I got SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95 almost a year ago and it proved over the year of use that it is really a great lens. But this lens is a bit too narrow for normal use and I wanted something wider. There was news at the end of last year that SLR Magic is doing a 35mm version of this lens and I wanted to have it so as soon as I could I bought it. I got one from the first production batch and I love it.
As oppose to the 50mm T0.95 this lens is not full frame lens and as such is not compatible with Leica cameras even though it has an M mount. Why M mount then? It is in a way an intermediate mount that you can adapt for use on many mirrorless systems. When buying the lens you specify the system you want to use the lens on (mFT mount, E mount or X mount) and they provide you with a adapter you need for that system. And this is the best M mount to E mount adapter that I used until now.
The lens is a big and heavy compared to the other 35mm lenses I used before and it weights 762g (822g with filter and adapter) which is around 200g less than 50mm T0.95. This lenses are expected to be heavy as they have all metal housing and they have lots of glass inside due to fast aperture. It uses special delicate glass so there is a special cleaning cloth provided and it is important that you don’t use any other cloths. I was also advised to put on a filter (which I normally don’t as I believe that clear filters you put in front of the lens for protection only makes the image worse). It has a 62mm thread as the 50mm one. This special glass is used due to wide angle and it is more expensive, hard to order, process and handle. The cost is kept low due to crop frame cover circle. The lens will be priced $1349 (with $100 introductory rebate) and if you want to preorder write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The lens focuses past infinity (hard stop) because there are differences in the E mounts according to the manufacturer and this eliminates the problem. I can barely fit the lens (adapter) on NEX-5N but it goes as expected on FS700. You could say the mount on my 5N is more tight but I had another M42 adapter that I could fit on the 5N but couldn’t fit on the FS700 so I had to pile the adapter a bit if I wanted to use it with the FS700.
The lens has build-in metal sun hood that you pull out and a metal screw-in lens cap. This is the one of the rare things that bother me on this lens (remember that I had to fit the lens with a filter) because often the filter doesn’t stay on the lens when removing the cap but it screws off together with the lens cap. That is why I ordered an ordinary snap on lens cap for the lens.
The lens has minimum focus distance of 0.23m, minimum aperture T16 and 11 circular aperture blades which is one less than 50mm one. The rounded aperture blades are responsible for the creamy feel of the bokeh.
The frames on the left are from HyperPrime CINE 35mm T0.95 and the one on the right from CINE 50mm T0.95. Aperture were T0.95, T1.4, T2, T2.8. You can see that 50mm lens at T1.4 still has rounded defocused highlights but you can start to see aperture blades at the same aperture on 35mm lens. I guess having 12 blades has its advantage over 11 blades.
What I found perfect on this lens is the amount and the quality of flare. This flare is even better than my previous best looking flare lens (MIR-I).
Not all car headlights flares look like this, but I guess this not only depends on the position and direction of the camera but also type of bulbs in car headlights.
There is also some strange thing happening when the 35mm lens is wide open. The aperture blades open more than some metal parts that hold them in place and you can see them at certain angles in the out of focus highlights. So you can say that the lens opens past its widest aperture.
The right circle in the middle has some indentations on right side. You can see the metal parts that produce them on the top photo.
Metal housing of the lens is better than the 50mm one. SLR Magic addressed the main objection I had with the previous lens. I ranted that the lens had no gears even though it is called CINE lens. And this lens has them build in. I wish there was a way to add them to my 50mm, not as additional plastic (zip on or other) but build into the housing.
There is less purple fringing of the highlights at night (street lamps) than on 50mm but this can also be due to wider angle of view. (Click on the frames below for full resolution).
There is also some blooming of the lens wide open and I would advise the to close the lens to at least T1 which is just a bit under its specified widest aperture. There is also some tinting on the edges between bright and dark parts of the image in the out of focus areas. If the focus is in front of the out of focus object the tinting of the edge is green and if the focus is behind the tinting is purple. The images below have increased saturation and vibrancy to the max to make the problem more visible.
Focus point is behind the window on the photo above and in front of the window on the photo bellow.
I would advised closing down the lens to T2.8 when shooting landscapes at day with lots of trees or white sky but that shouldn’t be a problem as it is normal that you close the lens when shooting landscapes.
Where this lens excels is shooting portraits and other organic subjects. The lens is very sharp. It is perfect for wide portrait shots (medium close up). When shooting a wide shot the background is still defocussed enough so that the subjects stands out.
Another great application for this lens is high speed shooting. Wide aperture is perfect for getting that extra stop of light when shooting with higher speeds (like 200fps on FS700) when the shutter speeds are faster. Shooting snowflakes in 200 fps out of a car.
I really like this lens in my arsenal and it is a perfect companion to the 50mm lens. It is true that they have the opposite positions of the focus and aperture ring, but that doesn’t bother me too much. Both lenses also extend a bit when focusing. 35mm lens has a tighter focusing ring which is great.
I also didn’t noticed any breathing of the lens when focusing which makes this lens perfect for shooting moving pictures not just photos.
In short time that I have this lens it has become my go to lens for both NEX-5N and FS700 and I sometimes wish I had two so that I wouldn’t had to change them from one camera to the other all the time. It is a super fast nifty fifty for Super 35 format cameras like the NEX system.
Now I would like SLR Magic to make a 24mm and a 85mm version of this lens but I was told that 24mm T0.95 APS-C lens would be too expensive and hard to design. But I can always hope for a 85mm. And for 24 I can pick Samyang 24mm T1.5 CINE lens and put a Speed Booster adapter on if I need even faster and wider lens. But for the other two (35mm and 50mm) they already have the speed booster installed. :) Very sharp and very bright just as I want them.