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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 Cinema Prime 12mm T2.2 lens on Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC4K with Micro Four Thirds mount. Image courtesy of Meike.
Meike Cinema Prime 12mm T2.2 mounted on Panasonic DC-GH5 Micro Four Thirds camera. Image courtesy of Meike.
Meike Cinema Prime lenses with Fujifilm X-mount in 25mm, 35mm, 50mm and 65mm focal lengths. Image courtesy of meike_global instagram account.
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.
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.
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
Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R prime lens.
Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 Aspheric prime lens for Leica M-System cameras, for me the archetypal discrete 28mm documentary and photojournalism lens.
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.
Veydra Mini Prime 19mm cinema lens available in Sony E-Mount, Micro Four Thirds mount and Fujifilm X-Mount.
Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS collapsible standard zoom lens.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens, one of the most versatile top-quality professional zoom lenses made.
Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II Aspheric pancake prime lens, which appears to be missing in action from most if not all retailers now.
Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 Aspheric prime lens. Narrower than a 28mm-equivalent 14mm lens in Micro Four Thirds format, but at least it is generally available whereas Panasonic’s 14mm pancake lens seems to have vanished.
Sigma 19mm f/2.8 DN for Sony E-Mount APS-C and Micro Four Thirds. Sigma, please release this in a Fujifilm X-Mount version.
Zeiss Distagon T* 18mm f/4.0 ZM Leica-M-Mount lens. A solution for the well-heeled in combo with an M-Mount to X-Mount adapter?
Fujifilm M Mount Adapter. Will this work with the Zeiss Distagon T* 18mm f/4.0 ZM lens?
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Fujifilm 18mm f/2.0 XF R Lens – B&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.
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.
“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….”