Richard Wong: Panasonic Leica 10-25 mm f/ 1.7 In-Depth Review

“Panasonic Leica 10-25mm 1.7 is the fastest zoom lens from Panasonic/Leica. How is it’s build quality, image quality (sharpness,vignetting,CA,flare,distortion..etc)? Could this be a great lens for videographers or vloggers? How does it compare to the Leica prime lenses and what are the pros and cons of this lens? We’ll talk about all of these in this review.”

panasonic_leica_dg_vario-summilux_10-25mm_f1.7_aspheric_01_1024px
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric wide to standard zoom lens.

Links

  • 4/3 RumorsPanasonic Leica 10-25mm f/1.7 In-Depth Review by Richard Wong
  • Photo by RichardPanasonic Leica 10-25mm f/1.7 Review – article – “When Panasonic told me about this lens, they told me this is a lens that can replace multiple prime lenses. I was skeptical because zoom lens rarely can match the quality of prime lens. But after testing this lens, I agree with them. If you are a pro photographer or videographer who is currently rely on multiple prime lenses within this focal length range, I think you should consider switching to this amazing lens. It would make your life a lot easier without sacrificing the image quality.”
  • Richard WongPanasonic Leica 10-25 mm f/ 1.7 In-Depth Review – video

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  • Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 ASPH. LensB&H
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David Thorpe: A Look At Three Wide Aperture Sigma Lenses For Micro Four Thirds

“At a time when Olympus and Panasonic lens prices are going through the roof, Sigma offers these three f/1.4 ‘Contemporary’ lenses at sensible prices. Do they sacrifice sharpness, focus speed or build quality to price? Having owned, used and reviewed – many Sigma lenses over the years, I didn’t anticipate any nasty surprises and I didn’t find any. There were some nice surprises, though….”

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Sigma DC DN Contemporary prime lens roadmap for Sony E-mount and Micro Four Thirds mount.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4, 30mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary prime lenses for E-mount and M43-mount cameras

Commentary

sigma_30mm_f1.4_dc_dn_contemporary_m43-mount_02_1024px
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary fast prime lens in M43-mount and E-Mount on Sony and Olympus cameras.

Former Fleet Street press photographer David Thorpe is one of the least-known yet most-respected YouTube reviewers with a speciality in Micro Four Thirds system cameras and lenses, though I suspect he will be bending that speciality soon with coming reviews of Panasonic’s Lumix S-Series S1 and S1R 35mm sensor format cameras and lenses.

I have no hands-on experience of Sigma lenses whether prime or zoom, though I was lucky enough to inspect Paul Leeming’s Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens with Canon EF-mount that he has adapted for his Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and was impressed enough with its optics and construction that I am hoping to buy one of my own some time soon.

Clearly Sigma has something good going for it with its membership of the L-Mount alliance alongside Panasonic and Leica, and Mr Thorpe’s review of these three Sigma Contemporary collection prime lenses supports that impression.

With their 35mm sensor format equivalent focal lengths of 32mm, 60mm and 112mm, and fast, wide maximum apertures of f/1.4, and very reasonable pricing, these three lenses look well worth considering for use in stills photography.

I am now looking for some hard-core technical reviews of them for consideration as video lenses too.

My current impression of Sigma’s Contemporary lenses is that they are designed to work in connection with in-camera and image editing raw processing software for correction of any possible optical distortion, whereas Sigma’s Art lens collection that includes the 18-35mm f/1.8 zoom is reportedly designed to the finest of optical standards to obviate the need for correction in software.

That aside, I have been looking for a medium telephoto portrait lens for Micro Four Thirds for some time now, and Sigma’s 56mm f/1.4 DC DN C may well fill the bill.

nikon_micro-nikkor_105mmf2.8_01_1024px_60pc
Nikon Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 manual focus, manual exposure macro lens.

I originally got into portrait photography with Nikon’s Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4.0 lens and focal lengths closer to 105mm in the 35mm sensor format are my first choice for work in the genre, so the 112mm equivalent of the 56mm lens is not a bad approximation.

The Sigma 56mm offers the advantage of a wide aperture to blur distracting backgrounds if necessary.

Similarly, I discovered long ago that my preferred main focal length for immersive documentary and photojournalism work is 28mm in the 35mm sensor format, and Sigma’s 16mm f/1.4 DC DN C with its 32mm equivalent focal length is not too far from that.

I like to be able to use my lenses for cinematography and photography, and prefer lenses that perform well in both applications given raw processing can correct optical distortions in still images but non-linear editing software cannot do the same for video.

My favourite raw processing software for raw files shot on Panasonic cameras is DxO PhotoLab so I am hoping that DxO has added camera-and-lens profiles for all three of these Sigma lenses for recent and current Lumix cameras to its database.

