Sunday, April 20, 2014

Evaluating the cheap focal reducer with "real world" images: part 2

I've been a bit tardy in this review. Poor weather and a busy job would to that I guess. This time though I've gotten a decent variety of images for testing 3 fast lenses with the cheap focal reducer.

The Bower (Samyang) 24mm F1.4 (17mm F1.0), Vivitar (Samyang) 85mm F1.4 (61mm F1.0) and a special case - Spiratone 135mm F1.8 (97mm F1.3).

So, here we have a wide 35mm Equivalent, short-tele/long portrait ~120mm equivalent, and telefocal ~200mm equivalent. When we say equivalent, we're simply comparing focal length of these lenses with what we would need on a 35mm "full frame" sensor to get the same angle of view.

For Part 1, click HERE.

These shots are from the Bower 24mm F1.4 (EF). As far as fast wide lenses go for full frame cameras, this is wide, fast and cheap. So you probably wont expect good optical quality, however I think anyone would be surprised to see how well it does. This is also a good choice for astro-photography.
ISO 200 1/2500 F2.8
ISO 200 1/100 F1.4

ISO 200 1/320 F2.0

ISO 200 1/800 F2.4

ISO 200 1/30 F1.4

ISO 200 1/25 F2.8

ISO 250 1/125 F2.0

Next up we have the Vivitar 85mm F1.4 (K). The lens has been modified slightly. Being a Pentax K mount, it will just work on any EF adapter really, but the lever gets in the way of the mirror on my 5D, so I clipped it off with a dremel. This lens is just fantastic on Full Frame. It's not too long to make it unwieldy, and the smooth bokeh is breathtaking. 
ISO 200 1/640 F2.8

ISO 400 1/10 F1.8

ISO 640 1/160 F1.4

ISO 200 1/500 F1.4

ISO 200 1/800 F1.4

Finally, here's pictures from the titan of the bunch, the Spiratone 135mm F1.8 (YS mount with F adapter). This lens is impressive. It's not much longer than the 85mm, but it's 82mm filter and massive elements immediately tell your brain to put some strength in your arm when picking this up. Then you're surprised because you still should have used a bit more. It's heavy, solid, and will built. It's all metal, with straight, square lines. While prone to flare, it can deliver sharp detail, although some processing may be needed to bring out the best from this beast.
ISO 200 1/1600 F1.8

ISO 200 1/1600 F1.8

ISO 200 1/2500 F2.8

ISO 200 1/1250 F1.8

I'll have to get around to posting how my EP3 looks with these lenses.

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I do :) GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) can be costly, but ofter buying used lenses can be quite cheap.

The focal reducer has gone beyond my expectations. The wider focal lengths are more usable, and the stop extra more light is fantastic. The center of the image shows a small boost in sharpness as well, and since the image is wider, it's also less prone to shake giving a couple advantages for sharper pictures. I haven't found any increase in flare, or odd bokeh.

The 24mm in particular is a favorite of mine, and has supplanted the Panasonic Leica 25mm F1.4 as the "standard" lens on my EP3. It's a combination of the 25mm Focal length, and F1.0 speed.

Happy Shooting!


  1. Dear,

    Thank you for this article. Q : which one did you buy ? What was the cost, do you have a link ?

    Kind regards,


  2. Glad you appreciated it. This is the one I bought:

    Sold by c.kee, between $95 and $100. Possibly a variant of the "zhongi" brand adapter.

  3. Hello your article is very helpful. I'm planning to buy a generic brand focal reducer, it's the cheapest below $100. I wonder how the results might turn out...

    1. Good luck :) Pretty much what I did. At the time there were only 3 or so actual manufacturers and a lot of sellers rebranding it. I'm not sure what it's like now, but I'd wager they are at least as good as what I used here.

      I've since moved on to an A7 (1st model) though I keep a m43 as a backup and for macros. It's nice moving to a completely different camera system and using all the lenses you were already having fun with.

  4. Thanks for an interesting review. How would you compare the image quality wide open with and without the focal reducer? I'm very interested in adapting an 85/1.8 for micro four thirds. Just wondering if it loses IQ and I'd have to end up stopping down. Thanks again!

  5. Hello! Im wanting to use a rokinon/samyang 85mm 1.4 with a focal redcuer as well. I know this article is very old but maybe you have some old photos with that setup that you could email me so i can judge the quality? :)
    Best regards