Viltrox EF-NEX IV adapter (v1.9)

Featured

Viltrox has released a firmware update min-2019, and this posts talks about the updated performance of this adapter. I’ve specified my experience per lens, to give you a better overview on how each EF/EF-S lens performs in combination with this adapter. Be sure to check out my previous thought on this adapter here, as this is a continuation or update from the findings I reported in that post.

I’ve used this mount adapter exclusively in combination with the Sony A7 III, so all my thoughts presented here are related to this combination.

General remarks

So, after almost a year, we get a new firmware update for this adapter. While there’s a whole list of new lenses that have been tested and added to the compatibility list, the one thing that interested me the most was the improved CDAF functionality, improving the AF performance by allowing the adapter to make use of hybrid AF, combining CDAF and PDAF, just as native Sony FE lenses do!

Other EF to FE lens adapters have also had this update. Recently, Yongnuo, another Chinese camera accessory manufacturer, released their mount adapter, which includes this functionality (see Petapixel, for instance). I’m not a 100% sure, but I believed Metabones recently updated their mount adapter as well, also allowing for hybrid AF functionality.

When you download the updated firmware (link), you’ll be presented with two files: the regular v1.9 firmware and the ‘test-v041’ firmware, which includes the aforementioned hybrid CDAF functionality. I’ve exclusively used this ‘test’-firmware.

In addition to all the stuff written down below, this mount adapter allows you to mount EF or EF-S lenses to your Sony A7 camera. Please note that mounting an EF-S lens switches the camera to s35 mode, cropping the sensor to simulate an APS-C style camera. The adapter was able to control the aperture of all lenses that I’ve tested. The correct focal length is sent to the camera’s IBIS system, allowing for automatic sensor stabilization that adapts to the focal length of the lens. For instance, zooming the Canon EF 17-40 f/4 L USM to 17mm changed the IBIS to 17mm, while zooming to 35mm changed the IBIS to 35mm. This means that if your Sony camera supports IBIS, it automatically chooses the correct setting for the attached Canon lens.

Compared to the previous version of the firmware, v1.8, the adapter has become a lot more stable. I’ve never had the camera lock up with this firmware, which is in stark contrast to my experiences with firmware v1.8, where the camera-adapter-lens combination would lock-up and freeze every 100 or so pictures.

However, if you change settings related to AF in the camera, you need to reboot the camera and remount the lens-adapter combination for the change to occur. For instance, I changed the focus speed settings from normal to fast. This caused the camera to cease operating: even though the EVF and monitor still displayed a live feed, I couldn’t change camera settings like aperture or shutter speed. Rebooting in this case was not enough, and this caused the camera to boot up with a black screen (even though the lens cap was off). After uncoupling the mount adapter from the body and re-attaching, my camera worked as expected again, with the changed AF settings successfully changed.

Canon EF 17-40 f/4 L USM

This lens combination works wonderfully on the Sony A7 III. The camera automatically changes the IBIS system based on the focal length of the lens. AF works better than I expected in both photo and video, delivering a sharp and L-level quality image.

Face-detection works in both photo and video mode. In photo mode, it even detects the eyes and draws a green square around them, indicating that the eyes are in focus. However, one consistent finding that I experienced is that face-detection only works when the subject is in the center of the frame. When a subject is to the side, the camera detects a face, but is unable to achieve focus. Instead, the lens keeps hunting back and forth and ultimately gives up. The same is true for tap-to-focus: it only works when it’s in the center of the frame. This finding holds true for both photo and video.

The AF motor makes a little noise when shooting video. It is noticeably louder than my native Sony FE 28-70 kit-lens. However, if you’re in a somewhat noisy environment, the noise this lens makes is insignificant. For instance, when I use my Rode Videomic Pro, focussing noise is barely noticeable in the video.

AF is fairly quick, quick enough for my taste. I’m unable to compare it to how this lens performs on a native Canon camera, but I suppose it’s quicker. As far as I’m concerned, it’s quick enough for me, and I’ve not missed a shot both in video and photo due to this lens not focussing fast enough. You can take a listen to a recording of the A7 with this lens, where you can hear the AF motor, when audio sensitivity is set to 31 (link).

Canon EF 24-105 f4 L IS USM

I’ve used this lens after using the EF 17-40 for a couple of weeks, so naturally I’ve compared it to the performance of that lens.

First and foremost, the focussing system in video is significantly slower. I’ve changed the focussing speed to fast (and causing the camera to cease operating properly, as explained above, requiring a re-mounting of the lens in order to relieve this). Setting the speed to fast still makes this lens acquire focus a bit slow. It is significantly slower than using the native FE 28-70 kit-lens, and is a little bit too slow for me when you need to change focus form very close to very far. However, I don’t think you’ll need to perform such a focus move, as with my video shooting I usually need the lens to perform only slight focus adjustments, as with tracking a face or subject along a background. For photo however, focus is achieved quickly enough, making this a non-issue for photo.

Just as with the EF 17-40, face detection works only when the face is in the center of the frame, both with video and photo.

AF is noisier than the EF 17-40, which was noisier than the native FE 28-70. I’ve not had enough experience with video shooting with this lens to form an opinion on whether it is usually in real-life scenarios. Also, mind you, there’s the internal IS that works alongside the IBIS system, which also makes a significant amount of noise. Here’s the noise from the AF and IS system when setting the audio sensitivity to 31 (link).

Canon EF 70-300 IS USM

On the day the firmware was released, I made a video showing off the AF-C capabilities of my new-to-me Canon EF 70-300 IS USM tele-zoom lens. I’m not sure if this combination uses hybrid AF or regular CDAF, and I’m not sure if I’m able to tell whether this is used at all! However, this should give you an indication of the usability of AF in video using a Sony A7 III and the Canon EF 70-300 IS USM. Check out the YouTube test footage here!

Last weekend, I used this lens to shoot racing cars on a circuit nearby. I took a spot near the track on top of a building, allowing me to chase the cars as they moved through the final two corners before accelerating along the straight. I was able to track most cars for about 5 seconds. Using the Hi+ drive setting during photo mode, allowing me to shoot photos with 10 fps, all the pictures I took where sharp and in focus. Take a look at the GIF I made from the pictures I took.

When I tried to shoot a video of the cars moving by, sometimes the lens was unable to achieve focus for the 5 seconds. In other cases, focus was achieved during the first second, allowing me to track the car along the corners while perfectly in focus using AF-C. A tactic I uncovered here was starting out at 75mm, tracking the car and zooming in along the way to 300mm to get the car to be in focus.

Canon EF-S 55-250 IS

This is the first iteration of this lens, that does have IS but it’s not the II or the STM version.

This lens presents an affordable option for the EF-S system, and matches neatly with the EF-S 18-55 kit-lens. However, for a full-frame camera such as the A7 III, this lens is a lot less sensible.

First, this lens shows a heavy black border when the camera is not set to s35 mode. As this crops the sensor heavily, the quality goes down noticeably. Secondly, to make things worse, the autofocus is very slow on this combination. It takes ages for this lens to achieve focus, making it almost unusable when trying to use it in practice.

Finally, on a positive note, the IS system works neatly in combination with the A7 III’s IBIS.

In my opinion, taking into consideration the value of this lens, I would choose the Canon EF 70-300 IS USM over this lens anytime. Even thought that lens is bigger and heavier, the AF system works faster and better, and image quality is also improved.

Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 AT-X

The full name of the lens I used is the Tokina AT-X PRO SD 11-16 F2.8 (IF) DX II. This is relevant as there have been a number of variants of this lens produced.

Unfortunately, the copy of the Tokina that I used had a malfunction with AF, where the AF system would not engage in any way. This means that I have no idea how the PDAF or CDAF functions on this camera-adapter-lens combination. I did, however, discover some other interesting findings.

First, as does with most lenses, the lens’ focal length is communicated with the IBIS system. This is relevant because even though most original Canon lenses allow for this functionality, this is the first third-party manufacturer lens that communicates the focal length. You can rest assured that the image of this lens combination is being stabilized by the A7 III IBIS system.

