Chinese lens, lights and accessories maker Viltrox appears to have successfully reverse-engineered Fujifilm’s lens-to-camera communications protocol and recently released its first X-Mount autofocus prime lens for Fujifilm X cameras, the Viltrox PFU RBMH 85MM F1.8 STM telephoto.
According to reports from Fuji Rumors, the next three Viltrox X-mount cabs off the rank, as it were, will be 23mm f/1.4, 33mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.4 autofocus prime lenses and I am hoping for more after that.
I am also hoping that Viltrox will come up with other focal lengths useful in documentary cinematography and photography, such as those equivalent to 21mm, 28mm, 75mm and 105mm in the 35mm sensor format.
Fujifilm does not appear to be in any hurry to update its ageing and quirky Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 prime lens, equivalent to the documentary-essential 28mm focal length, and there is no sign on the Fujifilm X-mount lens roadmap of the documentary and portrait-essential focal length of 70mm, that is, 105mm in the 35mm sensor format.
Early reviews of the Viltrox PFU RBMH 85MM F1.8 STM prime lens note that it may not be as sharp or have as much micro-contrast and resolution as Fujifilm’s own X-mount lenses, but given Viltrox’s much lower prices and the fact that many cinematographers do not need nor want maximum sharpness in their lenses, a matched set of Viltrox prime lenses may be very attractive for some.
Why else would Canon’s also optically-quirky and poorly-manufactured Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM kit zoom lens have proven to be popular amongst cinematographers whether adapted or not, despite better-designed and better-made alternatives such as Sigma’s 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art lens for Canon EF or two other Canon alternatives such as the Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens and the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM kit zoom?
I happily used the 24-105mm f/4L IS USM kit zoom that came with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II for some applications in cinematography and photography until it fell apart just after its warranty expired, and hope to be using this lens again soon, when it is finally repaired, this time mated to my Fujifilm cameras via an EF-to-X adapter.
Cinematographer/director Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT Pro dropped by yesterday and very kindly gave us two vintage M42-mount manual-focus prime lenses, a Panagor MC 28mm f/2.8 and a Pentacon 50mm f/1.8.
Both lenses are in excellent condition and are a reminder of how useful such lenses are for shooting video with recent and current generations of hybrid cameras equipped with focus peaking.
This morning I googled adapters for these lenses and an Australian camera accessories company came up in the search results – Gobe Corp Pty Ltd, headquartered in Byron Bay.
I don’t know anything about Gobe’s products other than what is published in their website so cannot make any recommendations right now, but am pleased to note that they state that they plant five trees for every purchase made of their their products.
I will now be looking for hands-on reviews of Gobe products, especially of their fixed and variable neutral density filters, UV filters and lens adapters.
Camera-wiki.org – Panagor– “[Jaca Corporation] are most famous for their Elicar and Panagor brand lenses, made by a variety of Japanese lens manufacturers which included Komine and Kino Precision.”
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. Multi-camera shoots are now much easier, because you are starting with a common, colour-matched baseline, meaning much less time trying to match cameras in post before starting your creative grading.“
Wikipedia – Pentacon – “The name Pentacon is derived from the brand Contax of Zeiss Ikon Kamerawerke in Dresden and Pentagon, as a Pentaprism for Single-Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras was for the first time developed in Dresden. The cross section of this prism has a pentagonal shape. Pentacon is best known for producing the SLR cameras of the Praktica-series as well as the medium formatcamera Pentacon Six, the Pentacon Super and various cameras of the Exa series.”
Veydra LLC, maker of the Veydra Mini Prime manual-focus cinema lenses for Micro Four Thirds, Sony E-Mount and Fujifilm X-Mount cameras, is no more.
Veydra’s Ryan Avery recently announced the company’s demise on its Facebook page, bringing to an abrupt end the story of this doughty little lens maker, throwing into confusion affordable native geared cinema prime lens choices for independent moviemakers.
With its mission statement being “Veydra lenses are designed to be premium quality cinema lenses at the absolute minimum retail price”, Veydra gave thousands the opportunity of using cinema lenses instead of the more common stills-oriented non-cinema zoom and prime lenses we have come to rely upon despite their shortcomings for video use.
Veydra LLC has gone out of business due to the conclusion of ongoing litigation between the founders of the company.
I offer special thanks to everyone involved in the success of Veydra; first and foremost all Veydra Kickstarter backers and customers. Specific thanks to those who made it possible from the start; Phil Holland, Illya Friedman, Matthew Duclos, Joshua Brown, Alex Jacobs, and all the supporters too numerous to mention here.
It’s been a wonderful journey and I thank you all for your support and kindness.
Social media rumours have it that there was some conflict at Veydra about one partner licensing his lens designs out to another company, Meike, but another factor leading to Veydra’s end may have been the theft of US$200,000 worth of lenses from the company’s warehouse in 2017, after which the company seemed to drop off the radar.
