Panasonic GX8 and a great wide-angle option

The only person I know who shoots high end video for a living has come to an interesting conclusion. This is someone who shoots freelance for movies, television and advertising. He has pretty much used all the top of range gear out there, usually hired in by who he's working for. However, for his own setup which he often uses for his work, he owns a pair of Panasonic GH4's, which he likes because of their smaller footprint and the (comparatively) lower cost. He got interested when I was writing about the Metabones 0.64x crop Nikon to m4/3 Speed Booster. He has a set of Canon lenses from a previous DSLR / hybrid purchase and I offered to let him try mine with a few of my Nikon lenses and after being very impressed using it he subsequently bought his own Canon version. Via his contacts he managed to persuade a company to lend him a set of the Samyang / Rokinon Canon fit cinema lenses to try out with the adapter.

He was, to say the least, very impressed and promply bought the set. 

Now this is someone who has used the ultra-expensive Zeiss cinema lenses on a regular basis. 

Now these are so expensive that people hire them rather than buy them. But hiring a set for a week costs almost as much as buying the Samyang set outright. My colleague then decided to set up a test video with some of the Zeiss lenses and the Samyangs, encouraged by one of the companies who he works for regularly on advertising shoots and who hire in gear. They were impressed by what they were shown with the Samyangs and even more impressed when they saw the comparison with the Zeiss lenses. The upshot of all of this is that both my video cameraman friend and the company he does a lot of work for now both have sets of Samyang Cinema lenses and are using them on a regular basis to shoot top end broadcast quality HD video. (Often rendered down from 4K) This of course results in massive savings over a year. 

And returning the favour for introducing him to the Speed Booster I got to play with the Samyangs for a while. Now I don't particularly need the cinema versions and decided to buy for myself the 14mm f/2.8, which I'd owned before and used on a Panasonic GH2 for weddings and the 85mm f/1.4 which was new to me. Since I predominantly shoot stills with a bit of video work, these were a lot more useful and I was particularly keen to see how they matched up for stills and video on the 4K enabled Panasonic GX8. And I was also VERY impressed.

So this is another of my articles about why I've chosen m4/3 as my main work orientated interchangeable lens system. And those two lenses, via speed boosters and other adapters give me a nice range of options. In a previous post I wrote about doing some tests with these lenses. However, yesterday I decided that it was about time that I went out with the two Samyangs, the Speed Booster and the GX8 to see what they could achieve in a 'real world' situation. 

As you can see from the samples above and the 100% blowups, these are seriously sharp results. I would also mention that sharpness extends across the frame into the corners and edges. What I also like is the colour these lenses produce.

The Metabones Speed Boosters make claims that they can actually improve the quality of images. And they are in fact focusing a large full-frame lens coverage onto a sensor half that size. The lenses produce approximate equivalents (in 35mm terms) of a 19mm f/2 and a 112mm f/1. The aperture indicators are because the adapter amplifies the light to give an extra stop. So these aperture approximations are not about the DOF but the light gathering potential of the lenses. And used outdoors I really notice the difference. Having been doing this for a while I can pretty much guess an aperture / shutter speed combination for any kind of light. However I'm constantly surprised by what the Metabones gives me. I'm still checking to see if I haven't upped the IDO rating by mistake, when I haven't. While a lot is written about how these adapters extend m4/3 quality in low light, what's not often discussed is how they work the other way. Because of that extra stop of light gathering I can use higher shutter speeds and narrower apertures. For the pictures above I was able to use ISO 100 and still get sharp results from hand held shutter speeds of 1/500th. sec. and above and apertures above f/8. 

And I have to say these are some of the best quality m4/3 images I've ever produced. Personally, I think the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 + Metabones adapter is a great wide angle option for m4/3. It even beats the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 for light gathering potential. A fixed prime manual focus lens of course, but if like me you have the time (and inclination) to deal with that, you would be very impressed by what this combination can achieve. Quite simply it's a difficult job to differentiate these m4/3 images from what a full-frame sensored camera can achieve.

So, Samyang lenses are big old-school brutes, but they are built like tanks and are VERY high quality. They are also very attractively priced. For me, I'm keeping these two and maybe buying some others to have a cross system set of lenses to use with my adapters. I'm currently using m4/3 a lot, but that may change in the future and it saves me having to start buying sets of lenses for other systems. And to be honest they are cheap enough to have them sitting on the shelf for all kinds of possible future use. So it's thanks to my friend for reintroducing them to me and giving me high quality at bargain prices. They aren't light, they aren't small, that's for certain, but I'm happy to accept that to get this kind of usefulness. And the company also seems ambitious enough to keep coming up with new options, which is good to see. Hopefull I'll get round to shooting some 4K video to demonstrate what they can do with that. Stay tuned.