'One of the things that first attracted me to m4/3 was the ability to use other lens ranges via adapters. And that continues to this day. I've built of a collection of mostly second hand lenses for Canon EF, Nikon F, Leica M and Leica R mounts. I also have a collection of adapters including speed boosters for the Nikon, Canon and Leica R sets.' 
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Metabones Canon EF > m4/3 0.71x Speed Booster ULTRA (with AF) on a Panasonic GX8

Metabones Canon EF > m4/3 0.71x Speed Booster ULTRA (with AF) on a Panasonic GX8
'I've just bought a Metabones 0.71x Speed Booster ULTRA to use my Canon EF lenses on my Panasonic GX8's. This gives the one stop light boost as usual and makes a 0.71 crop for the lenses as opposed to the usual 2x. This means that my Canon 'Full-Frame' lenses will be slightly wider than they would be in front of an APS-C sensor. In addition to this, the Metabones has an electronic connection with the lens which means it a) autofocuses b) allows me to change the aperture electronically c) triggers the lens IS if it has it and d) provides a proper exif readout. '
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Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 compared to Samyang 14mm f/2.8 via adapter on Panasonic GX8

Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 compared to Samyang 14mm f/2.8 via adapter on Panasonic GX8
'For this post I did a direct comparison between my Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 zoom at 9mm and my Samyang 14mm f/2.8 (Nikon mount) fitted to my Panasonic GX8 via a Metabones 0.64x Speed Booster. Both lenses were then approximating a 'full-frame' / 35mm sized sensor at 18mm. The idea being to see if there was any significant difference between the two.'
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Using Adapted lenses - an overview

Using Adapted lenses - an overview
'Now the camera manufacturers, the fanboys and the brand besotted don't like this at all, but then if that isn't a great reason to champion adapting lenses I don't know what is!!!'
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The benefits (or otherwise) of legacy and adapted lenses. Part 2 (of 3) APS-C (FUJI X-E2)

Following on from my first post that compared legacy and adapted lenses with native lenses on the m4/3 system, this one deals with an APS-C sensor and my Fuji X-E2 camera.

The above picture shows my three Fuji X cameras and the collection of lenses and adapters I can use with them. I have - Fuji X-E1, X-E2 and X-Pro 1 cameras, 18mm, 18-55mm, 60mm and 55-200mm native Fuji lenses, two Metabones adapters (1 Speed Booster 1 Passive) Nikon 28mm f1/.8G, 50mm f/1.8G, 85mm f/1.8G and Series E 100mm f/2.8 primes and two Voigtlanders - 20mm f/3.5 Nikon Fit and 90mm f/3.5 m-mount fit. Phew!

 My Wide Angle Set

 My telephoto set

Now the Fuji X system differs from m4/3 in that it's a much less mature lens range. And of course the same could be said for both the other APS-C mirrorless systems, Sony and Samsung. All have been around less than m4/3 and despite Fuji releasing some nice lenses there are still some gaps in the X system which adapted lenses could fill. 

For a long while I only had the 18-55mm zoom and used my Nikons and Voigtlanders to give me some telephoto options. I've since bought the 55-200mm zoom, but though it's reasonably fast for a zoom, the two Nikon primes I have are still faster. I was interested to see how this medium telephoto area was catered for and I also thought I'd have a look at how the different options looked after what might be described as 'Standard Wide-Angle' i.e. An approximate equivalent of 28mm in 35mm / 'Full-Frame' terms. I have ignored the 'standard lens' focal length since the Fuji's are well catered for by the 35mm f/1.4. My Nikon plus the Speed Booster would give an f/1 in light gathering terms, but I doubt whether I'd recommend that over the native Fuji lens because of the difficulties of manual focusing in low light.

So using various adapter combinations to try to get something similar to make a comparison with I shot the following. Shooting wide open and at f/8.

There are differences in depth-of-field here as would be expected, but as before with my m4/3 test there are no really significant sharpness differences. They may well be some if I was shooting test charts, but as ever I like to use 3-D setups because I don't shoot test charts for a living!

The wide-angle comparison is interesting because if there is a marginal winner it's the 18mm f/2 Fuji, which surprised me. And since that lens has AF and is smaller and lighter that may well give it the edge for me over the Nikon 28mm. Though this lens with a Speed Booster has an f/1.2 light gathering potential, it is bigger and heavier and one again I would have to weigh up whether it was worth coping with the manual focus to get that extra speed, particularly when you consider just how good the Fuji's are at high ISO's. In good light however I see no advantage of any of the lenses over the 18-55mm zoom which is excellent apart from some softish corners at wide apertures, something the 18mm prime is also prone too. But then the Speed Booster softens the corners slightly on the 28mm Nikon as well, so swings and roundabouts really. I should mention also that the Voigtlander 20mm with the Speed Booster gives me a 21mm f/2.5 35mm / 'Full-Frame' approximation but I've left that out since I don't have a Fuij 14mm f/2.8 to compare it with. However, it does give me a relatively fast wide-angle option, so for that it's very useful.

