Panasonic G6 - Metabones Speed Booster - Focus Peaking - Part 2

Panasonic G6 Metabones Nikon G > m4/3 Speed Booster Nikon 50mm f/1.8G lens

In this second part of my series of posts on the Metabones Speed Booster, I thought I'd show what it all looks like in pictures.

This is the booster itself front and back. Note the glass lens fitted into it, somewhat different to the normal adapters I'm used to. The numbers indicate aperture settings, 8 being the narrowest, e.g. f/32, f22 or f/16 depending on the lens, and F is wide open. Like the adapters that have a ring which you turn to change the aperture, this is just a guide. The numbers are just subdivisions that look like stops and half stops, but these don't correspond to any particular f stop such as f/2.8, f/4 etc. Its obviously possible to work out what each represents by taking the widest and narrowest apertures, seeing how many stops the lens has, and dividing the total number by 15, the number of divisions on the adapter ring. You then have a value for each click on the ring. Lenses don't always have the same number of f stops, so its different for each. However its a lot more useful than just having a ring that rotates and it takes some of the guesswork out of trying to work out what aperture you are using, though not all of it.

The above pictures show the adapter on the G6, and my Nikon 28mm f/1.8G and 50mm f/1.8G lenses fitted via it to the camera.

Below is the difference you get in the field of view from the Speed Booster. The top image is what a 50mm lens fitted to a m4/3 camera normally gives, the bottom picture is what the speed booster gives from exactly the same place. Taken with my 50mm f1/.8G.

So, if we assume that a 50mm lens on m4/3 approximates to 100mm in 35mm terms when fitted to a m4/3 camera, using the Speed Booster means that this approximates to a 71mm lens in 35mm terms, since there is a 0.71 magification going on. Another rough guide is that a 35mm lens fitted to a m4/3 using the Speed Booster will perform, approximately again, like it would on an APS-C sensor. As I indicated yesterday, APS-C lenses don't seem to work on the speed booster, as there is substantial vignetting. At least that is what happened when I used my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 APS-C lens on it. See picture below.

This does improve somewhat when the lens is opened up, but its still visible. I imagine that different APS-C lenses will perform in different ways, as I found when I used Nikon DX lenses on my D800E. Some worked better than others. It may well be that some lenses work OK with the Speed Booster, but its worth pointing out that if you are interested in it, then you may well encounter this problem if you want to use APS-C lenses, and if possible check it out first.

To see what focus peaking on the G6 looks like, see the picture below.

As you can, the peaking is light blue. On the Sony NEX system you have a choice of colours, the Fuji X peaking gives you one colour, white, but Panasonic have this colour. It does work well. There are times when it doesn't, such as low contrast images, but then the NEX system isn't 100% either. As I indicated yesterday, I think this is on a par with the NEX cameras I've used, and slightly clearer than on my Fuji X-E1.

In terms of the image quality that it produces, I was surprised at how good it is. The glass lens inside the adapter is obviously very well formulated and constructed. There is a slight softening of the images in the corners, but after reading the reviews of the adapter, I was expecting more than I've encountered so far. However, I suspect that different lenses may produce different results. Certainly I have no complaints about the 28mm and 50mm Nikon lenses I've used.

Below is an image taken between 4 and 5 on the boosters aperture scale, so about halfway through the possible apertures, which is normally the 'sweet spot' for lenses. These are 100% blowups from the centre and the low bottom corners.

Now that all looks pretty good to me. I've had much worse results from lenses that didn't have another piece of glass inserted between them and the sensor. Plus considering what the adapter actually does, its a pretty reamarkable result. But then the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 is a really good lens. (Nikon make the best lenses....etc. blah, blah, blah... Yes you've read it here lots of times before!!) 

Wide open the corners are not so good, but how much that has to do with the lens and how much with the adapter I can't say. Corners and edges on fast lenses wide open tend to produce this effect anyway and this may well be the lens itself that is causing this. And of course with the Speed Booster effect this lens is now in effect an f/1.2.

To repeat what I wrote yesterday, I found using the booster with the G6's focus peaking to be easy and quick. And its worth stating once again - WHY DON'T ALL MIRRORLESS CAMERAS HAVE IT???? These cameras have the potential to use vast numbers of legacy and non brand lenses, indeed for some thats the primary reason for buying them. So why this feature, which has been around in video cameras for a long time, isn't something that they all have, is beyond me and large sections of the photographic internet who are constantly calling for it. The GH3, for example, is promoted by Panasonic as being one of the best, if not the best (at least for video), video enabled stills cameras on the market, and that doesn't have it. So why the G6 and not the GH3?? Why no firmware update? Panasonic have already indicated that there is no problem adding it and that they are considering it. That was quite some time ago so surely Panasonic need to get off their a***s and SORT IT OUT!! 

Back to the adapter. It is I think even from these preliminary excursions with it going to prove very useful. It is an astonishing concept and when it was announced surprised a lot of people, including me, by what it offers. That it also works so well is also surprising and there is no compromising on the optics here. Its pretty well made, though the aperture ring on mine isn't Leica / Zeiss m-mount class, and I do wonder how much heavy duty use it would take. Mine also arrived with no instructions, details, description of any kind. I know its expensive to put that into lots of different languages, but I did think that was a bit slack. You have to attach the lens to it when the aperture ring is set at 8 or it doesn't work properly, but there was nothing in the box to tell me that. So if I wasn't aware of that from reading reviews on the internet, then I wouldn't have known. So 10/10 to Metabones and their optical partners Caldwell for innovation, but 5/10 for presentation and information.

I'll be taking it out for some 'road testing' in the next few days for stills and video and I'll report back on that, as and when.


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