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Review: SLR Magic Bokehmorphic (Sony NEX Cameras)

by Chris Gampat on 04/03/2012

Playing with Bokeh can be very fun. We previously reviewed the DIYPhotography Bokeh Masters kit; and were quite smitten with it. Then recently, SLRMagic announced their Bokehmorphic unit for NEX cameras. As a lens with a constant f2.8 aperture at 28mm, it’s quite an interesting piece.

But it has its quirks, and SLRMagic didn’t quite do the research into how they could have made this lens even better.

Gear Used

SLR Magic BokehMorphic

Sony NEX 5n

Sony NEX TruFinder for 5N

Tech Specs

Focal Length: 28mm

Shapes: Heart, circle, star, anamorphic, ninja, diamond, flower

Aperture: f2.8

Ergonomics

The SLRMagic (or SLR Magic) Bokehmorphic is a pancake lens for the Sony NEX camera system. It is about as small as Sony’s 16mm f2.8. However, this lens utilizes a manual focus ring and an aperture ring as well.

Using the aperture ring, you can switch out the shapes of the out of focus area.

There are clear marking indicating which shape is being used and the focusing ring also tells you whether you are, “Near” or “Far.”

Holding true to the toy lenses that the company makes, this lens can actually be very fun to play with.

The Inherent Problem

While some fanboys and otherwise egotists will bash the company because they believe their lenses to be rip offs of CCTV lenses and absolute crap, said fanboys should also try a lens and you’ll quickly notice just how good they really are.

There is a big problem with this lens though and I’m actually amazed that they didn’t do their research into this one.

- Bokeh shaping kits are best used with 50mm or 85mm focal lengths. Not their equivalent in terms of sensor crops. This is due to their longish nature and design.

- They are best used at f1.8 and stopped down to f2.8, it can be tough to really make use of the bokeh.

And that is exactly what happened throughout this review.

Image Quality

First off, it must be noted: the areas in focus with this lens are tack sharp. It works exceptionally well with Sony’s peaking feature. But in order to really see the effect of the bokeh shaping, you’ll need to either focus at the closest distance or at the furthest distance.

Even then, it can sometimes be tough to spot the shaped bokeh. You can see it above in the photo at a train station by my house. In fact, there are quite a bit of cool stars if you just pay attention.

Then there is the issue of lens flare. If you get it, the flare will be shaped. Take a look at how the light in the photo adobe shaped the heart taking over most of the photo.

Here it is again with the star.

Generally, to really see the effect, it is best to shoot at night or in low light where there are lots of little light sources scattered about. However, it can also be used during the day in the right situation. In this case, I needed to use the lens cap as a subject.

You can also create extremely interesting effects with fairy lights in the background. This can be very fun for the experimental person.

As far as color rendition goes, it is second to none. That is also because of Sony’s very good sensors though. We gave a very high rating to the 5N in our review.

Sometimes though, the bokeh isn’t as apparent and as an object comes closer to you, you’ll notice it become less and less so.

Otherwise as a general lens with the normal circular aperture set, this lens is extremely sharp.

Despite the lens being very sharp, the bokeh isn’t always the most pleasing unless the various shapes are applied. With that said, it sometimes can be tough to get creative with the lens without overusing the filter effect (which is kind of the point of having a lens like this.)

Can you tell what shape I was using in this photo? I bet you probably can’t.

Here are the various shapes:

Stars

circles

Hearts

Cat Eye

Other star

Diamond

Another shape

Conclusions

The SLRMagic Bokehmorphic is fun: and that’s really all it is. It can be used creatively for video or to shoot just for fun. My problems are that I wish that it was a wider open aperture and a longer focal length: but for what this lens is, it really is quite fun to play with and extremely sharp.

Is it worth the money: I’m not too sure. for the sharpness, definitely. But you’re limited to f2.8, and if you don’t mind that, then it totally is worth every penny. I just personally couldn’t fall in love with it.

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