There are cinema prime lens alternatives, however, with SLR Magic releasing an intriguing set of lenses for Super 16 and Super 35 digital cameras in M43, E-Mount and X-Mount.
Another option is Fujifilm’s impressive MKX cinema zoom lenses available in two focal length ranges and now in the same there mounts.
Should Fujifilm continue delivering on its promise to radically improve video functionality on its XF APS-C/Super 35 cameras, SLR Magic’s seven lens collection appears attractive with the lenses’ 18mm, 22.5mm, 27mm, 37.5mm, 52.5mm and 112.5mm equivalence in the 35mm sensor format.
So far Meike has only released three cinema prime lenses and not in all three mounts, in 12mm, 16mm and 25mm focal lengths, so time will tell whether the company is fully committed to supplying a full set of primes in three mounts.
A prime lens alternative? SLR Magic MicroPrime Cinema Lenses for Micro Four Thirds, Fujifilm X-Mount and Sony E-Mount.
Andrew Chan of SLR Magic with one of the company’s MicroPrime cinema lenses for X-mount and M43-mount cameras variously made by Blackmagic Design, Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic and others. SLR Magic also makes an excellent 1.3 to 10 stop variable neutral density filter solution perfectly suited to the MicroPrimes with their 82mm filter diameter as well as adapted to smaller filter diameter lenses via step-up rings.
A cinema zoom alternative? Fujifilm Cinema Zoom Lenses for Micro Four Thirds, Fujifilm X-Mount and Sony E-Mount.
Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujinon MKX18-55mm T2.9 cinema zoom lens, rigged for moviemaking.
Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujifilm VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip and Fujinon MKX 18-55mm T2.9 cinema zoom lens.
Fujifilm XH1 with Fujinon MKX 50-135mm T2.9 cinema zoom lens
Fujifilm XH1 with Fujinon MKX 18-55mm T2.9 cinema zoom lens
“A few weeks ago, our founder, CEO and main investor Stefan Immes had a serious traffic accident, which he barely survived. Although we have been able to talk to him and although, for a very short time of the day he has become the astute, humorous and positive entrepreneur we know, it is now clear that due to the severity of the injuries he will not be able to continue running the company in the foreseeable future.
For a company of 15 employees only, this entails a large number of changes. Currently, we are in the process of reorganization and are trying to establish a working system as no successor regulation can yet be found for the Net SE Group. For this reason, we are currently undergoing a restructuring process with an as yet unknown outcome for the individual divisions….”
Other Meyer Optik Görlitz lenses as of August 2018
Meyer Optik Görlitz Primoplan P75 75mm f/1.9 lens
Meyer Optik Görlitz Trioplan 50mm f/2.9 lens
Meyer Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f/2.8 lens
Sad news indeed about Meyer Optik Görlitz CEO Stefan Immes and I hope that the company can successfully reorganize and get back into full production of its innovative and revived art lenses.
I wish to see more, not fewer, makers of these characterful lens types in the world and would hate to see the end of the Meyer Optik Görlitz initiative especially given their aims as stated in their latest Kickstarter campaign:
We restored the Meyer-Optik brand to build lenses that are distinguished in their uniqueness. Today, our lenses are made for those who want more than standard shots for their everyday photography. These lenses are special hand-made optics designed for the artistic photographer who craves a special unique look.
Although I appreciate the precision of most contemporary lens designs, I have had practical firsthand experience of antique and revived historical lenses aka “fine art” or “art” lenses and know there is a place for them in almost every photographer’s and moviemaker’s gear kit.
I wish the Meyer Optik Görlitz company the very best in their reorganization, and look forward to them reviving and updating many more famous and historical lenses in future.
Meanwhile I am glad to know that other companies such as Lomography are also on the classic lens revival trail and look forward to one day being able to try out a cross section of such lenses.
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.
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.
“Recreate what your eyes see. Kamlan 28mm F/1.4 Prime Lens delivers superior optical quality along with super low chromatic aberration…
… Normal lenses are valued because they provide a natural angle of view that is similar to what the human eye sees. The images they produce are very relatable and engaging because they feel like scenes people have seen. The focal length is extremely versatile for a wide range of applications – from landscapes to portraits to street photography. In recent years, many people have thought of the 50mm focal length (on full frame) as“normal”, but in times past a normal lens was actually closer to 40mm. The Kamlan 28mm f/1.4 offers a great “normal” focal length and a large maximum aperture at a bargain price…. “
A new Chinese maker of affordable premium-quality manual-focus lenses has entered the scene with Shenzhen-based Machang Optical Co.’s KamLan brand launching a Kickstarter campaign for its Kamlan 28mm F/1.4 Standard Prime for mirrorless cameras in the APS-C and Micro Four Thirds sensor formats in Canon’s EOS-M mount, Fujifilm’s X-mount, M43-mount and Sony’s E-mount.
Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 and Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II pancake lenses, equivalent to 40mm
Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II Aspheric pancake prime lens.
Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 pancake prime lens, equivalent to 40.5mm focal length in the 35mm sensor format.
Both lenses appear to be intended for compact camera users relying on autofocus as they lack manual focus rings and their size makes them unsuited for attaching the step-up rings and 77mm or 82mm fixed or variable neutral density filters required for professional video production.
Until the KamLan 28mm f/1.4 APS-C Standard prime, small size seems to have been a common theme with 40mm equivalent lenses starting off with the legendary though short-lived Leica Summicron-C 40mm f/2.0 released for the Leica CL compact 35mm analog camera.
Minolta later released its own version, the Minolta M-Rokkor 40mm f/2.0, to go with the Minolta CLE camera which carried on and evolved well beyond the Leica CL’s achievements.
Machang Optics’ KamLan APS-C lens range appears to be taking a very different approach, one more suited for precise manual focussing and thus video production, with a range of current and coming wide aperture manual-focus prime lenses including the 15mm f/1.8, 21mm f/1.8, 28mm f/1.4, 32mm f/1.3 and 50mm f/1.1 Mark 2.
If they prove to be well-matched in terms of colour and optical correction the KamLan lenses may well make for a good set of video lenses for Fujifilm camera users.
In their 35mm sensor equivalents, these lenses will be 22.5mm, 31.5mm, 42mm, 48mm and 75mm, a fine set of focal lengths suitable for feature and high-end documentary cinematography.
When Fujifilm made it clear they were about to take video seriously, I wondered if they would be upgrading their current offerings for video capability and adding new focal lengths to fill in the focal length gaps.
If that does not happen, then Machang Optics’ KamLan APS-C lens range may provide a great alternative.
Will the folks at Machang Optical Co. be issuing a boxed set, as it were, of these five lenses in future?
Will Machang Optical Co. be offering a ciné version of all these lenses, with clickless aperture ring, geared for use with follow-focus devices and with 77mm or preferably 82mm step-up rings attached for use with fixed or variable neutral density filters?
Will they come out with a 10.5mm lens so that Micro Four Thirds users can have a six-lens set that includes a 21mm equivalent, an essential super-wide establishing-shot focal length, and so APS-C users can have a 15.75mm equivalent lens?
Veydra 19mm T2.2 Mini Prime Lens – B&H – APS-C cinema prime with 38mm equivalence, currently available in feet or meters scales for Sony E-Mount, apparently also produced in Fujifilm X-Mount according to a hint at the Veydra website.
Veydra Mini Prime 6 Lens Master Lens Kit with 6 Lens Case (MFT Mount, Feet) – B&H – includes 16mm and 32mm focal lengths, either side of the 20mm ideal of 40mm equivalence.
Veydra Mini Prime 6 Lens Master Lens Kit with 6 Lens Case (MFT Mount, Meters) – B&H – see above.
“This exciting prime provides ultra wide-angle coverage up to 113° angle of view which is the widest in its class. The tiny size & light weight match perfectly with mirrorless cameras and are suitable to use with gimbals. 2 aspherical elements plus 3 extra-low dispersion elements successfully correct the chromatic aberration, realize a close-to-zero distortion & deliver a corner to corner sharpness….”
“The most compact and versatile high magnification macro lens.
This lens is optimized for macro shooting between 2.5X – 5X life size. The lens is specially designed with an extended working distance (45mm at 2.5x & 40mm at 2x)and smaller lens barrel. This allow a sufficient lighting on the object for easier shooting in the field. The lens is much more compact and lighter than other comparative products. This lens also provides a relatively greater depth of field compared to other extreme macro lens in the market. The Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X is developed for both professional and leisure macro photography, to be used on the field or in indoor set-up…..”
Fujifilm has announced the Fujinon XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ collapsible power zoom lens and the first Fujifilm APS-C/Super 35 rangefinder-style cameras for which it will be the bundled kit zoom, the X-A5 and X-A20.
The XC 15-45mm offers a short standard focal length range of 15mm to 45mm in APS-C sensor format, the equivalent of 23mm to 69mm in the 35mm sensor format, and is well-priced for purchase separately from either camera at less than half the cost of Fujfilm’s XF series kit zoom, the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS.
Since purchasing my Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with an eye to using it for fly-on-the-wall documentary stills and video, along with two of Fujifilm’s best available darkness prime lenses, the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R and XF 56mm f/1.2 R, I have experienced twinges of regret for not being able to add the XF 18-55mm lens at the time for access to some of my other favourite documentary focal lengths – 18mm, 27mm and 50mm – or the 21mm-equivalent XF 14mm f/2.8 R.