by Sebastian Wöber | 22nd February 2017
FUJINON just introduced a new line of affordable E-Mount Cine Zooms made for documentary-style cine shooters. The FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 is the first of two complimentary zoom lenses and it’s already on our test bench – here’s our FUJINON MK18-55mm Review. Featuring a claimed non-breathing focus mechanism, par-focal design and fully-geared cine lens controls, let’s confront this newcomer with our 8K test chart and compare it to the infamous new Zeiss LWZ.3 21-100mm T2.9-3.9 and a similarly-specced Canon photo lens. Also, check out our Hands-on FUJINON MK 18-55mm with Footage HERE. Why is this Lens Interesting for Cine Shooters? First of all, let’s look at why this lens is interesting for us! For many years, large-sensor video shooters have been forced to use photo lenses with our Canon, or Canon-adapted large-sensor cameras. As many of us shoot documentaries or documentary-style projects, using photo zoom lenses has been a real frustration as they’re designed for photography, meaning they have a short focus throw, no hard stops, no manual iris control, clunky zooming, breathing, are non par-focal… the list goes on, as these are considerations that aren’t really relevant for shooting still images. Only recently manufacturers have finally started delivering zooms that are fit for video production and are not as heavy on the lens barrel and the wallet as high-end cine zooms. The Sony 28-135mm was the first of its kind (reviewed here), Canon was next, and now FUJINON is the one to catch our interest. The FUJINON MK 18-55mm T2.9 should be interesting for documentary-style large-sensor shooters because it answers many if not all concerns we have with photo lenses: Par-focal – When you zoom in, the focus doesn’t change. Game-changing for focusing quickly – punch-in focus the analog way. Smooth Focus and Zoom gears – Made to be used for “motion photography”, for smooth zooms and focusing. Larger focus throw – For more precise control while focusing. Hard stops – Better than endless focus and necessary when using follow-focus tools. Internal Zoom and Focus – The lens doesn’t extend, a feature needed when using a Matte Box and filters. For now, the FUJINON MK 18-55mm T2.9 comes in native E-Mount only, suitable for all those popular large-sensor Sony cameras we’ve been seeing in the last two years. Another limitation worth mentioning right away is that the new FUJINON Cine Lenses will only cover a Super35 / APS-C image circle, meaning that they are not suitable for full-frame cameras without using some sort of sensor-cropping mode. Read on for our FUJINON MK18-55mm Review from the Lab: No Breathing? In reality, this lens is (almost) breathless. While focusing, the FUJINON MK 18-55mm T2.9 holds its promise of maintaining close to a stable image. Other lenses breathe a lot more when you focus, making it seem as though you were zooming in or out while racking focus. This is generally unwanted in video and film productions, and a feature that FUJINON decided to master with this lens. Pop on any photo lens and try for yourself if you get the breathing effect. Then look at how the FUJINON performs: FUJINON MK18-55mm Review – Lens Breathing Test at 55mm The example above demonstrates a complete turn of the focus ring range at 55mm, which gives us the strongest out-of-focus effect. There seems to be very little focus breathing indeed, at least not one that I could discern easily. I also tested other focal lengths and there was no noticeable breathing at all. Here’s another example, taken from Johnnie’s review of the lens. Make sure to check out the nice film he shot on it: Lens Sharpness & Chromatic Aberration In our Lab, we compared the FUJINON MK 18-55mm T2.9 to the new Zeiss LWZ.3 21-100mm T2.9-3.9 Cine Lens and the Canon EF-S 17-55mm F2.8. We perform our tests with an 8K ISO Chart and software by Imatest. Testing the Zeiss LWZ.3 on the Sony a7S for reference. Canon EF-S 17-55mm F2.8 photo lens in the lab for reference. FUJINON MK18-55mm Review – Lens in the lab. Personally, I’m not a big fan of getting the sharpest lens at any cost. In my opinion, many photo lenses have great sharpness and you can achieve a lot with them if you’re willing to accept their downsides. That said, I must say that in the world of 4K, many photo zooms are best left behind. At cinema5D we really do work with a lot of gear and we really don’t care if it is cheap as long as it gets the job done. Fact of the matter is that if lens sharpness does becomes a factor, then the better our camera’s quality becomes. FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 Lens Sharpness at 18mm: FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 – Corner Sharpness at 18mm This is the corner sharpness at 18mm with a wide open aperture. As you can see, the FUJINON holds up brilliantly against the more expensive and narrower Zeiss LWZ.3 21-100mm T2.9-3.9. We can see the Zeiss is still slightly sharper here at 4K resolution, while the Canon’s softness is apparent. For those of you who are interested in the actual numbers, our testing software spit out the following: Zeiss: Mean MTF50 Center 0.391 Corner 0.371 FUJINON: Mean MTF50 Center 0.377 Corner 0.348 Canon: Mean MTF50 Center 0.367 Corner 0.295 FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 Lens Sharpness at 33mm: FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 – Corner Sharpness at 33mm We get a similar result at 33mm/35mm. The performance of all three lenses becomes slightly weaker at this focal length, but the relationship to each other in terms of quality stays the same. Zeiss: Mean MTF50 Center 0.371 Corner 0.331 FUJINON: Mean MTF50 Center 0.373 Corner 0.335 Canon: Mean MTF50 Center 0.385 Corner 0.281 FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 Lens Sharpness at 55mm: FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 – Corner Sharpness at 55mm At 50mm/55mm, the story is no different: Zeiss: Mean MTF50 Center 0.356 Corner 0.338 FUJINON: Mean MTF50 Center 0.372 Corner 0.347 Canon: Mean MTF50 Center 0.360 Corner 0.289 The more technically-minded readers might criticise that I compared the lenses at slightly different focal lengths. I admit I should have been more consistent, but I was personally more interested in getting a reference and not make a pixel peeping contest, so I decided to get the exact middle focal length of the FUJINON and Zeiss, and matched the Canon accordingly. I think we still get a very clear picture of how the lenses perform and compare. Sharpness Conclusion Clearly the Zeiss LWZ.3 is the sharpest lens, and probably remains sharp at even higher resolutions than 4K. The FUJINON still impressed me, though. It has very consistent sharpness from corner to center throughout the entire range, literally at any T-stop, any focal length and in any part of the frame. That’s certainly good to have. The Canon clearly lacks behind. The overall image was ugly in comparison to the other two lenses, and while not soft in the very center, the visible corner softness extended to a large portion of the image. Chromatic Aberration Conclusion These test images also reveal Chromatic Aberration performance, i.e the ugly fringing colours on contrasty edges. Surprisingly, the FUJINON had very little noticeable chromatic aberration. Even the Zeiss exhibited more of it in certain instances, though this is quite normal for a lens at a wide open aperture. The following are the software analysis results: Zeiss: 21mm 0.0685% Chromatic Aberration combined (whole image) Zeiss: 35mm 0.0974% Chromatic Aberration combined (whole image) Zeiss: 50mm 0.0995% Chromatic Aberration combined (whole image) FUJINON: 18mm 0.0657% Chromatic Aberration combined (whole image) FUJINON: 33mm 0.0231% Chromatic Aberration combined (whole image) FUJINON: 55mm 0.0363% Chromatic Aberration combined (whole image) Canon: 17mm 0.0685% Chromatic Aberration combined (whole image) Canon: 35mm 0.0974% Chromatic Aberration combined (whole image) Canon: 55mm 0.0995% Chromatic Aberration combined (whole image) Lens Vignetting Here’s another interesting test. In this part of my FUJINON MK 18-55mm Review, however, I’ll skip the comparison to the Zeiss and Canon lenses, because it would go beyond the already large scope of this article. Sometimes vignetting can work as an artistic element that helps isolate the subject, but often it is unwanted. In general, a lens that has less vignetting is