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    Optical invention: Eliminates breathing & gives ANY lens a geared 240 cine ring!
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    Yup It's true. The good folks at SLR Magic, magically solved lens breathing. If you've been waiting for a fix, it's here.


    The SLR Magic Rangefinder.

    This is a news/annoucement topic but also a review of the product.

    I received a prototype pre-production sample from SLR Magic to test, so any conclusions found here might not be representative of the final product, scheduled for delivery at end of August-ish.



    Trust my final packaging is going to be different






    Let's first get into what it is, it's an adapter with optical elements that goes in front of your lens, attaching via normal filter screw threads. Rear thread of the adapter is 77mm and front is 82mm so you can still use filters, therefore it can be attached to any lens ever made with a filter thread, using step-up ring. Here's the filter thread:



    First the positives:


    So what does it to? after attaching it in front of your lens, you merely set you lens to infinity, and focus with the adapter optics, using its absolutely gorgeous 240 degree geared cinema focus ring, similar to CN-E ones in feel, with industry standard precise focus/witness marks (Infinity to 3'6) that can be rotated to either side for operator or 1st AC using a clever rotating ring.




    So it first of all it gives all lenses a proper cine focus ring even a Canon 50mm 1.8 II, just to show you this most ridiculous set-up



    Makes it ready for cine use.

    But aside from joking with this ridiculous set-up, the adapter is actually quite thin and compact, and fit very comfortably with normal size larg-ish lenses.





    Second and most impressively, since the focus does not change in the actual lens at all, the focus breathing of the lens is of course not included, and the breathing of the adapter focusing is non-existent, therefore it eliminates focus breathing from all lenses.


    Here's proof.

    Nikon old 50mm AI-S without the RG from infinity to close, major shift in focal length:




    After screwing the adapter on, no change whatsoever:




    Impressive ha?


    Andrew from SLR Magic explains how it fixes breathing (paraphrasing here): since the taking lens is not moving focus at all, of course there is no breathing introduced by the taking lens, and the RG is just an optical block that focuses from 1 meter to infinity without breathing within the optical design (very little), so it does't literally fix the breathing of the lens, just overrides/stops the lens breathing and gives you its own minimal breathing. It's genius in that respect really. No breathing on any lens.


    -These two facts of having a smooth long throw ring plus no breathing gives even my cheapest lenses a cine-like focus pulls that are stable and smooth and accurate, absolutely gorgeous.


    Third, The rangefinder is made of Ionized Metal, a tank, ready for the most rigorous cinema environments. it's an extremely precise piece of engineering.





    Let's get into the downsides, there's no such thing as free lunch of course and I'll go into more positives at the end:

    This adapter main purpose was to be used on anamorphic lenses, therefore the coating colour, shape, pattern, intensity, they actually spent months designing the flares carefully! so when used on normal lenses, you get blue flaring (It looks great in my opinion but others will disagree understandeably)


    Intentionally searching for a spot where flare is over the top (on the 16-35mm 2.8 wide open)


    Before




    After





    This the most extreme situation keep that in mind and you will not get flares in most normal shooting situations.




    Second annoying thing with the Rangefinder that I am seeing affecting me whilst shooting is how it fixes the minimum focus distance of all lenses at 1mm (3'6) (as marked on the barrel of course). I always shoot close, it's a liability to have on normal 24-50mm lenses, but with lenses that have a MFD of more than 1 meter, it brings it down to 1 meter, even a 600mm lens will focus on 1 meter with RG, so with those lenses it's an advantage. But for me, it's annoying to be limited at that particular MFD on my lenses that shoot closer with, so I find myself focusing the lens it self to MFD (instead of keeping it at infinity) which interestingly makes the MFD even shorter than the lens alone, but it's a two ring operation setup and misses the calibration and focus marks you set your lens to when calibrating and taping your focus ring. It's something to consider nonetheless if that will bother you or not.


    The lens alone MFD





    With the RG @mfd and taking lens @infinity (as it's supposed to be used, calibrated and the marks are correct), this is closest (as marked on the barrel of course 3'6)





    But, when you miss the calibration and put both lenses at MFD, it gets even closer than normal, so it's not that bad, it can actually work as a high quality closeup adapter.






    Resolution effect, what you're probably most interested about: first off, yes there is a resolution loss especially wide open at f/1.4-1.8 but it gets to negligble a stop down and vanishes closed more than a stop and half give or take, depending on the lens. Overall the loss isn't significant to put me off using it given all the benefits it has, I just stop down to 2.8 when I need the sharpest images while leave wide open prime 1.8 shooting for hazy dreamy stuff. The loss is nothing as big as I expected. these tests are in 4K GH4 so make it more apparent but at 1080p camera it's even less apparent.


    F1.8 wide open without RG:


    F/1.8 with RG


    again f/1.8 without RG


    F/1.8 with RG


    These were the worst case scenario, soft Nikkor 50mm old, wide open, on a GH4 at 4K and cropped heavily to show the differences.

    In better normal scenarios stopped down a bit and/or not 1:1 4K viewing

    F/2.8 on the same nikkor without RG


    F/2.8 with RG


    F/2.8 without RG



    F/2.8 with RG (notice focus is on slightly left side, look for sharpest area and compare, not center on both there images)



    So that's the loss in resolution, depending on your needs only you can decide the significance, me, not much. It's a very small trade I'd take for the other benefits.

