A superfast alternative - Panasonic GX7 + Nikon 50mm f/1.4 + Metabones Speed Booster

In my post yesterday I mentioned using my Nikon f/1.4G + Metabones Speed Booster as an alternative to the Panasonic  42.5mm f/1.2. It's faster, though manual focus only, no OIS in the lens but has IBIS in the GX7 body. Now I'm prepared to concede that the Panasonic lens may be sharper wide open but there is a something distinctly advantageous about the Speed Booster option. My three Nikon fast primes (28,50,85) when attached to my GX7 via the speed booster give me 35mm/'full-frame' approximations / 'equivalents' of 40mm f/1.2, 70mm f/1 and 120mm f/1.2 and the whole lot + bosster was only very slightly more than the cost of the 42.5mm. So I have three ultra-fast primes that, when you factor in the excellent focus peaking of the GX7, are not that much more difficult to use. 

Now imagine these lenses + adapter fitted to a GH4 shooting 4K video in low light. You then have some idea of just what the Speed Booster offers. Now the 42.5mm may be the holy grail for some photographers, but I'm a very occasional fast lens - wide aperture user. So much as I'd like to buy it and use it (and still might!) the Nikons offer a lot more in terms of options. Just imagine what you could do with a 120mm f/1.2.

Below are some examples of what this 50mm / Speed Booster combination can do wide open in very low light.

My point is not that the 42.5mm is worse than these options, I would sincerely hope for the price that it's better, if not a lot better, particularly wide open. But the speed booster means that you can get a larger selection of super fast lens options for a lot less than either the native AF options or the three Voigtlander MF lenses. (17.5, 25, 42.5) The booster isn't cheap, mine cost just under £400 but it's an amazing piece of kit and of course has other advantages. The 'widening' of lenses, changing the 2x crop factor to approximately a 1.5x one. Plus at all apertures you get a one stop light boost. So instead of having to use ISO 400 you can use ISO 200 and instead of 1/100th. sec. you can use 1/200th. sec. and f/2.8 instead of f/2. All very real and very useful assets for a variety of photographic situations. It also has an aperture ring which means that you can use Canon EOS and Nikon G lenses which don't have them. 

The Metabones Speed Booster was my accessory of the year for 2013 and it will probably be my accessory of the year for 2014 as well. If you like using MF alternative and legacy lenses and find them beneficial to what you do, then you have to try a Speed Booster. These days, with magnification, focus peaking and other MF systems, mirrorless cameras offer the easiest and most reliable way of manually focusing lenses ever. Much easier than using either the OVF on a 35mm film camera or a Leica Rangefinder. And there are many occasions where manual focus works better than AF. One of the pictures I posted yesterday shows why.

This branch was blowing in the wind and those who have tried it will realise just how AF struggles with something like this. However, using the Speed Booster and my Nikon 28mm f1.8G wide open on the Speed Booster I nailed it first time. Now you can rightly say that the 42.5mm has a MF option too. But then I can reach into my camera bag and pull out three superfast options in any given situation. And for me that's why this option is more compelling than buying one £1300+ lens, no matter how good it is.

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