Off to DxOMark and time to drop into some camera stores to touch, try and shoot some sample pix with these three lenses so I can crack some raw files open in DxO PhotoLab, DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

  • Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary LensB&H
  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary LensB&H
  • Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary LensB&H
  • Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art LensB&H

ePHOTOzine: Panasonic Leica DG VARIO-SUMMILUX 10-25mm f/1.7 ASPH Hands-On

https://www.ephotozine.com/article/panasonic-leica-dg-vario-summilux-10-25mm-f-1-7-asph-hands-on-33371

“Panasonic are showing a working version of the new Leica 10-25mm f/1.7 Micro Four Thirds lens, at The Photography Show 2019, at the Birmingham NEC. We had a hands-on look at the new lens, which was first shown, in prototype form, at Photokina 2018. The lens gives the equivalent of 20mm to 50mm, and is lighter than it looks, considering the (large) size of the lens….”

panasonic_leica_dg_vario-summilux_10-25mm_f1.7_01_1024px
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 zoom lens currently under development. It may prove to be a great primary lens for available light documentary moviemaking and photography on M43-mount cameras including those made by Blackmagic Design, Olympus and Panasonic. Photograph originally published at CVP.com, showing manual clutch focus mechanism in operation. Photographs by Joseph Waller of ePHOTOzine do not show a manual clutch focus mechanism however. So far it is unknown as to whether the mechanism will make it into the final version of t he lens. Double the numbers on the zoom ring for their 35mm equivalents – 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 36mm and 50mm.

Commentary

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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro prime lens with manual clutch focusing via retracting focus control ring. Equivalent to 90mm in the 35mm sensor format. If only ALL lenses offered manual clutch focus!

When I went looking for the best lens for documentary photography and video after I decided to invest in Panasonic’s Lumix Micro Four Thirds camera range, I read about and tried out a number of options including adapted and native prime and zoom lenses.

After narrowing the options down, it was a contest between the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II Aspheric Power OIS and the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro and, after a lengthy tryout of both lenses, the Olympus zoom lens won hands-down.

The single biggest reason?

The M.Zuiko Pro lens collection’s manual clutch focus mechanism that is activated by retracting the focus-by-wire control ring towards the camera body.

“Pulling focus with focus-by-wire sucks,” as they say in the video industry.

I rapidly obtained critically sharp focus for stills with the M.Zuiko Pro 12-40mm f/2.8 zoom more times than I did with the Panasonic lens’ focusing control ring or the camera’s autofocus functionality, and that capability outweighed the Lumix 12-35mm lens’ rather attractive optical image stabilization.

I still rely on my M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens for mission-critical work after having tried out and invested in a number of Lumix prime and zoom lenses, and may well be adding more M.Zuiko Pro primes and zooms in future.

Then news leaked out of Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 zoom lens being in development, full feature set then unknown as it still is, and things shifted somewhat.

leica_summilux+_lineup_21-90mm_square_1920px_80pc
Leica worked out the best prime lens focal length line-up for documentary photography and photojournalism in 35mm years ago and it remains the benchmark and role model for other lens makers to this very day. The only focal length missing from this lens collection is 40mm, which Leica made for the Leica CL rangefinder camera which was later taken over by Minolta as the Minolta CLE with 40mm standard lens as well as a 28mm and 90mm lens. Too many contemporary lens makers leave out 28mm and 75mm lenses and their equivalents for other sensor formats. Why? Both these focal lengths are amongst the most essential for documentary photography and photojournalism as well as video.

This lens is the closest so far to the ideal zoom lens I had visualized when buying into the Micro Four Thirds system.

I had imagined a lens with a range encompassing every single focal length I rely upon when shooting documentary photographs and video, with the exception of the portrait and big close-up range of 75mm through 85mm and 90mm to 105mm.

Imagine that focal length range in a similarly fast and wide maximum aperture standard-to-telephoto companion zoom lens.

Questions persisted for some time as to whether the Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 would have optical image stabilization and whether it would come with manual clutch focus.

Many professional photographers and videographers have reportedly been asking Panasonic for the latter in new lenses for quite some time now, to no avail.

It is great to finally see a little more of the Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 in Joseph Waller’s photographs for ePHOTOzine of a pre-production version, but there is no mention nor evidence of a manual clutch focus mechanism in the article and its photographs.

I have asked a contact who is attending The Photography Show 2019 in Birmingham to see if she can get hold of the lens and confirm whether or not it actually has the crucial focusing functionality.

Watch this space!

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Olympus lens roadmap as of February 13, 2019.

Meanwhile I am wondering what Olympus has in store with its most recently updated lens roadmap, especially in regard to the “Wide Zoom” and “Standard Zoom” items, not to forget “Bright Prime Lens” and “Telephoto Zoom Lens” which appears twice.

Imagine all those lenses with the brilliant M.Zuiko Pro manual clutch focus mechanism.

Kiss goodbye to the frustrations of pulling focus via fly-by-wire.

Postscript

My Birmingham contact is pretty sure that the Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7’s aperture ring is declicked.

Now waiting for her to have hands on with the lens and confirm whether there is a manual clutch focus mechanism.

Post-postscript

Photography Blog posts pictorial confirmation that manual clutch focusing has finally come to a Panasonic lens.

Well I think that is evidence enough that Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 will have manual clutch focusing mechanism and thus accurate and repeatable focus pulling for video.

It will also have the ability to quickly and accurately set hyperfocal distance, a necessity when zone focusing for high-speed forms of documentary or photographing in the street, as well as landscape photography.

Hyperfocal distance can be calculated using online forms or mobile apps, and a number of options can be found online here.

Fully manual focus lenses such as the Leica M-Series rangefinder camera lenses illustrated up this page provide beautifully-etched scales allowing quick calculation of hyperfocal distance, a functionality I often yearn for when photographing in public with digital cameras and lenses.

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric zoom lens and Lumix DC-G9 camera. Photographed by Joshua Waller for ePHOTOzine.

Whet now remains is for a late pre-production Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric zoom lens to find its way into the hands of professional cinematographers and photographers for extensive testing and reporting on its mechanical and optical quality.

This lens has the potential to replace a range of prime lenses in one’s daily gear kit, in my case the 35mm sensor equivalents of 21mm, 28mm, 35mm, 40mm and 50mm.

Neither Olympus nor Panasonic supply all those focal lengths as prime lenses, though I hope that situation will change in the near future.

The Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric will not be a cheap lens given Panasonic’s ambitions in producing it, but whatever its price on release, it would be wise to compare it to what those five focal lengths might cost as f/1.7 prime lenses.

There are other potential benefits.

Of all the brands of aluminium and brass step-up rings I have tried, those made by Breakthrough Photography have proven to be the best and are unique in their top quality machining and easy-handling traction frame.

The Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric’s filter diameter is 77mm, and I would recommend attaching a Breakthrough Photography 77mm to 82mm knurled brass step-up ring to it for attaching 82mm diameter fixed and variable neutral density filters when shooting video.

Whether the Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric zoom lens is heavy or not, its size would benefit from attaching a vertical battery grip to your camera if it is a Panasonic.

I like most cameras to be equipped with vertical battery grips for added power when shooting video and ease of handholding in portrait photography.

The countdown to NAB 2019 is well advanced and it will be interesting to see if Panasonic shows off mockups of the coming Lumix DC-GH6 hybrid M43 camera.

I am hoping that Panasonic will combine the best of the Lumix DC-GH5 and GH5S in the GH6 while taking into account the challenges presented by the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, Fujifilm’s X-T3 and X-H1 while bearing in mind the coming X-H2, as well as the 35mm sensor-equipped mirrorless cameras now released by Canon, Nikon, Leica and, indeed, Panasonic itself.

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Zhiyun-Tech Weebill Lab gimbal stabilizer.

While the Super 35 format has its many attractions, the smaller and lighter cameras and lenses of Super 16 moviemaking still allow you to go places where the larger 35mm cameras and lenses can draw undue attention.

The photographs of the 10-25mm f/1.7 lens published by ePHOTOzine and Photography Blog appear to have been shot on mobile phones and optical exaggerations make it hard to accurately judge the lens’ size in relation to the camera or the hands holding them.

Nonetheless, I have no problem with the idea of carrying this one lens about almost permanently attached to any Panasonic M43 camera whether with battery grip or not, or a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Camera 4K for that matter, though I would be tempted to consider the Zhiyun-Tech Weebill Lab or Crane 3 Lab as appropriate if stabilization is a necessity when shooting with the BMPCC 4K.

Links

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  • Olympus LensesB&H
  • Panasonic Cameras – B&H
  • Panasonic LensesB&H

At Last! SLR Magic Releases Full Set of Affordable Cinema MicroPrimes for Fujifilm X-Mount Super 35/APS-C Cameras

I have been waiting for someone to announce a complete set of affordable, matched cinema prime  lenses for Fujifilm X-Mount Super 35/APS-C hybrid mirrorless cameras for a long time, at least since Fujifilm announced its then coming affordable MK-series of matched parfocal cinema zoom lenses, and finally, here they are, an initial set of six X-mount cinema prime lenses by Hong Kong-based cinema optics specialists SLR Magic ranging from 12mm through to 75mm with a (hopefully) possible 15mm also coming. 

