Samstag, 7. Oktober 2017

The KamLan 50mm f/1.1 - is the lens worth its money?

In May 2017 the Chinese astonished the hobby photographers with a sensational message: a lens with an impressive initial aperture of f/1.1 was published. For the APS-C sensor and for under 200,- Euro to buy.  On the Internet and on Youtube the reviews fell. There were many passionate advocates and at least very good opponents.  When I heard of the lens and especially the price, I could not resist synonymous and had to buy this great lens.
After I have photographed about three months, I would like to share my experiences with you.

The Kamlan 50mm f/1.1 for APS-C sensors is produced by Sainsonic. The company writes on its website about itself:
"Founded in 2011, SainSonic is a reputable brand and place specialized in 3D glasses, Camera Lens, Cable Connectivity, Home Audio by providing unparalleled selection of products at the very unbeatable price to online shoppers. We are trying to provide a place for people to connect, discuss, buy, and learn about the things that are important to them."
Behind the name Sainsonic hides the Dongguan Sainstore e-commerce Ltd. Company respectively the Dungguan Huazheng Intellectual based in Shanghai.
Chinese and Korean companies have brought many excellent manual lenses to the European market over the past few years and have been able to successfully compete against the expensive Japanese competition. Good examples are the lenses under the company name Samyang, Meike, HandeVision, Neewer or 7artisans. Not always is the quality offered outstanding, but the price-performance ratio is unbeatable.
Originally, China was only an extended workbench for Japanese camera makers. Meanwhile they have grown up and are pushing their own good products onto the world market.
In recent years, Japanese camera manufacturers have been relocating production and administration to Thailand and Malaysia. Only a few products still originate from China or Japan itself.

But let's consider this interesting lens more precisely and start with the statistical data, as always.

Optical construction: 5 elements in 5 groups (multi-coated optical glass)
Blades: 11 circular aperture blades
Dimensions: 4.13 x 3.35 x 3.35 inches (60 x 60 mm)
Apertures: f/1.1 to f/16 (adjustable without stops)
Visual angle range: 31 degree (APS-C)
Minimum focus distance: 0,5 m
Filter thread: 52 mm
Weight: 0.55 pounds (248 grams)
Produced for: Sony E-Mount, Canon EOS m-Mount, Micro Four Third, Fujifilm X-Mount
Package contents: Lens, Lens Hood, Front and rear cap, Cleaning cloth
Corpus and bayonet: metal
Average price: approximately 170,- Euro/ 170 USD

The lens feels very good, even if it is very light and compact. All movable parts are built to high quality and can be operated smoothly.  The clickless aperture ring is a bit of unusual, but certainly a good thing for video.
Anything on the lens is manual, with no electric contact with the camera. However, the timekeeping system (A-Mode) works without problems on modern Sony E-Mount cameras, since the camera measures the light incident through the glasses independently of the lens. The aperture ring is a little bit sluggishly, but this is a habit. The focus path is pleasantly long and you can adjust the sharpness very precisely. Particularly helpful is the good focus peaking from the Sony cameras.
When the aperture is wide (f1.1 to 1.4), the sharpening setting is a bit tricky. Even the smallest movements bring the motif from the sharpness level. Ideally you should work with a tripod or support yourself on a firm foundation.
Let's get to the picture quality.
The most important thing first: Can the large aperture of f / 1.1 really be used?  My answer is yes and no. When the aperture is open, the center of the image or the object of the interest is somewhat sharp.
Here are two examples on f/1.1 that you can enlarge. The first photo is a crop of about 50%, the second picture is 100% from the original cut out. Where the sharpness is, can be seen clearly.

If I want to take a motive off the background, the rest of the picture is naturally out of focus. If I want to have everything sharp, I just have stopped down to f/8. In general the edges of the image are always blurred, even with aperture f/11.
As a rule, you are doing nothing wrong, if you stopped down to f/2 or f/2.8. Then the focus peaking is more comfortable and not every small movement leaves the subject blurred.
Thanks to the supplied lens hood made of plastic, pictures in the backlight are not problematic. The lensflares are weakly pronounced, which can be seen quite well on the photo against the sun.

When the aperture is open, there are clear chromatic aberrations on strong contrast edges, here a photo at f/1.4. Even lightly stopped down on f/2.8 makes these unsightly blue edges disappear as you can see photo below.

I can not find any distortions on any photo. Vignetting even with a wide aperture is not important. This is really a good result for such a cheap lens.
Usually you say: what you pay, you get. Here we actually have one exception to this rule. For relatively little money you get a really good and very fast lens, for which you would normally pay a high three-digit or even four-digit sum.
In summary, I can only recommend this exceptional lens. I have not regretted his purchase yet and would buy it again at any time.
Here are some photos from the last time I have taken with this lens:

Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/1.4 
Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/5.6

Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/8

Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/1.1

Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/5.6

Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/1.4

Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/1.1

Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/1.4 

Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/2.0

Montag, 7. August 2017

7artisans / Zonlai / Discover HD.MC 25mm f/1.8

The "7artisans" 25mm f/1.8 is a APS-C wide-angel lens for MFT, Fuji-X and Sony E-Mount. Behind the sales name "7artisans" is hidden the Shenzhen Qigongjiang Photoelectric Technology Co. Ltd. based in Shenzhen and founded 2001. As of october 31, 2014 the Shenzhen Photoelectric Technology Co. Ltd. operates as a subsidiary of China Aviation Optical-Electrical Technology Co. Ltd.. Shenzhen is the fastest-growing Chinese city in the delta of the Pearl River, geographically opposite to Hong Kong. Here, the headquarters of many international companies such as Huawei or Hasee. Foxconn also has a great dependency here. The 25mm lens is offered identically under different brands, such as Zonlai, Discover, Kunro or Hengyijja. The 7artisans 25mm f/1.8 for example look exactly like the Zonlai 25mm f/1.8 with a tiny chrome bezel ring added. 
The lens feels very good and can be used excellently. The clickless aperture ring is unusual, especially for pure photographers. However, anyone who wants to make videos with his camera will consider the aperture ring as advantageous. However, the best feature of this bright lens is the unrivaled low price. of 69,99 Euro. At such a price, the buyer really does not expect miracles. We will see in the course of this review whether our fears are right or not.
Let's start with the static data as always:

Optical design: 7 elements in 5 groups
Aperture range: f/1.8 - f/16
Diaphragm blades: 12
Construction of the lens body: aluminium body and copper core
Minimum focus distance: 0,6 ft. / 0,18 m
Weight: 0,31 oz / 143 gr.
Filter size: 46 mm
Equivalent focal length full frame: 37,5 mm

Let's look at what the lens can do. When the aperture is completely open, we find a sweet spot in the center of the image with a sharpness that is surprisingly good. The contrast and the colors are very good, as you can not complain.

Sony a6000 with 7artisans 25mm f/1.8, wide open at f/1.8
Sony a6000 with 7artisans 25mm f/1.8 at f/2.8

Stopping down to aperture 2,0 to 2,8 improves the sharpness and optimal it is then from aperture 5.6 to 8.0. The lens shows at open aperture slight vignetting, but not disturbing. Stopping down to f/2.8 will cause the vignetting to disappear.
The distortions are very small for a wide-angle lens and only interfere slightly with pure architectural images. Here is an example of a Berlin backyard: Note the slight distortion of the vertical lines. In Lightroom I use the profile correction of the Voigtländer 25mm f/4 color skopar.

In the opposite light is this objective very sensitive. There are strong and disturbing flares, the colors fade and the contrast becomes flat. The manufacturer regrettably does not provide a lens hood. The objective itself also has no device to attach a lens hood. So you have only the possibility to screw a lens hood into the 46mm filter thread.

The bokeh is quiet and creamy thanks to the 12 diaphragm blades.
Due to the low minimum focus distance, this lens can also be used to make handsome pseudo-macrofotografies. See input image of this review.
We conclude a final conclusion: The price-performance ratio is excellent. For a price well under 100 $ or 100 Euro you get a lens with high construction quality. Light stopping down ensures good sharpness, contrast and rich colors. When the aperture is wide open, it is possible to release the subject easily. However, because of the purple fringing a post-processing in Photoshop or Lightroom is necessary. At edges with strong contrast, blue or violet lines form. Photoshop and Lightroom, however, offer simple procedures to eliminate purple finging in the new versions of this software. A click and you're gone.
Because of the focal length (equivalent to 37.5 mm full-frame cameras), this lens is a real walk-around lens for everyday use. However, the photographer must be prepared to refrain from an autofocus. Fortunately, the modern system cameras from Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm and Sony have various tools to control the manual focus, for example focus magnifying or focus peaking.
I can only recommend this cheap lens.
Note, however, that imports may be subject to additional costs, such as customs duties and import sales tax, which will ultimately increase by between 20 and 30%.
Here are some photos taken in the past weeks with this lens:

Sony a6000 with 7artisans 25mm f/1.8 at f/1.8

Mittwoch, 5. Juli 2017

Nikon series E 28mm f/2.8 - good for your wallet

As announced some time ago, I continue today with this post my consideration of the cheap Nikon lenses with the Nikon Series E 28mm f/2.8. The Nikon Series E is generally considered a lens line, which is especially aimed at the typical entry-level photographer. If you never had a lens of the Series E in your hand, you expect under such a lens a cheap plastic part that wiggles and clatters at all ends. 
Not even close! 
Of course it has a plastic sheath, but the inner life is metal. It feels very valuable and not cheap at all.
Focus and aperture can be precisely adjusted, since nothing shakes sometime. Especially, this lens is lightweight, small and can be perfectly adapted to system cameras, like Sony E-Mount, Fuji X or Micro Four Third. By the way all lenses of the Nikon Series E have an Ai-S coupling. That is, the manually set aperture value is automatically transmitted to the camera electronics.
Nikon has saved up only in the lens-mechanics, but not in the glasses. The optics are multi-coating and made in Japan, not in any low-cost country.

