This is an in-depth review of the Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 prime lens, also known as “Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R” that was released initially together with the Fuji X-Pro1 on September 21, 2011. Fuji specifically wanted to target professionals and enthusiasts with its X line, so it first introduced a professional-level mirrorless camera, the X-Pro1, along with three prime lenses: Fuji XF 18mm f/2, Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 and Fuji XF 60mm f/2.4 Macro. And hence, being part of the Fuji X mirrorless interchangeable lens system launch, the Fuji 35mm f/1.4 played a big role in the success of the product line.
We are back again at reviewing some of the lens classics and this time we have the Nikon NIKKOR-S Auto 50mm f/1.4 (Ai modified), which was first manufactured way back in 1962. One of our readers, Joe Ridley, was kind enough to send a number of Nikkor classics, and this lens is the second one that we are reviewing. Nikon has made so many different 50mm lenses its in 80 years of optical history, that the list of just 50mm lenses can get quite overwhelming. Many of us look at the modern 50mm primes without realizing that among all manufacturers, Nikon has the longest history of making these lenses. In fact, the very first Nikkor 5cm lens was made in 1937 specifically for Canon rangefinder cameras! And it is also worth pointing out that Nikon invented the very first 50mm f/1.4 lens after the World War II. This particular NIKKOR-S classic was designed for Nikon’s rangefinder cameras. Today, it is hard to find a converted version that works on modern DSLRs (mostly non-Ai versions), but you can snatch one for about $50 and get it converted for another $20-30. Or if you bought the new Nikon Df, you will be able to use this lens without having to convert it!
1) Overview and Specifications
The NIKKOR-S Auto 50mm f/1.4 is one of the early, Pre-Ai Nikkor manual focus wide angle lenses for the F mount. With its standard focal length of 50mm, the lens was designed as a general-purpose lens on early manual focus rangefinder cameras like Nikon S2 and S3, although its fast maximum aperture of f/1.4 also made it very suitable for low-light situations (especially on B/W film). With 7 optical elements in 5 groups, the NIKKOR-H 50mm f/1.4 has a simpler optical design than the new Nikon 50mm f/1.8G. However, similar to some of the old Nikkor classics, this lens is not about top notch sharpness and rich features. Its corner vignetting, beautiful bokeh and a boatload of optical imperfections is what gives the lens a certain “character” that is so hard to find on modern lenses. As one of our readers pointed out, it is interesting that some people try to imitate such imperfections in post-processing today, because their lenses are so sharp and corrected. Still, despite all its flaws, the lens can produce excellent sharpness results even on some of the best DSLRs like Nikon D800E, once stopped down to f/2.8 and smaller, as demonstrated further down in the review.
Thanks to your support, we will be publishing a lot more reviews of the old Nikkor classics that we either purchased on auction sites, or loaned from our readers. This is a review of a true classic, the Nikon NIKKOR-H Auto 28mm f/3.5 (Ai modified), which was manufactured way back in 1959. One of our readers, Joe Ridley, was kind enough to send a number of Nikkor classics, and this lens is the first one that we are reviewing. Please note that such reviews of classic lenses will be limited to one page, with a small number of image samples. Still, full lab measurements will be performed on each lens for thorough analysis and comparisons.
1) Overview and Specifications
The NIKKOR-H Auto 28mm f/3.5 is one of the earliest, Pre-Ai Nikkor manual focus wide angle lenses for the F mount. Initially launched in 1959, this lens went through several iterations overtime with slightly different optical designs. The lens is available in various auction sites including eBay, but an Ai-converted version is really hard to come by. If you do decide to purchase one, you have to get the lens Ai-converted to properly mount on modern DSLRs. If you do not do this, you risk damaging your DSLR, since the non-Ai version could either break the metering tab / lever on the lens mount, or could get stuck on the mount and potentially cause other damage.
