Veydra LLC, maker of the Veydra Mini Prime manual-focus cinema lenses for Micro Four Thirds, Sony E-Mount and Fujifilm X-Mount cameras, is no more.
Veydra’s Ryan Avery recently announced the company’s demise on its Facebook page, bringing to an abrupt end the story of this doughty little lens maker, throwing into confusion affordable native geared cinema prime lens choices for independent moviemakers.
With its mission statement being “Veydra lenses are designed to be premium quality cinema lenses at the absolute minimum retail price”, Veydra gave thousands the opportunity of using cinema lenses instead of the more common stills-oriented non-cinema zoom and prime lenses we have come to rely upon despite their shortcomings for video use.
Veydra LLC has gone out of business due to the conclusion of ongoing litigation between the founders of the company.
I offer special thanks to everyone involved in the success of Veydra; first and foremost all Veydra Kickstarter backers and customers. Specific thanks to those who made it possible from the start; Phil Holland, Illya Friedman, Matthew Duclos, Joshua Brown, Alex Jacobs, and all the supporters too numerous to mention here.
It’s been a wonderful journey and I thank you all for your support and kindness.
Social media rumours have it that there was some conflict at Veydra about one partner licensing his lens designs out to another company, Meike, but another factor leading to Veydra’s end may have been the theft of US$200,000 worth of lenses from the company’s warehouse in 2017, after which the company seemed to drop off the radar.
There are cinema prime lens alternatives, however, with SLR Magic releasing an intriguing set of lenses for Super 16 and Super 35 digital cameras in M43, E-Mount and X-Mount.
Another option is Fujifilm’s impressive MKX cinema zoom lenses available in two focal length ranges and now in the same there mounts.
Should Fujifilm continue delivering on its promise to radically improve video functionality on its XF APS-C/Super 35 cameras, SLR Magic’s seven lens collection appears attractive with the lenses’ 18mm, 22.5mm, 27mm, 37.5mm, 52.5mm and 112.5mm equivalence in the 35mm sensor format.
So far Meike has only released three cinema prime lenses and not in all three mounts, in 12mm, 16mm and 25mm focal lengths, so time will tell whether the company is fully committed to supplying a full set of primes in three mounts.
A prime lens alternative? SLR Magic MicroPrime Cinema Lenses for Micro Four Thirds, Fujifilm X-Mount and Sony E-Mount.
“Sigma just patented two new Micro Four Thirds lenses: 14mm f/1.2 and 35mm f/1.2. Now you will wonder…what has this to do with Panasonic? Because Sigma is known to sell those lens designs to Panasonic. The Leica 12mm f/1.4 for example is designed by Sigma…
That’s why there is a high chance the 14mm and 35mm f/1.2 prime lenses will be released by Panasonic (maybe using Leica brand)….”
Or maybe there is an even higher chance that Sigma is planning on selling these two new f/1.2 prime lens designs to Olympus for its top-tier M.Zuiko Pro lens collection to go with its current 17mm, 25mm and 45mm f/1.2 primes?
Sigma Corporation, like Cosina and several other mostly Japanese companies, is an OEM manufacturer of lenses for other brands and apparently has already sold lens designs to Olympus, such as the 150mm-equivalent M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8, considered to be one of the optically finest Micro Four Thirds lenses available.
Sigma apparently was known for some years as a budget lens maker but its Art range of premium lenses proved that it belongs in the ranks of professional-quality lens makers now.
Sigma’s recently released Ciné prime and zoom lens collection cements the company’s reputation firmly in place as does, on the adapted lens front, the company’s much-lauded Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art, often first choice in combo with Metabones Speed Boosters for M43 video camera users working in available darkness.
Two documentary movie and photography favourites, 28mm and 75mm
My two preferred documentary prime lens focal lengths are 28mm and 75mm in 35mm sensor equivalence and they are my first choice when buying into a new camera system.
That choice is often thwarted, though, by their equivalents’ unavailability as native lenses in some mirrorless camera systems or, in the case of Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R, an ageing lens’ quirky mechanical qualities making it next to useless for a high speed approach necessitated by the nature of my subjects and their circumstances.
28mm equivalent prime lenses by Fujifilm, Leica and Panasonic
Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II Aspheric pancake prime lens, which appears to be missing in action from most if not all retailers now.
Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R prime lens. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.
Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 Aspheric prime lens for Leica M-Mount. Image courtesy of Leica.
Panasonic’s pancake prime, the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II, had vanished from most retailers after I tried a review loaner out and although I made some great photographs with it, its performance was suboptimal for everything I wanted to do with it, not least due to its lack of a focussing ring.
