Veydra LLC, Maker of Affordable Manual Focus Mini Prime Cinema Lenses, Is Dead. What Now for Lenses in Their Class?

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_miniprime_metric_imperial_01_1920px
Veydra 50mm and 25mm Mini Prime Cinema manual focus lenses with imperial or metric markings, made by Veydra LLC.

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.

—Ryan Avery
Co-Founder

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.

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.

A cinema zoom alternative? Fujifilm Cinema Zoom Lenses for Micro Four Thirds, Fujifilm X-Mount and Sony E-Mount.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on the links and purchasing through them for our affiliate accounts at Adorama, Alien Skin, B&H Photo Video, SkylumSmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Unititled’.

Advertisements

Meyer Optic USA: Bring back the Fabulous Wonder Bokeh Lens: P 58 f1.9 – Updates: Sad news

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/meyeroptik/bring-back-the-fabulous-wonder-bokeh-lens-primopla/posts/2256824

“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….”

meyer-optik_gorlitz_primoplan_58mm_f1.9_01_1024px_80pc
Meyer Optik Görlitz Primoplan P58 58mm f/1.9 Art prime lens for Canon EF mount, M42 mount, Nikon F mount and Pentax K mount.

Other Meyer Optik Görlitz lenses as of August 2018

Commentary

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.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

novoflex_nikon_f_to_fujifilm_g_adapter_01_1024px_80pc
Novoflex Nikon F to Fujifilm G lens adapter on Fujifilm GFX 50S camera.

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

  • Lensbaby lensesB&H
  • Lomography lensesB&H
  • Metabones Nikon F Lens to Fujifilm X-Mount Camera T AdapterB&H
  • Metabones Nikon F Lens to Micro Four Thirds Camera T Adapter IIB&H
  • Metabones Nikon F Lens to Sony E-Mount Camera T Adapter IIB&H
  • Metabones Speed Booster lens adapters for Nikon lenses to various camerasB&H
  • Meyer Optik Görlitz LensesB&H
  • Novoflex Nikon F Lens to Fujifilm G-Mount Camera AdapterB&H
  • Novoflex Adapter for Nikon Mount to Fujifilm X Mount Digital CamerasB&H
  • Novoflex Nikon to Micro Four Thirds Lens AdapterB&H
  • Novoflex Adapter for Nikon F Lens to Sony E-Mount CameraB&H

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

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

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

Kickstarter: Kamlan 28mm F/1.4 Standard Prime Lens for Mirrorless Cameras

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kamlan/kamlan-28mm-f-14-standard-mirrorless-prime-lens?ref=478061&token=28710d49

“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…. “

_kamlan_28mm_f1.4_aps-c_01_1024px_60pc
Machang Optics’ KamLan 28mm f/1.4 APS-C Standard Prime lens available in Canon EOS-M mount, Fujifilm X-mount, M43-mount and Sony E-mount.

Commentary

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.

Until independent makers of affordable optics such as 7 Artisans, Cosina’s Voigtlaender brand, DZ Optics’ Kerlee brand, HandeVision’s Ibelux brand, Irix, Kowa’s Prominar range, LomographyMeyer Optik Görlitz, RokinonSigma, SLR MagicVenus Optics’s Laowa brand, VeydraYongnuo, Zhong Yi Optic’s Mitakon brand and Zonlai started becoming better known outside their home countries, with some releasing dedicated premium APS-C manual-focussing lenses, the APS-C format had received little to no lens maker love compared to the 35mm sensor format aka “full frame” or “full format”.

minolta_cle_rokkor-m_40mm_f2.0_01_DSC_0014_1024px_60pc
The benchmark for perfect normal. Minolta Rokkor-M 40mm f/2.0 M-mount lens for the famous, much-coveted Minolta CLE 35mm analog rangefinder camera, successor to the Leica CL. Image by SuperB Japan Camera.

I am interested in Kamlan’s 28mm f/1.4 APS-C offering due to its equivalence to 40mm in the 35mm sensor format, often described as the “perfect normal” or “perfect standard” focal length.

The desire for non-35mm-sensor-format “perfect normal” lenses has most often been met with slower pancake-style lenses such as Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 in APS-C and Panasonic’s Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II Aspheric in M43.

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 and Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II pancake lenses, equivalent to 40mm

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.

leica_cwsonderoptic_m0.8_set_5_01_1024px_60pc
Matched sets of manual focus lenses are a boon for documentary photography and video. Illustrated: the first four lenses from the Leica M 0.8 cinema lens set by Leica Camera sister company CW Sonderoptic, in the 21mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm and 50mm focal lengths, all with 77mm filter diameters.

