Posts Tagged ‘Thirds’

A closer look at the Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN for Micro Four Thirds

12 Jan

We’ve got a pair of Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN lenses in the office: one for Micro Four Thirds and the other for Sony E-mount. In this article we have some impressions of the MFT version, as well as some other lenses in this class worth considering.

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The 16mm F1.4 acts as a 32mm equivalent lens on the Micro Four Thirds platform. It’s an interesting focal length to end up with: not quite 28mm equiv., which many people would consider the gateway to wide-angle, but also noticeably wider than the near-normal of 35mm equiv. I didn’t expect it to make any difference but found myself constantly fighting against too much stuff creeping into the edges of the frame in a way that I don’t with a 35mm.

In terms of handling, I felt the 16mm worked best when mounted on the larger Micro Four Thirds camera that feature prominent hand grips: its comparatively long length feeling a little unbalanced on the smaller, rangefinder-style boxes, though it’s light enough that it doesn’t end up feeling too front-heavy. The lens’s only control point is a large by-wire focusing ring. It’s a little under-damped for my tastes, rotating fairly freely but it was effective on the few occasions I ended up having to manual focus (turns out LED Christmas lights and autofocus do not always play nicely with one-another).

Optically, I was pretty impressed with the lens, the F1.4 (F2.8 35mm-equivalent) aperture gave me plenty of control over depth-of-field and sufficient light for low-light work. Sharpness seems good if not necessarily stellar and with what appears to be pretty good cross-frame consistency, until you reach the extreme corners. As you’d expect, the performance gets better if you stop down a couple of notches. The 16mm is pretty resistant to flare, even when given significant provocation, with good levels of contrast maintained even in contre jour images with veiling flare.

Autofocus was snappy to the degree that I didn’t ever really have to think about it. Only the aforementioned Hybrid AF/LED Christmas light mismatch caused me to even give it a second thought. It’s fast and quiet to the degree that you just don’t notice it, and can concentrate on composing your shot instead.


My impression is that the Sigma is sharper, two thirds of a stop faster and comparably priced to the Olympus 17mm F1.8. However, I don’t think it’s quite as easy a win as that makes it sound. The Olympus is significantly smaller and features the lovely snap-back manual focus clutch and linear manual focus system (faux-cus by wire, perhaps?), both of which are definite bonuses. So, while I’d find it hard to choose between the two, I probably wouldn’t rush out to replace a 17mm if I had one, not least because I personally prefer the narrower angle-of-view that the extra 1mm brings.

1mm in the opposite direction is the Panasonic 15mm F1.7. It usually retails for around $ 100 more than the Sigma, despite being rated as half a stop slower. Again it’s smaller than the Sigma, meaning it handles better on a smaller camera body. Similarly, the 15mm offers a neat operational advantage over the DN, at least for Panasonic shooters: the lovely Leica M lens style front aperture ring (worth the extra $ 100 on its own, in my opinion and well worth lobbying Olympus for firmware support for, if you’re on that side of the system). Optical performance is perhaps a step up from the Sigma, leaving the 16mm F1.4 DN DC as an attractive extra option for Micro Four Thirds but not an absolute must-have, from my perspective.

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Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN for Micro Four Thirds sample gallery

07 Jan

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We’ve already taken the Sony E-mount version of Sigma’s super fast 16mm lens for a spin, and we were eager to see how the Micro Four Thirds version stacks up. Announced in fall of 2017, the 32mm equivalent prime includes weather-sealing a nine-blade aperture – all for $ 450.

See our Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN for
Micro Four Thirds sample gallery

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iZugar launches 220-degree super fisheye lens for Micro Four Thirds

23 Sep

Hong Kong-based company iZugar has just launched a pretty quirky, intense little lens.Called the MKX22, it’s a 3.25mm F2.5 super fisheye lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras that offers a whopping 220-degree angle of view.

This fisheye lens is said to offer “edge-to-edge sharpness” with suitability for 4K video recording, a 0.6m minimum focusing distance, fully circular 10mm design, and extra-slim build for better parallax control, according to iZugar. All of that in addition to that 220-degree angle of view that can more-or-less see behind itself.

