Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pimp My G1 - 25mm F/1.4 C-Mount CCTV Lens




Ever thought about using CCTV lens on your "Micro 4/3" (Micro Four Thirds) camera? Well, for many, that seems to be a strange idea and maybe some would say that's it's ridiculous or impossible.

As a loyalist of Panasonic Lumix brand, the reason to go into the world of Micro 4/3 is simply because I'm a happy customer and consumer of Panasonic Lumix products for the past 3 years and I've using several different types of their products from the so called budget entry level compact digicam (Panasonic Lumix LZ7) to the long superzoom digicam (Panasonic Lumix FZ28) and finally the advance compact digicam (Panasonic Lumix LX3).

I am very happy with all of the above mentioned products and naturally when I learned about the new format of "Micro 4/3" format created by Panasonic and Olympus, I feel ecstatic and wanted to try their offering in the so called "mirrorless compact" or what ever they call it.

And thus after having lot's of fun with the magnificent Panasonic LX3 late last year till early of this year, I then joined the Micro 4/3 world thru my beloved Panasonic Lumix G1, the first model introduced under the Micro 4/3 world.

The Micro 4/3 image sensor is basically the same size to that "Four Thirds" sensor size created by Olympus and Kodak and that also means it is 40% smaller than the conventional APS-C sensor size used by the likes of Canon in their DSLR camera models.

Unlike older SLR systems, "Four Thirds" has been designed from the ground up to be entirely digital. Many lenses are extensively computerized, to the point that manufacturers (like Olympus) offers firmware updates for many of them from time to time.

Lens design has been tailored to the requirements of digital sensors. The size of the sensor is significantly smaller than for most DSLRs and this implies that lenses can be smaller.

In the development process of "Micro 4/3 format", Panasonic and Olympus focus on the "slimming down process" further and they managed to find a way to discard the "mirror system" and the result is that the camera body can be smaller than the traditional DSLR, almost to the point of the size of those compact digicam.... almost, but not really, but that is already a big improvement at that point of time.

Since the sensor size is a little smaller, it is natural that the "Micro 4/3" may not be able to matched the superior image quality offered by the larger APS-C sensor, not at the moment at least, but nonetheless they are way much better than those offered by the advance compact digicam like Panasonic LX3 and/or Olympus XZ1.

Like they always said, sometimes we can't win everything... we win some, we lose some, all fair and square, that's the way life goes.

Nonetheless, our main focus today is not really about the history of Micro 4/3 but rather their ability to use many types of lens with the help of adapters. The Micro 4/3 format has a very short back focus distance this means that quite a few different lenses can be mounted on the camera through the use of adaptors.

Virtually any lens can be used on Micro 4/3 camera bodies using the proper adapter. For example, Four Thirds lenses can be used with auto focus using the adapters designed by Olympus and Panasonic though there are also some "un-official" adapters created by third parties which can be bought from E-Bay.

Frankly speaking, I never thought about using the so called "other lenses" on my Panasonic G1 but when I first learned about it thru the link below;

SLR Magic releases 26mm F1.4 Toy Lens for Micro Four Thirds

I suddenly kind of interested to know more about it.

I then visited the online shop selling it = http://www.gizmoshop.jp/item_slrmagic.php

But then at that point of time, they are "Sold Out".

So I searched in E-Bay and I found almost similar items which much cheaper price and I decided to give it a try and the rest is history.

And yesterday, finally, this "25mm F/1.4 C-Mount CCTV Lens" arrived at around 4.30pm and I can't wait to test it immediately.


This is now the review of this "25mm F/1.4 C-Mount CCTV Lens" or you can just simply call it as "Toy Lens" ^__^



This is the box;





I don't know what WSL means, probably the manufacturer or the factory name, so I take the liberty to refer it as WSL = Wong Siew Ling.... LOL


And this is it outside the box;






The 25mm F/1.4 C-Mount CCTV Lens though on the lens body it is stated "WSL HDTV"





A little bit information about this "C-Mount" lens from Wikipedia;

A C-mount is a type of lens mount commonly found on 16mm movie cameras, closed-circuit television cameras, and trinocular microscope phototubes.

C-mount lenses provide a male thread which mates with a female thread on the camera. The thread is nominally 1 inch (25 mm) in diameter, with 32 threads per inch, designated as "1-32 UN 2A" in the ANSI B1.1 standard for unified screw threads. The flange focal distance is 17.526 millimetres (0.6900 in) for a C-mount.

Lenses made originally for TV cameras may not always fit movie cameras, as some lack provision to focus or set exposure, as the video cameras could perform these functions by other means. Also note that the back element of some video lenses may protrude too far from the mount, and would interfere with the shutter or reflex finder mechanisms in a movie camera. Although C-mount lenses are generally incompatible with 35mm interchangeable lens SLR cameras, they can be mounted on Micro Four Thirds digital cameras such as the Olympus E-P1, with a suitable adapter.

The letter "C" is said to stand for "cine", the original application being movie camera lenses.







This ring have Manual Aperture Ring and Manual Focus Ring;





Quite tiny indeed;






And this the adapters, basically all these comes from the adapter box (the box on your left from the above picture of 2 boxes)






This is the C-Mount to Micro 4/3 adapter;





As you can see at the back side here, no electronic/electric connector at all;






We then need to screw the lens onto the adapter;








Next, take out what ever lens you have on your camera, in my case, I only have the standard kit lens (Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6) that comes with my Panasonic G1 when I purchased the camera;






After that we attached the lens/adapter onto the camera;







Now, when using 3rd party lenses via adapters on a Micro 4/3 camera (in my case the Panasonic G1), you MUST go into the camera’s menu and allow the camera to “Shoot Without Lens” which is telling the camera to function when it doesn’t have an electronic connection to relay and/or to transmit information.

I described this process from the pictures below;








And just like that, you are ready to rock;




You can do the above process before or after you attached the lens.

If you don't do that yet, you will see the following on your Live View (or EVF) screen;




Another thing, according to my situation with my Panasonic G1, it seems that I can use this lens on almost all of the shooting selection modes EXCEPT the "iAuto" (Intelligent Auto Mode or Full Automatic Mode) and also the "Custom Mode" as shown in the following pictures;







If you try to use this lens on the above mentioned "modes" this will appear on your screen;




I decided to choose the Aperture Priority Mode (A) or the full Manual Mode (M). Setting the camera to shoot in Aperture Priority will allow the camera to adjust your shutter speed according to the amount of light hitting the sensor.

I personally recommended that you stick with either the A or M though you can also try the P mode.

And as an additional notes, at the time of this review I only use the Aperture Priority Mode (A) all the time and that I haven't had the chance to try this lens using all the other customized or semi-auto modes or those built in shooting modes"

You can also adjust your exposure compensation (+ or -) to fine tune your desired exposure as the metering can be challenging.

So now before we view the sample pictures taken using this lens using Panasonic G1, I would like to highlight 1 thing about the lens "extras";


This is the lens;





And that part there is the "Macro Adapter";






The "Macro Adapter" is basically for those Macro and Close Up photography purpose. So if you want to do the Portrait, Scenery and Landscape photography, you need to remove the "Macro Adapter" accordingly or otherwise the lens can't focus into that far or long distance, something like that....







All the pictures below are in 12MP resolution, they have been "Auto Toned" using Adobe Lightroom 1.4 accordingly. Click the pictures to see them in full resolution;

And my first test subject is the toy... or action figures... in the photo below I wanted to see the "bokeh" in Macro or Close Up situation (with the Macro Adapter attached)




In the above picture, I use wide open Aperture setting (F/1.4) and I'm quite impress with it.

And in the picture below, I close the lens Aperture a little bit, somewhere in F/6.0;





Again shooting at small Aperture;





And now in wide open, big Aperture;






Now as you can see from the above, vignetting is an issue. With such small size of the lens, vignetting seems to be unavoidable and thus we should in fact do lots of cropping to get the desired result.

For some people, depending on their personal taste or respective project, they may or may not mind about the vignetting at all but for many I guess, they wont like it. At the end, it's all about personal taste and the desired results you are aiming for.

I don't bother to do any further editing and cropping on all the pictures in this review so that at least you can see them and later that will help you to make your decision accordingly. Basically that's how they look like out of the camera - with visible vignetting....


And 1 more thing about this lens that I consider as fun is that when you play around adjusting the Aperture Ring, you can actually see the lens open and close it's Aperture, something like this;








OK, now I removed the "Macro Adapter" and try to do some scenery and portrait stuff;







Scenery or landscape shooting usually required small Aperture, despite all the difficulties, I'm happy that I can get a decent result (at least in accordance to my own level) on the picture below;





Since it's night time, I'm quite lazy to do lot's of scenery and landscape shooting because I am spoiled with the modern "Auto Focus" technology and thus I find this "full time Manual Focus" especially in the dark can be very tricky and time consuming - or maybe I'm just lazy or an inexperience photographer.

So I then moving on to the "people photography" - the portrait;









Again, night outdoor portrait situation is not my forte...

So, I then moving on to the indoor portrait situation, with good or decent lights, I think it's much more easier ^__^













That's it for now, I will upload more picture sample as soon as I have it.

Overall, I think this lens is a great value for money as long as you know how to make the best use of it, simple as that.

Apart from my poor photography skills, I personally feel that this lens is quite sharp especially in the center area though eventually vignetting can be an issue but we can easily fix this with cropping. I'm not really an expert who can explain every single advantage and flow of this lens so apart from that, not much more I can say.

In a way, I jokingly told my friend that this is a "poor man" Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm F/1.4 ASPH lens. That is a specific Micro 4/3 prime lens which at the moment cost around roughly between SGD 900 to SGD 1,200 or something like that. In fact most Micro 4/3 lens are generally quite pricey with the Panasonic lens usually cost above SGD 600 (or more) while those from Olympus start at above SGD 400 but hopefully as time goes by the price may go down a little bit (hopefully - fingers crossed)....

Well, the truth is this lens does not in any way comparable to that superior lens mentioned above but then again, if you are on a tight budget and wanted to have F/1.4 at 25mm, then this toy lens can be an alternative for you to try and for fun sake since the price is quite cheap.

The "25mm" focal length of this lens used on Micro 4/3 bodies is equivalent to 50mm in "35mm Full Frame" format so I think portrait photography is quite fun with it while scenery and landscape is not impossible but it can be tricky.

I am spoiled with the modern "Auto Focus" technology and I personally feel that it's kind or cumbersome to use "Manual Focus" all the time especially in low light situation with this lens but then again I have no choice and have to live with it if I were to use this lens. Actually, that's how those great photographers use their camera several decades ago.

I will not recommend this to someone who are new in photography and camera world or someone who just joined the Micro 4/3 world but yet only enjoy to use the"iAuto mode" (full automatic mode) on their camera. There is nothing wrong with using the "iAuto mode" all the time, it's your money, your camera, use it the way you want it as long as you have fun with it.

For sure, this lens is not for beginners who only want "everything automatic".

About considering this as dedicated prime lens for your Micro 4/3 camera, I'm not sure about it either as after all, this is just a "toy lens" but if you personally feel comfortable with such idea and if it's suites your photography needs, then it's up to you to make that decision.

I personally feel this lens is fun to use but it has it's flow, then again, the price is friendly so I am all but happy with it. We can't expect a "Mercedes Benz" at the price of "Toyota Echo" right?

If you fully appreciate the concept of Micro 4/3 camera bodies using what ever lens available out there (including those old, classic, legacy lens) with suitable adapters and if you have decent knowledge and skills in photography and would like to try this kind of thing, then all you need to do is search the following items in E-Bay:


1) C-Mount lens
2) M42 Lens

and then you need to search for the suitable adapters, something like this;

1) C-Mount to Micro 4/3 adapter
2) M42 lens to Micro 4/3 adapter


and eventually, if you want to try the existing Canon EOS EF Lens or those modern Nikon lens, or if you happen to still have those classic film era SLR lens from Canon and Nikon, you can actually find the relevant adapter to use them with any of the Micro 4/3 camera as below;

- Panasonic G1/G2/G10/G3/GH1/GH2/GF1/GF2
- Oympus PEN EP1, EP2, EPL1
- and maybe many more to come in the near future


In fact there are some people out there currently using their classic Leica lens on the Micro 4/3 camera, all they need is the Leica M adapter to Micro 4/3 and that's it. See the link below;

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/accessories/m-43.shtml



This is in fact the hidden treasure of Micro 4/3 format, the ability to use virtually any lens with suitable adapters and I just love that idea... I'm not sure if the engineers or the designers did think about it when they created this format but I think it is simply fantastic.





end

1 comment:

  1. Nice article! Your informations are very clear! Terima kasih Bro!

    ReplyDelete