preferred, though I would personally consider this aspect to be one of the least important negative attributes of a lens. When I work with a lens, I generally simply want to know how much vignetting it exhibits when wide open, so here we go: To get a feeling for how the vignetting on the FUJINON lens looks like at different apertures, here are a few animations: FUJINON MK18-55mm Review – Vignetting at 18mm T2.9 FUJINON MK18-55mm Review – Vignetting at 33mm T2.9 FUJINON MK18-55mm Review – Vignetting at 55mm T2.9 Vignetting Conclusion Yes, the FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 Cine Zoom Lens has vignetting at a wide open aperture, but it only really plays a significant role at its more telephoto end. In wide angle mode, you will have a hard time finding it unless you’re really looking, but at 33mm and 55mm it is clearly visible. For me, this kind of vignetting supports a natural image look. I want my image clean in wider shots, and for narrower shots I actually often use some vignetting in post. This is not always wanted, of course, but I would be disappointed if it were the other way around. Others may have other preferences. Distortion Here’s the final test we’re performing in our FUJINON MK18-55mm Review – Lens Distortion. We want our lines to be straight lines, and many zoom lenses tend to bend and distort the image at different focal lengths. Let’s see how the FUJINON performs against the Zeiss and Canon once again for reference: Zeiss LWZ.3 21-100m T2.8 – Lens Distortion at different focal lengths FUJINON 18-55mm T2.8 – Lens Distortion at different focal lengths Canon 17-55mm F2.8 – Lens Distortion at different focal lengths In numbers, the distortion is measured as follows: Zeiss: 21mm 2.27% barrel distortion Zeiss: 35mm 0% distortion Zeiss: 50mm 0.272% pincushion distortion FUJINON: 18mm 3.91% barrel distortion FUJINON: 33mm 1.84% pincushion distortion FUJINON: 55mm 1.97% pincushion distortion Canon: 17mm 3.83% barrel distortion Canon: 35mm 1.62% pincushion distortion Canon: 55mm 1.5% pincushion distortion Distortion Conclusion Unfortunately, here’s where the FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 exhibits its biggest weakness in this test, whereas the Zeiss really shines due in part to its different focal range. There is barrel distortion evident at wider angles of the FUJINON, which turns into pincushion distortion starting at 33mm. Like most photo zoom lenses, distortion is apparent, which can be a problem in situations where you have straight lines in the frame, such as in architectural images. We see a similar, slightly weaker distortion on the Canon EF-S 17-55mm F2.8 lens. We wish the distortion on the FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 was less, but let’s be realistic: a lens with edge-to-edge sharpness at 4K resolution with minimal chromatic aberration and a lightweight design has to have some kind of tradeoff too. FUJINON MK18-55mm Review – Conclusion FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 Cine Zoom Lens with Sunhood This lens will be a very welcome addition to the kit of many large-sensor Sony shooters. It is an ideal fit for cameras like the Sony FS7 or FS5, but will also look good on the Sony a6500. For those shooting with a Sony a7S or Sony a7S II, the image circle coverage is limited to Super35 sensor sizes. To get a slightly larger coverage, the FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 will also work with the Clear Image Zoom function at a 1.4x crop on those cameras. That said, it is a pity that this lens only works with E-Mount for now. With the Panasonic GH5 in our hands and the nice performance of other Micro Four Thirds cameras like the Fujifilm X-T2 (review here) or Olympus (review here), we hope FUJINON will consider a MFT mount version soon. Because as a whole this is a well-performing, lightweight cine lens that is ideal for documentary-style shooters, it has convinced us with the following attributes in our test: Very good edge-to-edge sharpness in 4K throughout the range No focus breathing Minimal chromatic aberration Much nicer colors, contrast and image than the Canon photo lens we tested It also gives us: Par-focal – when you zoom in, the focus doesn’t change. Game changing