It's the telephoto option where there are still some adapted lens advantages. Much as I like the 55-200m zoom, it is the slowest and softest of all the options. But of course, by far the most useful for the vast majority of the uses I would put a telephoto zoom to. Plus it has to be mentioned that the relative slowness is compensated for by the OIS system, which is terrific, and again by the Fuji X Trans sensors superb high ISO performance. So, much more than at the wide-angle end I can see a real advantage here for lenses like the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G. It's a superb lens anyway and with the speed booster an f/1.2 light gatherer. At that aperture I'm hardly likely to worry about edge sharpness either.

Now this is a system that I have used legacy / adapted lens a lot more than with m4/3 and because of the lesser number of native options I can see a continuing use for these. However there is the 56mm f/1.2 waiting in the wings and I think all us Fuji X shooters will be interested in that. Personally however I'd love to see something around the 85 to 100mm f/2.8 mark for the system, but that's either not going to happen or happen anytime soon, so if I want something like that the adapters are my only option.

Finally I should say that probably the majority of images I have shot on my Fuji's have been with adapted lenses, though that is changing slowly. So I have gained a real benefit from them. However Fuji make darn good lenses and some pretty quick ones as well. Plus the OIS on both the zooms is very impressive and so long as I'm not shooting action, in many ways compensate for narrower maximum apertures. There is also the fact that Fuji lenses are (mostly) reasonably priced and it seems you can always rely on Fuji to have some deal on offer these days. So again it's down to what you need and whether you feel there is any real advantage to using adapters and manual focus. I can certainly say that I have felt that they have been more beneficial to me than with m4/3, but as the Fuji lens range gets more comprehensive then that benefit may erode somewhat. 

As a kind of postscript I would mention that when I was using Sony NEX cameras my use of adapted lenses was even higher. I haven't got any APS-C e-mount gear any more so I can't show the differences. But Sony had and still have this problem with lenses. Not enough of them and for the most part not really that good in quality terms. It is of course a similar situation with the A7 / A7r system, which I will be concluding this series with. However that's going to take a day or two because I've ordered an A7 + 28-70mm zoom which I'm picking up tomorrow and I thought I would wait to include that lens into my tests. Should be interesting!!

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The benefits (or otherwise) of legacy and adapted lenses. Part 1 (of 3) m4/3.

I'm currently in possession of three different format sensor camera systems and a selection of Nikon and Voigtlander lenses plus three Metabones 'passive' adapters and two Speed Boosters. As ever I'm looking to 'rationalise' what I have, to avoid duplication and to decide exactly what fits with how I work and the best quality / price / ease of use equation I can manage to get from the least amount of kit.

That isn't to say that I don't enjoy using it all and if I had endless funds I would of course keep everything, but unfortunately my relatives neglected to leave me a fortune and while I have no complaints about what I earn and my standard of living, I do have to come to some decisions as what to keep and what to send to new homes via ebay to avoid unwanted appointments with my Bank Manager!

So, 'taking advantage' of what promises to be a dull weekend, I've decided the have a look at what lenses work best with each format - m4/3, APS-c (Fuji X) and 35mm / 'Full Frame' (Sony A7r) I'm also looking to see which lenses give the most options and which are the most useful. At the same time I'll be sharing some thoughts about how the native system lenses compare with the legacy / adapted lenses I have and what advantage each would have over the other. I'll also be writing about how I see the lenses I have owned but have sold fit into this.

So first m4/3. The pictures below show what I'm looking at.

Firstly some Wide-Angle to Widish Standard lens options.

Above is my Panasonic GH3, fitted with an Olympus 17mm f/1.8. To the left are the two m4/3 zooms I currently have, the new 14-140mm (my lens of the year) and the Panasonic 7-14mm. To the right are two Nikon fit lenses, a Nikkor 28mm f1/.8G and Voigtlander 20mm f/3.5 plus the two Metabones adapters.

So, how do some of these combinations compare to each other?

