EXCLUSIVE: SLR Magic 35mm 0.95 lens – FIRST LOOK on XE1 & OMD


I was recently approached by SLR Magic man Andrew Chan with regards having a play with one of his new lenses, namely the 35mm 0.95 lens….of course I was keen to have a look at it, especially knowing that nobody else has used it, so I would be getting the first ‘hands on’ usage for stills photography and using the new Fuji XE1 to shoot it.

One thing I’ve hear A LOT from people is how you can’t get decent BOKEH (background blur) with these smaller sensor cameras…..well ladies and gentlemen….just look at the image below, shot from about 1.5 metres away…..and then redefine your beliefs….because if thats not bokeh-liscious…then nothing is….

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 1600. Click image or ‘save-as’ to get the hi-res image.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 1600, click image for full size direct from RAW to JPEG.
(Thanks to Steve for posing, his photography can be seen here

This lens fits cameras from APS-H size and down, so fits perfectly with adaptors on Fuji XE1, Xpro1, and Olympus OMD.  I am unsure if it will fit onto an M Mount camera and perform correctly, if you want to know that, contact Andrew directly, I only know about it working on the Fuji and OMD as those are the two cameras I have tested it on.

Here are a few images shot by my friend Brad on his Sony RX100 of the lens on the OMD and Fuji so you can see the size of it in comparison to the camera bodies (remember this is a prototype lens, so some things will change on final versions, this should be just giving you an idea of size)

(SLR Magic 35mm 0.95 lens on the Fuji XE1, hood out.  Remember XE1 is smaller than XPro1)

SLR Magic 35mm 0.95 on the Olympus OMD)

Also to note that this is not a technical review, but simply a selection of images with links to some high res versions that show what the lens can do.  I have used the previous 0.95 50mm hyperprime from SLR Magic, and I was a fan, although it was very expensive and very heavy.  Of course this is normal for an extreme low light lens, but this lens is much lighter, shorter and although I am not sure of the final price yet, I am confidently informed that it will be in a much more price friendly bracket than the 50mm version. (Update: Introductory price will be USD$1249)

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 800, click image for full size direct from RAW to JPEG.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 640, click image for full size direct from RAW to JPEG.
(Thanks to fellow photographer Sean for posing, his work can be seen at www.sdbphoto.com

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 400. Click image or ‘save-as’ to get the hi-res image.

On the Fuji sensors the lens performs as a 50mm (roughly) anyway, so for me this is great, I can get a 50mm view, at a lower price, and still get bokeh that knocks the competition out of the park.  Happy days!  On my OMD it gives me a 70mm portrait lens with crazy bokeh also….again…happy days! This image below shows the lens performance on the OMD….I personally believe the lens is better suited to the Fuji…..I need more time to justify that, as it may just be that the XE1 sensor is better than the OMD 4/3 sensor…but having discussed it with a few friends when we examined the images, we agreed that the bokeh looked very creamy on the Fuji and a little ‘nervous’ on the OMD, although this image below shows it looks great on the OMD…so maybe it was due more to the fact we were using the OMD with it in lower light…not yet sure.

Olympus OMD, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 500. Click image or ‘save-as’ to get the hi-res image.

Olympus OMD, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 800. Click image or ‘save-as’ to get the hi-res image.

As its a prototype lens, I cant comment on final build quality, all i will say at this point is it was a solid lens, a few things I dont like are that the aperture ring and focus ring are reversed, i.e. aperture ring is closest to camera, focus ring at front….felt strange at first, after having used M lenses before, however the focus ring is put at the front so it is easier to rack focus for cinematographers using follow focus systems.

There are no aperture ring clicks as its designed as a cinema lens…this is not an issue for me.  The hood doesnt lock out, it pulls out and pushes in easily, i would prefer a hood that tightens by twisting or similar…not sure if that will be remedied in the final version.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 400. Click image or ‘save-as’ to get the hi-res image.

Another thing thats cool about this lens is the minimum focussing distance, which is 23 centimetres….this image below demonstrates that close focus ability…the person walking past from left side of frame in blue shirt is about 1.5 metres away….and is blown to bokeh-bits….any background in that shot is basically unrecognisable…and creamy smooth.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 800. Click image or ‘save-as’ to get the hi-res image.

This is a very solid lens, I hope the final versions will live up to the same quality of this lens. The main thing that concerns me when I use a lens is image quality.  I can honestly say that this lens is AMAZING when coupled with a mirorless camera, in particular the Fuji XE1 or XPRO1.  Here are more samples shot over the last few days (please bear in mind that I have only had the lens for a few days walkabout, so most of the pictures may be uninteresting subject matter…I am just trying to show how the lens performs wide open at this stage).

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 800. Click image or ‘save-as’ to get the hi-res image.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 400. Click image or ‘save-as’ to get the hi-res image.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 400. Click image or ‘save-as’ to get the hi-res image.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 1600. Click image or ‘save-as’ to get the hi-res image.
(Thanks to Rob the ‘Events Man’ for posing, his site is www.eventsman.com)

Here are a few shots taken on the Hong Kong MTR (underground train), for reference when judging distances the woman in the shot thats in focus is sat 3 places down from me.  The second shot is just across to the other side of the train, focussing on the bar in the middle of the train from my seat, the third image i just tried to focus on her watch, check the full size image….I think that gives a good idea of how it can throw out the background so easily.  All files can be clicked to access the RAW to JPEG full size shots that are unedited in any way.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 1600, click image for full size direct from RAW to JPEG.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 1600, click image for full size direct from RAW to JPEG.

UPDATE FROM SLR MAGIC FOR AVAILABILITY: Our lens volunteers can order ahead of time in December 2012. For the public it will be  available from February 2013.  Introductory retail price is USD$1249.

To summarise my experience over a few days, I can honestly say it seems great, some won’t like the fact that its manual focus only, this is not a problem for me as I am well trained with Leica rangefinder systems so I don’t see that as a problem, and fine tuning focus at such apertures is essential anyway, so I’m not sure an autofocus lens at 0.95 would be any use.

If you are interested in this lens, download the high res files and just take a look…..it is what it is……nothing more, nothing less…..I like it, and if it comes down to me buying an ultra fast lens that I can use for mirorless cameras (manual focus only), then I’ll take this any day of the week.

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Written by Gary Tyson


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