for focusing quickly – punch-in focus the analog way. Smooth Focus and Zoom gears – made to be used for “motion photography”, for smooth zooms and focusing. Larger focus throw – For more precise focusing controls. Hard stops – Better than endless focus and necessary when using follow-focus tools. Internal Zoom and Focus – So the lens doesn’t extend, needed when using a Matte Box and filters. Macro Function – For a better minimum focus distance. Built-in back focus – To calibrate the lens. On the negative side, the only aspect to criticise about the FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 is its distortion at various focal lengths, which is similar to photo zooms. Priced under $4,000, the FUJINON is very convincing. It could be a big step up from a photo zoom, and is a great offer when you look at larger cinema zooms usually priced at $20k and higher, or indeed versus the Zeiss LWZ.3 21-100mm T2.9-3.9 that we used for comparison and which is also extremely affordable at $10k. The current competitors to the FUJINON are Sony’s own Sony 18-110mm F4.0 lens, which has several pros and cons when weighed against the FUJINON, the new affordable Sigma Cine Zooms (check out our eview here) and of course the Canon 18-80mm T4.4 which we will be looking at in our next Lab test. For a full-hands-on experience and a less “scientific” FUJINON MK 18-55mm Review, check out Johnnie’s video footage HERE. The FUJINON 18-55mm is available for pre-order now, and will be shipping in early March according to the manufacturer. Its companion lens, the FUJINON MK50-135mm, will also be coming later this year.Read more
by Graham Sheldon | 20th February 2017
After the launch event at the ASC, I couldn’t wait for the SIGMA High Speed Cinema Zooms to show up on my front porch. Inside the box were the 18-35mm T2.0 and the 50-100mm T2.0, both in EF mount. The best way to test gear, in my opinion, is to take it out into the field and make something with it, so we did just that. In the space of 72 hours, a few friends and I rallied together to shoot a music video, starring the very talented singer-songwriter Tolan Shaw and using no other glass but these SIGMA Cinema Zooms. The music video and all my thoughts on the cinema zooms are below: We seem to be entering the golden age of affordable cinema zooms. The Canon CN-E 18-80mm T4.4 Servo Zoom boasts a price tag of $5,225.00 and manufactures like ZEISS and Angenieux now both have zooms in the $10,000 range. Being an owner/op of a cinema zoom package has never been more achievable, and with SIGMA’s High Speed zoom line coming in at a $3,999.00 price-tag, buying one or two is an option for many. But are they worth the money? First off, I should mention this is not a “technical” test, but merely a test of what it’s like to actually shoot images with these lenses in the field. Both SIGMA zooms feel substantial and not cheap in any sense when you lift them out of the box. Both are constructed from metal, and their constant aperture throughout the zoom range is refreshing. T2.0 makes them the fastest zooms in this price category when compared with the Angenieux EZ line and the Zeiss LWZ line. Tokina, on the other hand, matches SIGMA’s pricing with two wide-angle ATX-branded cinema lenses, but they are both T3 and it seems only the 16-28mm is shipping so far. After a bit of hurried pre-production, I put together a music video shoot conceptualized by Director Rin Ehlers Sheldon for Shaw’s new single “Never Known,” and with the SIGMA 18-35 T2.0 and the 50-100 T2.0, we set off to put the lenses through their paces on a working set. We shot this music video over the course of six hours, pairing the new SIGMA cinema zooms with a Red Epic Dragon and Red Epic Weapon. Watch here: You can get a copy of the track here. It was important to me to shoot something in low light conditions. Both lenses lived at T2.8 for most of the day, and occasionally dipped closer to T2.0 for a few shots. We never went to F4 at the request of the director. Occasionally, we hit 1000 ISO on both cameras, with the Weapon going as high as 1250 at one point. Neat Video was used to de-noise a single shot. Artist Tolan Shaw. This image was shot on the RED Epic Weapon in 4K with SIGMA 18-35 zoom at T2.8. ISO: 1000 – Dragon Color 2/RED Gamma 4. No post color. AC Jose Valdez pulled focus throughout the video using my Bartech Wireless Follow Focus. The first thing Jose said when he came to set and saw the lenses was, “Hey! They glow.” The luminous paint used for all markings on the lenses do indeed make an impression, but more importantly they make the markings actually readable in full darkness for anyone on the camera team. So far so good. The Bartech motor also never once slipped from the 0.8mm grooves in the focus ring of the SIGMA for the entire shoot – something that has happened to me occasionally with other lenses in the past. Obviously, all brands of cinema zooms tend to be on the heavier side when compared with primes, and the SIGMA versions certainly have a little heft to them at roughly 4.1lbs each. This puts them squarely in the same weight class as the new 4.5lbs Zeiss 21-100 T2.9-3.9 Lightweight Zoom. Again, I should mention that both zooms feel really well machined, so I would trade more metal being used in the design versus saving half a pound of weight any day. I went handheld with the 18-35 and the RED Epic Weapon several times throughout the day, and eventually began to feel the weight after an hour or so, but still remained very manageable. There have been many shoots where I felt a device like an Easyrig was absolutely necessary, but while shooting with this setup I didn’t feel that to be the case. Handling No surprises here, but I do miss having a servo on these lenses when it comes to one-man doc shooting. I’ve spent a lot of time shooting doc work with the significantly more expensive 19-90 Cabrio, and I love using that servo motor for zooming. Given the parity between focus rings and aperture ring spacing on these zooms it might be possible for a 3rd-party servo to come to market at some point, if not a SIGMA-branded servo. I did eventually, with a little practice, get into a good shooting rhythm with both zooms, despite the servo limitation. SIGMA 18-35 T2.0 mounted on RED Epic Helium CF. Photo: Sony a7s w/Canon Glass SIGMA ART lenses have been a fixture of my traveling kit for a while now, especially the 50mm, and the gorgeous ART pedigree is evident with these zooms, but they don’t feel like simply re-housed cousins of the still lenses. Without taking a screw driver or band saw to these lenses, it is difficult to see what is going on under the hood, but the cinema line clearly isn’t an afterthought for the manufacturer, despite the affordable price tag. Both lenses felt very sharp to me at T2.8 and displayed less focus breathing (re-framing the composition when focusing) to my eye when compared with the SIGMA stills version of the 50-100. Bokeh Just like with the ART lenses, the bokeh looks great to me at T2.8, providing a little depth behind the subject — in this case, a bird outside my favorite pie shop in California. The below, unfortunately compressed, picture was shot at 100mm/T2.8 in 2K on the Red Epic Dragon. Lens Flare The flares from these zooms look great to my eye and have a much more natural feeling than the Zeiss CP.2 primes in my opinion. No complaints here. Though not anamorphic, let’s call these lens flares JJ Abrams approved. 50-100 T2.0 pointed at the sun. No ND filter. Vignetting There was no visible vignetting on my RED Epic Dragon on the 50-100 T2.0, but the 18-35mm started to vignette at 6K when zoomed all the way out to 18mm. So, I would not recommend the 18-35mm for 6K and 8K work, but SIGMA is expected to release a full frame 24-35mm T2.2 soon that will cover the Helium sensor on the RED Epic. Of course, for the vast majority of the industry not shooting in 8K or even 6K, these lenses will do just fine at 4K and 5K on a Super35 sensor. The 18 – 35mm starts vignetting at 6K on the RED Epic Dragon when zoomed out to 18mm. The aperture range of both lenses is between T2.0 and T16, and at noon on the beach I missed being able to stop down to T22. Not a big deal with screw-on ND filters, built-in selectable ND (not on my RED Epic) or a Matte Box with filters, but in a run & gun doc situation with little time to spare and no ND filters around, I would have at least liked the option to go to T22. Both lenses have 82mm threads for a simple screw on filter in the front, which is nice and helps keep your rig handheld-friendly if needed. In a commercial or narrative situation with a lighting and grip department, this is obviously a non-issue, but it is important to mention as it is relevant to the work of many cinematographers buying a zoom at this price range. If you’re one such cinematographer, make sure you have NDs that are fit for your run and gun scenarios. I found the minimum object distance of 3ft on the 50-100 T2.0 to be just too far away for some shots, but this isn’t a macro lens and it isn’t pretending to be. Final Thoughts Yes, they are very much worth the money. In a cinema lens marketplace that’s becoming steadily more competitive, SIGMA has created a disruptive product with a price point that will be tough for other manufacturers to beat. Despite being cheaper than much of the competition, these lenses don’t feel or look cheap. Rather, they produce deluxe images comparable to much more expensive glass. SIGMA has a busy 2017 ahead of them with a whole set of primes on the horizon as well as the full frame, slightly slower (T2.2) zoom slated to hit stores. I, for one, can’t wait. **Update: Sentence concerning focus breathing updated for clarity. There is focus breathing with both lenses. What do you think? Do the SIGMA High Speed zooms have a spot in your kit in 2017? Comment below. Special Thanks: Rocking Horse Ranch, The Studio Encinitas, Tolan Shaw, Rin Ehlers Sheldon, Matt Lopman, Jose ValdezRead more
by Graham Sheldon | 7th September 2016
Today’s announcement of the new Sigma High Speed Cinema lenses, complete with both prime and zooms, comes on the eve of the International Broadcasters Convention (IBC) week in Amsterdam. Sigma’s Art series has long been a favorite of DSLR filmmakers, and these new cinema lenses are aimed squarely at the high-end commercial and film industries. This is the company’s first foray into the cinema lens world, and is an ambitious first step with eight new lenses covering a variety of focal lengths. The Sigma FF High Speed Cinema Prime lineup includes the following focal lengths: 20mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm, all at a speedy T1.5, with the option of E, EF or PL mounts. Two new Sigma High Speed Cinema Zooms cover 18-35mm and 50-100mm at T2.0, and will handle 6-8K sensors from camera manufacturers like RED Cinema. Available initially in both EF and Sony E mount, I’m told PL mounts are on the way for the zoom line as well. All lenses are weatherproofed and use luminous paint markings for operating in dark conditions. Sigma also announced a plan to continue adding to the cinema line throughout 2017 with an additional zoom and a further five primes on the horizon. New Sigma High Speed 50-100 T2.0 Cine Zoom (EF and Sony E) Sigma High Speed Cinema Lenses – Features at a Glance: Sigma FF High Speed Primes in T1.5, and Full Frame compatible. Sigma High Speed Zooms in T2, Super 35mm coverage. Metal bodies, with standardised 95mm front diameter, 82mm filter thread, lens gear positions and 0.8M gear pitch across the board. Same weatherproofing found in their 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Zoom. Luminous paint and laser engraved ensure durable lens markings that can be operated also in dark conditions. Smooth and precise focusing and zooming with ring throw of 180° and 160°, respectively. Optional manual iris control. Separately, Sigma also announced a non “High Speed” FF Cinema Zoom today that covers 24-35mm T2.2, and will be available in EF and E mount with no plans for a PL mount version. Could this be a more budget friendly option aimed at competitors like Zeiss with their ZEISS LWZ.3 21-100mm/T.2.9-3.9 T recently being announced? With Rokinon’s Xeen line occupying the entry level of the cinema glass market at least in terms of primes, and with many manufacturers building glass only big-budget productions can afford, it will be interesting to see where Sigma’s pricing lands. Availability: Expected Q4, 2016 – initially only available in Japan and the United States. Pricing: TBD What are your thoughts on the new Sigma FF High Speed Cinema lineup? Let us know below.Read more
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