Until now, shooting cinema on a Micro 4/3 camera meant you were using still photo lenses or lenses that were adapted or modified for motion picture use. The new Veydra Mini Primes are the first lenses to be built from the ground up as motion picture cinema lenses specifically for the Micro 4/3 platform. Considering the super shallow flange depth and tiny sensor size of Micro 4/3, the options for adapting lenses is almost limitless. But what if you’re using a Blackmagic or Panasonic GH4 in a professional environment and don’t have time to fiddle with adapters or down-time for vintage lens repair? The Veydra Mini Primes seem to be filling a gap that no one else has with a purpose built Micro 4/3 cinema lens.
Let’s check out some of the features of the new Veyrda Mini Primes. The first four primes to be shipped will be a 16mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, all T2.2, with a 12mm to follow shortly after. You’ll find a common 80mm front diameter on each lens with a 77mm filter thread. The lens bodies are all made from billet aluminum, anodized black with a traditional helix based focus movement. Standard 32-pitch focus and iris gears all share the same position from the mount making swapping a breeze. Smart and dumb side witness marks can be found on traditional motion picture style focus and iris scales. The iris scale does get a bit cramped towards full closed, but the more usable, wide-open end is well spaced. The focus marks are decent – towards infinity, the marks are spaced nicely, but the distances engraved can be a bit far apart. That said, the quantity and spacing of the focus marks near close focus are adequate and plentiful. The housings are all constant volume meaning there is no telescoping effect while racking focus – something most still photo lenses will not offer.
One of the most common struggles for Micro 4/3 shooters is the dreaded crop factor introduced by smaller format cameras. The Veydra Mini Primes will offer a convenient range of focal lengths that will compensate for the smaller format. The crop factor is approximately 2x making the field of view equivalent to that of a 24, 32, 50, 70, and 100mm when compared to 35mm Full Frame setups.
The Veydra Mini Primes use all new glass with some of the longer focal lengths deriving their optical design from C-Mount lenses. All five lenses will have a 10-bladed aperture. Unlike other lens options currently available for the Micro 4/3 format, the Mini Primes are designed specifically for motion picture work. While their common aperture of T2.2 is respectable, there are certainly faster options available. Primarily, the Voigtlander Nokton Cine-Mod primes which feature a maximum aperture of f/0.95. Sure, that’s fast… But comparing image quality between the two is pretty telling. Check out some quick tests below.
Looking at the 100% crop between the two, you won’t see too much difference but the Veydra does have a slight advantage in terms of micro contrast and resolution. In the center of the image, you can expect 200 lp/mm throughout the set of Mini Primes, tapering off to 150 – 100 lp/mm in the corners depending on the focal length. There’s practically no focus breathing and distortion is very well controlled. Throughout the pre-production set that I tested, tolerances were held well in terms of alignment.
|12mm||71.6°||24mm||TBD||300°||80mm||77mm||2.2 – 22||8″||544|
|16mm||56.8°||32mm||26mm ⌀||300°||80mm||77mm||2.2 – 22||8″||546|
|25mm||38.2°||50mm||31mm ⌀||300°||80mm||77mm||2.2 – 22||10″||499|
|35mm||27.8°||70mm||31mm ⌀||300°||80mm||77mm||2.2 – 22||11″||473|
|50mm||19.6°||100mm||33mm ⌀||300°||80mm||77mm||2.2 – 22||15″||461|
|* Horizontal Angle of View (Horizontal, Micro 4/3 format)
** When compared to 35mm Full Frame (36mm x 24mm)
Now on to the dollar signs… A good entry level cinema lens these days will run you about $4,000. Sure, you could consider the $400 price tag of a Rokinon, but we’re talking about something designed and manufactured to a much higher degree. The Veydra Mini Primes will come in around $900 per lens or the set for about $3,695 for the initial 4-lens set of 16, 25, 35, 50mm. This puts the price of the entire set of Veydra Mini Primes right around the cost of a single cinema prime lens. Not a bad deal if you ask me. The 4-lens set will begin shipping January 2015 with the 12mm shipping around June 2015.
The lenses are currently available through a Kickstarter Campaign at a generous discount. If you’d rather wait and see how these lenses do in the real world, you’ll be able to purchase them directly from Duclos Lenses as well.