First Impressions: SLR Magic 17mm T1.6 (Micro Four Thirds)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer SLR Magic 17mm T1.6 lens first impressions post (2 of 15)ISO 4001-160 sec at f - 5.6

SLRMagic has been producing T stop lenses for a couple of years now, but only as of recent have they been fully branding them more for the cinema crowd. The lens has been in testing for some time now and we’ve had a test unit for a couple of weeks. Offering a 34mm T3.4 equivalent field of view of depth of field (when wide open) on a full frame camera, the lens takes design cues from both the photo and cinema world. And though it is being branded as a cinema lens, it has a couple of quirks despite having some wonderful strengths.

Tech Specs

Taken from our original posting

Lens Type:  Fast wide-angle lens
Compatible Cameras:  All micro four thirds mount cameras
Optical Design:  12 elements in 10 groups
Distance Settings: Distance range: 0.17m to ∞, combined scale meter/feet
Aperture: Manually controlled diaphragm, 10 aperture blades, Lowest value 16
Bayonet: Micro Four Thirds
Filter Mount: Internal thread for 52mm filter; filter mount does not rotate.
Surface Finish: Black anodized
Length to bayonet mount: approx. 78.65mm (approx. 3.10in)
Largest diameter: approx. 56.3mm (approx. 2.21in)
Weight:

Ergonomics

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer SLR Magic 17mm T1.6 lens first impressions post (4 of 15)ISO 4001-160 sec at f - 5.6

The SLRMagic 17mm T1.6 is a cinema lens–and our particular model was designed for Micro Four Thirds. Its design, however, takes cues from both the cinema and photo world. To start, the lens’s body is comprised of all metal–which gives it a great feeling in the hand.

The lens also is characterized by two major rings: one for focusing and one for aperture control. As is standard with all cinema lenses, the aperture is a smooth one.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer SLR Magic 17mm T1.6 lens first impressions post (6 of 15)ISO 4001-160 sec at f - 5.6

The 17mm T1.6 is designed with an effective distance and depth of field scale on top for those that want to shoot stills with it but also want to be quick about it–such is the case with street photographers. For the most part, the lens is designed to focus quite closely to you due to its wide nature.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer SLR Magic 17mm T1.6 lens first impressions post (1 of 15)ISO 4001-160 sec at f - 5.6

Lastly this wouldn’t be an SLR Magic lens with one of the biggest features that is also one of our favorites. SLRMagic’s lens caps are the screw on type–so it is tough to lose them and also offer better protection of your lens.

Build Quality

Some of the more affordable cinema glass that we’ve tested come from Rokinon, and to be honest, the build quality of this lens gives anything that Rokinon has made a run for its money at a $499 price point. The construction is an all metal body with gear teeth for manipulating focus and aperture either by hand or by follow focus. Unlike other options, the teeth also don’t feel sharp–which makes it a breeze to turn the rings by hand.

Focusing

Being an SLR Magic lens, it is an all manual focusing optic. The lens sports a distance scale and a depth of field scale in case you’d want to use them. But unlike other cinema lenses, SLRMagic chose to put the scales on top rather than on the side–which is standard for people that pull focusing on professional film sets.

Because of this, your best bet may be the use focus peaking when actually filming.

Image Quality

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So far we’ve only been testing the lens for still image quality. And for the most part, T1.6 is very, very soft. While still shooters might not like this that much, cinema users will love this. Additionally, we’re finding that the lens tends to render images very much on the blue side.

Something that we’re smitten with though is the lens’s bokeh. We also found some color fringing though–which is a bigger problem for videographers than it is for still shooters.

Here are a couple of sample images.

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First Impressions

We still feel that we have a lot of testing to do with the SLRMagic 17mm T1.6 lens. In our upcoming full review, we will be testing it with a Panasonic camera for video shooting. Additionally, we’re also wondering about how the lens compares with Voigtlander’s 17.5mm f0.95–despite their totally difference price ranges.

Overall though, despite how good older EVFs are (such as on the OMD EM5 and Panasonic GH3) we strongly feel that this lens would do best with a camera that has focus peaking. And with that said, we also really wish that both companies would consider their legacy customers instead of forcing them to upgrade all the time.

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