Considering Adapting MS Optics Short-Run Hand-Made Manual Leica M-Mount Lenses for Fujifilm XF Cameras

It has been fascinating watching the emergence in recent years of Chinese makers of manual focus stills photography and cinema lenses adding their expertise to those of more established brands like Lumography, Voigtlaender and numerous others. 

And then I came across Japanese brand MS Optics at Japan Camera Hunter. 

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MS Optics Perar 17mm f/4.5 Leica M-Mount manual focus pancake prime lens, designed and handmade by Mr Miyazaki in Japan. Photograph courtesy of Japan Camera Hunter.
leica_elmarit-m_28mm_f2.8_japancamerahunter_01_1924px
Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 manual prime lens for Leica M-Series. This was my automatic go-to lens for documentary photography and photojournalism for many years since I bought it new as a young photographer. Photograph courtesy of Japan Camera Hunter.

Back when I was considering my first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera I looked into vintage manual focus lenses like those made by Zenit but set the idea aside when considering the scarcity and cost of buying them locally.

I had sold my Leica M-Series cameras and lenses several years before during a financially challenging period and before mirrorless cameras began making a dent in digital photography and video production.

The value of vintage manual lenses on mirrorless cameras became clear when Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT Pro dropped by our studio and kindly gave us two lovely little M42-mount lenses in 28mm and 50mm focal lengths.

After purchasing lens mount adapters from Gobe, I began using both lenses on Fujifilm X-mount and Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras, and later my Canon EOS 5D Mark II, the latter when my copy of Canon’s notoriously shoddily-made and optically-poor Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM kit zoom lens failed just after end of warranty and the technician gave up on trying to render it usable.

fujinon_xf_18mm_f2_r_01_1024px_60pc
Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R prime lens.

The 28mm focal length in the 35mm sensor format is my standard for documentary photography and one that I favour for documentary video as well.

When adapted for Fujifilm X-mount, a 28mm lens becomes 42mm, and when a 50mm lens is adapted for the same mount it becomes 75mm.

Likewise, adapting both lenses for Micro Four Thirds effectively turns them into 56mm and 100mm lenses, great focal portrait lengths.

One of my favourite focal length pairs for documentary video in Super 35 is 18mm and 50mm, equivalent to 15mm and 37.5mm in Micro Four Thirds and 28mm and 75mm in the 35mm sensor format.

zeiss_distagon_t-star_18mm_f4.0_zm_02_1024px
Zeiss Distagon 18mm f/4.0 ZM prime lens for Leica M-mount, now stupidly “discontinued” according to Zeiss and retailers.

While the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R is good enough for most documentary photography work provided its optical and mechanical quirks do not get in the way, I find it next to useless for video work and have long been asking Fujifilm to at least update the focal length with a Fujicron-style f/2.0 lens if not a Fujilux-style f/1.4 lens with the manual clutch focus that is invaluable for serious movie production.

Meanwhile I have been searching for manual focus alternatives to Fujifilm’s 18mm semi-pancake lens and was almost settled on the reportedly excellent Zeiss Distagon 18mm T* f/4.0 ZM in Leica M-mount when it suddenly vanished from retailers, listed as “discontinued” and without a replacement.

@#$%^&*!!!

contax_carl_zeiss_distagon_t-star_18mm_f4.0_01_1024px
Contax Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 18mm f/4.0 Leica M-mount manual prime lens, now long-discontinued. Photograph from ebay.com listings.

An utterly stupid decision in my opinion, with no equivalent offered by any other current lens maker, especially given how much high praise the Zeiss 18mm Distagon has received over the years.

The closest affordable 18mm lens I have found online second-hand is the long discontinued Contax Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 18mm f/4.0 in Contax/Yashica aka C/Y mount made by Kyocera, but I have no experience of these lenses or of the cameras for which they were designed though they are often described as “not to Zeiss standards”.

On the other hand cinematographer/director Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT Pro speaks of his set of Contax Carl Zeiss C/Y mount lenses with affection, having adapted them all to EF mount with some filing down of the tab protrusions to allow speed booster compatibility for professional movie production on a range of cameras and sensor formats.

Mr Miyazaki’s MS-Optics lenses

I don’t know much about the limited-run Leica M-mount prime lenses handmade by Mr. Miyazaki of MS Optics save that they are clearly designed for stills photography and would be less useful for video production.

