X-H1 with VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip. I use  the Complete Overview over the available and upcoming Fuji X-Mount lenses at Fuji X Forum for information about Fujifilm’s Fujinon and third party lenses for Fujifilm cameras.

Commentary

Three of the most useful free Web-based online tools that I often use here at ‘Untitled’ are Camera Size’s Compact Camera Meter, Points in Focus’ Depth of Field (DoF), Angle of View, and Equivalent Lens Calculator, and the Complete Overview over the available and upcoming Fuji X-Mount lenses at Fuji X Forum, compiled and updated by quincy.

Quincy’s Fujifilm X-Mount OEM and third-party brand lenses lists are kept up to date and are drawn upon by Patrick at Fuji Rumors for articles, and I go there when I need to research current and coming X-Mount lenses for my articles.

I have been struck by how the number of third-party X-Mount lenses keeps increasing, with most of them being manual focus lenses often designed and manufactured by Chinese companies, but so far my biggest ongoing disappointment with the Fujifilm X-Mount system remains unassuaged by Fujifilm itself as well as by third-parties making native or adapted X-Mount lenses.

Other than Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R semi-pancake prime lens, nobody but nobody is making a prime lens that is equivalent to 28mm in the 35mm sensor format.

This searing blindspot is not just a Fujifilm X-Mount APS-C problem; it applies to the Micro Four Thirds sensor format as well wherein Olympus does not make a 14mm lens at all and Panasonic’s Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II pancake lens appears to have gone missing in action from many retailers.

The 35mm sensor format’s 28mm focal length and its APS-C and M43 equivalents of 18mm and 14mm respectively has been a staple of the documentary, photojournalism and street photography genres for years now including those when I relied on them on Canon, Leica and Nikon rangefinders and SLRs, but it seems that contemporary lens makers just do not give a damn.

Yes, one may wish to slap a 14mm, 18mm or 28mm inclusive zoom lens on to one’s camera as I do with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 and the excellent Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro or the usually underestimated Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS collapsible zoom lens, but using those focal lengths on a zoom and as a prime lens are two very different things.

Especially if the said prime lens allows easy setting of hyperfocal distance via manual focus or manual clutch focus mechanisms like those in some Fujinon prime lenses and Olympus’ excellent M.Zuiko Pro primes and zooms.

Today I found myself back at Fuji X Forum’s Complete Overview over the available and upcoming Fuji X-Mount lenses to see if any Chinese third party lens makers have added a 28mm equivalent to their current or future ranks lately but sadly it remains no go.

There are some close but no cigar choices for non-Fujifilm cameras, such as Panasonic’s Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 Aspheric prime lens, but for now I will stick with my two M43 zoom lenses rather than fork out for yet another no-cigar substitute.

What I am really after is a decent 18mm prime lens for my Fujifilm X-Pro2 for use as my number one documentary lens.

Given the premium price Fujifilm charges for its elderly Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R, no way am I going to throw good cash down that particular black hole.

Getting back to close but no cigar, independent cinema lens company Veydra lists a 19mm Mini Prime cinema lens amongst its options, and it is available with a Duclos-designed Fujifilm X-Mount that can be DIY-attached onto an M43 version of the lens.

Sigma released a 19mm f/2.8 Art lens in the M43 and Sony E mounts some years ago, but the company has never shown signs of coming out with a Fujifilm X-Mount version.

The Sigma lens is affordable but the Veydra costs over twice the price of Fujifilm’s 18mm.

Veydra’s is an excellent geared cinema lens but its greater size and wide front diameter compared to the Fujifilm and the Sigma makes it a poor choice on my X-Pro2 given I rely on the camera’s excellent optical viewfinder for documentary photography and oftentimes video too.

This ongoing dilemma would not be one if Fujifilm simply went along with their customers’ longstanding request for an updated 18mm lens but I often find myself wondering if the company even cares for its documentary, street photography and photojournalist customers.

Two X-Pro2 cameras equipped with an 18mm lens on one and a 50mm lens on the other is, in my experience, the closest one can get to a perfect two-camera, two-lens documentary photography and photojournalism set-up.

Why provide half of the equation, Fujifilm, when you could so easily give us both even if each lens might be Fujicron-style f/2.0 compacts instead of the maximum versatility of f/1.4 manual clutch focussing alternatives?

The problem of Fujifilm’s ageing, substandard Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R lens

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leica_q_(typ_116)_01_1024px_80pc
Leica Q (Typ 116) digital camera with fixed Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 Aspheric lens. This or the Fujifilm X100F with wide-angle convertor lens may be another solution to the lack of a decent 18mm lens for Fujifilm cameras.

Clicking on these affiliate links and purchasing through them helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • Fujifilm 18mm f/2.0 XF R LensB&H – The least impressive Fujinon X-Mount lens in Fujifilm’s collection and one that badly needs to be replaced with a new Fujicron-style lens or better yet a wide aperture manual clutch focussing alternative for professional photography and video work.
  • Fujifilm M Mount Adapter for X-Mount CameraB&H
  • Leica CL Mirrorless Digital Camera with 18mm Lens (Black)B&H – This APS-C rangefinder-style camera with interchangeable 28mm equivalent lens is another possible solution to the ongoing problem of Fujifilm’s substandard Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R lens.
  • Leica Q (Typ 116) Digital CameraB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH. LensB&H
  • Sigma 19mm f/2.8 DN Lens for Micro Four Thirds CamerasB&H – Sigma, please make a Fujifilm X-Mount version of this lens.
  • Sigma 19mm f/2.8 DN Lens for Sony E-mount CamerasB&H – Sigma, please make a Fujifilm X-Mount version of this lens.
  • Veydra 19mm T2.6 Mini Prime Lens (MFT, Meters)B&H
  • ZEISS Distagon T* 18mm f/4 ZM Lens (Silver)B&H

Lensrentals: Veydra Cine Mini Prime MTF Optical Bench Tests

https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2018/03/veydra-cine-mini-prime-mtf-optical-bench-tests/

“I have my preconceived notions, just like anyone else. A long while back the video techs told me we were stocking Veydra Primes in multiple focal lengths for m4/3 mounts. I just rolled my eyes and passed on by. Another boutique lens that would have poor resolution, ridiculous copy-to-copy variation, and a shelf-life-until-broken measured in weeks. Not interested.

But I noticed we were stocking more and more of them because they rented well; and added them in E-mount, too. I also saw they rarely came to repair. Then I did a little checking and found that our techs, who can check out any gear they want for their weekend shoots (it is an excellent perk, isn’t it?) were taking Veydras home pretty often. So I figured it was time to test them….”

veydra_7_lenses_composite_new_1920px_60.jpg
Veydra Mini Prime colour-matched, geared manual-focus cinema prime lenses, from left, 12mm T2.2, 16mm T2.2, 19mm T2.2, 25mm T2.2, 35mm T2.2, 50mm T2.2 and 85mm T2.2 for Micro Four Thirds and APS-C sensor cameras. Just one thing prevents me from investing in a kit of these, the lack of anything wider than 12mm which is a focal length I rarely use instead preferring 10.5mm aka 21mm in 35mm sensor equivalent or wider.

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Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on these affiliate links and purchasing through them helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • Veydra Mini Prime ciné lensesB&H