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.

APS-C new product roadmap 2018 for KamLan brand manual prime lenses.

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?

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

voigtlaender_nokton_40mm_f1.2_asperic_sony_e-mount_01_1024px_60pc
The ever-popular Voigtlaender Nokton 40mm f/1.2 Aspherical lens for Sony E-Mount cameras.

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

  • Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM LensB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 27mm f/2.8 LensB&H
  • Handevision IberitB&H
  • Kowa Prominar MFT lensesB&H
  • Lomography lensesB&H
  • Meyer-Optik GorlitzB&H
  • Mitakon Zhongyi lensesB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II ASPH. LensB&H
  • Rokinon lensesB&H
  • SLR Magic lensesB&H
  • Veydra 19mm T2.2 Mini Prime LensB&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.
  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f/1.2 Aspherical Lens for Leica M-Mount B&H
  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f/1.2 Aspherical Lens for Sony E-MountB&H
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f/1.4 MC Lens for Leica M-MountB&H
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f/1.4 SC Lens for Leica M-MountB&H
  • Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL IIS Aspherical Lens for Nikon F-MountB&H
  • Yongnuo YN 40mm f/2.8N Lens for Nikon FB&H

Venus Optics: Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D [Fuji X, Sony E, Canon EF-M mounts]

http://www.venuslens.net/product/9mm/

“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….”

laowa_9mm_f2.8_zero-d_superwideangle_x-h1_top_1024px_60%
Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D lens with Fujifilm X-Mount on Fujifilm X-H1 camera.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

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

  • LaowaB&H

Venus Optics: Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro [Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K and Sony FE mounts with adapters for Fujifilm X-Mount and Micro Four Thirds]

http://www.venuslens.net/product/laowa-25mm-f-2-8-2-5-5x-ultra-macro-2/

“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…..”

laowa_25mm_f2.8_2.5-5x_ultra_macro_tripod_mount_01_1024px_60%
Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro lens with Tripod Collar for Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K and Sony FE mounts with Fujifilm X-Mount and Micro Four Thirds adapters available.

Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro, Animated Product Shot

laowa_25mm_f2.8_2.5-5x_ultra_macro_animation_640px
Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro lens animation.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

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

  • LaowaB&H

Fujifilm Announces Fujinon XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ Collapsible Power Zoom Lens, Affordable Option for Documentary Photos and Videos?

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

fujifilm_fujinon_xc15-45mm_header_1920px
Fujifilm Fujinon XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ power zoom lens
Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 LM OIS kit zoom lens, in effect the longer equivalent of the new Fujinon XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ power zoom kit lens.

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.

Although I have yet to try either of Fujifilm’s current XC zoom lenses, the Fujinon  XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS and the XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS, I have read about them being surprisingly good for the price.

My ideal 35mm prime lens lineup from my Leica M-System rangefinder documentary photography days, comprising 21mm, 18mm, 35mm, 50mm (I preferred the all-too-rare 40mm though), 75mm and 90mm focal lengths. In APS-C format, these are 14mm, 18mm, 23mm, 35mm, 50mm and 60mm.

I look forward to reading about the Fujinon XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ’s performance in coming in-depth hands-on reviews by well-qualified photographers and moviemakers.

Will I be adding the Fujinon XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ or the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 LM OIS kit zoom lens to my Super 35/APS-C documentary moviemaking and photography kit?

Will either grant me access to some of my favourite focal lengths that I miss despite the incredible image quality of my two fast prime lenses?

Will either zoom lenses’ optical image stabilization help compensate for their slower variable maximum apertures?

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

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

    • Fujifilm X-A5 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 15-45mm LensB&H
    • Fujifilm XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ LensB&H
    • Fujifilm XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II LensB&H
    • Fujifilm XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS II Lens (Black)B&H
    • Fujifilm XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS II Lens (Silver)B&H
    • Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS Zoom LensB&H
    • Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R LensB&H
    • Fujifilm LH-XF23 Lens Hood for XF 23mm f/1.4 RB&H
    • Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R LensB&H

Fujifilm Announces Two Massive X-Pro2 and X-T2 Firmware Updates Due Late March and Late May

Fujifilm has a well-deserved reputation for its Kaizen – continuous improvement – firmware updates, a practice I first encountered with my first Fujifilm digital camera, the classic rangefinder-style Finepix X100S. The X100’s updates turned a revolutionary camera into one that remains fun to use and usable for documentary photography assignments to this day. And now, Fujifilm is set to outdo itself with a massive list of firmware improvements to its two flagship cameras, the rangefinder-style X-Pro2 and the DSLR-style X-T2. Happy days.