Secondly, even though this lens was made for an APS-C camera, the Sony A7 III does not automatically change to s35 mode, as it does with native EF-S lenses. This results in the outline of circle against a black background when I first turned on the lens at 11mm. This heavy vignetting is unusable, you really need to manually set the camera to s35 in order to use this lens at 11mm. However, and here it gets interesting: at 16mm there’s no vignetting anymore, when the camera is set to FF mode. That means that you can use this lens as a 16mm F2.8 full-frame lens at 16mm! If you would set the camera to s35, the widest you can get is 11 * 1,5 = 16,5mm with a cropped sensor. Setting the camera to full-frame and zooming to 16mm will get you a slightly wider FOV and allow you to use the full sensor of the camera!

Conclusion

Pros

  • Cheaper than both the Sigma MC-11 and Metabones adapters
  • Firmware can be upgraded and it still being updated by Viltrox as of July 2019
  • Contrast AF (hybrid) in video mode
  • Both contrast AF and phase AF in photo mode
  • Compatible with EF-S lenses
  • Communcation with camera: both type (APS-C or FF lens), lens name and focal length are communicated to the body, so you have IBIS functioning as expected, as well as correct EXIF information

Cons

  • Phase AF is not usable for video: AF-C will not be as smooth and stable as native Sony lenses
  • Some EF/EF-S lenses are not supported
  • Non-STM lenses can make a lot of noise when focussing (although this is not a con of this adapter, but concerns most Canon EF lenses)
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Canon EF 70-300 IS USM

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As an upgrade to my frequently used Canon FD 200mm F4, I recently bought a used Canon EF 70-300 IS USM to replace it with. As such, this review will mainly focus on why I think this lens is better suitable for the type of photographing and filming that I do.

Canon EF 70-300 IS USM with Viltrox EF-NEV IV mount adapter

As this is a Canon EF lens, and I shoot solely with Sony camera’s, I use my Viltrox EF-NEV IV mount adapter to mount this to my Sony camera. You can read all about my experiences with the mount adapter here.

Features

The main two reasons I upgraded from my FD 200mm are 1) autofocus and 2) image stabilization. I will explain both in further detail.

First up, autofocus: even though the focus ring on the FD 200 is great, meaning it has a lot of travel to more precisely focus on subjects, the travel distance is still not enough to make me confidently focus on subjects. Every time I’m focussing, I use the digital image zoom function of the Sony camera to digitally zoom the image to check whether I’m really in focus, or just a smidge off. Now, I’m well aware that using an older Canon EF lens on a Sony body is not the best combination for confident autofocus, but in my experience, it is reliable enough for me. Sure, it takes a while for it to acquire focus, but once it’s locked in, you can be sure that it really is in focus. So far, if the camera tells me something is in focus, by showing a green box or the dancing green squares (during AF-C) is most cases the photo turned out perfectly sharp. However, I’m sure a native Sony FE lens will lead to better results, but this will come a much higher price!

Second, image stabilization. After spending a weekend with a Canon EF 70-200 F2.8 IS USM, I was instantly amazed at how well the lens IS and Sony IBIS combination works together. Initially, when I mounted the 70-200 on my Viltrox EF-NEV IV mount adapter, only the IBIS worked. On my Sony’s display, the correct focal length showed up, so I assumed this information would be sent to the IBIS system to adjust the focal length. However, lens IS didn’t seem to function, as the 70-200 didn’t seem more stable than my manual Canon FD 200mm. After I changed the aperture of the lens however, suddenly IS kicked in, and the image was totally stable. Initially, I thought the mount adapter caused the camera to freeze, the image was so stable! I was amazed after this experience, which caused me to consider purchasing an IS lens as a replacement for my tele-prime.

Performance

As this lens in a step up from the cheapest Canon tele-zooms, but not an L-series lens, I had modest expectations for this lens. Previously, I owned the non stabilized Canon EF 75-300 III, which was by far the worst lens I have ever owned. I would not recommend this lens to anyone, on any budget! I still see this lens being sold today, sometimes bundled with a newly released camera. Beginners would be far better of considering the Canon EF-S 55-250 IS, which is better suited to APS-C Canon camera’s and performs a lot better! Or, you know, the lens I’m reviewing here!

Anyway, I digress. The image quality out of this lens is OK. It is not stellar, like the Canon EF 70-200 F2.8 IS USM that I was able to use during that weekend, but that is not surprising considering that lens costs a whole lot more. For a tele-zoom that costs less than €300 on the used market, I don’t think you can go wrong with this lens.

The bokeh on the tele end is a bit distracting, not in a good way. It can cause the image to look a bit unnatural, so you have to take that into consideration when composing your shot. Chromatic aberration can sometimes be observed, but this is to be expected from tele-zooms at the cheaper side of the EF spectrum, and can usually be solved by adjusting a slider in your photo editing software of choice.

I’ve added a couple of pictures I made specifically for this review. I think it does a good job of giving an honest impression of this image quality that this lens produces. While the bokeh can sometimes look unnatural, for a lens in this price category, it produces totally useable images.

By far the best feature of this lens is the image stabilization, which enables me to shoot wonderfully stable video’s, handheld at 300mm, with no problem. The IS system of the lens works great in combination with the Sony IBIS system, both when taking pictures and shooting video. As this was one of the main considerations for me to upgrade, I’m very happy that this turned out the way it did!

Autofocus, while making a lot of noise, especially during continuous autofocus, also performs better that I expected. While it may take some time to acquire focus, this lens, in combination with the Viltrox EF-NEX IV mount adapter, makes for a very usable combination for a Sony FF camera. Be sure to check out my review of the Viltrox!

I’ve shot some video material showing of the AF-C capabilities of this lens. Check out this YouTube video for some test footage showing of the AF-C performance.

Alternatives

Some alternatives I considered, besides this lens, where the Canon EF 70-200 F4 USM, which costs a little more, has greater image quality, but lacks image stabilization, and the Canon EF 70-200 F4 IS USM, which does have image stabilization, but costs a whole lot more than both this lens and the non-IS 70-200 F4 version. Lack of IS and price where the reasons these two lenses where dropped.

A worthy contender, which costs a lot more, but offers greater image quality, is the Canon EF 300mm F4 IS USM. However, as this lens is bigger and heavier, carrying this lens with my in my bag would not be practical. As the lens reviewed here was already bigger than my previous Canon FD 200mm F4, the EF 300 F4 IS USM prime would be way to big for me to carry around.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Autofocus (not very fast, but faster than manually focussing, more reliable than you might expect!)
  • 300mm instead of 200mm (compared to Canon FD 200mm F4)
  • Image Stabilization
  • Relatively light (heavier and bigger than Canon FD 200mm F4, lighter than most other Canon EF telezooms)
  • Relatively cheap (not as cheap as an MF tele-lens, cheaper than most Canon EF options, a lot cheaper than anything tele that Sony has to offer!)

Cons

  • Autofocus makes a lot of noise, especially during AF-C
  • Front element moves during focus (looks silly)
  • Image quality not as good as more expensive L-series Canon EF lenses (obviously)
  • It doesn’t have true ring-type USM, even though it says so on the lens barrel

Canon FD 70-210mm F4

This will only be a short review, as I’ve only used this lens on a small number of occasions. My main objective was to compare it to the Canon FD 200mm F4 that I have previously reviewed on my site (here).

This is another fine example of a cheap second-hand manual focus lens. As this lens cost me only €25, this really confirms that using vintage lenses can get you far on this Sony mirrorless system.

Just as with the Canon FD 200mm F4, I’ve used the K&F Concept Mount adapter (reviewed here) on my Sony A7. Zooming is done used the old fashioned push-pull technique, while focussing is done the normal way, by twisting the lens barrel. I say barrel because the whole front part of the lens moves when focussing, including the lens hood (more on that later). Focussing on this lens is smooth and heavy, allowing for more precise adjustments than the aforementioned 200mm F4.

This lens is a little bit heavier, but noticeably bigger than the 200mm F4. Also, the diameter is also wider: 58mm versus 52mm on the 200mm F4. This is by no means considered wide on modern lenses, where the often used 18-55 EF-S lens sports a 58mm filter thread, with 70-200mm zooms bearing a 67mm or 72mm diameter!

Contrary to the 200mm F4, this lens comes without a built-in lens hood, unfortunately. While the external hood make the lens look more badass in my opinion, a built-in hood is far more convenient and easier to use.

Conclusion

Actually, I was only interested in how this lens compared to the 200mm F4 at the tele end, to see if I might replace my 200mm prime with this lens. After doing a quick comparison I came to the conclusion that while this lens is marginally sharper and has less chromatic aberration, the difference is not noticeable enough to justify the increase in size and weight. So I’ll stick to my Canon FD 200mm F4 prime for now!

Controlling Lightroom with MIDI

When editing digital photo’s, it can be hard to focus on both the picture, and the settings you are adjusting at the same time. Kind of like the USB MP3 players from the beginning of this century: you could easily pause or skip a track just by feeling the buttons on the device, without looking at it. Using a MIDI panel in Lightroom solves this problem. Now you can adjust your pictures without taking your eye of the picture, focussing solely on the effects of your edits.

Here, I would like to share my experience with the Behringer BCF2000 (there’s also the BCR2000, without the faders but with extra knobs) and the excellent MIDI2LR plugin. It took me a while to get it working, but it’s working flawlessly now!

With my MIDI panel, I have a number of buttons, knobs and faders at my disposal. For instance, I have mapped the faders to my exposure, contrast, and other basic adjustments sliders. Moving the fader in the panel back and forth directly affects the exposure of the image. This way of working feels way more intuitive than using your mouse to adjust exposure settings!

Setup

This setup consists of a few parts. First, there’s the MIDI panel itself that’s connected to your computer via USB (works both on Mac and Windows). Those commands are sent to the MIDI2LR server, an application that runs alongside Lightroom. Don’t worry, it starts automatically when you start Lightroom. The MIDI commands are sent to MIDI2LR, which converts them into actual Lightroom commands. So all you see in the MIDI2LR application, are the MIDI commands on the left, and the associated Lightroom commands on the right. Of course, you can change all this if you please.

You’ll need to do a few things before you can use the panel in Lightroom. I’ve documented the steps that I had to go through to get my panel working.

  1. Reset the BCF2000 and set it to B-Control (bC) mode (link)
  2. Upload a custom MIDI mapping to your device (using BC manager for my BCF2000)
  3. Creating a profile folder when you can store your MIDI2LR settings
  4. Load settings into MIDI2LR (a list of associated MIDI commands and LR commands)
  5. Profit!

I’ve uploaded my settings to get you started. These include a .bcf file, which contains my custom BCF2000 mapping. This will make the BCF2000 send the correct data that is expected in my MIDI2LR config file. I’ve also gone ahead and programmed my BCF2000 to NPRN mode, which allows for more precise adjustment. For instance, slowly adjusting the temperature knob allows for precise WB adjustment (incrementing steps of just 30). However, if you turn the knob fast, this will result in a greater adjustment of the temperature. I’ve added instructions down below on how to use BC manager to upload these to your BCF device.
Next, you’ll need my MIDI2LR settings. You can ‘load’ these from the main menu of MIDI2LR, and will get you 95% of the way. These settings tell MIDI2LR which button, knobs and faders should adjust which settings in LR.
Finally, you need my presets. These contain extra settings, for instance my mapping of ‘paste settings of previous photo’. I’ve mapped this keyboard shortcut (CMD+ALT+V) to ‘key1’, and mapped ‘key1’ to a key on my MIDI panel. You can import these via Lightroom itself: File -> Plug-in Extras -> MIDI2LR Load preset.

There’s a number of bugs or things that I couldn’t figure out out of the documentation, so I’ve summarized them for you:

  • The most recent version (as of this writing) is Version 2.9.5.0, which unfortunately caused a crash when opening Lightroom. I’ve gone ahead and installed Version 2.9.0.3, in which this bug is not present.
  • You need to allow MIDI2LR in ‘Accessibility’ in macOS Mojave to get keyboard commands to work. For instance, if you want to map a button on your device to ‘paste settings from previous photo’ (as I do a lot!), you’ll want this enabled (link).
  • The uploading of commands to BC Manager can be difficult to get to work. To get the application to communicate to your panel, connect it via USB and turn it on. Then, go to MIDI -> Settings and set both the MIDI input and output port to ‘BCF2000 Port 1’. Then, you can open a .bcf file and write it to your panel by using MIDI -> Send all data. You’ll get two warning dialogs, and then you’ll have a programmed BCF2000 ready for Lightroom control!
  • Again, to get you started, here are my configuration files. There’s also a number of other different presets out there (here, here)

Conclusion

So, in conclusion, while it can take a while to get things up and running, it definitely pays off. Having physical dedicated buttons, knobs and faders helps tremendously when processing your photos. There’s a number of different MIDI panels you can use, not just the one I’m talking about. Take a look at some other reviews if you’re interested:
https://www.aperturized.com/essays/2019/01/controlling-lightroom-through-midi-introduction/

Pentax-M smc 50mm F1.4

I considered buying an AF Sony 50mm, but seeing as the Sony FE 50 1.8 is not considered very good (source), and the Zeiss 55mm 1.8 is a bit pricey, I opted for a used manual focus variant which cost me just €60 ($70)!

Features

There’s not much to say really about this lens. It is what you can expect from it, after all! Soft at F1.4, as most lenses are, but it gets better when you decrease the aperture. Focussing is easy as there’s a lot of travel on the focussing ring, and do most manual focus lenses from the MF era.

For video, this is quite a useful lens. Because of the large focus travel range, you can precisely adjust focus, which comes in handy when filming. Focusing by hand is quite easy on this lens, and if you want to step your game up, you can easily adapt this to work on a follow focus system.

One thing that is interesting is that most people that use MF lenses on a Sony E-mount body opt for the Canon FD 50mm 1.4 variant. However, even after using one for only one day, I can safely say that this Pentax is superior to the Canon, especially in sharpness and CA. At 1.4, the Canon was barely usable, as it was way too soft and CA was all over the place. While the Pentax is only a little sharper, CAs are a lot better controller by this lens.

If you have the choice between the Pentax 50mm 1.4 and the Canon FD 50mm 1.4, you should definitely choose the Pentax!

There’s a couple of interesting reviews of this lens out there, I’ll link back to them here. Here’s a comparison between the 50 1.4 and other Pentax lenses from that era with similar focal lengths (link). The author goes into great detail comparing the lenses, offering a lot of interesting insight!

Conclusion

Pro

  • Small, light and cheap
  • Very good for low-light
  • Large focus travel range makes for easy MF focussing

Con

  • A bit soft at F1.4
  • Manual focus
  • Set IBIS manually

K&F Concept mount adapters

If you’re looking to use lenses from the manual focus era, such as the Canon FD 200mm F4 (see my review here) or the Pentax-M 50mm F1.4 (see my review here), on your Sony E-mount camera, you should take a look at these mount adapters by K&F. I own the Pentax PK to NEX and both of the versions of the Canon FD to NEX adapters, and they all work great!

These mount adapters are fairly simple. There’s no communication between the lens and the body, as there’s no electronics inside the lens whatsoever! This means that these adapters can be had very cheaply (around €20), but you’ll have no lens information in EXIF. That means no automatic lens correction in Lightroom or information about your aperture or focal length. You can add this information later, using the Lenstagger plugin for Lightroom, combined with exiftool.

FD – NEX I on the right, FD – NEX II on the left

I’m very happy with these adapters. I have the PK to NEX (E-mount) and FD to NEX version, and they work great. I think they look nice, the black lines up pretty nice with the lenses. That’s about as much I can ask for such a simple item!

Version I on the right, version II on the left

As far as the FD -NEX adapter goes, there’s two versions. The first version has a black E-mount, made out of some sort of metal, but I’m not sure what exact material is used. The second version, version II, uses a different material, resulting in a chrome-looking mount. As far as I can tell, this is the only difference between the two versions. I haven’t had any issue with both versions of the lens though!

The Canon FD adapter has an interesting feature. In order to operate the aperture ring, there’s a pin that needs to be pushed. If you don’t, moving the ring will not affect the aperture of the lens. I have no idea why Canon has engineered the FD mount like this, but that’s what they did. In order for an FD lens to operate correctly, you’ll need to set the adapter to the ‘lock’ position when you mount the lens. Then, after mounting, slide the ring to the ‘open’ position, and you can adjust the aperture!

Godox TT685 Flash (Sony)

This title is a bit of clickbait-y one, as my flash hasn’t arrived yet, so it’ll be a while before I can make a proper review. In the meantime, check out the very in-depth guide to the Godox flash ecosystem by The Overrated Photographer. He talks about the various options that Godox carry in their line-up, and how you should set up your camera to get the most out of the flash unit.

I’ll write my review of this unit when it arrives!

Canon FD 200mm F4

On my journey to find usable manual focus lenses for my A7, I came across this small and light tele prime from the FD era. Lets see how it performs!

Canon FD 200mm F4 with K&F Concept FD-NEX mount adapter

Features

In order to use this lens on your Sony E-mount camera, you’ll need a mount adapter. Luckily, these can be bought for about €20 or $30 (see my review). As this is a (n)FD lens, you’ll need to ‘unlock’ or ‘open’ the aperture, allowing manual aperture control.

There’s a number of different versions of this 200mm F4 lens. First off, there’s the older FD 200mm F4 SSC, which sports the older FD mount. Next, there’s more valuable ‘macro’ version of this lens (http://www.canonclassics.com/canon-nfd-200mm-f4-macro/10-86/). Finally, there’s this version, which comes equipped with the nFD mount, but without macro capabilities.

UPDATE: I’ve recently had the opportunity to test the heavier, but more capable and better performing zoom-brother of this lens, the Canon FD 70-210mm F4. Take a look here my short review!

This lens is relatively small and lightweight, especially for such a long reach. If you would compare this to AF variants, they’re usually longer and heavier. Although such a comparison would not be fair, because more modern lenses usually offer a zoom range or a higher maximum aperture.

Being a manual focus lens, you need to consider a few things. First, you obviously need to focus manually. Luckily, the focus ring has a lot of travel, allowing for precise adjustments when achieving focus. Next, if you have a camera with an IBIS sensor, you need to manually tell your camera the focal length of your lens. Fortunately, in this regard, this is a prime lens, so the focal length will never change, so you’ll only have to set IBIS once. Finally, you’ll need to set the aperture manually. However, I rarely set mine to anything other than F4, so this is somewhat of a non-issue.

This lens comes with a built-in metal lens hood, that you’ll have to manually extend and retract.

At F4, this lens is sharp enough, but can be prone to some chromatic aberration (CA). For photos, this can be easily corrected in Lightroom. For video, you probably will not notice it, so this is not a big deal.

I want to take a moment to reiterate how portable this lens is. Last year, I took this lens with my on a trip to Indonesia, and because it was so light and small, I was able to take it with me on all my trips. I took some great shots that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to make. Not with my general purpose FE 28-70 lens, or with any other (larger and heaver) tele lens.

There are some other reviews of this lens out there (https://couvcamera.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/canon-fd-200mm-4-0-if/, http://www.canonclassics.com/canon-nfd-200mm-f4/10-85/). Most people seem to agree that this is an excellent lens, especially for the price point that you can find this one on the second hand market.

Conclusion

Pro

  • Light
  • Small
  • Affordable

Con

  • Not very fast at F4
  • Manual focus
  • Set IBIS manually

All-in-all, I’m very pleased with this lens. I don’t use it as often as my other lenses, as it’s quite a specialty lens. Once it’s on your camera, you greatly limit yourself on what pictures you can take. However, it’s great to have in your camera bag, ready for those moments that you need a tele prime.

Canon EF-S 10-18mm IS STM

As I started out with just the Sony FE 28-70 kit lens for my Sony A7, I started exploring ways for me to expand my lens collection. I found that 28mm, the widest I could go in my setup, was not enough for me. Selfies would be a bit too tight, and I couldn’t capture everything that I would like when I found myself in a tight spot. So I started to look for lenses that would satisfy my needs!

I started out by looking at Sony UWA zooms. There’s the FE 16-35 F4, the GM 16-35 F2.8, the 12-24 F4, and the APS-C Sony 10-18 F4. Out of all of these, only the 10-18 APS-C could be considered cheap, although if you look at what Canon offers at the same price point, there’s a lot more choice in lenses! Furthermore, the second-hand market for Canon lenses is a lot better!

So next, I started to look at Canon lenses, which I could use with my Viltrox EF-NEX IV mount adapter (see review). I had previously tried an old Canon 17-35 F2.8 L, which seemed to work nicely. However, even second-hand, these can be quite pricey, so I started to look at the Canon 17-40 F4. Regrettably, the AF motor on this way too noisy to use for AF-C video, even though it sported Canons Ultrasonic USM focussing mechanism. It was at that point that I realized I needed to find a lens that has a quiet focussing motor, such as the STM lineup of Canon lenses. Luckily Canon offers an UWA in that range, and that’s how I decided to purchase the Canon EF-S 10-18 IS STM.

Features

For the price, you really cannot expect much from this lens. However, it sports Canons super silent STM focussing mechanism, and even includes image stabilization! Regrettably however, the aperture ranges from 4.5 to 5.6, so there’s not a lot of light coming into this lens. I figured, with the low-light capability of the Sony A7 III, that shouldn’t be a problem.

The uncommon harmony between Sony and Canon

The focal range is great! In FF FOV terms, this would give me a range of 15-27mm, so it aligns perfectly with the range of my FE 28-70 lens. Being a APS-C lens though, this sets the A7 to crop-mode. I’m not sure why, but the combination of this limited-aperture lens and the cropped sensor, the picture I take always look a lot more grainy than I’m used to with my other lenses. For one, this lens seems to underexpose by at least 1/2 a stop, so that’s something I always have to keep in mind. The photo below was exposed with the exposure compensation dial at +1,0. Apart from a WB adjustment, this image came straight out of the camera.

To overcome this, there is a trick you can use. If you set the A7 to full-frame mode, by setting APS-C mode to ‘off’ instead of ‘auto’, and you set the lens to 14mm, you can shoot at 14mm full-frame without being blocked by the inside of the lens At 14mm, this lens just about covers the whole sensor of the A7. This is a trick I learned from someone who performed this trick on the native Sony APS-C 10-18mm lens. While the Canon 10-18 will still show a heavy vignette, more than the Sony 10-18 does in the YouTube video, this is certainly something you can easily crop away. This allows for using more of the full-frame sensor of the A7, thus resulting in decreased noise, a wider FOV and more light hitting the sensor.

Vignetting present at 14mm in full-frame mode on the A7

The STM works silently in AF-C video mode. I’ve never heard the focussing motor make noise on the recordings, just as with native Sony E lenses. I’m not sure if IS works, as I cannot set the IBIS manually. Does this mean IS is functioning and working together with IBIS? I’m not sure… The image is stable enough though, and in the end, that’s all that matters.

The AF performance, when combined with the Viltrox EF-NEX mount adapter, is okay-ish. In dark environments, AF can hunt a lot, but in normal circumstances, AF performance is adequate.

Unfortunately, Canon does not ship the hood for this lens. Luckily, a cheap one can be easily found (link). Note however that mounting the hood results in it being visible if you perform the full-frame trick I mentioned previously.

UWA for full-frame Sony on the cheap

Conclusion

Pro

  • Cheap
  • Lightweight and (relatively) small
  • Quiet AF due to Canon STM focussing motor
  • 14mm on full-frame mode possible
  • Image stabilization

Con

  • Tendency to underexpose
  • Very slow lens, small maximum aperture (4.5-5.6)
  • APS-C

Overall, I’m quite happy with this lens, as it was quite cheap, and it gives me the creative freedom to explore UWA. Considering the lackluster performance of the A7 III in APS-C mode, I think I will consider the FE 16-35 F4 to upgrade from this lens. However, for the time being, this lens will suit me just fine!

S-LOG 2 Venice LUTs by Alister Chapman

If you’re looking for a nice and easy way to start grading your Sony S-LOG 2 footage, I recommend taking a look at the Venice look LUTs that Alister Chapman offers up on his website:

http://www.xdcam-user.com/2018/08/new-venice-look-luts-version-3-includes-minus-green-luts-for-fs5-fs7-f55-a7s-a7r/

These LUTs emulate the look of a Sony Venice camera. I have no idea what that looks like, but I like the look that these LUTs apply to my footage. There’s a specific LUT for each exposure, so that you can easily lower the overall exposure of your overexposed S-LOG 2 footage.

I use these LUTs always when I grade my A7 III S-LOG 2 footage. However, remember that LUTs are only a starting point, more grading is usually required to get an optimal picture. Usually, I would adjust WB and fiddle a bit with the exposure or curves. These LUTs are great however, to get you started, with a nice look and some extra contrast and saturation to breathe some more life into the flat looking S-LOG 2 files.

If you like Alisters work, be sure to thank him or make a donation on his website!