The lens recently appeared for sale on iZugar’s website, where the company explains that the MKX22 can be used with the ZCam E1 – iZugar Custom Edition, Blackmagic Micro Studio 4K, Sony A7R2, Panasonic GX80, and similar cameras. For reference, the company offers a full reference guide showing FOV for these cameras at various resolutions.

The lens is available from iZugar now for $ 500.

Lens Specifications:

  • Model: iZugar MKX-22
  • Format: 10mm full circular
  • Mount: Micro Four Thirds mount (MFT)
  • 35mm Equivalent Focal Length: 3.25mm
  • Aperture: f/2.5 (fixed)
  • Minimum Focusing Distance: 0.6m
  • Lens Groups/Elements: 10/11
  • Angle of View (MFT-4k): 220 x 150

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Venus Optics Laowa C-Dreamer 7.5mm F2 for Micro Four Thirds sample gallery

06 Aug

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Laowa is one of the brand names used by Chinese manufacturer Venus Optics. We previously encountered Laowa when we produced a sample gallery of the full-frame Zero-D 12mm F2.8 – a lens that claims zero distortion and has exceptionally well corrected barrelling for any focal length let alone one with such a dramatic angle of view. This 7.5mm F2 lens is designed for Micro Four Thirds cameras and makes no such distortion claims, but is one of the widest focal lengths for the system and certainly stands out for its combination of wide angle and wide maximum aperture.

The lens is small but weighty, its solidity lending it a feel of a product well made. It is actually very nice to use, focuses smoothly and its 46mm thread means filters can be used – with care. It is manual focus, with the infinity setting at the left of the scale as you look down from the shooting position. The aperture ring doesn’t unclick and offers the smallest space between the penultimate F16 and ultimate F22 settings. It has a depth of field scale marked on the barrel along with distances, but I’m unconvinced that either is especially useful.

These sample images have been made using the lens on the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5.

See our Venus Laowa 7.5mm F2
sample gallery

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Viltrox launches lens adapters for Sony E-Mount and Micro Four Thirds cameras

10 May

Hong Kong based manufacturer Viltrox has announced three new electronic lens adapters for Sony E mount and Micro Four Thirds cameras. The NF-E1 model lets you use Nikon Nikon F mount lenses on Sony E mount cameras. The EF-M1 and EF-M2 models let you connect Canon EF and EF-S lenses to your Micro Four Thirds camera.

The latter comes with with four optical elements in four groups. According to the manufacturer this design results in a, compared to the EF-M1, one stop faster aperture and a focal length multiplier of 0.71x.

All adapters are made of metal and come with a USB port for firmware updates and gold-plated electronic contacts. Autofocus and aperture-adjustment from the camera are supported and Viltrox says the EF-models are compatible with all Canon EF lenses. Pricing and retail information have not yet been released. 

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Venus Optics announces spec and price for 7.5mm F2 Micro Four Thirds lens

02 May

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Chinese optical manufacturer Anhui ChangGeng Optical Technology Company Limited, or Venus Optics, has released more details of a forth-coming lens it claims will be the widest rectilinear F2 for the Micro Four Thirds system. The Laowa 7.5mm F2 MFT was first seen at Photokina last year, and will offer the 110° angle of view we’d expect from a 15mm lens on a full-frame camera and will be available in two versions – a standard model that will weigh 200g / 7oz and a lightweight model that will tip the scales at 150g / 5.3oz.

Both versions of the lens will feature 13 elements in 9 groups and will use a pair of aspheric elements and three in extra-low dispersion glass. The company has stopped short of using the ‘Zero-D’ designation it applies to the Laowa 12mm F2.8 and its previously announced 15mm F2, but does claim to have minimized distortion, as well as chromatic aberrations.

The 7.5mm lens will have a 46mm filter thread, a closest focusing distance of 12cm / 4.7in, a 7-bladed iris and will be 55mm long. The lightweight version has been designed with drones in mind, will use lighter metals than the standard version and will cost $ 519 plus tax instead of $ 499. Black or silver options are available. The standard model will be shipping this month with the lightweight model following in July. For more full specification and pre-order information visit the Venus Optics website.

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Press release

Venus Optics announces the Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT, the World’s Widest f/2 Lens for Micro Four Thirds Camera

Featuring a 110° Angle of View, Ultra-fast f/2 aperture, 46mm filter thread& less than 200g in weight

Venus Optics, the camera lenses manufacturer who had previously launched a number of unique Laowa camera lenses, is proud to announce the world’s widest rectilinear f/2 lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras, Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT.

The Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT is currently the widest f/2 rectilinear lens ever designed for Micro Four Thirds Cameras. It is an ultra-wide & ultra-fast prime lens with a 35mm equivalent focal length of 15mm. Despite the extreme specifications, Venus Optics has successfully minimized the weight of the lens to less than 200g (0.44 pounds) and 55mm long. This compact and light lens comprises of 13 elements in 9 groups with 2 pcs of aspherical elements and 3 pcs of Extra-low dispersion elements. This optical design successfully minimizes the distortion and chromatic aberrations to its lowest but at the same time, delivers a superb optical performance from corners to corners.

The extreme 110° angle of view and ultra-fast f/2 aperture allows photographers to create impressive astro-photography shots with ease. It also gives photographers a fast and wide-angle option for landscape photography and low-light shooting. The lens is designed with a 46mm filter thread which can gives additional portability for screw-in filters.

Venus Optics also introduce a lightweight version for this lens and controlled the weight to merely 150g. The feather-light weight opens up a new opportunity for photographers and pilots to shoot wider footage with gimbals and drones.

The Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT is currently available to pre-order in the official website of Venus Optics ( and their authorized resellers. It comes with 2 colors, Black and Silver. Recommended Retail Price in US (without tax) is USD 499/pc for standard version and USD 519/pc for Lightweight version. Pricing may vary in different countries.

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Boxfish 360 Micro Four Thirds camera can record 5K spherical videos

11 Apr

Boxfish Research has announced the launch of its new Boxfish 360, a 5K camera equipped with multiple Panasonic Micro Four Thirds sensors able to capture spherical photos and video. This model is designed for professional use and, according to the company, offers better clarity and colors than similar 360-degree rigs created using multiple action cameras. The camera made its debut at CES 2017.

Boxfish 360 features 185-degree circular fisheye lenses with an F1.8 maximum aperture, an internal battery offering up to 90 minutes of recording per charge and both 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch mounting threads. Though the cameras are secured within a fully waterproof housing, Boxfish Research says the battery and microSD cards (up to six supported) can be quickly accessed without using tools via a hatch.

Videos are recorded using the H.264 codec with a bit rate of 60Mbps, and still images are saved as JPGs and DNGs. Boxfish 360 offers up to a claimed 10 stops of dynamic range and records camera metrics such as water temperature, water depth and camera orientation during recording. Operators are given various elements of control, such as underwater start/stop and manual aperture control. 

Boxfish released the camera for preorder last week and will begin shipping the next batch starting May 15. Interested buyers can pay a 50% balance of the $ 14,990 USD price tag to secure a unit, or buyers can pay outright ahead of the shipment date. A total of ten cameras are offered in the next batch, some of which are already reserved.

Via: Boxfish Research

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Olympus working on 8K video for Micro Four Thirds

11 Mar

In an interview with French publication Focus Numerique senior representatives from Olympus have revealed a number of interesting insights about what consumers can expect from the Japanese manufacturer in the future, for example Micro Four Third image sensor that support 8K video. 

General Manager of Olympus Product Planning, Mr. Akira Watanabe, said: we can assure you that there is no problem in developing sensors at 33 million pixels for filming in 8K. We started the 4/3? saga with a sensor at 5 Mpx In 2003. Now the same sensor is at 20 Mpx with a much higher image quality especially for the management of electronic noise.”

In the same interview Mr. Watanabe suggests that Olympus might be working on its own version of a Bluetooth-based app, the likes of which Samsung pioneered and has recently been implemented by Nikon. He also thinks that Olympus will be able to offer a handheld high-resolution image mode in the future. It’s impossible to know how close Olympus is to bringing those new features and technologies to market but for users and fans of the brand it’s certainly reassuring to know they are in development.

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In memoriam: Olympus brings down the curtain on the Four Thirds system

11 Mar

It probably shouldn’t be a surprise but it’s still a little sad to see it in print: the latest catalogue from states that production of Olympus’s Zuiko Digital line of Four Thirds lenses has been discontinued.

It’s been six and a half years since the launch of the last Four Thirds mount camera, so it’s understandable that Olympus has decided to move on, but we thought we’d look back at Four Thirds: what it meant and where it led.

The first Four Thirds camera: the Olympus E-1. Built around a 5MP Kodak CCD, the E-1 arrived around two years after Olympus first announced a collaboration with Kodak.

Where it all started

In 1999, Olympus engineer Katsuhiro Takada selected the 4/3″-type sensor as being the optimal size to allow smaller cameras capable of high quality images. Olympus developed the lens mount and communication protocols and was joined by other makers including Kodak, Fujifilm and Panasonic. The Four Thirds system website was launched fourteen years ago tomorrow.

Four Thirds was the first ILC system specifically designed for digital. This not only meant a wholly new lens system, providing the focal lengths that make sense for the sensor size (at a time when most camera companies were making do with selling film lenses mounted on smaller sensors), but also adopting a policy of making telecentric designs, which project light straight onto the sensor, rather than at increasingly challenging angles, towards the edge of the sensor.

Panasonic’s first Four Thirds camera: the still beautiful DMC-L1.

Unfortunately, the telecentric lens designs often ended up being relatively large, meaning that the system didn’t end up being significantly smaller than APS-C cameras. Unfortunately, the decision to use 4/3″-type sensors also meant that the viewfinders in most of the models were even smaller than those that still plague most low-end APS-C DSLRs.

My personal favorite. The Olympus E-620 was the Four Thirds camera that, to my mind, offered the best balance of size and capability.

While the Four Thirds system is no longer with us, it’s worth giving credit for the innovations it played host to. For a start, it was the first interchangeable lens system to offer live view. It wasn’t the slickest of implementations: seemingly unsure whether live view was supposed to offer an immediate digital preview (with phase detection still available) or provide the precision of contrast detect AF and live view magnification, the E-330 offered both. And was duly given short shrift by DPReview founder Phil Askey in his review.

It may be out of production, but the Olympus US website says the 90-250mm F2.8 is still in stock. It’ll cost you $ 5999.99

The system evolves

However, the most significant development to come out of Four Thirds, though, was its successor, Micro Four Thirds, the world’s first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera system (indeed the system for which the term was coined). Micro Four Thirds persisted with the Four Thirds type sensor but by abandoning the mirror box (and the telecentric design philosophy) was able to fully deliver on the size benefits that had originally been promised.

Without a mirror to move out of the way, live view came into its own and a whole new class of camera was born.

Lessons from the Four Thirds system led directly to the creation of the world’s first mirrorless system: Micro Four Thirds. And between Panasonic’s GH5 and Olympus’s E-M1 II, a lot of interesting things doing on, 18 years after the sensor size was chosen.

Credit should be given to Olympus for working to provide cameras (specifically the E-M1s) that were designed to continue to give good performance for those users who’d bought the highest-end Four Thirds lenses.

Long live Four Thirds

The history of photography is full of defunct systems and obsolete mounts. Even though the curtain has come down on Four Thirds, you can still buy a camera that will make good use of its lenses. The king is dead…

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Entaniya 250 Micro Four Thirds fisheye lenses feature 250-degree FOV

21 Oct

Tokyo-based maker of VR lens accessories Entapano is working on the Entaniya Fisheye 250 MFT lens, a model with a 250-degree field of view that it aims to make available in three varieties: 2.3mm F2.8, 3.0mm F2.8, and 3.6mm F4.0. All three lenses feature 18 elements in 12 groups with four extra-low dispersion lenses and a 1.6kg / 3.5lb weight without front or rear caps. The company cautions these specs are ‘subject to change,’ however, as the lens is still in development.

Entaniya Fisheye 250 MFT 3.6 sample image taken with Olympus Pen F, provided by Entaniya

The company details the Entaniya Fisheye as being suitable for producing different types of VR content depending on which lens version is used. The lenses are made in Japan, where the company estimates its price at ¥388,000 / $ 3,730 / €3400. Entapano has the released date scheduled for ‘end of 2016.’

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