Now this is something that we didn’t see coming. While roaming the floors of the Photo Plus Expo 2013, we came across the Sakar/Vivitar/Polaroid booth–those are the people that bought the rights to put the Kodak brand on new photographic items. Perusing through the neatly lined-up items at their stand, three tiny lenses hidden in a corner caught our glimpse. Upon closer inspection, not only did we notice a Kodak branding, but also some intriguing specifications. We were looking at a 25mm f0.95 lens, a 50mm f1.1 lens as well as an 8mm f3 fisheye lens, all three for the Micro Four Thirds mount. We were quite surprised, to say the least.
Kodak 25mm f0.95
This lens is a direct hit at both the Voigtländer 25mm f0.95 and the SLR Magic 25mm T0.95, which in terms of focal length and aperture both have roughtly the same specs. The Voigtländer 25mm has taken quite some beatings for its less than stellar performance wide open, while we found the SLR Magic offering to be quite the performer at its largest aperture setting. Upon a quick test of this Kodak-branded Sakar lens, we were surprised by how well it seems to perform at f0.95.
The build quality seems to be on par with the optical performance. Being an all-manual lens, we found both the focusing and aperture rings to run quite smoothly. The barrel of the lens seems to be made of metal, at least thats what the finish felt like. But right now we can’t really say much about the tech specs as they’re simply not available yet. From what we were told, the pre-production units we handled had literally just come in.
From the short amount of time that we spent with the lens, there isn’t really much that we can say about it, except that it seems to be very sharp wide open for an f0.95 lens. As for distortion, contrast, and color rendition, we’ll have to wait until review samples are available to see how it performs.
As for the price point, we were told it will be around US-$ 400, which if true would be an incredibly competitive price compared to the Voigtländer and SLR Magic options.
Kodak 50mm f1.1
The other fast lens that Sakar was showing off was a Kodak-branded 50mm f1.1. Again, something that we totally didn’t see coming. This lens as well seems to be very well-built, and we found the operation of both the focusing and the aperture rings to be very smooth and comfortable.
With an f1.1 initial aperture, this lens translates into a 100mm f2.2 in terms of field-of-view and depth-of-field, which makes it an excellent choice for the portrait photographer. At f1.1, the lens is very soft, which could actually work very nicely for portraiture. Again, we had only a limited amount of time with it, so we can’t comment on its overall optical qualities yet.
This lens will be priced similarly to the 25mm f0.95, which makes it another very interesting option for Micro Four Thirds photographers.
Considering that the only real contender in this focal length range is the Olympus 45mm f1.8, it will be interesting to see how the Kodak lens will compare to it. We lied to you about that, sorry. In fact, the 50mm f1.1 is a direct competitor to the Olympus 45mm f1.8 as well as the Voigtländer 42.5mm f0.95 and the upcoming Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f1.2, although the latter two are further off in terms of focal length than the Olympus.
Kodak 8mm f3 fisheye
The third Kodak-branded lens we saw at the Sakar booth was an 8mm f3 fisheye. The specs would put it in direct competition to the fisheye offerings from Panasonic and Samyang, with the Panasonic being the only autofocus lens of the bunch.
The sample unit of this lens seems to have been a very early pre-production model, judging from its overall build quality and the fact that it did not seem to work on our Micro Four Thirds cameras. Which means that unfortunately, we couldn’t take any sample images with it.
There’s no word yet on when these three lenses will actually hit the market, but we’re pretty curious to find out and can hardly wait to get our hands on actual production units for review. The fact alone that new manual fast glass for Micro Four Thirds is coming has us very excited, and even more so considering the price point that we were told.
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