Review: Zhongyi Lens Turbo Adapters ver II for Fuji X mount cameras (FX)

Zhongyi Lens Turbo for the Canon EF – Fuji X-Mount

Zhongyi Lens Turbo for the Canon EF – Fuji X-Mount

 

I recently was sent a Canon EF – Fuji X Lens Turbo Adapter from a Hong Kong Based company called Zhongyi Optics. A Lens Turbo is a cool little adapter that fits between your lens and your camera body. It is suppose to both increase the speed of your lens a full stop and adjust the crop factor to full frame. This version was made specifically for fitting Canon EF lenses on to a Fujifilm X-Mount. This sounded too good to be true. In short, it was… sort of.  Not that it wasn’t fun and in fact with a few caveats I’d even say it’s worth the $150 they sell it for.

Frankly, there isn’t a lot to this adapter to review. It either works or it doesn’t. There are no real moving parts with the exception of the small button on the side of the unit to lock it into the lens mount.

The unit I had was for attaching Canon lenses to a Fujifilm X-series camera but they make many other combinations of camera and lens adapters. On the day the Lens Turbo arrived I was showing a buddy that was visiting around Penang. We were off at a waterfall and I figured what a great place to test out my Canon 50mm f/1.2 lens on my X-T1 body.  The fit was nice and snug, so off I went.  Right off I had a problem, I couldn’t get the camera to fire. After texting Steve at Zhongyi Optics and getting a quick (instant) response back I realized I needed to set my camera to shoot without a lens on. The Lens Turbo has no electronics, thus the camera doesn’t know it has a lens attached. It also means any lens you attach will be focused manually. Another thing about this lens adapter is that since it doesn’t communicate with the Fuji camera the camera can’t read any aperture change. So you are stuck at a stop below your lens’s widest aperture opening. In my case I was using the Canon 50 f/1.2 so the camera’s aperture was really at f/1.0.

I tried to shoot a portrait of my friend and this time it worked. Well, at least the shutter fired. Have you ever tried manually focusing the Canon f/1.2 lens? It is a real pain in the butt! It’s like trying to focus on an eyelash at times. Even with focus highlights enabled on my X-T1 it was nearly impossible. But I eventually did manage to capture a few frames in focus. I then shot some of the same scene using the XF 35mm f/1.4 to try to see of this adapter really allow my full frame Canon lens to capture like a full frame lens on my Fuji. It did. You can see from these images below it was pretty close.

Right off I saw two problems with this little turbo adapter. The first being that it makes all lenses manual focus and using a fast lens like the Canon 50 f/1.2 was almost impossible to use. Second, the focus seemed soft. Look at the SOOC shots below. Especially the 100% crop images. You Can clearly see the softness. To view the 100% cropped images at 100% click on them and view them in the lightbox.

 

f/1, 1/4000 sec, 200 ISO,  Canon 50mm on a X-T1 SOOC

f/1, 1/4000 sec, 200 ISO, Canon 50mm on a X-T1 SOOC

 

f/1.4, 1/340 sec,  200 ISO, Fujinon 35mm on a X-T1 SOOC

f/1.4, 1/340 sec,  200 ISO, Fujinon 35mm on a X-T1 SOOC

 

f/1, 1/3200 sec, 200 ISO, Canon 50mm on a X-T1 SOOC

f/1, 1/3200 sec, 200 ISO, Canon 50mm on a X-T1 SOOC

 

100% Crop SOOC

100% Crop SOOC

 

f/1.4, 1/2400 sec, 200 ISO, Fujinon 35mm on a X-T1 SOOC

f/1.4, 1/2400 sec, 200 ISO, Fujinon 35mm on a X-T1 SOOC

 

100% Crop SOOC

100% Crop SOOC

 

I was so frustrated with this adapter that I was about to give up on it, but I thought I should be fair and try it with a wide angle. I still have my Canon 16-35 f/2.8, My all-time favorite lens and frankly Fujifilm has come close to this angle of view in the 10-24 mm but not the speed.

So out I went to my local Chinese temple and shot away. The verdict? Much easier to focus given that there seems to be much more depth of field with this lens. It did give me the angle of view I love. There are some strong areas of blur on the edges of the frame with this adapter that were never there with the 16-35mm on the Canon or the 10-24mm on the Fuji. (By the way, I didn’t have images with the Fuji 10-24mm to compare because I actually don’t own that lens. I have only ever used a loaner from Fujifilm Malaysia.)

 

f/1, 1/125 sec, 400 ISO, Canon 16-35mm on a X-T1 SOOC

f/1, 1/125 sec, 400 ISO, Canon 16-35mm on a X-T1 SOOC

 

f/1, 1/125 sec, 400 ISO, Canon 16-35mm on a X-T1 Adobe Lightroom 5.7

f/1, 1/125 sec, 400 ISO, Canon 16-35mm on a X-T1 Adobe Lightroom 5.7

 

f/1, 1/13 sec, 400 ISO, Canon 16-35mm on a X-T1 SOOC

f/1, 1/13 sec, 400 ISO, Canon 16-35mm on a X-T1 SOOC

 

f/1, 1/13 sec, 400 ISO, Canon 16-35mm on a X-T1 Adobe Lightroom 5.7

f/1, 1/13 sec, 400 ISO, Canon 16-35mm on a X-T1 Adobe Lightroom 5.7

 

f/1, 1/17 sec, 400 ISO, Canon 16-35mm on a X-T1 Adobe Lightroom 5.7

f/1, 1/17 sec, 400 ISO, Canon 16-35mm on a X-T1 Adobe Lightroom 5.7

 

f/1, 1/300 sec, 400 ISO, Canon 16-35mm on a X-T1 SOOC

f/1, 1/300 sec, 400 ISO, Canon 16-35mm on a X-T1 SOOC

 

So would I recommend this lens adapter? I would if you met these criteria. 1. You have switched or are in the process of switching from Canon or Nikon and have a bunch of your old lenses laying around. 2. You don’t have the budget yet to upgrade to the XF equivalent lenses. If these criteria are met, then yes, it is well worth the $150. This little guy will give you a speed boost and allow you to use your current set of optics while you migrate over to the X-system. But if you already have the X-System equivalent lenses, then why bother? Unless you love shooting with a fixed f-stop and manual focus, there is no reason for you to own this.  (My colleague Nate, did point out that the manual focus isn’t as much of an issue for shooting video on the X-System since most professionals will be manually focusing already. The fixed f-stop isn’t as much a problem if you have a good set of ND filters.)

 

 

 

 

Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 LM OIS WR: Review

Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 LM OIS WR

Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 LM OIS WR

 

For more than 3 years Fujifilm has been producing stunningly sharp lenses for their X-series camera. The 35 mm f/1.4 was one of their first lens and it was so sharp I was sure it was a software trick inside the camera.  Then came the other lens with the 56 mm f/1.2 being the go-to for portrait photographers. But there was still an obvious gap in their lens line up. Sharp or not, there was not a 70-200 mm f/2.8 equivalent lens, that is until now. That hole is now filled with the Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 and it is amazing.

In this review I will look at this lens and give you my thoughts from the field. By the way, when you see an image marked SOOCEFZR that means, “Straight Out Of Camera Except For Zits Removed”– hey,  my model was a teenage girl. She wouldn’t have worked for any amount of money had I not removed the zits! So there it is, full disclosure. No color correction, levels nothing other than removing a few zits on her forehead and chin. Everything else is as it is. If the image is not marked with SOOCEFZR it has been processed in Lightroom like I do with any other image.  All images are loaded here at 950 pixels on the long side. Click an image to view it in a lightbox for better resolution.

 

f/5, 1/35 sec, at 50mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

f/5, 1/35 sec, at 50mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

Fujifilm Malaysia was kind enough to loan me this lens for my trip to the Philippines. I traveled to the Philippines to attend my niece’s wedding on Dec 3rd. Alou and I were then scheduled to take a few days off with her family in the Philippines and go to Boracay on the beach. But once we saw the possible path of the then super typhoon Hagupit (called Ruby here) we chose caution and decided to stay back in Manila. We visited Bataan instead. Definitely not Boracay, but fun and less stressful than wondering if the typhoon would sweep us away.

f/5, 1/125 sec, at 140mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

f/5, 1/125 sec, at 140mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/5, 1/50 sec, at 87.1mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

f/5, 1/50 sec, at 87.1mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

So back to the lens.  Let’s start by looking at the build quality. This lens is built solid and is everything we have come to expect from a Fujinon lens. I read somewhere that this lens was constructed out of plastic. That’s not the case, at least, that’s not what the Fujifilm website says, “Both the focus and aperture rings are metal, plus metal is also used on the exterior of the lens body for a high-quality finish.”  As such it feels solid like all the other XF lenses. This lens is also the second one produced by Fujinon that is weather sealed to complement the X-T1 weather resistant body.

I have also heard people say that this lens is large and heavy. Frankly I expected it to be a lot heavier for a continuous f/2.8 lens made of (mostly) metal. It is no featherweight for sure, coming in at 995g (2.19 lb). But compared to  the Canon or Nikon equivalent it is about half the weight and not nearly as big. Remember, this is a 35mm format equivalent of a 70 – 200 f/2.8. Actually, to be fair it is really more like a 75-210mm (precisely 76-213mm). This lens is slated to be, as one photographer I know put it, “One third of the holy trinity of lenses” : 50-140 mm f/2.8 (70-200mm), 10-24mm (16-35mm) and the 16-55 f/2.8 (24-70mm).

Unlike its older brother the 55-200mm, this lens sports a fully internal zoom mechanism. Frankly the 55-200mm fully zoomed in is almost the same length. But why even compare? These two lenses are in different classes. The 55-200mm as good as it is is a toy compared to the 50-140mm f2.8 lens.  The zoom ring on the 50-140mm is a massive 2” wide band of corrugated rubber. There is no confusing the zoom ring with the focus ring as the focus ring is only a quarter of the zoom ring’s width and made of metal. Both the zoom and the focus rings move nicely. Neither feel loose or sloppy–no play in either.

The aperture ring is, like all the XF lenses, on the barrel where God intended an aperture ring to be. But unlike so many of the XF zoom lenses it is clearly marked from f/2.8 through 22. I get why Fuji didn’t make the aperture ring on the lenses where the f-stops vary with the zoom. But why they didn’t do this on the 10-24mm that has a constant f/4 I’ll never know. The 50-140’s aperture ring is also nice and tight and gives the user the tactile experience of physical clicks between every one third stop.

The tripod comes with both a massive lens hood and a tripod collar. The lens hood is made with a small door on the side that allows you to adjust a screw on the circular polarizer filter with your finger. The tripod collar is different than I have seen before. The jury is still out whether I like it or not. Unlike other tripod collars I have seen or used this collar is permanently attached to the lens with the foot of the collar being removable. There are two screws that attach the foot to the collar. You have to completely remove the screws and either store them loose or screw them back into the lens. Seems like a recipe for losing screws to me! (Kind of like the metal hot shoe plate that comes with this camera that I will lose.) Going back to the collar–I do like the fact that it allows for easy storage of a smaller foot rather than a more bulky ring collar and foot when packing a roller-bag for a trip; so that is a plus. The foot is almost the exact size of a couple of Swiss-Arca plates I have lying around my office. This gives rise to my thought, why doesn’t Fuji just craft the bottom of the collar’s foot into an industry standard mounting plate? Unless they have plans to sell one later. OK China, are you reading this? Get busy and make me a Swiss-Arca type tripod collar foot attachment for this lens.

 

Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 LM OIS WR with Tripod Collar.

Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 LM OIS WR with Tripod Collar.

 

Which gave rise to my thought, why doesn't Fuji just craft the bottom of the foot into a industry standard mounting plate?

Why doesn’t Fuji just craft the bottom of the collar’s foot into an industry standard mounting plate?

 

The OIS in the lens’ name stands for Optical Image Stabilization.  As I mentioned earlier, Fuji has a reputation for not only its lenses, but also for making military spec stabilized binoculars. They claim a 5 stop gain in image stabilization. That is huge. I can’t say for certain it is a 5 stop gain but what I can show you are two photos: one taken at 56 mm at 1/10 sec hand-held and the other at 129 mm at ⅛ sec hand-held. Both are pretty sharp for what they are.

f/5.6, 1/8 sec, at 129.2mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

f/5.6, 1/8 sec, at 129.2mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

 

100% Crop

100% Crop

 

f/6.4, 1/10 sec, at 56.3mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

f/6.4, 1/10 sec, at 56.3mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

 

100% Crop

100% Crop

 

As for the image quality, this lens is right up there with the big boys Nikon and Canon. In fact this lens might just be sharper. But to be very honest with you, testing a lens’ sharpness is very technical and something I will leave to the more tech-centered blogs. As photographer and tech guy Bob Atkins says, “Probably the most frequent complaint or cause for concern about a lens is that it’s not sharp, but what does that mean? Well, unless you’re shooting a static subject with the camera and lens on a tripod, it probably doesn’t mean much. A lot of photographers don’t realize that hand holding a camera (even if it or the lens has image stabilization), isn’t the way to get the maximum possible sharpness. If the shutter speed is high enough and your hands are steady enough, you may get a critically sharp image, but don’t bet on it happening every time.”

So let’s look at this from a practical standpoint. I took a series of images of Jessie with this lens outside in my front yard since I typically don’t shoot in a studio. This is what I found. There is no chromatic aberration that I can see. The lens is sharp as a tack all the way through the zoom. I found this lens to be sharp at f/2.8 but not as razor sharp at f/5.6 and 11. The sharpness fell off at f/22. But I think that has everything to do with the fact that reciprocity set in and so I was forced to shoot at 1/7 of a sec. Yes, the camera was on a tripod, but that is slow enough that any movement from my model would cause blur. With that said, the overall sharpness of this lens is stellar. In fact it might be sharper than the amazing XF 35 mm. As photographer Derek Clark says in his review, of this lens, “it thinks it’s a prime.” And I have to agree.

Take a look at the images I have prepared for you. You can clearly see how sharp it is. You can also see the ever so softness at 2.8 and then it breaks down at f/22.1

 

SOOCEFZR

SOOCEFZR

 

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

 

SOOCEFZR

SOOCEFZR

 

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

 

SOOCEFZR

SOOCEFZR

 

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

 

SOOCEFZR

SOOCEFZR

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

 

The Eyes Have It.

The Eyes Have It.

 

It’s not a cheap lens. In fact, I think it is the most costly of all of Fujifilm's XF lenses. It retails around $1,599.00. I don’t like the price, but this is a lens that you need in your bag if you are a serious photographer. Sure, you can use the XF 55-200 and if you are comfortable with the slow 3.5 -4.8 speed and like its light weight, then by all means use it. But for those of us who really feel a need for speed and razor sharp images, then this is our lens. Either start saving or sell something because you need it!

 

f/2.8, 1/1100 sec, at 74.4mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

f/2.8, 1/1100 sec, at 74.4mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/4.5, 1/180 sec, at 54.1mm, 250 ISO, on a X-T1

f/4.5, 1/180 sec, at 54.1mm, 250 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/2.8, 1/600 sec, at 90.6mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

f/2.8, 1/600 sec, at 90.6mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/4.5, 1/600 sec, at 140mm, 250 ISO, on a X-T1

f/4.5, 1/600 sec, at 140mm, 250 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/2.8, 1/2700 sec, at 50mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

f/2.8, 1/2700 sec, at 50mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/5.6, 1/10 sec, at 50mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

f/5.6, 1/10 sec, at 50mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/2.8, 1/300 sec, at 110.6mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

f/2.8, 1/300 sec, at 110.6mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/8, 1/13 sec, at 66mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/8, 1/13 sec, at 66mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

 

 

 

  1. UPDATE: I completely forgot to add this note on the auto focus. This lens focuses great in strong light or good contrast. If there is one downside of the lens, it has to be in low contrast or low light situations where it had a tendency to hunt. There were more than a few times that it rocked back and forth looking for the focus when I was shooting at the wedding reception. It did make it frustrating at times.

