KamLan 50 mm f/1.1 Mk II for Fujifilm: My first impression

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Rightsaidfred
Rightsaidfred Contributing Member • Posts: 600
KamLan 50 mm f/1.1 Mk II for Fujifilm: My first impression
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Dear forum community

I recently decided for a personal “2020 strategy” (maybe with an extension to 2021) w.r.t. a fast portrait lens.

Background

Background is that the Fuji X community is expecting super exciting times with a coming Viltrox AF 56 mm f/1.4, an announced Tokina AF 56 mm f/1.4, an announced Fujinon XF 50 mm f/1.0, and potentially an upgrade of the XF 56 mm f/1.2 (though this is more than uncertain). There is a lot of speculation. As a matter of fact, none of these lenses is out yet, and I’d really like to wait for professional tests before making an investment. And, of course, there is still the opotically outstanding Fujinon XF 56 mm f/1.2 with its older AF motor.

So, my strategy is that I bought an affordable used KamLan 50 mm f/1.1 Mark II to immediately play around with super wide aperture and bokeh and to mitigate my severe G.A.S., see what I can do with it, wait for the other lenses and replace the KamLan (…or keep it if I like it, and as it seems, I rather like it...).

Anyway, if I decide to sell the KamLan, I would lose almost no money. I would like to thank forum member Tom Schum for the stimulation with the KamLan.

The KamLan lens arrived this week. It is almost new. This is not a professional test - here I report on my first experience.

Build quality

  • The KamLan Mark II is a really heavy lens (584 g w/ front lid and hood), it contains a lot of glass and metal.
  • The lens hood is made from metal.
  • The aperture ring has no clicks, it goes smoothly, a bit sturdy. The angle between f/1.1 and f/1.4 is as much as that between f/4 and f/16; what I want to say with this: without taking the camera from the eye and looking at the number, you cannot tell what aperture you selected. But I don’t care at all because I bought this lens for just one reason: wide – open – fun!
  • The focus ring is smooth and little a bit sturdy, too. A tad less turning resistance wouldn’t be bad actually. The turning resistance is not 100.0 % consistent, there is a zone where it goes a tad sturdier.
  • There is a super tiny mechanical play of the bayonet.

Overall, IMO, very good build quality.

Manual focusing experience

I find manual focusing easy (I am used to it from my Laowa lenses) but of course you’re (well, at least I am) slow and focusing at moving subjects is a challenge or impossible. At least for me today.

Now comes the most important part: IQ.

I did a test series of a clematis. Please see below for sample images. Again, this is not a professional test, it is a first impression.

  • The KamLan is definitely a bit soft in the center at f/1.1. I noticed this in all my photos including portraits. But it is soft in a very nice and charming way, really not bad for portraits, and at least with me, it does not leave the impression of a bad IQ. Center sharpness improves greatly at f/1.4 and again greatly at f/1.8 and then remains at very good level until f/8. There is of course diffraction blur at f/16.
  • CA is visible, also in my other sample shots.
  • Then I did the same series with my new Laowa 65 mm f/2.8 APO ultra macro. I increased the distance to the subject to have as good as possible the same frame. In contrast to the KamLan, the Laowa shows no CA at all. With both lenses at f/5.6, I cannot really see a difference in resolution between both lenses in the center (this is not a test chart analysis - just a flower). Of course, with the larger fl, the Laowa has a softer bokeh at the same aperture than the KamLan.

.... and the reason why to buy the KamLan Mark II: bokeh!

  • The KamLan’s bokeh is absolutely stunning. It is super creamy at f/1.1, and I just love it. There is a huge difference in bokeh between f/1.1 and f/1.4 as you can see from the sample images (which is of course physics and not to be attributed to the lens). This additional bokeh could be a reason to keep this lens when going for an f/1.4 AF lens, though we need to consider that the Fuijnon XF 56 mm f/1.2 as well as the upcoming f/1.4 AF lenses (Viltrox, Tokina) are 56 mm (which adds bokeh) whereas the KamLan is 50 mm. Scroll down to compare the KamLan Mk II's bokeh from f/1.1 through f/4.
  • Just to see it, I did a comparison of the maximum possible bokeh of the KamLan and the Laowa, each at its widest aperture (f/1.1 resp. f/2.8). Of course, the Laowa's maximum bokeh ist not anywhere close to the KamLan's. The Laowa lens is designed for a completely different target application but you can also use it for portraits, that's why I did this simple comparison. Scroll down to really see the difference in bokeh.

KamLan 50 mm f/1.1 Mk II sample images, f/1.1 through f/4

(Notes: all images were taken with ES and with cable release. The EXIF data obviously do not display the correct ss for very short ss. At f/1.1, ss was 1/32000 s. I got a warning from my X-T20 that this is too much light but the image is OK.)

KamLan 50 mm f/1.1 Mk II, Fujifilm X-T20, ISO 200, f/1.1

KamLan 50 mm f/1.1 Mk II, Fujifilm X-T20, ISO 200, f/1.4

KamLan 50 mm f/1.1 Mk II, Fujifilm X-T20, ISO 200, f/1.8

KamLan 50 mm f/1.1 Mk II, Fujifilm X-T20, ISO 200, f/2.0

KamLan 50 mm f/1.1 Mk II, Fujifilm X-T20, ISO 200, f/2.8

KamLan 50 mm f/1.1 Mk II, Fujifilm X-T20, ISO 200, f/4

Comparison of KamLan 50 mm f/1.1 Mk II and Laowa 65 mm f/2.8 Ultra Macro at f/5.6

KamLan 50 mm f/1.1 Mk II, Fujifilm X-T20, ISO 200, f/5.6

Laowa 65 mm f/2.8 APO Ultra Macro, Fujifilm X-T20, ISO 200, f/5.6

Finally, just for comparison of the maximum possible bokeh: the Laowa at its widest aperture f/2.8.

  • Compare this image with the KamLan shots above.
  • Of course, the Laowa's maximum bokeh comes not anywhere close to the KamLan Mark II's.

Laowa 65 mm f/2.8 APO Ultra Macro, Fujifilm X-T20, ISO 200, f/2.8

Feedback welcome.

Best,

Martin

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 Rightsaidfred's gear list:Rightsaidfred's gear list
Fujifilm X-T20 Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Venus Laowa 15mm F4 Macro +5 more
Kamlan 50mm F1.1 II
Prime lens • Canon EF-M, Fujifilm X, Micro Four Thirds, Sony E
Announced: Jun 5, 2019
Rightsaidfred's score
4.0
Average community score
4.1
Fujifilm X-T20 Kamlan 50mm F1.1 II
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