Obviously the 7-14mm gives a super-wide option and there is really nothing comparable as a legacy / adapted alternative. At the 14mm ends of the two zooms there aren't that many adapted options either and they tend to be big and / or expensive!. But now we have Metabones Speed Boosters, so that my Voigtlander 20mm is able to offer more than it's usual adapted option - A 40mm 'Full-Frame' equivalent' which since it then comes up against the redoubtable Panasonic 20mm f/1.7, I would always choose the native lens over the adapted Voigtlander. However with the Speed Booster I now have a 30mm f/2.5 'Full-frame' approximation, and since it's faster than both my zooms and the couple of Panasonic 14mm f/2.5's that I've owned haven't exactly impressed me, does this have something to offer? Below is a comparison between the two Panasonic zooms and the Voigtlander 20mm plus Speed Booster. The comparison is at the widest aperture for each lens.

Wide open there's very little to choose between all the lenses. If I had to choose I would say the 7-14mm is very marginally the sharpest, but whether you'll see that with Google+ reproduction is open to question. This was again what happened when I looked at the lenses at f/7.1. Again the 7-14mm performed marginally better.

So, in terms of this focal length, there isn't really anything significant that would make me choose the Voigtlander over either of the Panasonic zooms, other than if I was desperate for a stop more light. The 20mm + Speed Booster is of course still f/3.5 wide open, the Speed Booster however amplifies the light and allows a 1 stop benefit for the shutter speed. It also uses more of the 35mm lens's area and focuses it onto the m4/3, meaning that it's performing in a similar fashion to how the lens would on an APS-C sensor camera.

I am however impressed with how the 7-14mm performs at this focal length and I did a comparison with the Olympus 17mm and again when I adjusted for the different focal lengths the wide zoom was again marginally sharper. 

Running up the focal lengths to a wide standard and standard focal lengths, again any legacy / adapted lens has to compete with some very good m4/3 native lenses. The previously mentioned 20mm f1/8, and the Panasonic / Leica 25mm f/1.4 being obvious examples. Having owned both lenses I know that both are very good and the 25mm is superb. There is little advantage that I could see in coming with an legacy / adapted alternative, particularly when that has to be manually focused. For example below is a comparison between the 14-140mm zoom at 21mm and my Nikon 28mm f/1.8G with the speed booster, which gives much the same field of view at f/7.1 and there's little difference there.

Certainly the Nikon is way faster with the Speed Booster (f/1.2 in light gathering terms) but would I prefer it to the slightly slower Panasonic 20mm or 25mm? I doubt it. Particularly since it's a big heavy lens on a m4/3 camera. 

Above is a picture showing some telephoto options. Again the 14-140mm zoom, plus the two adapters and three Nikons. 50mm f/1.4G (*75mm f/1 and 100mm f/1.4 via the adapters) 100mm f/2.8 Series E (*150mm f/2 and 200mm f/2.8 via the adapters) and 85mm f/1.8G (*127 f/1.2 and 170mm f/1.8 via adapters) *Approximate 35mm / 'Full-Frame' equivalents. 

Now we start getting some interesting lens specs. And it's here we start to see an advantage for the legacy / adapted lenses. And the advantage is speed and low light capability, which is certainly helpful with the m4/3 sensors. But again there are some pretty special m4/3 lenses. I've owned the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 and 75mm f/1.8 lenses and they are top class. The 75mm particularly is a spectacular lens. But 75mm f/1, 127mm f/1.2 and 170mm f/1.8 equivalents are the stuff of dreams (and very large wallets)

So, you get some real low-light monsters, but with the obvious proviso, just how good are you at manually focusing with virtually no depth-of-field in low light? I've been doing it for a while and I'm not bad, but I'm not sure I'd want to rely on my skills in a pressure situation. I think I'd probably go for one of the Olympus options, bite the bullet and crank up the ISO rather than risk using these adapted lenses. 

However, for video with the camera and lens tripod mounted and the ability to organise what I'm shooting, that's a different matter. Then these combinations really start to get the pulse racing. 

I've always been somewhat ambivalent about adapted lenses on m4/3, which is surprising since it was one of the reasons I got so heavily into it in the first place. I even started a group on flickr which now has an unbelievable 2636 members and 60764 photos, which shows that I'm not alone in this fiddling about with old and alternative lenses and adapters. Now whether this makes sense for others is a decision that only they can make. Certainly you do get some pretty dramatic alternatives to the native lenses, but it's important to remember that m4/3 has some very good fast lenses in it's lens range. Plus, old lenses designed for film and even modern DSLR lenses won't necessarily perform as well as they do in their 'native habitat'. There's an article from a few years ago by Michael Reichmann at Luminous landscape that has this in it -

