Noam Kroll Tests Veydra Mini Prime Lenses for High Quality Micro Four Thirds Cinematography.

by Karin Gottschalk5 Comments

It seems like we have been waiting forever for Shane Hurlburt to share his tests with Veydra’s Micro Four Thirds cinematic mini primes. Given Mr Hurlburt’s stature as a director of photography in the feature film business, and DSLR moviemaking pioneer, his insights are influential and many current practitioners and newcomers base their hardware decisions upon them.

Too quality Micro Four Thirds glass is becoming an essential item in many moviemakers's kits with the growing popularity of high-quality HD and 4K movie cameras like the Panasonic GH4, the Digital Bolex D16, Blackmagic Design's M43-mount cinema and studio cameras and exciting new innovations like the JVC GY-LS300 4K Super35 M43 mount lightweight cinematic camcorder.

The Veydras fill a much-needed and long-obvious gap in the market for a matched set of cinema primes made to the highest standards while remaining affordable to independent moviemakers who don't have the budgets for larger, costlier glass. Or the muscle to carry it all, as in my case!

Feeling rather frustrated, I went looking for other respected cinematographers for their hands-on view of the Veydras and came across an article by Noam Kroll. Mr Kroll’s test is rather different to the sort that Mr Hurlburt runs, one closer to real life shooting conditions than the latter’s perfectly staged and lit actress-facing-camera tests.

Mr Kroll used just the Veydras on his Blackmagic Cinema Camera while shooting a trailer movie for a book – contemporary crossmedia marketing at its best IMHO – and did a side-by-side comparison with three Rokinon lenses back at home on a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. Comparing Veydra 25mm, 35mm and 50mm with Rokinon 24mm, 35mm and 50mm was something of a revelation especially in terms of sharpness and subtle tonal rendition.

Veydras come in Imperial and metric. A photograph of the metric version of of the 16mm Micro Four Thirds Veydra mini prime lens, for a change! Image courtesy of Veydra. Resized with Affinity Photo.

Veydras come in Imperial and metric. A photograph of the metric version of of the 16mm Micro Four Thirds Veydra mini prime lens, for a change! Image courtesy of Veydra. Resized with Affinity Photo.

The Rokinons were shown up as locking in both areas, especially sharpness. I wonder how the same focal lengths in Samyang’s new cinema primes brand Xeen will stack up against the Veydras, or will they sit with the Rokinons tested by Mr Kroll?

Understanding the many pros and cons of native primes against adapted primes, optics newly designed only for cinematic use as opposed to existing optics housed in stills mounts and cinema mounts, is crucial in getting the best out of current cameras and sensors. 

Thank you to Noam Kroll for filling the gap with these much-needed comparisons.

I hope that Shane Hurlburt will make his insights available soon. Meanwhile a video made on the Veydras earlier this year by Calgary’s The Camera Store is definitely worth a look – go to my list of videos below. I am loving that side-by-side comparison of the CineAlta and the Veydra – a real cinematic Little and Large as it were.

The Camera Store’s video about Veydra primes was shot on Veydra primes on a Panasonic Lumix GH4 equipped with a beta of the long-awaited V-Log L flat log profile by the way. I am still hoping Panasonic will not be charging us US$100 for V-Log L when it arrives in October.

Log profiles are becoming default features in more and more cameras now, hybrid and movie-only. It would be a shame if users who would benefit from using it and learning to get the best out of log in post-production are hamstrung by having to pay for it.



Some articles & videos made with or about Veydra lenses

Meanwhile…

An update has appeared on the Veydra Kickstarter campaign site, ‘12mm Mini Prime Delivery Update, New Sony E and C Mounts, Lens Support‘. In summary,  the 12mm Veydra lens is on its way, some lenses will be available soon in Sony E-mount and the C-mount of classical analog movie cameras as well as the Digital Bolex D16, and the Veydra team is working on a solution for the slight looseness inherent in the design of Micro Four Thirds lens mounts.

And, work continues on other Veydra lenses including the 8.5mm or 9mm wide angle mini prime, Veydra's Ryan Avery informed me at the time of writing.

Two winning features of Veydra mini primes for MFT moviemaking? Noam Kroll: quality & value. Click To Tweet

VEYDRA MFT CINEMA LENS KIT REVIEW & ROKINON CINE LENS COMPARISON

Via NoamKroll.com:

Occasionally when reviewing lenses I will simply shoot a bunch of test footage with an entire kit to test sharpness, color accuracy, distortion, and other important factors. