Thursday, March 13, 2014

Evaluating the cheap focal reducer with "real world" images: part 1

Focal reducers really set something off with the mirrorless world. Not only for Micro Fourthirds, which is my "main" system, but also APS-C systems from Fuji and Nex.

Under a Focal reducer, the APS-C systems are "full frame" equivalent, giving the same image with the same lens for a photographer. Micro Fourthirds still gives a bit of a crop with 1.44x, but that's still pretty usable.

I figured I'll try some older lenses and see what I can get with this focal reducer adapter. Not only can it be used with old Full frame lenses, but there's a couple APS-C lenses out there as well, which would be very well utilized to deliver a wide image. I don't have many APS-C coverage lenses, because most would not have an aperture ring. I do have a samyang 8mm fisheye for APS-C. Looking forward to their 10mm lens.

The following Shots are from a Vivitar 17mm F3.5 (Nikon F). The lens is among the widest available from old film days, and delivers decent quality stopped down to F5.6. On the focal reducer, it's still not that fast, bearing F2.5, but it is wider than most MFT lenses, coming in at 12.2mm

ISO 2000 1/25s F5.6

ISO 320 1s F5.6

ISO 3200 1/25s F5.6

These shots are from the 8mm Samyang (Nikon F). Though it's a recent APS-C lens, it's completely manual, including the aperture ring. It should be noted that my copy never focused properly, and has been modified to achieve proper focus. Using this fisheye is very fun. While it is possible to "de-fish" the image to a rectilinear the fun and utility of a fisheye lies in the distorted projection. Ultra wide rectilinear lenses show heavy stretching towards the edge of an image.

ISO 400 1/20s F3.5

ISO 400 1/100 F5.6

ISO 400 1/80s F5.6

ISO 200 1/6s

ISO 200 1/2.5s F3.5

ISO 200 1/6s F5.6

These shots are from the Kiron 28mm F2 (Nikon F). Of all my old lenses, the quality here is probably the lowest. It's not a BAD lens. Few lenses are actually "BAD" This lens when stopped down is decent, but wide open is a little soft. Colors come out fairly well though. My pictures are probably looking repetitive here since my "testing" is really on my way home from my day job. I suck at street photography, so here's what we get. The third picture here looks extremely soft towards the bottom. All in all, I think the lens is quite usable. These pictures look nice and bright when in reality it was fairly dark outside. This is an effective 20mm F1.4, perhaps I should run a test of this vs the venerable 20mm F1.7.

ISO 400 1/80s F2

ISO 400 1/50s F2.8

ISO 500 1/20s

ISO 1250 1/40s F2

ISO 640 1/40s F2

These are the Canon 55mm F1.2 SSC (FD). This mount was converted to EF using the popular "EdMika" conversion kit. This is where we leave behind common thought and see what a $500 40mm F0.86 lens will look like. The focal reducer and 50 F1.2 combine to form a shockingly fast and capable lens. Shots here range from wide open (F1.2) to F2.

ISO 640 1/40s

ISO 200 1/40s F1.2

ISO 400 1/60s F1.2

ISO 200 1/60s

ISO 500 1/60s F1.2

ISO 400 1/60s F1.4

Up next I'll be trying lenses like the 85mm F1.4 and 24mm F1.4 Samyang lenses. I decided to break it up a little since the page loading gets heavy with too many pictures. 

It's interesting to note that even fast lenses on the focal reducer can be sharp and while it wont have as much contrast as stopping down a little, they can have enough contrast.

NB: to add ISO and shutter speed on these pictures comments. Blogger strips EXIF (why?!) 


  1. Hi! I've bought the same adapter/focal length reducer as you have ... while waiting for metabones. I have the EF 85/1.4 from Samyang and I'm very eager to see results from that combo. Do you have some full-res samples (on flickr perharps)?
    1.4 - 2 - 2.8 ? ...

  2. I'll put up a few images of that as soon as I can. I've been pleased with that too - I've a pentax version, adapted to EF.
    Next up is the 85mm F1.4, 24mm F1.4 (really much nicer than I thought), an old 135 F1.8, and I'll figure out something next.

  3. Sorry it took so long. The next comparisons are here:

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