The coming X-Pro2 and X-T2 firmware updates will further differentiate the two flagship Fujifilm APS-C cameras, with more video features for the latter and operational speed and efficiency gains for the former. I still want to see better video support in the X-Pro2 even if it remains at 1080p instead of 4K.
The X-T2 has the potential to fill the Super 35 4K gap left by Samsung killing off the revolutionary Samsung NX1 and NX500 cameras, but Fujifilm’s imminent firmware update does not include DCI 4K and zebras for fast, accurate judgement of correct exposure. Will these crucial features be coming in a third update later this year?

The full firmware list contains a record-breaking 33 new and improved items of which 27 will appear in late March and the final 6 in late May. Some are for both the X-Pro2 and X-T2, some are for the X-T2 only and some are for the X-Pro in a catchup with the X-T2’s current feature set.

For the X-T2 only, 😦

The X-T2-only updates indicate that Fujifilm has chosen to increase its differentiation between both cameras’ video capabilities. The X-T2 is about to gain:

  • #14. Activation of the Eye Sensor in video recording (X-T2 only).
  • #15. Change of ISO sensitivity during video recording (X-T2 only).
  • #17. Display live histogram during video recording (X-T2 only).
  • #18. Optimization of external microphone’s input level (X-T2 only).

Other X-T2-only updates indicate other differentiations by Fujifilm between its flagship cameras, in tethering and for portraiture and other genres often requiring vertical orientation of the camera:

  • #22. Automatic vertical GUI for LCD (X-T2 only).
  • #28. Support for computer tethering via Wi-Fi (X-T2 only).

Tethering, the ability to connect cameras to computers by wire or Wi-Fi, has been an accepted, often client-demanded, tool in commercial photography for some time now and has been well supported by medium format and DSLR camera makers, and some raw processing software. USB tethering recently came to the X-T2 via standalone software and plug-ins for Adobe Lightroom.

Many of the new and improved firmware items for both cameras are welcome indeed, speeding up their accuracy and operability. Some may have limited usefulness while one glaring omission from the firmware of both camera remains AWOL – zebras.

AWOL, an immigrant from video world

Zebras for ensuring accurate exposure are welcome immigrants from the world of video camcorders and high-end stills/video hybrid cameras like Panasonic’s Super 16/Micro Four Thirds GH4, GX8 and the new GH5.

Zebras have rapidly proven themselves just as useful for stills as for video, helping combat the all-too-prevalent problem of overexposure that pushes high values over the shoulder into unrecoverable burn-out territory.

High value or highlight burn-out is as problematic in stills as it is in video, whether one is shooting raw or JPEG files. Although extreme high values can be recovered to some degree in raw files with recovery function sliders – going under names like “whites” or ‘highlight” in raw processing software – doing so in video or for JPEGs results in muddy high values that can become an eye trap for viewers.

Eye traps are areas in the frame that draw viewers’ attention at the expense of the most meaningful objects in the image, weakening its message and damaging effective storytelling. Hard-edged burnt-out bright patches are particular eye-trap culprits even when their values are lowered in post-processing.

Avoiding burn-out and needless processing

Far better to avoid the burn-out eye-trap problem and fruitless correction work in post-production altogether by getting exposure right in the first place, and that is where zebras excel compared with histograms.

International Womens' Day March, Sydney, 2017

Above: Photographing in high dynamic range environments like this can be challenging when trying to achieve correct exposure without burning out the high values. Here I used exposure zebras on a Panasonic Lumix GH4 to ensure the best exposure of sky and footpath then raised the middle and low values in a raw processor. 

Histograms have their uses in assessing your scene or subject’s dynamic range and determining whether to add a light or accept low value details that can be raised in grading or raw processing.

Both the X-Pro2 and X-T2 have histograms that could be improved by enlargement and better delineating their right and left edges. Judging then setting accurate exposure via histogram can be a slow process unsuited to the speed and stresses of documentary photography or video.

As cinematographer/director Paul Leeming demonstrates in his tutorial on ETTR – expose to the right – zebras are a fast and accurate exposure method that can benefit photographers and videographers using Fujifilm cameras, should Fujifilm see fit to add it to firmware. Zebras are not included in late March and late May’s firmware.

Useful updates for both cameras

There are plenty of impressive improvements for both cameras, many of which photographers have been requesting for some time now, most notably the following:

  • #3. Programmable long exposure of up to 15 minutes.
  • #6. “AUTO” setting added for the minimum shutter speed in the ISO Auto setting.
  • #7. Faster “Face Detection AF”.
  • #8. Improved in-focus indication in the AF-C mode.
  • #9. Addition of a smaller Focus Point size in Single Point AF.
  • #13. Change of focus frame position while enlarging it.
  • #19. Addition of “Eye Sensor + LCD Image Display” in the View Mode.
  • #23. Name Custom Settings.
  • #24. Copyright information in EXIF data.
  • #25. Voice Memo function.
  • #26. Extended AE Bracketing.
  • #27. Addition of “Shoot Without Card” mode.
  • #31. Addition of “-6” and “-7” to EVF’s brightness setting.
  • #33. Function assignment to the Rear Command Dial.

Having tried shooting HDR with the X-Pro2 and X-T2’s three-bracket-only functionality, I have badly missed the larger bracket range available on many other cameras including my Panasonic Lumix GH4 and GX8.

Some of my favourites for X-Pro2 and X-T2

Number 26, Extended AE Bracketing is particularly welcome. Extreme dynamic range scenes demand five, seven or even nine AE brackets to give a wide enough range for HDR processing in products like Macphun’s Aurora HDR 2017, causing me to rely on other cameras than Fujifilm’s for interior and some exterior HDR work.

I bought my X-Pro2 for the benefits of Fujifilm’s legendary colour rendering and its APS-C sensor as opposed to my other cameras’ Micro Four Thirds sensors, and new feature 26 gives me added incentive to add an X-T2 as a companion to my X-Pro2.

Numbers 24 and 25, Copyright information in EXIF data and Voice Memo function, are invaluable when shooting documentary projects, portraits and similar assignments. Every photograph, not just those shot commercially, needs to have copyright data embedded in its EXIF data from the moment of exposure.

Voice memo functionality is crucial when covering an event or shooting a series of portraits, especially without an assistant. Ever tried making a photograph then whipping out a notebook to jot down your subject’s name and other details? Voice memo features in other brands of cameras name audio files similarly to the photographs they relate to, making them easy to find and transcribe back at home base.

Number 23, Name Custom Settings, is a great improvement over the nuisance of having to remember what subject matter or customized look relates to a cryptically-named custom setting.

Numbers 2 and 3, Extended ISO 125 and 160 selectable and Programmable long exposure of up to 15 minute, are functions that may come in handy for some low light and night scene cityscape projects coming my way soon.

Although I generally stick to ISO 200 or 400 for daylight documentary work, habit and years of successful analog practice means I prefer the lowest ISOs I can get for tripod-mounted small aperture photography. Conversely, Fujifilm’s excellent wide aperture lenses like the XF 56mm f/1.2 R and XF 23mm f1/4 R and their incredible bokeh tempts me to shoot wide open with low ISOs.

Cable releases and remote releases are increasingly becoming things of the past for long-exposure photography as well as all-to—easily forgotten or lose on location so I suspect programmable long exposures will be lifesavers.

Number 9, Addition of a smaller Focus Point size in Single Point AF, brings the X-T2 and X-Pro2’s focus point size choice to six with pinpoint focussing, crucial when shooting with long lenses on the X-Pro2 and even longer lenses on the X-T2 when picking out the most essential object in a field of them.

I am going to love this one for shooting portraits with the X-Pro2 and the XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens with aperture wide open for razor-sharp highlights in one eye.

Just for the X-Pro2

Several of the 33 items are for the X-Pro2 only, adding features already in the X-T2’s current firmware:

  • #10. Addition of “AF Point Display” (X-Pro2 only – already on X-T2).
  • #11. Addition of “AF-C Custom Setting” (X-Pro2 only – already on X-T2).
  • #20. Shorter EVF display time-lag (X-Pro2 only – already in X-T2).

Number 11, AF-C Custom Setting, adds action-photography autofocus settings that have well-proven themselves on the X-T2 and that I would have loved on the X-Pro2 for covering intense, fast-moving events like demonstrations. Pine no more.

Likewise, number 10, AF Point Display, will bring more surety when covering those same kind of situations as well as fast-moving portrait subjects flitting in and out of inner city crowds.

Number 20, Shorter EVF display time-lag, will be useful in the same circumstances when shooting with the X-Pro2’s EVF. I default to the OVF or ERF-in-OVF most of the time but switch to the EVF when shooting with a monochrome film simulation or my subjects are moving through mixed bright sun and deep shadow.

Times like that you need a sharp eye on your prime subject in order to hit the shutter at exactly the right moment and the less EVF lag the better.

Plenty of gains, some losses

Thirty-three feature additions and updates for two closely-related cameras sharing sensors, processors and more is quite some feat and Fujifilm deserves heaps of praise and kudos for that.

I suspect that most photographers will be very happy indeed with this list, and some have already described it as “awesome!”. Until the firmware appears, and it is clear exactly how each new item or improvement works in practice, we can only guess as to their implementation and usability but, fingers crossed!

The X-T2 wins some great new video features that I have long wanted on the X-Pro2 and that it will not be getting any time soon if at all, it seems. I will be buying an X-T2 soon enough, as a companion to my X-Pro2 instead of the second X-Pro2 I was originally planning on, but right now my next video-centric choice will be Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 due to its full, mature feature set and sheer usability.

I may not be counted amongst “most photographers” given an equal dedication to still and video that seems to be rare in some parts of the world, but then the X-T2 and X-Pro2 are cameras that appeal to photographers whose work and needs are anything but the norm, well beyond what most photographers demand of their cameras and lenses.

Most photographers, from what I see in the streets of this fair city, are more than happy with the many limitations of DSLR cameras but Fujifilm flagship camera users are a very rare and demanding breed.

And that is, to a large degree, Fujifilm’s own fault. At a time when the independent photo and video landscape was dominated by model after model of DSLRs that barely looked any different from each other, the Fujifilm Finepix X100 was a radical breath of fresh air.

It promised so much, then delivered on it with a succession of great firmware updates that set the expectation of brilliant firmware kaizen for every Fujifilm camera coming after it.

The X-Pro2 3.00 and 3.10, and X-T2 2.00 and 2.10, firmware updates continue in that tradition of satisfying high expectations and have extended both cameras’ usability and capabilities.

Gaps do remain, though, and they are mostly on the X-Pro2 side. Not everyone with high expectations loves the DSLR-style form factor of the X-T2 and there are many of us who are digital refugees from Leica rangefinder days or who could never afford their digital M-System cameras and who can now satisfy their rangefinder-style needs with the X-Pro2.

Will the X-Pro3 one day gain what Fujifilm has left out of the X-Pro2?

Will the X-Pro series lag behind the X-T series’ feature set turning the former into stills-only camera and the latter into a stills-plus-video compromise?

Is the rumoured APS-C super camera the one to watch for high-end Super 35 video?

Does Fujifilm have a blind spot for the incredibly useful exposure zebras functionality on its cameras? And if so, why?

I know I will be getting an X-T2 sometime soon, for the subjects and lenses to which its DSLR-style form factor is well-suited.

I know I will continue to love the X-Pro2 for giving me back the rangefinder-style way of documentary photography I had thought had gone forever during the DSLR ascendancy.

I want another X-Pro2 in my documentary kit as a backup and for when Fujifilm comes out with a revamped XF 18mm f/2.0, as wide lens to the XF 50mm f/2.0’s narrower vision.

But like more than a few fellow X-Pro2 users out there, I want to see the X-Pro2 series flagship cameras remain on a near-equal feature-set footing with their X-T series sisters and that demands improving the video features on both.

Is Fujifilm already planning the next pair of firmware updates and are they listening just as intently to their ever-growing user base?

Links: 

LockCircle Announces Innovative First Cage for Fujifilm X-T2, Excludes Vertical Power Booster Grip

The very first cage for the Fujifilm X-T2 is about to appear. Italian camera cages and accessories maker LockCircle first came to notice via its self-named camera body cap for the Canon EOS camera range, born from director of photography Dante Cecchin’s “idea to design the most over-engineered and priced body cap, the LockCircle“. A range of other unique products soon followed including BirdCage, LockPort, MatBox, PrimeCircle ciné lenses, MicroMega, MetalJacket for Leica SL and now, the Cage Kinetics XT2 Professional. 

LockCircle’s Cage Kinetics XT2 Kit, minus optional accessories like top handle, hot shoes, MicroMega nameplate and rod riser, MicroPort and more.

