Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Upcoming lenses

Micro Four Thirds was the first mirrorless camera system launched, and now has an impressive lens lineup. Still, more lenses are arriving. Here are some news to look forward to:

Kipon HandeVision IBELUX 40mm f/0.85


The lens with the strangely capitalized name is to be released late February 2014, and, according to the marketing, it will be the fastest lens ever. That is probably not true, as, for example, the Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f/0.7 used by Stanley Kubrick to record the movie Barry Lyndon is still faster. But it will certainly by one of the fastest lenses available.



The lens is completely mechanical, requiring to be focused manually. The price will be quite stiff, just north of US$2000. It will be released for the Micro Four Thirds, Sony NEX, Fujifilm X and Canon EOS M mounts. The lens weights no less than 1.2kg, illustrating just how much glass there is in it.



While the price is steep, there are not many alternatives in this area. Compare it with the Leica 50mm f/0.95 (fullframe) at US$11.000, SLR Magic 50mm T/0.95 (fullframe) at US$3000, SLR Magic Noktor 50mm f/0.95 (Micro Four Thirds) at $1000, and Voigtlander Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95 (Micro Four Thirds) at US$1000.

Why would you want to pay US$2000 for such a lens? I guess this lens caters to people who want the most selective focus for a mirrorless camera. Selective focus is when what is closer, or more far away, than your focus point, gets blurred. You get the most selective focus with a combination of a large aperture (small f-number), and a large sensor.

If you have bought into Micro Four Thirds, then the sensor size is given, and what you can do to increase the selective focus capability further is to buy a lens with a large aperture. Like the Kipon HandeVision IBELUX 40mm f/0.85.

Samyang 10mm f/2.8


Samyang is continuing to release their signature manual focus lenses. They already have the Samyang/Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye for M4/3, which I think is a fantastic lens. Very compact, good image quality, low price. The upcoming 10mm f/2.8 will retail at around US$500:



Their newest lens is also quite special. It is one of the widest rectilinear prime lenses ever for DSLR cameras. It will be released in virtually all mounts you can image with a APS-C or Four Thirds sensor. As it is designed for DSLR cameras with a long register distance, it needs a massive retrofocal optical design, and is big and huge. If Samyang had designed this lens for Micro Four Thirds from the start, it could have been much smaller and lighter.

On the bright side, Samyang is planning just that. They have also announced a 12mm f/2 lens designed only for mirrorless cameras with a shorter register distance, hence, a much smaller lens. However, it is hard to see how they can compete with the already good Olympus 12mm f/2, unless they set the price much lower.

If you buy the Samyang 10mm f/2.8 for a mirrorless camera format, with a short register distance, the lens essentially comes with an adapter built in: A longer tube behind the aperture ring. I would advice to buy this lens for a DSLR mount, and get a separate adapter for Micro Four Thirds. That way, you have a more futureproof solution. If you move to another camera format, you can just get another adapter.

Panasonic Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2


This lens intends to introduce a high end portrait lens for the Micro Four Thirds format, and was announced in August 2013. It is expected to be available in the shops in December 2013. The very large maximum aperture of f/1.2 allows you to get a very selective focus, and blur the background effectively when photographing people.



Currently, this lens is the fastest autofocus lens for the Micro Four Thirds system, and also the fastest lens to feature OIS. The lens is co-branded with Leica, and will probably sell at a high price. It is fairly large, with a front lens thread diameter of 67mm. It has an aperture ring around the lens barrel.

Panasonic Leica Summilux 15mm f/1.7


In October 2013, this new fast wide angle lens was announced.



The lens is probably going to be priced similarly to the Lumix Leica 25mm f/1.4. The new 15mm lens is one of the first Micro Four Thirds lens to feature an aperture ring. Of course, the aperture ring doesn't control the aperture mechanically. The aperture is still controlled electronically, like most other lenses. So the ring simply communicates the preferred aperture to the camera, which can set the lens aperture electronically through the mount.

It is expected to be available early 2014. The lens is designed with a narrow diameter barrel, to better fit with the very compact Lumix GM1 camera.

Personally, I would rather go for the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5, which is very good, in my opinion, much better than the reputation. And it is very compact, well suitable for the Lumix GM1.

Others


Olympus are rumoured to have a pancake 25mm f/1.8 coming. It will probably be cheaper, and much more compact than the Leica 25mm f/1.4.

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