If it were not for the fact that MS Optics lenses are made in tiny production runs and are apparently not reissued after selling out, I might have considered the MS Optics Perar 17mm f/4.5 Leica M-Mount for use at hyperfocal distance settings for, say, urban documentary photography.

I have been keeping an eye on the ever-growing list of Chinese manual lens makers but so far none have shown signs of an 18mm lens in Leica M-mount or any other mount.

All one can do is hope beyond hope that Fujifilm will finally act on the reported deluge of requests made by XF-mount camera users to Fujifilm to release a radically upgraded Fujinon XF 18mm lens, one better suited to professional video and stills photography.

Outside the bounds of affordability nowadays: Leica M-Series lenses

I relied on two Leica M-4P cameras and several Leica M-Series lenses as the backbone of my kit for years of corporate, magazine and newspaper photography and while the fees were nothing like the ones I used to pay photographers when I worked in advertising in London, they were enough to help cover the cost of Leica and other gear.

While Leica manual focus prime lenses remain my personal benchmark for optical and mechanical construction, I can no longer afford them and so keep a keen eye on the growing number of Chinese lens makers.

I hope they will be emboldened to go beyond the usual standard, moderate short and moderate wide focal lengths and develop lenses such as, for example, Kipon’s Iberit 75mm f/2.4 and Iberit 40mm f/0.85 Mark Ⅱ for Fujifilm X-mount, or even an 18mm lens for the same mount.

Links

James Miller’s DELUTS Releases DELUTS Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K Creative Looks

https://sellfy.com/p/gg0m/

“DELUTS BMPCC4K Creative Looks, Base transforms for use with Blackmagic ‘Film’ profile for use with BRAW and ProRes.

75 Luts designed for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (This set is also compatable with Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6k & Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6k Pro using ‘Film’ profile)

• 4 Base Tranforms when working with the Blackmagic Film profile.
• 9 Monotone Creative Looks
• 62 Colour Creative Looks

Davinci Resolve Legacy .cube format Luts. For use in FCPx (Version 4 or Higher), Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Adobe Photoshop, Davinci Resolve and many more supporting applications.

Luts supplied in x64, x33 and x17 resolution. Use x64 for Davinci Resolve, x33 for FCPx and limited adjustment layers with Adobe Premiere CC, x17 for Adobe Premiere CC general use….”

James Miller’s DELUTS Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K Creative LUTs for use with Blackmagic raw aka BRAW and Blackmagic camera film profiles.

Commentary

Director/cinematographer James Miller creates and sells creative looks LUTs under the DELUTS brand, and supplies to moviemakers looking for fast, efficient ways of adding strong, emotive looks to their footage.

Mr Miller’s latest DELUTS release is aimed at users of Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K, as well as other cameras using Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic RAW raw video codec such as the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro.

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Blackmagic Design: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K ‘Balloons’ [Extreme outdoors lighting test, by Andreas Neumann]

“Andreas Neumann talks about using the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K for the first time. ‘Balloons’ is Andreas’ extreme lighting test as he constantly shoots directly into the sun, wide open. ‘Balloons’ documents the camera’s performance from 5am in the morning into the height of the midday sun.

“I shot this test at Temecula in California, shooting from dawn until midday. This was a challenging environment for any camera, because I was constantly shooting into the light, or with the sun directly behind people’s faces. The detail I got was incredible. You can see everything reflecting in my wife’s Chanel glasses. You can actually see reflections off the ground, the balloon above, and the sky in the background. The camera really did capture everything I was seeing. I love shooting directly into the light wide open, and with this camera you could safely do that. I was totally amazed at what the micro four thirds sensor could handle. It seemed like the same quality as the URSA Mini Pro with the full sensor. I was also very surprised at how well the back-screen performed in bright sunlight, where I could truly see every detail.”

blackmagic_pocket_cinema_camera_4k_bmpcc4k_04_1024px_60pc
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens and mini-XLR-to-XLR audio cable for attaching XLR microphones, mounted on Benro Aero 4 Video Travel Angel Tripod Kit. Mini-XLR cable is made by Blackmagic Design for their Video Assist monitor/recorder but is also great for connecting XLR microphones to the BMPCC 4K, product code HYPERD/AXLRMINI2.

Commentary

The footage keeps on coming as US moviemaker Andreas Neumann shows off the low-angle, low-level lighting capability of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K with this video shot with Rokinon 24, 50 and 80mm cinema prime lenses.

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Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro professional prime lenses with manual clutch focusing, brilliant for shooting video or stills where accurate focus is absolutely critical.

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K ‘Models Walking at Night’ [Second clip from the BMPCC 4K with skin tones, by John Brawley]

“John Brawley shares his experiences with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. ‘Models Walking at Night’ is his second camera test where he was checking out the camera’s higher dynamic range and color accuracy.

“What I wanted to achieve was to test the dynamic range, but to still come up with some really great looking images. Having that higher dynamic range and a high bit depth file, means you have a lot of wriggle-room to correct anything that needs to be balanced. This extra range lets you manage and massage the image to get you into a really nice place. You’re not fighting the codec or the dynamic range of the camera.”

“The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K gives you a ton of options. If you want to take it warmer, darker or cooler, you now have so much latitude in terms of dynamic range and depth of color. With this camera you just have so much extra choice, because you can take the image whereever you want. And that’s the truly great thing about having such a vibrant and high precision image!”

blackmagic_pocket_cinema_camera_4k_bmpcc4k_04_1024px_60pc
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens and mini-XLR-to-XLR audio cable for attaching XLR microphones, mounted on Benro Aero 4 Video Travel Angel Tripod Kit. Mini-XLR cable is made by Blackmagic Design for their Video Assist monitor/recorder but is also great for connecting XLR microphones to the BMPCC 4K, product code HYPERD/AXLRMINI2.

Commentary

This is the second in a series of three videos by Australian Director of Photography John Brawley that explore some of the capabilities of Australian-based Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pockets Cinema Camera 4K, due for release sometime later this year.

Mr Brawley is an exponent of the benefits of shooting video in Micro Four Thirds, and has an extensive collection of Olympus M43 lenses.

In this series of videos, he is using various lenses from the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro collection to great effect, not so hard to do given the manual clutch focus mechanism on these lenses for easier focus pulling and pinpoint manual focus accuracy.

Links

Image Credits

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

Help support ‘Untitled’

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro professional prime lenses with manual clutch focusing, brilliant for shooting video or stills where accurate focus is absolutely critical.

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Blackmagic Design: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K ‘Models Walking in Daylight’ [First footage from the BMPCC 4K with skin tones, by John Brawley]

“John Brawley talks about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K for the first time. ‘Models Walking in Daylight’ is his first camera test where he checked out the camera’s ability to handle different skin tones.

“The whole point to this daylight test was to see how the camera handled skin tones. We were shooting these scenes later in the afternoon, so I was at ISO1000 or 1250, so it was at the lower ISO for this camera. I understand this gives more in dynamic range, so you have a little bit more highlight-headroom there. When I look at those shots now, I am really impressed at how good the dynamic range is. It is great to see all of that detail I was seeing was actually captured in those shots.”

“I don’t think people realize how easy it is to make things look cinematic with Micro Four Thirds! I know that there are a lot of people who like that 35mm full frame look, but it’s still very easy to get images with an out of focus background with the Micro Four Thirds sensor. I found it a great 4K sensor and really good compromise for a small camera that still gets really, really good looking pictures.”

blackmagic_pocket_cinema_camera_4k_bmpcc4k_04_1024px_60pc
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens and mini-XLR-to-XLR audio cable for attaching XLR microphones, mounted on Benro Aero 4 Video Travel Angel Tripod Kit. Mini-XLR cable is made by Blackmagic Design for their Video Assist monitor/recorder but is also great for connecting XLR microphones to the BMPCC 4K, product code HYPERD/AXLRMINI2.

Commentary

This is the first in a series of three videos by Australian Director of Photography John Brawley that explore some of the capabilities of Australian-based Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pockets Cinema Camera 4K, due for release sometime later this year.

Mr Brawley is an exponent of the benefits of shooting video in Micro Four Thirds, and has an extensive collection of Olympus M43 lenses.

In this series of videos, he is using various lenses from the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro collection to great effect, not so hard to do given the manual clutch focus mechanism on these lenses for easier focus pulling and pinpoint manual focus accuracy.

Links

Image Credits

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

Help support ‘Untitled’

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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro professional prime lenses with manual clutch focusing, brilliant for shooting video or stills where accurate focus is absolutely critical.

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

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  • Breakthrough PhotographyB&H – the finest brass traction-framed ND, UV and CPL filters as well as the best step-up rings (sadly only sold direct on the company’s own website at present).
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Blackmagic Design: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K ‘Nature’ [First footage from the BMPCC 4K, by Mark Wyatt]

“Mark Wyatt talks about using the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. ‘Nature’ is Mark’s test of the camera’s 4K performance in the extreme lighting conditions of rainforests and ravines.

“The camera tests I wanted to do were in the forests and waterfalls on the outer West Coast of Canada. I was really interested in seeing how the new sensor would handle these harsh lighting conditions. By increasing the ISO to an impressive 1250 and 2500, it allowed me to capture the dark moss-lined walls and unique emerald color, yet also hold onto the highlight detail of the top of the waterfall and sky. I feel most cameras would likely struggle with this scene.”

“I had the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K for only a few days, but overall I was really impressed by it. The weight of the camera is very liberating, especially when you are used to using larger camera systems. The screen is big and bright enough to use in daylight, which I found great for judging focus and exposure. And, the colors too on the screen, were also nicely represented. In fact, I would argue it is Blackmagic’s best screen yet.”…”

8sinn_bmpcc4k_preview_03_1024px_80pc
Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K in 8Sinn camera cage with Canon 24mm cinema prime lens.

Commentary

It is terrific to see the first footage from Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K finally begin to appear.

Now we need some footage containing skin tones in order to really begin to understand what the camera is capable of!

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Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens with manual clutch focussing.

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phillipreeve.net: The Man Behind the Lens: Mr. Li (Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D FE)

 https://phillipreeve.net/blog/the-man-behind-the-lens-mr-li-laowa-15mm-2-0-zero-d-fe/

PR: Dear Mr. Li, let me thank you for this opportunity to ask you some questions about your work and the process of designing a lens. But first we would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and your position at Laowa?…”

… PR: And a final question: Do you use the lenses you have designed yourself? And if so, what is your favorite lens and what do you use it for?

Mr. Li: I also use the lenses I designed. I used to love telezoom lenses but now I love macro lenses more, to capture the microscopic world. Seeing the world from a bug’s perspective is fascinating. At the same time, it helps me realise that this world does not belong only to humans. Humanity, rather, belongs to nature….

The Venus Optics Laowa lens collection as of January 2018 (9mm lens coming soon)

Commentary

I encountered Laowa brand lenses made by Anhui Changgeng Optics Technology Co., Ltd trading as Venus Optics when writing for another online publication and was impressed by their first two products, the 60mm f/2.8 2-to-1 twice life-size ultra-macro and 15mm f/4.0 wide-angle 1-to-1 life-size manual-focus macro prime lenses.

I have yet to encounter any Laowa lenses in the flesh, as it were, but am keeping a keen eye on developments in their product range and am pleased that they may soon be adding a second M43-mountable or at least adaptable wide-angle rectilinear lens in the 9mm f/2.8 lens, recently shared by FujiRumors.

We need more top-quality well-corrected manual-focus rectilinear M43 wide-angle prime lenses in my opinion, and the more choices the better.

With Venus Optics’ current 7.5mm M43 bestowing the 35mm sensor-size equivalent of 15mm, a 9mm lens would give us an 18mm equivalent.

Those 3mm are not as insignificant as they may seem – once we get down to the extreme wide end, 3mm in difference is noticeable especially when shooting architectural exteriors and interiors as well as scene-setting video footage.

I hope that Mr Li and the rest of the Laowa team have a 10.5mm (21mm in the 35mm sensor size) on the drawing boards, to give us a choice of three excellent super-wide prime lenses for stills and video, as an alternative to wide-end zoom lenses:

  • 7.5mm = 15mm (in 35mm)
  • 9mm = 18mm (in 35mm)
  • 10.5mm = 21mm (in 35mm)

Three well-corrected prime lenses evenly spaced 3mm apart in their 35mm equivalent focal lengths would make for a great little lightweight set of ultra-wide lenses.

By their very nature, prime lenses can be optically corrected more than zoom lenses, and while this may not be mission critical in stills photography where optical distortions can be corrected in raw processors and image editors, non-linear editing software for moviemaking cannot correct barrel and pincushion optical curvature.

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