I have yet to see any of LockCircle’s products – the company has yet to find a distributor in Australia though B&H Photo Video is listed as a LockCircle reseller – so please regard this article as a notification and not as a recommendation.

LockCircle is taking pre-orders for the Cage Kinetics XT2 Professional and its accessories options with availability slated for end of April, with shipping worldwide. A special promotional discount applies to the first 10 pre-orders, of US$199.00 plus shipping or €189,00 plus VAT and shipping.

LockCircle Cage Kinetics XT2 Professional, with LockPort, MicroPort and MicroMega Accessories

Purchasers may wish to add accessories to the basic Cage Kinetics XT2 Kit, and a list is available in the Cage Kinetics XT2 Professional downloadable PDF. Most notable is item LPFLEX-KIT-XT2, the Flex Port Micro HDMI to Full Size HDMI Adapter as well as XT2-MP, the MicroPort XT2.

LockCircle LockPort XT2

The Fujifilm X-T2, in common with most current hybrid cameras on the market other than the coming Panasonic Lumix GH5, is equipped with a somewhat vulnerable micro HDMI port for external monitoring and recording. Repairing damaged HDMI mini and micro ports is costly and time-consuming so any solution that takes the strain off them can only be a good thing.

LockCircle’s solution looks well-conceived and manufactured, reducing strain on the HDMI cable while adding a full HDMI to mini HDMI adapter, enabling cabling camera to monitor/recorder with full-size HDMI cables.

LockCircle’s LockPort XT2 for adapting and securing the X-T2’s micro HDMI port and MultiPort XT2 for adapting and securing the camera’s micro USB 3.0 port are available for direct connection to the X-T2 without needing a cage, as a dual kit or as separate items.

Observations

LockCircle’s Cage Kinetics XT2 Professional appears to be the very first cage for the Fujifilm X-T2 to leave the drawing board and become available for pre-orders. Other cage makers are still in the design phase or have not made it known whether they will be making cages for the X-T2 at all.

I encourage all cage makers to take the Fujifilm X-T2 Super 35 camera seriously now that Fujifilm has created two new cinema zoom lenses for E-Mount now, X-Mount later, the Fujinon MK 18-55mm T2.9 and MK 50-135mm T2.9.

In recent interviews Fujifilm staff members have restated their commitment to improving video functions in their flagship Super 35/APS-C and other cameras and over time they will doubtless be delivering on that promise. I hope they have taken Paul Leeming’s recommendations for improving the X-T2 for filmmaking seriously and will be implementing them soon.

Although the Panasonic Lumix GH5 is the Super 16/Micro Four Thirds 4K camera of the moment, especially given its Dual IS and 5-axis IBIS stabilization that will be of enormous benefit to independent moviemakers wanting to break free of gimbals, monopods and tripods, Fujifilm’s X-T2 has the potential to become a go-to tripod-mounted Super 35 movie production camera given the renowned quality of Fujinon lenses and the beauty of Fujifilm’s X-Trans sensors’ colour rendering.

Lock Circle has designed an intriguing cage in the Cage Kinetics XT2 Professional, but it has one glaring omission in its lack of provision for the X-T2’s Vertical Power Booster Grip.

Without the grip attached, the X-T2 is limited to 10-minute clips instead of the 30-minute recordings possible with the grip beneath the camera. Monitoring audio also requires the battery grip as the headphone jack is located there and not on the camera itself.

Shooting 4K eats power and having two extra batteries attached to the camera is a real advantage. Another current limitation of the X-T2 is that it requires an external monitor/recorder for shooting in F-Log, Fujifilm’s flat logarithmic camera profile.

Once Fujifilm solves those problems I am sure more moviemakers will take the X-T2 and its successors seriously as viable Super 35 production cameras. The loss of Samsung’s excellent NX1 and NX500 4K Super 35/APS-C hybrid cameras and indeed their whole camera design and manufacturing division has created a big hole in the market that Fujifilm can fill if they wish.

Meanwhile LockCircle’s Cage Kinetics XT2 Professional signals that they have already been taking the X-T2 seriously, though I hope that LockCircle and other cage makers too will be coming up with cage designs integrating the Vertical Power Booster Grip into the mix.

Links:

Tech Notes:

Header image composite made with Affinity Photo then exported as a TIFF to Alien Skin Exposure X2 where I applied the Damaged Daguerrotype preset along with Cyanotype split-toning, in homage to the BBC’s Britain in Focus: A Photographic History documentary series.