Duclos Lenses came up with a Fujifilm X-Mount option for Veydra’s Mini Primes that can cover the Super 35/APS-C format.

I had thought that US company Veydra might be the first one to achieve this breakthrough but when they dropped plans for a very necessary wide-angle lens to complete its offerings, the writing was on the wall.

Now Veydra has been dropped altogether from B&H Photo Video, and the Veydra website appears to be semi-functional at best so it looks like the feisty little US left coast newcomer may be no more.

Before its apparent demise, Veydra had only released, from memory, five focal lengths suitable for adapting to Fujifilm’s APS-C/Super 35 X-mount cameras and that was courtesy of an optional X-Mount Kit for self-installation by purchasers.

The Veydras’ other built-in limitation was their Mini Primes’ adherence to a common 77mm filter diameter on all lenses rather than 82mm, the latter all the better to avoid vignetting in wider focal lengths.

Luckily the new SLR Magic MicroPrimes come with no such limitation, all coming with 82mm filter diameters suitable for use with the company’s own SLR Magic 82mm Self-Locking Variable Neutral Density 0.4 to 1.8 Filter (1.3 to 6 Stops) or other 82mm diameter variable NDs like those made by Aurora-Aperture, Simmod Lens and a host of other filter manufacturers, as well as fixed value neutral density filters by SLR Magic and a great many others.

Not just for video production?

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Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R prime lens, regrettably much too slow to focus manually or via autofocus and its aperture ring too flakey and quirky for fast-paced professional work in stills and video, though some folks seem to like it for the quirkiness that made it frustrating for me.

There is no reason why cinema lenses cannot do sterling service for stills photography so long as their gearing does not get in the way.

Several of the SLR Magic Cinema MicroPrimes may well do a great job filling the gaps in Fujifilm’s current Fujinon XF prime lens offerings, and the 18mm MicroPrime may provide a great pro-quality alternative to the quirky Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R lens so long as you use it with an electronic viewfinder given the former’s 82mm filter diameter which would intrude too much into the X-Pro2’s Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder.

  • 12mm in APS-C = 18mm in 35mm sensor format
  • 18mm in APS-C = 27mm in 35mm sensor format
  • 25mm in APS-C = 37.5mm in 35mm sensor format
  • 35mm in APS-C = 52.5mm in 35mm sensor format
  • 50mm in APS-C = 75mm in 35mm sensor format
  • 75mm in APS-C = 112.5mm in 35mm sensor format
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Nikon Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 manual focus, manual exposure macro lens, the one that got me into portrait photography. I would love a 105mm equivalent as a native X-mount lens.

Fujifilm does not currently offer a 12mm nor a 75mm prime lens, and I badly feel the lack of a professional quality 18mm when shooting immersive documentary photographs in crowds where there is simply no room to step backwards with less wide lenses and ultra-wide lenses are altogether too wide.

There is another advantage to a manual-focusing 18mm 28mm equivalent lens with a well-marked focusing scale – easily setting hyperfocal distance when shooting so-called “street photography”.

The SLR Magic 12mm may be suitable for architectural and scenic photography, provided its optical qualities test well, and the 75mm is close to my preferred full-face frontal focal length of 105mm in the 35mm sensor format.

It is currently unclear as to whether SLR Magic intends to release a 15mm X-mount MicroPrime, but that focal length would also have its uses for video and stills photography.

  • 15mm in APS-C = 22.5mm in 35mm sensor format
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Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R prime lens with manual clutch focus.

One of my favourite focal lengths for truly immersive, highly emotive documentary photography is 21mm in the 35mm sensor format, and the 15mm MicroPrime comes close.

The Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R is one of the far too few Fujifilm lenses that has manual clutch focus and hard stops at both ends of the distance scale, along with the XF 23mm f/1.4 R and XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR prime lenses.

When these manual clutch focusing primes first started appearing, I had hoped it was the start of Fujifilm adding this crucial ability to all future prime and zoom lenses but I was to be very disappointed.

As many cinematographers have variously stated about lenses without manual clutch focus or manual focusing rings, pulling focus on lenses without either sucks.

Especially when using follow-focus devices.

SLR Magic makes fixed and variable NDs as well as IR-cutting enhancer filters

The news of SLR Magic’s announcement of its MicroPrimes is recent and so far I have not come across any pre-release reviews of pre-production versions so have no idea of their optical quality and lack of optical distortion or otherwise.

I remain hopeful, though, and look forward to the full set of X-mount MicroPrimes finding its way to well-qualified professional videographers for assessment.

The Super 35 sensor format is a great one for narrative, commercial and feature-style documentary moviemaking though I also appreciate the grittier Super 16 documentary style afforded by Panasonic’s GH5 and GH5S, as well as the possibilities of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K especially now that it has received its Blackmagic Raw firmware update.

Meanwhile I am thinking seriously about whether some of SLR Magic’s X-mount MicroPrimes may answer some of my long-standing need for professional-quality manual focus-capable primes for documentary and portrait stills photography in certain undercatered-for focal lengths.

Such lenses would do well on my Fujifilm X-Pro2 and even better on the amazing X-T3 and the even better-gripped X-H1 for stills and video, given the latter two cameras’ superior electronic viewfinders, though I certainly hope that the X-Pro3’s EVF improves radically over its predecessor’s EVF.

Fujifilm’s X-mount MKX 18-55mm and 50-135mm T2.9 parfocal cinema zoom lenses

Where to see, try and buy SLR Magic MicroPrime Cinema X-mount lenses in Sydney?

In the absence of an all-things-to-all-people megastore in Australia, and the difficulty of finding smaller brands like SLR Magic here in Sydney, I went looking for other possibilities and discovered the following:

  • Media + Entertainment Tech Expo, Sydney – exhibition 18-20 July 2019, venue location TBA at time of writing but likely to be either Darling Harbour or Moore Park.
  • C.R.Kennedy Photo Imaging – importer, distributor and retailer of a wide range of photo and video products including SLR Magic filters, lenses and other optical accessories. Many brands unavailable in retail stores here are imported and retailed by this company, such as G-Technology HDDs and SSDs, in my experience the most reliable mainstream brand of them all and yet oddly enough the hardest to find, even in Apple Stores which used to be the most reliable stockists. C.R.Kennedy most likely will be exhibiting at the above expo in July.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

  • Digital Cinema Lenses, Fujifilm X-MountB&H
  • Aurora-Aperture 82mm Power XND Mark II Variable ND 0.3 to 2.1 Filter (1 to 7-Stop)B&H
  • Aurora-Aperture 82mm Power XND Mark II Variable ND 1.5 to 3.3 Filter (5 to 11-Stop)B&H
  • Fujifilm XF LensesB&H
  • FUJIFILM MKX18-55mm T2.9 Lens (Fuji X-Mount)B&H
  • FUJIFILM MKX50-135mm T2.9 Lens (Fuji X-Mount)B&H
  • FUJIFILM X-H1 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body with Battery Grip KitB&H
  • FUJIFILM X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • FUJIFILM X-T3 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body with Battery Grip KitB&H
  • SLR Magic 82mm Image Enhancer Pro FilterB&H
  • SLR Magic 82mm Self-Locking Variable Neutral Density 0.4 to 1.8 Filter (1.3 to 6 Stops)B&H
  • SLR Magic 86mm Solid Neutral Density 1.2 Image Enhancer Filter (4-Stop)B&H
  • SLR Magic MicroPrime Cine 12mm T2.8 Lens (Fuji X Mount)B&H
  • SLR Magic MicroPrime Cine 18mm T2.8 Lens (Fuji X Mount)B&H
  • SLR Magic MicroPrime Cine 25mm T1.5 Lens (Fuji X Mount)B&H
  • SLR Magic MicroPrime Cine 35mm T1.3 Lens (Fuji X Mount)B&H
  • SLR Magic MicroPrime Cine 50mm T1.2 Lens (Fuji X Mount) – B&H
  • SLR Magic MicroPrime Cine 75mm T1.5 Lens (Fuji X Mount)B&H

Fujifilm GFX 50R Medium Format Rangefinder-Style Camera Touch and Try Event at Ted’s World of Imaging, Sydney, Thursday 1st November 2018

Warrewyk Williams of Fujifilm Australia presented the Fujifilm GFX 50R Touch and Try event at Ted’s World of Imaging in Sydney. Photograph copyright Karin Gottschalk 2018, all rights reserved.

Fujifilm Australia’s Warrewyk Williams arrived at the Touch and Try event at Ted’s World of Imaging in Sydney last night with one of the few, if not the only, Fujifilm GFX 50R medium format rangefinder-style digital cameras along with a selection of G Mount lenses, Fujifilm GFX 50S DSLR-style medium format camera, Fujifilm X-H1, Instax printers and more. 

The event provided an opportunity for a brief but informative hands-on with the GFX 50R with the proviso that the camera is a pre-production model with pre-release firmware and so comes with possible quirks and operating speed reductions. 

This event was particularly welcome as I have not had the opportunity to touch or try the X-H1, GFX 50S or any of Fujifilm’s Instax products, given the closure of our local top-end camera stores, and I have long been hoping and waiting for a digital version of Fujifilm’s justly loved and celebrated “Texas Leica” 120 roll film analog cameras of the past. 

fujifilm_gfx_50r_18_1024px_60pc
Fujifilm GFX 50R with Fujinon GF 45mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens, equivalent to 35mm in 35mm format.

Some “Texas Leica” medium format rangefinder cameras from the analog era, made by Fujifilm, Bronica and Mamiya

Fujifilm, as well as Bronica and Mamiya, made some remarkable 120 roll film rangefinder cameras with Fujifilm producing a huge variety of “Texas Leicas” in the 6×4.5cm, 6x6cm, 6x7cm, 6x8cm and 6x9cm formats and for all I know may well have produced 6x9cm and 6x12cm cameras too.

I continue to search for top quality photographs of these and other cameras in the hopes of preserving some of the camera-building achievements of the past, some of which may trickle down to the present day.

The Fujifilm GFX 50R has clearly benefited from Fujifilm’s analog innovations, its look and feel reminding me of the company’s larger 120 roll film cameras while also sharing a great deal of the X-Pro2’s own DNA.

Fujifilm GFX 50R Touch and Try

Reeling off a few snapshots with an unfamiliar and pre-production camera is hardly a thorough real-world test but the experience reminded me that documentary photography and portraiture with a medium format camera is a very different thing to making the same sorts of photographs with a small, fast, agile, gestural camera like the X-Pro2 or X-T3.

Making reportage and portraits photographs with the GFX 50R and GFX 50S is more akin to how I used to work handheld with my Hasselblad, Mamiya 7 and even my Crown Graphic 4″x5″ sheet film 4field camera – slower, more deliberate and with fewer shots than I would make on APS-C or Micro Four Thirds cameras.

I tried two lenses, the Fujinon GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR and the Fujinon GF 120mm f/4.0 Macro R LM OIS WR in emulation of the two-lens moderate wide and medium telephoto kits I had for my medium and large format analog cameras.

I learned that, aside from the coming-soon Fujinon GF 50mm f3.5 R LM WR pancake lens, equivalent to about 40mm in the 35mm sensor format, more wide prime lenses are planned for GF mount cameras along with the  Fujinon GF 45-100mm f/4.0 R LM OIS WR and Fujinon GF 100-200mm f/5.6 R LM OIS WR zoom lenses currently slated for 2019 and 2020 releases on Fujifilm’s G Mount Lens Roadmap.

The Fujifilm GFX 50R is, for me, a combination rangefinder-style and small field view camera, for use primarily handheld but also on a portable but sturdy tripod such as 3 Legged Thing’s Winston or those made by Really Right Stuff, for making environmental and full-face portrait photographs.

My quick and dirty test shots indicate that it has the image quality of an analog sheet film camera rather than a 120 roll film camera, and I would prefer to use prime lenses with it rather than zooms.

Warrewyk Williams estimates the focal length equivalence factor at 0.79 for Fujifilm’s G Mount lenses, making the 45mm equivalent to 35.55 in 35mm terms and the 120mm equivalent to 94.8 in 35mm terms.

Other lenses worth considering for my sort of portrait photography include the Fujinon GF 110mm f/2.0 R LM WR equivalent to 86.9mm and hopefully a soon-to-come 35mm GF lens equivalent to 28mm.

Not to be discounted is the Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4.0 R LM WR zoom lens which provides at least three useful focal lengths for different forms of portraiture, in 35mm equivalent terms 28mm, 35mm and 50mm, and is available right now rather than waiting for fast prime lenses to come.

A two or three lens kit for the GFX 50R may be all I would need for portraiture should I invest in digital medium format.

While it is too early too come to conclusions about the GFX 50R and its lenses, I have been particularly struck by the superb 3D image rendering in the available light snapshot portrait of Warrewyk Williams above and am very much looking forward to exploring more of the creative possibilities of Fujifilm’s GFX camera and lens system very soon.

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Image Credits

Portrait of Warrewyk Williams made by Karin Gottschalk on Fujifilm medium format camera with Fujinon GF 120mm f4.0 R LM OIS WR Macro lens as five autoexposure brackets processed in Skylum Aurora HDR 2019 with film emulation LUT applied and further processing in Skylum Luminar.

Documentary photographs made by Karin Gottschalk on Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens.

Header image of GFX 50R made by Jonas Rask for Fujifilm.

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Sigma Fills the Gap with 28mm f/1.4 and 40mm f/1.4 Art Lenses, Two of the Most Currently Neglected Prime Lens Focal Lengths

With almost every new camera coming with a kit zoom lens and the popular image of newspaper photographers stalking the streets with three DSLRs and the usual wide, standard and telephoto zoom lens trio, prime lenses have taken a back seat and most lens makers seem to have forgotten some of the most useful, most classic prime lenses upon which documentary photographers and moviemakers once depended upon to earn their living. 