'The bottom line is that I definately wouldn't go out and buy Leica M lenses to put on a Panasonic G1. But anyone that already owns some of these optics should definitely consider picking up a G1 or one of the new Micro Four Thirds cameras coming later this year, along with a CameraQuest Leica M mount to Micro 4/3 lens adaptor. It's fun, and an inexpensive way to explore using these optical gems on a sort-of DSLR. '

And that's pretty much what I still think now. I used to buy alternative lenses for my m4/3 cameras, but that was when the lens range was severely limited and I certainly wouldn't do that again. I have the lenses I've been testing already as I've been using them with my Fuji X cameras and more recently with my Sony A7r, but I actually use them very rarely on my GH3 and when I do it's usually for video. I have of course talked exclusively about Nikon fit DSLR lenses, because that's what I have and because unlike m-mount Leica etc. lenses, I can use them with a Metabones Speed Booster which widens them and 'speeds them up'. And certainly the Speed Boosters have opened up all sorts of possibilities for the smaller sensor mirrorless cameras. And I'm certainly not immune to contemplating some pretty mouth watering options as far as lens specs. go. But it is worth repeating again that these are not that easy to use, particularly if you are considering taking advantage of the speed boost in low light. I have also pointed out in some recent posts that manually focusing metal lenses in cold weather has it's downside also.

I'm sure that legacy and adapted lenses will continue to be used by m4/3 shooters, though maybe not quite as much as in the past and there are many benefits. I'm sure I will continue using them as well, though certainly not as my first option and also only when I've got the time to do them justice. And if I shoot more video I would certainly use them a lot more. But for my primary outdoors stock work the quality of current m4/3 lenses is such that I would need a pretty good reason to use a legacy / adapted lens over what the format provides in terms of native lenses, enjoyable as it certainly is. 

As ever if you have thoughts and experiences to share feel free to post on the Google+ Soundimageplus Blog Readers Group.

In the following two posts I'll discuss using these lenses on my Fuji APS-C cameras and the Sony A7r.

All original material on this blog is © Soundimageplus

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) at the bottom of this post.

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DO NOT buy these adapters

I suppose it might be human nature, but despite spending substantial sums of money on cameras and lenses recently I tried to save a few pounds on an adapter and consign a £500 lens to a £600 camera using the above piece of junk that nearly destroyed both.

Beware of this adapter, other adapters that look like it, and anything similar that is being sold by various traders across ebay and the internet. 

As I said this was my own fault, but after getting this adapter and fitting my Voigtlander 20mm to it and then the whole thing to my NEX-6, I then spent several hours disengaging the whole thing. Firstly, it took ages getting it off my camera. It just wouldn't come free, and I was imagining that it would have to be removed by a repair facility until I eventually got it off. However my relief at finally removing it my NEX-6 without damaging the lens mount was unfortunately short lived as I then discovered that the lens was stuck fast to the adapter. The switch that pulls the lug down and frees the lens was useless and would not retract thus in effect "welding" the lens to the adapter. This took me much longer to get free and involved destroying the adapter. It did also cause some cosmetic damage to the lens.

So as I said, a piece of junk and a potentially damaging piece of junk as well. I have since returned it and my money has been refunded, but I'm posting this warning about the problems. It has no name on it but has those distinct markings on the barrel.

I have since decided that is the end of my trying to save money on accessories. I do actually normally buy well-made but substantially more expensive adapters, such as Novoflex, and I've now bought a Voigtlander Nikon > NEX to replace this one. I'm just not prepared to take the risk anymore.

Please use my stupidity and penny-pinching to make sure you don't get the same problem. If I can stop anyone from wasting their money on c**p like this then at least something useful might come from the experience.


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Is this my new m4/3 wide-angle?

After having so much success with the M-Mount manual lenses. I've been thinking about what to do about a wider lens. The only alternatives that are really wide enough for m4/3 are the Voigtlander 12mm and 15mm. I was thinking this over and then suddenly realised that I may have another option. I already have the Pentax 15mm f/4 limited and Novoflex make a Pentax K > m4/3 adapter which has aperture control on it. This would give me a 30mm (35mm / full-frame equivalent) for the GH2. The difference is shown below:-

The red rectangle indicates what the Pentax 15mm would cover on m4/3. The Whole picture is what it covers on the Pentax K-5 with its APS-C sensor.

Certainly a cheaper option than buying a new lens and it would be interesting to see how all the other Pentax lenses I have perform. The 70mm f/2.4 limited would be very interesting.

I'll order an adapter tomorrow and see what results I get. Now that means I could use the Pentax 31mm, 43mm and 77mm limiteds on m4/3 (I knew I shouldn't have thought of this!!!)