Panasonic G6 - Metabones Speed Booster - Focus Peaking - Part 3

All images - Panaonic G6 - Metabones Speed Boster - Nikon 28mm and 50mm f/1.8G lenses

Juts a couple of bits and pieces before talking about my first use of the Speed Booster for 'real world' shooting. 

Firstly, there are people writing about how wonderful this would be with DX / APS-C lenses. I would caution against this, since my experience with a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens showed serious vignetting. The Speed Booster obviously finds a way to use the whole of the lens area to achieve its widening effect, so if there is no 'extra' lens area, as in the case of optics designed to only cover APS-C sensors then vignetting will occur.

Secondly, having a look at some other reviews, people have noted that the m4/3 version of the booster has less problems with soft corners than other adapters. This seems to be borne out by some comments from the man who designed the optics. Brian Caldwell.

' We designed an entirely separate optical system for micro 4/3. However, the magnification is the same as the NEX version: 0.7x. In order to get a significantly smaller magnification while maintaining excellent image quality we would have had to get much closer to the image plane with our optics. Unfortunately, the m4/3 cameras don't allow this. 

The good news is that the performance of our 0.7x optics for micro 4/3 is really good, and I expect that some pixel peepers will prefer it over the NEX version. If you look at the MTF curves in the white paper you can see that the m4/3 version gives higher performance in the corners than the NEX version. We could have saved a lot of money by re-using the NEX optical cell for the upcoming m4/3 Speed Booster, but we decided to maximize image quality instead. '

So good news for m4/3 users. 

I can certainly testify to how good it is from my experiences yesterday using my Nikon G 28mm and 50mm f/1.8 lenses. 

Several things became apparent when I was out photographing with these lenses and the adapter. Firstly I was consistently getting higher shutter speeds than I'm used to. This one stop difference really does come into play, plus with the fast lenses, I was never compromised by having to use higher ISO settings. This remained rooted at base ISO 160 throughout the afternoon. Now it won't look like it from the pictures, but the fountain, cafe and fruit box pictures were taken in pretty murky conditions. In all three of the situations I would normally have had to use a higher ISO setting. But with these fast lenses, I'm getting close to a 3 1/2 stop advantage over a 'standard' m4/3 zoom and 2 1/2 stop advantage over the Panasonic f/2.8 zooms. Plus because of the 'widening' of the field of view, the lowest shutter speed for sharp hand-holding reduces also. No IS for these lenses on my Panasonic camera, but Olympus cameras have in-body IS, so imagine what low-light possibilities open up there.

Secondly, I have to say that the Panasonic G6's focus peaking works really well. Whoever thought of this light blue colour is to be congratulated. It really shows up well, and the 'shimmering' peaking effect really does show clearly what the precise point of focus is. This was so easy, so reliable and so quick, and overall very impressive, that I'm looking at all sorts of Nikon lens options to use on the camera. 

Now, as you will be aware, I'm no fan of minimal depth-of-field and lots of creamy blur, but I have always liked what I call the 'large-format' effect. Because of the lenses that large format-cameras use, such as 10x8" its difficult to get a lot of depth of field without resorting to very narrow apertures. 'Standard' lenses for these cameras can be 170-200mm so you'll understand what I mean. So at apertures like f/5.6, f/8, and f/11, unlike m4/3 where most images are almost all in focus, the focus is very selective. By using very narrow apertures on the lenses and the speed booster, I can simulate that effect. You can see that I've used it in several of the pictures above. It does create pictures where the main subject of the picture stands out from the background, but its still clear what the background is. I've written about this is in the past, and its one of the advantages I always found with m4/3.

Also, though this might just be speculation (or wishful thinking!) I have the impression that the speed booster doesn't just not make the lens performance worse, but in some cases actually improves it. As I've indicated, I'm somewhat hesitant to suggest this, but I certainly don't remember getting such sharp results from my Nikon lenses wide open as I am with the adapter fitted. Plus I'm getting some stunning results with the lens / adapter stopped down. Yes the lenses are top class, but even so, I wasn't expecting the booster to do such a good job.

Today I'm going to take the lenses and adapter out with the GH3, which doesn't have focus peaking, but does have a cleaner sensor performance and ISO 125, just to see what I can achieve.

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