I am referring to the 28mm and 40mm focal lengths with the former documentary photographer’s go-to wide angle lens and the latter a favourite focal length of many of the great Hollywood feature film cinematographers and directors. 

While I remain hopeful that other camera and lens makers will soon release professional-quality 28mm and 40mm lenses for 35mm sensor cameras and their equivalents in other sensor formats, Sigma Corporation has led the way in creating the Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM | Art and Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM | Art prime lenses for 35mm sensor cameras.

In the Micro Four Thirds sensor format, their equivalents would be 14mm and 20mm, and in the APS-C sensor format they would be 18mm and 27mm.

While all of those focal lengths are catered for with pancake or near-pancake lenses in APS-C by Fujifilm and in M43 by Panasonic, none are suitable for the rigours of professional-level documentary photography and photojournalism, or feature film and documentary moviemaking.

The 28mm focal length, superb for documenting people in places without optical distortions detracting from the story

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Photograph made by Karin Gottschalk with Fujifilm X-Pro2 and Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 OIS kit zoom lens at 18mm setting, equivalent to 28mm in 35mm sensor format.
Photograph made by Karin Gottschalk with Fujifilm X-T3 and Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 OIS kit zoom lens at 18mm setting, equivalent to 28mm in 35mm sensor format. If only Fujifilm made a professional quality 18mm prime lens!

Prime lenses in 24mm equivalent focal lengths such as 16mm in APS-C and 12mm in M43 appear to be touted these days as the “replacement” for 28mm and its equivalents, but 24mm super wide angle lenses have inherent optical distortions and volume deformations that must be corrected in software in-camera and on-computer.

I rarely use 24mm, preferring instead 21mm for establishing shots and tiny-figure-in-landscape images as well as architecture, but when I am not carrying the wider lens and only have a zoom lens with 24mm at its widest find I must apply DxO ViewPoint after processing the raw file.

The other big difference between 28mm and 24mm?

Photographs made with the 28mm draw attention to the contents of the image itself whereas photographs made with the 24mm often draw attention to the lens that was applied.

I know which one I prefer for immersive documentary photography that respects the subject and enhances the story.

The most famous 40mm lenses were introduced with the Leica CL and Minolta CLE

The 40mm focal length is often characterized as “perfect normal” as opposed to the “standard normal” of the 50mm focal length that was introduced as standard with the first Leica cameras in the early 20th century.

Stop press: Zeiss announces Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2.0 prime lens for Sony E-Mount cameras

As I was writing this article news arrived of Zeiss’ announcement at photokina 2018 of its new Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2.0 prime lens, characterized as “the versatile lens”.

Some 35mm DSLR camera and lens makers still produce 40mm lenses as low-price options such as Canon while Voigtlaender has several 40mm lenses for DSLR and rangefinder cameras.

The 40mm focal length is also available in some high end cinema prime lens brands.

Leica and Minolta’s 40mm lenses were discontinued at the same time as the cameras for which they were designed, but remain popular purchases on the second-hand market.

Now that Sigma is a member of the L-Mount Alliance, let’s hope that the company comes up with a wide range of L-mount Art prime and zoom lenses including 28mm and 40mm.

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XTRAS: All about that Hood

http://fujixtras.blogspot.com/2015/08/all-about-that-hood.html

“… There’s a lot of good things to say about the Fujifilm lens hoods though. They do come included with the lenses, and provide more than adequate light shielding and protection for the front lens element. They can be mounted reversed to save space in your bag, and are made of solid mass-colored plastic to resist dents and scratches (the 18 and 35 metal ones are the exception for both last attributes).

But they remain cumbersome, tend to come off or knock loose when banging around in crowds, are a pain to mount/unmount when changing lenses, and look quite a bit, well… boring….

… Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives available. Some come from traditional third party accessory brands, others spawn out of Chinese workshops courtesy of eBay….”

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Fujifilm LH-XF23 Lens Hood for Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R prime lens. Chinese accessories maker JJC and the Vello brand of US company Gradus Group make more affordable alternatives that look and work the same. I bought the one by JJC recently and like it, though I am also looking for a Leica-style circular lens hood with multiple vents that do not obscure the view through my X-Pro2’s optical viewfinder.

Some third-party lens hoods for Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R prime lens

Commentary

Recently I bit the bullet and ordered a JJC brand lens hood for the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R prime lens (equivalent to 35mm in 35mm sensor cameras) as a replacement for the plastic petal lens hood that was supplied with the lens.

I have been going without a lens hood for quite some time now, relying for protection on the excellent Breakthrough Photography 62mm knurled brass traction framed UV filter I keep permanently mounted on that lens.

I find that lens hoods are essential protection when using my cameras in city crowds where people seem to enjoy smashing into each other or hurling out of shop doorways at high speed without bothering to look.

I often wonder if many people now live in virtual worlds in their own minds, where other people are simply background figures to be walked through as if random collections of pixels on a screen.

Fujifilm’s supplied petal lens hood protrudes into my X-Pro2’s optical viewfinder and it can often be annoying to lose sight of that part of the frame, even though I usually have my camera set so that its electronic rangefinder shows a full view of the scene at the lower right of the OVF.

The JJC lens hood, bought from an Australian-based supplier of several Chinese accessories brands including JJC, arrived faster than if I had bought its Fujifilm or Vello equivalents from B&H or ebay and it is working out well, being robust and protective of the front element and filter of my most-used lens.

It has already done its job while photographing an event in some heavily packed rooms where the participants seem to have limited vision or simply did not care who and what they bumped into.

I am looking for an alternative lens hood though, something lighter and smaller and with vents in exactly the right place to allow less obscured vision through the X-Pro2’s OVF, in the same way that Leica’s vented lens hoods work with the company’s M-Series rangefinder lenses.

The article I have linked to here is one of the most researched on the subject of lens hoods for Fujifilm lenses, and through it I have located an eBay supplier in China that makes multiple-vented 62mm screw-in lens hoods.

Shortly after I bought the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens, I came across a European supplier of third-party Fujifilm accessories who claimed that their lightweight  62mm vented screw-in lens hood had vents that did not obscure vision through the OVF.

It did the opposite.

Caveat emptor, I suppose.

With luck and the article by XTRAS, I may have found a lightweight vented lens hood that actually does its job.

We shall see!

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Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R prime lens with manual clutch focus, equivalent to 35mm in the 35mm sensor format.

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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….”

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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.

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

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The Atlantic: How the 50-mm Lens Became ‘Normal’, by Allan Daigle

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/05/how-the-50-mm-lens-became-normal/560276/

“… One lens in particular—the 50-mm lens—is often seen as the most objective of objectifs, and it is said to be the lens that best approximates human visual perspective. For example, the precision-lens manufacturer Zeiss states that its Planar 50-mm lens is “equal to the human eye.” Many artists have taken up 50-mm lenses to render ordinary, everyday experience….

… But the concept of “normal vision,” let alone the 50-mm lens’s ability to reproduce it, is hardly a given. The idea that a 50-mm best approximates human sight has more to do with the early history of lens production than any essential optical correspondence between the lens and the eye….

… Perhaps the 50-mm communicates an anxiety about whether an individual can understand someone else’s vision. Under the right circumstances, a 50-mm lens does create a perspectival relationship that, more or less, approximates the ways the majority of people see their everyday world. But it’s still relative….”

Commentary

minolta_cle_japan_camera_hunter_1024px_60pc
The legendary Minolta CLE 35mm analog film camera with 40mm f/2.0 perfect normal prime lens, photograph courtesy of Japan Camera Hunter.

The relevance of 50mm focal length in 35mm sensor format being “normal” or “standard” has long been in dispute with opponents often pointing out that the mathematical  definition of “perfect normal” in that sensor format makes it closer to 40mm, hence the 40mm “normal” lens supplied with the Leica CL and its successor, the Minolta CLE.

Viewing the world through the narrower 50mm focal length appears to be more a matter of habituation than human biology, as I deduced many times over when teaching art students new to photography.

Human binocular vision is capable of encompassing a view over 180-degrees when staring directly ahead and without moving the eyes, as indicated by the results of my tests with new photographers, and that instantly opened their eyes to seeing the world beyond the single prime object of interest, rapidly progressing into keenly observing the relationships between near and far, left and right, above and below.

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Photographed with Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric lens on Panasonic DMC-GX8 rangefinder-style camera with tilting electronic viewfinder. The 25mm focal length in Micro Four Thirds is equivalent to 35mm in APS-C and 50mm in the 35mm sensor format aka “full format” or “full frame”.

While the 50mm focal length and its equivalents of 25mm in Micro Four Thirds and 35mm in APS-C have their uses, especially in video and portraiture, I recommend considering focal lengths often described as “perfect normal” such as 40mm in 35mm format, 27mm in APS-C and 20mm in Micro Four Thirds, for the way they better embed their prime subject within a field of background relationships with objects, people and places.

I also recommend reading the analog film and digital sensor normal lens tables in Wikipedia at Normal lens for focal lengths derived from actual film and sensor sizes.

Some “Nifty Forty” lenses for 35mm format sensors

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