I and many other Fujifilm camera users are still waiting for the company to issue its long-rumoured 18mm update perhaps in the form of a Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R WR “Fujicron”, especially suitable for documentary photography with the X-Pro2 rangefinder camera, the X-E3 rangefinder-style camera and Fujifilm’s smaller DSLR-style cameras.
75mm equivalent prime lenses by Fujifilm, Leica and Veydra
Fujinon XF 50mm f/2.0 WR R “Fujicron” prime lens, equivalent to 75mm in the 35mm sensor format.
Leica Apo-Summicron-M 75mm f/2.0 Aspheric prime lens.
Veydra 35mm T2.2 Mini Prime, equivalent to 70mm when used on a Micro Four Thirds camera.
Veydra 50mm T2.2 Mini Prime, equivalent to 75mm when used on a Fujifilm or Sony APS-C camera.
Prime lenses in the 35mm sensor equivalent 75mm focal length are as hard to find in the Micro Four Thirds world as their 28mm equivalent siblings, and that relative rarity is not assisted by Sigma’s patent for a 35mm and not 37.5mm focal length lens.
Even so there are times I miss the 90mm focal length equivalent so have Olympus’ M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro high on my M43 lens wishlist, also due to the manual clutch focus featured in all M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lenses making them invaluable for professional moviemaking and photography work.
Given a choice between a manual focus or manual clutch focus lens and a fly-by-wire autofocus or autofocus/manual lens, I will choose the manual or manual clutch focus lens same as I will choose a pair of fast primes over a zoom lens that includes both focal lengths.
There is no denying, though, that some projects demanding stealth, speed and small camera bag transportation can benefit from carrying just one top-quality zoom lens like the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro or the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro.
Designed by Sigma for Olympus or Panasonic?
It is too early to tell whether the 43 Rumors folks are correct about Sigma’s 14mm and 35mm f/1.2 lens design patents being intended for Panasonic.
I am hoping upon hope that the eventual destination will be Olympus and its M.Zuiko Pro lens collection.
Panasonic seems disinclined to replace its lenses’ linear and non-linear fly-by-wire mechanisms with the far more capable manual clutch focus mechanism used in Olympus’ M.Zuiko primes and zooms, and Fujifilm’s 14mm, 16mm and 23mm wider aperture trio for that matter.
Panasonic insiders have told me they constantly receive requests from professional users for manual clutch focus lenses but the company seems set on its current path if its apparently Sigma-designed 12mm, 15mm, 25mm and 42.5mm wide aperture Leica-branded lenses are any indication.
I wish to see Olympus adding to its M.Zuiko Pro collection with 14mm and 37.5mm focal length lenses as well as 10.5mm and 12mm focal length prime lenses.
Sigma’s 70mm-equivalent 35mm f/1.2 lens is not quite my preferred focal length but at least it fills the gap between the current 25mm and 45mm M.Zuiko Pro lenses.
Now let’s see Olympus fill the other gaps in its M.Zuiko Pro collection.
“I told you months ago that Olympus would release this lens. And now I have the pleasure to share the very first image of this lens! The new 17mm f/1.2 pro lens will be the second super fast lens after the Olympus 25mm f/1.2 PRO….
… A third 45mm f/1.2 PRO lens is expected to be announced some times later. Stay tuned on 43rumors for more info and leaks!…”
Micro Four Thirds rumour website 4/3 Rumors has confirmed its long persistent rumour that Olympus is working on a fast, professional-quality 17mm prime lens with a product shot.
Whatever sensor size and aspect ratio in which I am working, I consider a moderate wide-angle lens an essential and the very first prime lens to be purchased.
I bought into the Micro Four Thirds system knowing it lacked a pro-quality 17mm lens, equivalent to 34mm in the 35mm so-called “full frame” sensor size, but had high hopes one would appear some day and so it soon will.
MFT’s 17mm focal length is eminently suited to documentary photography and video production when using one lens only or as first amongst a set of lenses and focal lengths.
In the absence of such a lens at the time, my first professional M43 lens was a zoom, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro, and it has impressed me more than I had expected.
Standardizing on Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses for video and stills
So much so, in fact, that I have resolved to standardize on Olympus M.Zuiko Pro native M4/3 lenses rather than those made by Panasonic, despite standardizing on Panasonic Lumix cameras due to their excellent qualities as MFT/Super 16 stills and moviemaking cameras.
Olympus has aptly named its professional prime lens and zoom lens range, given its many pro-quality features:
Manual clutch focus for fast, repeatable focussing when focus-by-wire is too slow and inaccurate.
Weather resistance via hermetic sealing against dust and rain.
Excellent mechanical and optical design and construction for impact-resistance and ability to handle extreme temperature variations.
Much smaller size and weight compared to equivalents in the 35mm so-called “full frame” sensor size.
Consistent maximum aperture of f/2.8 on the zoom lenses, f/1.2 on the fast prime lenses, f/4.0 on the travel zoom lens and long telephoto lens.
Filter diameter of 62mm on most lenses.
Best optical correction I have seen so far on any wide zoom lens with the M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro.
The one downside is the 7-14mm zoom’s convex front element that disallows screw-on filters. The solution is a push-on adapter and filter frame for square or rectangular tempered glass or plastic filters such as those made by Breakthrough Photography, Nisi and many other filter specialists.
Whether the extra cost of these solutions is outweighed by this lens’ impressive optical correction action is a matter of taste and need.
Personally I find the optical distortion of many wide-angle zoom lenses objectionable especially when videoing a protagonist walking through a cityscape of interior containing parallel horizontals and verticals.
Distortions like that can be corrected in image editing and raw processing software but not in moviemaking’s non-linear editing software.
More M.Zuiko Pro primes to come
Based on rumours, Olympus’s M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lens range is shaping up well with a 42mm f/1.2 probability and fast 12mm and 14mm lenses possibilities.
The range’s f/2.8 maximum aperture zooms are fast enough for most available light situations unsupplemented by strong LED lighting.
Its f/1.2 maximum aperture primes are excellent solutions for available darkness situations for which f/2.8 is too slow, and suit the needs of bokeh mavens for razor sharpness against milky blur.
Professional lens sets need to include All Common Focal Length Options
When I first began looking into Micro Four Thirds/Super 35 and APS-C/Super 16 format cameras for documentary photography and video production, prime lens choices were limited and much narrower than I had been accustomed to in the analog film formats I used professionally.
In contrast to those days, zoom lenses have radically evolved and there are a number available now that are approaching prime lens quality at all of most focal lengths, at the expense of maximum aperture or a single maximum aperture.
I am not a fan of variable maximum aperture zooms that offer, say, one stop extra at the wide end compared to to the one-stop reduced maximum aperture throughout the rest of the lens’ focal range.
Few if any contemporary zoom lenses are entirely without optical distortion. The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro’s optical correction impressed during a quick and dirty tryout a while back, but the downside is the lens’ convex front element that mitigates against the same screw-on filters I use on other lenses.
Given a choice, I would prefer to rely on a good set of professional-quality prime lenses for my photography and video work, but given reality oftentimes must compromise with lens sets comprising fast zooms and faster primes.
One can get away with that for photography due to many raw processing and image editing software products having optical correction features, but correction in software is not possible for video footage and common optical distortions in zoom lenses can be distracting at the expense of the story and the audience’s immersion in it.
I applaud the efforts of camera and lens makers in adding extra focal lengths but a few gaps remain in the brands I use and I look forward to the day when we have choices in APS-C/Super 35 and M43/Super 16 more closely approaching those of the established 35mm DSLR camera and lens makers.
Suggested Olympus M.Zuiko Pro reduced lens sets:
17mm – not too wide and not too long, for when only one lens is desired.
7-14mm, 17mm, 25mm and 42mm – for video and stills across a range of situations and subjects with the emphasis on fast primes.
7-14mm, 12-40mm, 40-150mm, 1.4x teleconverter, with one or more f/1.2 primes – for a wide range of documentary video situations with the emphasis on zooms.
For what felt like the longest time, Fujifilm staff members acknowledged privately then publicly that the company needed to do better on video, first with the groundbreaking Fujifilm Finepix X100 – which I use for shooting documentary stills to this very day – then through the X-E1, X-Pro1 and X-T1 and their smaller, more affordable companion cameras.
Fujifilm’s current flagship cameras, the X-Pro2 and X-T2 are the ones where they have finally begun to get it right for video, but there is some way to go yet, as indicated by Paul Leeming’s letter to Fujifilm citing the GH4 and GH5 as exemplars.
Panasonic was the first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (ILC) maker to start to get it right so far as video goes, with Panasonic’s Lumix GH4 cementing that company’s position as masters of the Super 16/Micro Four Thirds sensored, eminently portable, day-long usable ergonomically-advanced documentary video and stills camera.