2014 Gift Guide the Discerning Photographer

HolidayGuide

 

Every year I try to create a Christmas Gift List that I think my readers might enjoy. It started out as a list of things I had that I thought others should have as well. But it has since morphed into both a list of things I can vouch for and things I am putting on my own wish list. I wanted to get this out before the notorious “Black Friday”. For those of you that are not American, this is the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday and it has proven to be the biggest shopping day of the entire year.  I think I gave you a real variety – but no fedoras or pipes this year. Sorry. I did manage to add a bow tie , though . They are in general price categories from the most costly to the least. This way if you have a budget you know where to look at a glance. So without further to-do here is my list.

 

christmas-divider- Continue reading

Hipstamatic’s New TinType App Rocks

Ladakh boy

Ladakh boy – photographed by Mike Alexander on the Ladakh 2014 Workshop.

 

Screenshot 2014-10-23 14.38.41 Screenshot 2014-10-23 15.20.06

 

I have been a huge fan of tin type photography since, well… forever. In fact my very first Depth of Field wasn’t a podcast it was a written post on Robb Kendrick and his use of tin type in the 21 century on assignment with the National Geographic Magazine. So it is no wonder that when I got an email today from Hipstamatic informing me they have a new app called TinType that takes your iPhone photos and does it’s digital magic on them and make them the closest thing to a real tin type you can find digitally. The App is ¢.99 in the US App Store and if you like this kind of effect, it is well worth it. Continue reading

Video Blog #10 Photo Interview with Fernando Gros and more…

 

 

Yes, it is true, this is a video blog post. I know you thought it was dead and gone. Well it was only sick. ;-)  I have tried breathed into it new life. Well, I least I hopes to.

This Sunday I am off to Ladakh, India for a two week workshop. After Ladakh the group heads to Srinagar, Kashmir. Then in February, 2015 I head back to Rajasthan. The question begs answering are photo workshop worth it? Are they worth the time and the financial investment? So this issue we will look at the benefits of photo workshops. To do this I have an interview with Fernando Gros from FernandoGros.com. Continue reading

A few thoughts of the Fujifilm FX56 mm F/1.2 R

XT1_56mm

Fujifilm FX56 mm F/1.2 R

 

This is part two of my thoughts on two lenses that Fujifilm Malaysia lent me this past week. In the last review I looked at the XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS. Today I am giving you my thoughts on the FX56 mm F/1.2 R.

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A few thoughts of the Fujifilm XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS

Fujifilm XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS

Fujifilm XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS

 

Last week my friends at Fujifilm Malaysia loaned me two of their latest and greatest lenses to play with and asked me if I would share my thoughts. I have been waiting for these two new lenses probably more than any of the other lenses in their entire lineup. The two lenses are the XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS and the XF56mm f/1.2 R. On a cropped sensor, such as the two cameras I am shooting with – the Fujifilm X-E2 and the X-T1 – they represent a full frame focal length equivalent of 15-36 mm and 85 mm respectively. I recently bought the X-T1, but I do not plan to review the X-T1 as it may be one of the most reviewed cameras on the planet, to date. It definitely is the most reviewed Fujifilm camera till now. Continue reading

Review: Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 Smartphoto Printer

fujifilm -instax

Probably one of the biggest surprises of this Fujifilm Rajasthan Photo Trek was my last minute purchase of the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 Smartphone Printer. This printer opened so many doors with people to photograph that it should be considered a must have for any photographer traveling to new places.

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Review: iBattz Mojo Refuel Battery Case (iPhone 5)

iBattz Mojo Refuel Battery Case

iBattz Mojo Refuel Battery Case

One of the great things about using an iPhone (or any smartphone, for that matter) is that you can do so much on the phone from email, photography, graphic rich games, navigation using your GPS and so much more. The problem is that all of these tasks create a huge drain on your battery. By the way, while Apple doesn’t publish their battery specifications, doing a quick Google search reveals that the iPhone 5 has a 1440 mAh battery, iPhone 5S a 1570 mAh battery, and the 5c 1507 mAh battery. These are not huge. Comparatively, the Galaxy S4 features a 2600 mAh battery. To combat this lack of power, many companies are offering power banks and cases. Continue reading