    Last negative aspect of it is in the design not the optical quality (these were covered above)

    The focus ring extends while focusing towards MFD and the adapter is shortest at infinity, which will require tweaks in some of your FF systems to get it working, and also having the focus ring at the end of the lens will make focusing with a mattebox a hard task, so that's the last negative.

    At infinity:



    At MFD:





    To recapitulate:

    Negatives:

    1- Blue Flare

    2- Resolution/contrast loss (most prominent wide open)

    3- Extends whilst moving focus,


    The positives, this adapter has lots of potential applications,

    1- Giving any lens a 240 degree geared cine focus ring

    2- Completely fixes lens breathing on stills lenses

    3- Converting Nikkor lenses to the standard focusing direction + fix breathing (make nikkor old Ai-s glass a joy to use as cine lenses)

    4- Giving all lenses hard stops at infinity and MFD (Canon L lenses will benefit hugely here)

    5- Fixing fly by wire lenses, giving them mechanical focus rings just by setting them to infinity and attaching the RG, making these electronic lenses adaptable to other mounts using passive adapters -remember 85mm f1.2 ef (tried it on my 10-18mm focus by wire lens and it works a treat)

    6- Fixing non-linear focusing lenses and making them fully-mechanical focus rings with ability to focus using muscle memory. (these last two points are very important for all Sony EF and Samsung NX lenses)

    7- Making fixed focus lenses normal focusing lenses (think vintage C-mount s16 where you focused by moving)

    8- Giving focus rings to lenses without any (Nikon 1 lenses, even point & shoots!)

    9- Acting as a viable substitute for expensively rehousing stills glass to get geared rings with the added benefit of breathing fix (but with the resolution loss too at widest aperture), plus one adapter can be interchanged between all lenses in seconds like a simple filter so no individual lens rehousing.

    10- The most important one for SLR Magic: Gives the first lowbudget viable anamorphic shooting solution. In budget anamorphic, shooters use a taking lens and an anamorphic adapter, and pulling focus requires moving dual rings, which makes them unusable almost in any focus shifting fast, and as these budget anamorphic lenses were created for projection on distant walls, they don't have close focus ability without attaching diopters in front of the lens. So basically you set your lenses to infinity, and pull focus with a cine ring on an anamorphic budget system with a 1 meter (3'6) MFD, instead of focusing with two rings for minutes before each take, and then attaching diopters to focus closer, a complete waste of energy which make affordable anamorphic a no go for a very long time. Now, it can be done, easily.

    I don't shoot anamorphic and didn't test that aspect of it so I can't speak much about it, I was more interested in its applications for non-anamorphic lenses as no one else reviewed/discovered that. If you're interested in anamorphic, these reviews cover it very well:

    http://www.newsshooter.com/2015/08/1...al-programmes/

    http://www.eoshd.com/2015/07/slr-mag...-single-focus/




    The SLR Magic Rangefinder adapter will ship in August


    Again note, disclaimer: this is a prototype preproduction unit, unfinished, and any negatives/positives here might very well change.


    I'd happily answer any questions you guys have and test anything you need.
    Last edited by Ebrahim Saadawi; 09-23-2015 at 12:30 PM.


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    I shot some anamorphic with the SLR Magic Rangefinder on loan to me with a Kowa Bell & Howell. Here are those clips.





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    I'm seeing a bunch of edge mushiness in some shots, and some added CA in others.

    Also, does that really extend farther than the focus gear is thick? I've been dealing with that on the focus gears I've been cutting, trying to make sure the follow focus won't slide off the edge of the gear. Hard to tell from the pictures if it really extends that far.

    All that said, I think this is a great start and look forward to what they can do in the next version, and maybe in a version made with an anamorphic lens group.


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    I agree with Greg that this is a great start. Unfortunately the blue flares are unacceptable. I am sure there will be something good in the future. Thanks for the comprehensive writeup Ebrahim!
    Cheers,
    Sabyasachi


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    -So you guys see the flaring is the deal breaker with RG? Remember it's not in 99% of normal shots and in fact I only get it when I want it, take the mattebox side flags/hood off and get peripheral light illumination source or the sun.

    -It doesn't extend as far as the image implies, but it will need looking at your FF system nonetheless.

    SLR Magic are incredibly responsive so any feed back I can pass off or any tests you want me to conduct are good.


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    Quote Originally Posted by indiawilds View Post
    I agree with Greg that this is a great start. Unfortunately the blue flares are unacceptable. I am sure there will be something good in the future. Thanks for the comprehensive writeup Ebrahim!
    Cheers,
    Sabyasachi
    The blue flare is quite a signature characteristic. Dan Chung here used his iPhone to force more blue flaring.

    http://www.newsshooter.com/2015/08/1...al-programmes/


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    I'll shoot some real-world flare samples as it seems people are interested. As for being hazy that's only on wide open soft-ish 1.4/1.8 lenses but once you stop down that goes away entirely. It's mentioned in the Cons list I put together in the review.


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    Update:

    Since many people are concerned about the ring extension:

    Ring extends = exactly one centimeter (0.4 inches),


    Focus gear (ring) width = one and a half centimeters (0.6 inches).


    So you measure how it'll fit in your FF gears.


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    Amazing piece of gear. The real issue I see with it is the focus ring being right at the front. Make matte box use difficult.


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