The GH4 and now GH5 have not been adopted only by documentary moviemakers. Paul Leeming shoots feature films with his GH4 and now his similarly-rigged GH5 camera after moving away from the RED Super 35 cameras he owned and rented out for some years.
Veydra’s Mini Prime lenses filled a yawning gap in matched set lens options for Super 16 moviemakers relying on the GH4 and now GH5, and, with Duclos Lenses’ announcement of their X-Mount adapter, a subset of Veydra’s lenses is poised to do the same for Fujifilm’s X-T2 and rumoured “ultimate APS-C camera” for stills and video.
Fujifilm’s X-Mount lenses have been eyed-off by video professionals familiar with their Fujinon broadcast and movie production zoom lenses, for some time and for good reason, as Matthew Duclos shares in his post about the X-Mount adapter:
Any Fujifilm fan (including myself) knows that Fujinon makes some amazing lenses for their X line of cameras. They’re fast, lightweight, sharp, and relatively affordable. I firmly believe lens quality and selection is what sets Fujifilm apart from the rest of the mirrorless pack. But for motion picture work, the current lineup of Fuji X lenses simply isn’t going to produce good results. Will they get the job done? Sure… They’ll be good enough.
There is a difference between the needs of higher-end motion picture cinematographers and other moviemakers for whom stills lenses can be good enough for shooting video. Fujifilm seems to have recognized that with their recently released Fujinon MK 18-55mm T2.9 and MK 50-135mm T2.9 zoom lenses but there is no sign they will be coming up with videocentric prime lenses any time soon.
Veydra Mini Prime lenses for Super 16/Micro Four Thirds and Super 35/APS-C
Veydra 12mm mini prime lens with metric scale, for Super16/Micro Four Thirds only.
Veydra 16mm mini prime lens with metric scale, for Super 16/Micro Four Thirds only.
Veydra 19mm mini prime lens with metric scale, for Super 16/Micro Four Thirds and Super 35/APS-C.
Veydra 25mm mini prime lens with metric scale, for Super 16/Micro Four Thirds and Super 35/APS-C.
Veydra 35mm mini prime lens with metric scale, for Super 16/Micro Four Thirds and Super 35/APS-C.
Veydra 50mm T2.2 Mini Prime
Veydra 85mm mini prime lens with metric scale, for Super 16/Micro Four Thirds and Super 35/APS-C.
That is where five out of seven of Veydra’s Mini Primes come in. All seven of them provide a well-spaced set of focal lengths from 12mm through to 85mm, in 35mm equivalent terms from 24mm to 170mm for Super 16 cameras. The Veydra subset suitable for Super 35 cameras like the X-T2 and its successors covers 19mm through to the 85mm focal lengths.
Veydra primes for Super 16/Micro Four Thirds cameras
12mm – 24mm, in 35mm equivalence
16mm – 32mm, in 35mm equivalence
19mm – 38mm, in 35mm equivalence
25mm – 50mm, in 35mm equivalence
35mm – 70mm, in 35mm equivalence
50mm – 100mm, in 35mm equivalence
85mm – 170mm, in 35mm equivalence
The Veydra team was working on a wider lens than 12mm but had to abandon the idea as it would have been prohibitively expensive and oversized. Pity, as a 21mm equivalent or wider makes for excellent scene-setting and interiors shots.
Veydra primes for Super 35/APS-C cameras
19mm – 28.5mm, in 35mm equivalence
25mm – 37.5mm, in 35mm equivalence
35mm – 52.5mm, in 35mm equivalence
50mm – 75mm, in 35mm equivalence
85mm – 127.5mm, in 35mm equivalence
The 12mm and 16mm lenses vignette on Super 35 cameras. Wider focal lengths than 19mm would come in handy, so may have to be sought from amongst Fujifilm’s prime lenses such as the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R or XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR with their clutch manual focus option.
Panasonic’s amazing new Lumix GH5 Super 16/Micro Four Thirds 4K 4:2:2 10-bit camera combines eagerly-anticipated autofocus functionality with what may be the best stabilization going right now, but videos clearly demonstrating both feature sets in action have descended into something of a fanboy slanging match.
It was a relief, then, to come across a short movie that does the job straight off the bat, effectively and without commenter conflicts or fanboyisms, showing off the benefits of the GH5’s autofocus and in-body image stabilization for video along with the optical beauty of the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens.
Goodbye shakeycam, your time is done.
I am partial to the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lens range for documentary work, not least for the lenses’ matched colour rendering as well as their weather resistance, solid build and repeatable quarter-turn manual clutch focus.
Some cinematographers have dismissed Olympus M43 lenses for uncinematic colour rendering but the needs of documentary moviemaking can be very different to those of feature film production and different again to stills photography.
I have found Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses to be excellent for documentary photography and video, with the zooms exhibiting minimal optical curvature that can be corrected in raw processing software recognizing imported or EXIF-based lens profiles.
Curvature can be more of a problem in video if the scene contains parallel vertical or horizontal lines as in architecture, but the M.Zuiko Pro primes appear to be very well optically corrected.
Olympus seems to be on the path towards finally fully realizing a current pipe dream, a full-featured, colour-matched set of top-quality professional-standard prime and zoom lenses for video and stills production.
Panasonic, Olympus’ partner in the Micro Four Thirds System Standard Group, is following a different path with two parallel lines of lenses, its Leica and Lumix zooms and primes, neither of which contains as many focal length options as the M.Zuiko Pro collection.
Micro Four Thirds critics railed against the format for its small choice of lenses for years despite the large number of MFT lens makers amongst the MFT System group’s membership and outside it.
It is a sign of Micro Four Thirds’ acceptance and maturation that photographers and moviemakers now look for matched sets of lenses in a range of focal lengths like those now being produced by Olympus, Panasonic, Voigtlaender, Veydra and others.
Veydra proprietor Ryan Avery has reported the theft of over 200 Veydra Mini Prime manual-focus cinema lenses purpose-designed for Micro Four Thirds hybrid cameras and camcorders from his premises in Los Angeles. Please be on alert for the sudden appearance of heavily discounted Veydra lenses in your area and email Mr Avery if necessary.
Veydra Mini Primes are the only purpose-built cinema-quality native Micro Four Thirds lenses, with five out of the current seven-strong lineup having the same dimensions for fast, easy swapping in and out of follow focus rigs.
Being colour matched, Veydra lenses have the same colour rendering characteristics, eliminating the need for painstaking, time-consuming shot-by-shot colour matching in your non-linear editor or colour grading software.
All Veydra lenses have a common front diameter allowing for industry-standard 77mm diameter filters and step-up rings, 0.8 pitch cinema gears for follow focus devices, constant volume focus, constant T-stops and are available in metric or imperial measurements. Their specifications exceed 4K resolution.
Given they are the product of a small, independent design and manufacturing team, Veydra Mini Primes are a remarkable achievement bringing true cinema-quality lenses within the reach of self-funded, low-budget independent moviemakers.
A six-lens kit of Veydra M43 lenses from 12mm through to 85mm costs about the same as one major brand Super 35 cinema lens adapted with, say, a Metabones Speed Booster.
A Super 16 feature film marriage made in heaven?
Given the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5’s 5-axis in-body image stabilization, recently put to the test by Gordon Laing of CameraLabs, non-stabilized lenses like the Veydras have become even more attractive, especially when making feature films. Consider a Veydra, GH5, 8Sinn cage and Fotga follow focus combination as below, for example.
Although Sol March of Suggestion of Motion suggests that we not rely too much on stabilized lenses, some documentary moviemakers like Rick Young of Movie Machine are fans of stabilized zoom lenses such as Panasonic’s Lumix G lenses.
One thing is certain, stabilized or non-stabilized lenses, cinema primes, stills primes or zoom lenses, whichever brand they are, the advent of in-body image stabilization on the GH5 is a game changer permitting even wider lens choice and I hope that Fujifilm follows suit on IBIS with its rumoured Super 35 “best APS-C camera for video work”.
Still needing more Panasonic Lumix GH5 exposure, as it were? One keenly anticipated aspect of the GH5 is its ability to record V-Log 10-bit 4:2:2 footage internally instead of only via an external monitor/recorder. Emmanuel Pampuri is kindly sharing some footage that can be downloaded in order to practice grading it with NLEs’ colour grading functionality or in colour grading software like BlackMagic’s DaVinci Resolve.
Mr Pampuri shot his footage with Veydra mini cinema prime lenses, “built for mirrorless cameras with Micro4/3 and S35 sensors” and with “multiple mounting options including Micro 4/3, Sony E-Mount, and C-Mount”.
Although I have yet to see Veydra lenses in the flesh, as it were, they sound like an excellent solution for making feature films and documentaries with Super 16 cameras like the GH5 and its M43 stablemates and competitors.
At time of writing, Mr Pampuri had mistakenly uploaded the footage as 8-bit 4:2:o but will be replacing that with 10-bit 4:2:2 footage soon.