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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

@#$%^&*!!!

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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

Lensrentals: Veydra Cine Mini Prime MTF Optical Bench Tests

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

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

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

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

Links

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  • Veydra Mini Prime ciné lensesB&H

TheCameraStoreTV: Focus By Wire: Why It Sucks (Featuring Possible Solutions!)

“It seems every other TCSTV episode, Jordan Drake is complaining about focus-by-wire lenses. So Jordan and Chris Niccolls decided to explain what focus-by-wire is, and why you probably don’t want it if you’re shooting video.”

Links

  • Fujifilm X lenses – Fujifilm makes some manual clutch focus prime lenses like the excellent Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R, Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR and Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R but the company really needs to add more such lenses to prove that it is serious about professional Super 35 video.
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses – The best lenses for Super 16 video shot with Micro Four Thirds cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH5 due to  their having manual clutch focus mechanisms. Draw back the focussing ring to switch from focus by wire into manual clutch focus with the benefit of fast, repeatable focussing without the variable focussing speed of focus by wire.

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  • Fujifilm XF 14mm f/2.8 R Ultra Wide-Angle LensB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR LensB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital MC-14 1.4x Teleconverter for 300mm and 40-150mm lensesB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H

Venus Optics: Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT

http://www.venuslens.net/product/laowa-7-5mm-f2/

“World’s Widest rectilinear f/2 lens for Micro Four Third cameras.

This lens is currently the widest rectilinear lens currently in the market for Micro Four Thirds Cameras. It gives an field of view equivalent to 15mm lenses in 35mm sensors. This allows MFT users to enjoy an impressive 110° ultra wide angle of view for a wide range of shooting needs despite the 2x crop factor. The wide angle of view and ultra-fast aperture are extremely valuable for astro-photography. This lens is super compact and lightweight for casual on-the-go use. A ultra-light version is also available for aerial photography usage….”

 

David Thorpe: A Look At Three Kowa Lenses for Micro Four Thirds Cameras

“They’re built like tanks, feature both T and F stops and have none of that new fangled data swapping between lens and camera.

8.5mm, 12mm or 25mm, take your choice. But check your bank account first!”

Equivalencies in 35mm format

  • 8.5mm in M43 = 17mm in 35mm format
  • 12mm in M43 = 24mm in 35mm format
  • 25mm in M43 = 50mm in 35mm format

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  • Kowa PROMINAR MFT 8.5mm f/2.8 Lens (Black)B&H
  • Kowa PROMINAR MFT 12mm f/1.8 Lens (Black)B&H
  • Kowa PROMINAR MFT 25mm f/1.8 Lens (Black)B&H

David Thorpe: A Look At The Metabones Speed Booster For Micro Four Thirds Cameras

“This is my take on the Metabones Speed Booster Nikon Version for Micro Four Thirds, M43, M4/3, MFT cameras….”

Links

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

  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital MC-14 1.4x TeleconverterB&H