Along with the highly anticipated Nikon Df camera, Nikon has also introduced the restyled Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition lens. Such a move might be slightly confusing at first, because Nikon already has a new AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens in its line-up. So, are there any improvements with this new lens? In short – no. At least not from the optical performance stand-point.
This is an review of the classic Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S by one of our readers, Christian Duguay from Montreal, Canada. A quick note from Nasim: while I was going through testing some of the older manual focus lenses (including the 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S), Christian contacted me via email and sent some of his thoughts on the lens. After a couple of emails back and forth, I requested him to write a review of the lens, so that we could share it with our readers. Christian accepted the challenge and we both agreed that it could be a good idea if we both worked on it – I would provide all optical test results, while he would write the text and provide sample images. So in a way, this is a collaborative effort between the two of us. Enjoy!
1) Overview and Specifications
When I read a few weeks ago at Photography Life that Nasim wanted to review some of the Nikkor Ai-S manual focus lenses, I was really pleased by the idea. In fact, I was longing for that since the summer of 2012. At that time, I was looking for a 28mm prime and although Nikon had launched a new 28mm f/1.8G in April of that year, I opted for an all-manual f/2.8 Ai-S lens. The reviews I read about it were interesting and convincing, so I decided to order one new from the US, because it was not available in Canada. When I received the lens, I was totally amazed by its high quality, intrinsic beauty and special craftsmanship. This was my first contact with these old Nikkor Ai-S lenses.
A lot of people wonder what to buy as their first Nikon lens. Most people new to digital photography and DSLRs don’t bother reading about cameras and lenses as much since there is too much information and too many recommendations. They end up purchasing a kit lens that they use for a year or two, only to realize that they want something better. Yes, kit lenses are a good deal but are they worth the purchase? While it makes sense for some people to buy kit lenses with cameras, I personally stay away from cheap entry-level zooms and prefer solid all-purpose prime lenses instead. Read on to find out more about my personal recommendations, aimed at someone who is just getting into photography.
Fujifilm has been producing lenses for decades now. The are m42 screw-mount lenses to be found, medium-format lenses on their fixed-lens 120/220 film rangefinder cameras, not to mention broadcast and cinema lenses. In this article, we will focus on Fujifilm’s current digital compact camera system with APS-C sized sensors and discuss the most common Fujifilm lens abbreviations you can come across while looking for a new lens to put on a Fujifilm X-E1 or other camera. I will also mention some of the common abbreviations found on other Fujinon lenses, too.
1) Fujifilm Lens Mount Abbreviations
The first thing that we need to talk about are the two best-known Fujifilm lens mounts:
- Fujifilm X-mount – this is the current, modern, fully-electronic lens mount used in Fujifilm’s mirrorless camera system with APS-C sized sensors. As of October 2013, there are five cameras that use this lens mount: X-Pro1, X-E2, X-E1, X-M1 and X-A1. Fujifilm X-mount has a flange focal distance (distance between lens mount and film/sensor plane) of 17.7mm. It is relatively new, but has gained some good traction with over 10 lenses currently available since its launch in 2012 and more to come soon. Lenses that use this bayonet are simply called Fujinon.
- Fujica X-mount – an old, mechanical lens mount used in the film era. It replaced the previous m42 screw-mount and was used by STX-1 and other analogue 35mm format Fujifilm SLR cameras. Fujica X-mount lenses are called X-Fujinon and X-Fujinar. The mount – and lenses designed for it – are now obsolete, but there are still plenty of old X-Fujinon lenses to be found in places like ebay at bargain prices. The Fujica X-mount has a flange focal distance of 43.5mm.
Different manufacturers use very different abbreviations to describe the technology used in their lenses even if the technology itself is quite similar. Some abbreviations can be difficult to understand and easily mixed up. We’ve already covered Nikon lens abbreviations. This article will help you understand Canon lens naming terminology.
1) Canon Lens Format Abbreviations
- EF – this is the new fully electronic Canon lens mount introduced back in 1987. Lenses marked with EF are compatible with all Canon EOS cameras, digital and film, and are designed to cover 35mm full-frame image circle.
- EF-S – the only difference between Canon EF and EF-S lenses is that the latter has been designed for Canon digital cameras with APS-C sensors, such as the Canon EOS 700D. Canon EF-S lenses should not (and in most cases can not) be mounted on Canon EOS film and digital full-frame cameras with 36x24mm sized sensors because of the larger mirror used in these cameras. If mounted, damaged to the mirror may be caused upon shutter actuation – it would hit the lens’ rear element. EF-S lenses feature a protective pin that stops these lenses from being mounted on a full-frame EOS camera.
- EF-M – a new lens format specifically designed for the Canon EOS M mirrorless camera system with EF-M mount. Just like the EF-S lenses, EF-M are designed for APS-C sensor cameras. They will only fit Canon EOS M cameras, though, thanks to shorter flange focal distance (distance between lens mount and film/sensor plane). EF-S and EF lenses can be mounted on EF-M lens mount through the use of appropriate lens mount adapters, but EF-M lenses can not be mounted on the EF mount.
- FD – this is the old manual focus Canon lens mount used before 1987. Because it was not suitable for autofocus, Canon decided to switch from FD and designed the EOS system with EF mount. Canon FD is now discontinued, but still used by film photography enthusiasts. There are some cracking lenses with the FD mount and, through the use of appropriate adapters, FD lenses can be mounted on modern EOS EF cameras. Adapters with an optical glass element allow infinity focus, while simpler adapters without an additional optical element will not focus at infinity.
- FDn – the same as FD, only with no coating designation on the lens front (used SSC lens coating).
- FL – same mount as FD, but without the ability to meter at full aperture.
Vignetting, also known as “light fall-off” (sometimes spelled “light falloff”) is common in optics and photography, which in simple terms means darkening of image corners when compared to the center. Vignetting is either caused by optics, or is purposefully added in post-processing in order to draw the viewer’s eye away from the distractions in the corner, towards the center of the image. Depending on the type and cause of vignetting, it can be gradual or abrupt. There are a number of causes of optical vignetting – it can naturally occur in all lenses, or can be caused or increased/intensified due to use of external tools such as filters, filter holders and lens hoods. In this article, I will talk about each type of vignetting and also discuss ways to reduce or increase the amount of vignetting in photographs using post-processing software like Lightroom and Photoshop.
1) Types of Vignetting
As I have already pointed out in the introduction of this article, there are different types of vignetting that one might encounter when taking pictures or viewing images. Some types of vignetting are naturally caused by the optical design of lenses, others can occur when using third party accessories such as filters and extended hoods and some are artificially added by the photographer in post-production. Let’s take a look at each type in detail.
1.1) Optical Vignetting
Optical vignetting naturally occurs in all lenses. Depending on the optical design and construction of the lens, it can be quite strong on some lenses, while being barely noticeable on others. Still, vignetting occurs on most modern lenses, especially on prime / fixed lenses with very large apertures. There are two causes for this. First, at the widest apertures, the light than enters the lens is partially blocked by the lens barrel, as indicated by the below diagram:
How would you like the future, if a lens like the Nikkor 800mm f/5.6 VR weighed a kilo / couple of pounds and cost 10 times less? Or perhaps a wide angle lens as big as a pancake that delivers the same quality images as your favorite 24mm f/1.4 prime? Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Well, we might not be that far away from this dream, since the researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Siegen might change the way modern optics work. Their current research on using a single lens element in a lens and correcting lens aberrations looks promising – a method called “deconvolution”, which is based on analysis and reconstruction of the image via software. Instead of using physical elements within a lens to correct for lens aberrations such as distortion, spherical aberration, chromatic aberration and coma, the idea is to use a lens with a single (or more) lens elements and correct such aberrations via computational photography techniques and software algorithms that are applied after the image is captured. This obviously results in lenses with very few lens elements, making them both lighter and cheaper to manufacture.