But as always, we start with the statistical data:

Lens construction: 5 elements in 5 groups
Aperture scale: f2.8 - f22 on aperture-direct-readout scale
Aperture blades: 7
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.3m (1 ft.)
Filter size: 52mm
Weight: 155g
Dimensions: 62.5mm diameter x 44.5mm long
Lens hood: HR-6 screw-in rubber type

The Nikon Series E was not only cheap to buy at the end of the 70s, they are still today. Apart from the crazy dealers on EBay, you can buy the Nikon Series E 28mm f/2.8 between 30 and 50 euros. You should look at flea markets or in the various forums on the Internet. But do not confuse with the Nikkor Ai 28mm f / 2.8, here the price at quadruple.
The lens can be perfectly adapted and is despite the large Nikon-AI Sony E-Mount adapter not too massive. On a Nikon camera it is also rather a Pancake.
Well, we come to the most important, the picture quality. With wide aperture, the sharpness in the center of the image is very good, but towards the edges of the image it becomes rather miserable. The contrast is rather dull and the photo looks slightly milky. 
But from aperture 4.0 you can no longer complain, the results are very good and to the picture edges it is slowly sharp. The optimum aperture, for example for landscape shots can be achieved from aperture 8.0. But note: it is no shame to stopped down.
The distributions are barrel-shaped, for pure architecture shots I would not recommend it. As a travel-lens and for landscape photo it is ideal. Due to the good multi - coating of the lenses there is only slight purple fringing and also vignetting I have not noticed. With full backlight it is harmless. A lenshood is nevertheless recommended for portraits or when traveling in sunny areas.
Overall, I can only recommend this lens. Although it is not as fast as the recently introduced Vivitar, it is very suitable because of its low weight and size for travel.

Here are some pictures that I shot in the last weeks:

Donnerstag, 29. Juni 2017

Vivitar Series 1 28mm f/1.9 - a very fast wide angel lens for a good price

It has been a shining coincidence that I have read of this lens in a forum. I was not aware that in the good old times there were such fast lenses in the wide-angle range. I think only the Voigtländer Ultron 28mm f/1.8 is similar fast, apart from the modern lenses. 
I have long tried this lens at a good price to get hold of. That was quite difficult. Another chance helped me to buy this masterpiece in a forum for only 40 Euros. Incidentally, the original price at the end of the 1970s was around 1000 Dollars.
The lens is solidly built and fits well. The size and the weight are pleasant, the focus ring very handy. 
By the way: the front lens does not rotate when focusing. Together with the big OM adapter, this combination is with the bit dainty Sony a6000 somewhat top-heavy.

Here the statistical data:

Manufacturer: Vivitar (produced by Tokina)
Filter size: 58mm
Optics: 9 elements in 8 groups, internal focus, floating element
Aperture blades: 7
Aperture range: f/1.9-f/16  (The aperture dial moves from f/1.9 to f/16 in half-stop clicks)
Minimum focus distance: 30cm
Weight: 335g
Diameter / length: 65mm / 62mm
Production year: 1978

My lens has an Olympus OM bayonet. According to my information, this lens is also available with Pentax K-Mount and M42 bayonet.
The aperture ring is very far behind the bayonet and narrow. Nevertheless, it can be used very well. A special feature of this lens is a small window for reading the adjusted aperture. The focus ring is very wide and excellent to handle. You'll notice the value of using the lens as well as the design engineers have worked out. It is all made of solid metal and almost as indestructible as a tank. It's really fun to work with.
Let's get to the picture quality.
Wide open the image has the glow typical of very fast lenses with uncorrected aberrations. Still, you can shoot excellent pictures with wide aperture. Sometimes a little post-processing in Photoshop or Lightroom is necessary. But the results are impressive. Here is a photo at aperture 1,9, 1/800s and ISO 100 with the Sony a6000.

The bokeh is a little bit restless when the aperture is open. It does improve however when you stopped down. 
Contrasting edges create clear purple fringing when the aperture is open.  Here in a 100% -enlargement of a photo very well recognizable:

The sharpness in the middle of the image is very good, even from the aperture of 1.9, and then optimally into the corners from aperture 5,6. For landscape shots from aperture 8 it should be wonderful. Here is an example of a landscape shot at aperture 5,6 and an exposure time of 1/640s at ISO 100, shot with the Sony a6000:

In the close range, I have found only slight barrel-shaped distortions, which are usually hardly noticeable. However, it might be necessary to correct this here for pure architectural photographs.
Any vignetting in the corners of the pictures are not noticeable to me. All this could be different with full frame cameras, like the Sony a7. 
In the backlight, the Vivitar is very pleasant, the flares are not really disturbing. Here is an example with aperture 5.6 and an exposure time of 1/2000s:

In summary, I am very satisfied with this lens. You can free objects against the background upward of aperture 2.4 (one click after the open aperture).  The lens is not only very valuable, but rather universally applicable. With a focal length of 28mm (which corresponds to a full frame camera about 42mm) you can use it in an emergency in indoor rooms. Otherwise, the Vivitar is perfect for landscapes and for travel. Even in low light you can use it without having to use a flash.
If you can get the lens for a good price, then hit and buy it.

Here are some photos from the last weeks: