Micro Four Thirds Focal Reducer Shootout

Started Feb 20, 2014 | Discussions thread
Eric Nepean
Eric Nepean Veteran Member • Posts: 3,356
Re: Micro Four Thirds Focal Reducer Shootout

MichailK wrote:

...just a post for any low production amateurs like me arriving at this thread as they look after the [FocalReducer+OldLens] interesting solution for shooting stills:

My amateurish opinion in short:

1. If you really need a Focal Reducer adapter, get the proper one and be done with it (get the Metabones) and stop mumbling about the price.

2. If you are not sure you really need or fancy such a device, get the much cheaper and 2nd best Zhongyi Lens Turbo, use it for some time and then decide whether to ditch the Focal Reducer idea altogether or to get the proper one (--> Metabones) and be done with "what focal reducer?" so you can concentrate on what lenses work best on it instead of scratching your head when results are found lacking for whatever reason (so do get the focal reducer quality out of the equation by getting the best).

Now, to elaborate more:

I never got any "proper" Metabones Speed Booster since back then I could barely afford a "Zhongyi Lens Turbo II Focal Reducer" for my MFT camera which I used for a few months last year coupled to three Nikon AiS lenses before selling it to fund a native MFT prime lens later on. Most use was with a prime 50mm/1.4 which gave me a nice calculated combo of 36mm/1.0.

What I found out is that the old lenses have their nice "feel" and "manual" fun but lack the sharpness and contrast sparkle that native MFT lenses provide (along modern commodities like autofocus). So for my hands it proved too easy to miss critical focus when using wide apertures and that made me use the Lens Turbo combo less and less over time for whatever intrigues me to take a shot of - I just got too soft results most of the time.

As far as this particular 36/1.0 combo goes, I did some homegrown comparative experiments and found out that the extravagant wide open spherical aberration(?) of the 50/1.4 Ais lens makes it usable for my kind of hobby photography only at narrower aperture than (Fcombo:2.0) and even then the lens turbo adapter robbed some of the already not great sharpness off the 50mm/1.4 lens. That is, this respectable FF 50mm lens at wider aperture than F4.0 on a plain adapter was never comparable in contrast and sharpness as a native MFT lens and it got even less sharp when attached on the Lens Turbo. Add my misfocusing issues when shooting handheld in real life conditions and the whole "fast combo lens" became a moot point - I could get comparable results with native F2.8 lenses at night. Going wider aperure made depth of field too narrow and made the whole picture too soft even if I got the focus OK. So to ebay the turbo adapter went and I just kept the plain adapter for those nostalgic lens shooting days.

My conclusion is that these adapters are best suited for directed video shooting as critical sharpness is less needed and focus is properly orchestrated and choreographed before shooting so no problem missing it. And it all boils down to how well the chosen lens plays game with the Lens Turbo as the other manual Nikon lenses I had at hand behaved differently as far as frame wide sharpness, vignetting, hot spotting goes and I ended up always wondering how much better would they behave on the proper Speed Booster if I could afford it. Given the various online comparison results I decided to ditch the idea altogether because I do not shoot video and ended up thinking that the combo solution could not get much better to make it worth for my needs. As always, YMMV....

I have the oldest M43 to Canon FD mount 0.71x Metabones Speedbooster.

It gives very decent image quality with a FD50mm F1.4 wide open; however IMO wide open the image density behaves as if the combo is F1.1 rather than F1.0 No matter, IMO it's a very nice pieece of kit, and I'm quite happy using it with a variety of FD lenses. The only lens that disappointed is the 28mm F2.8

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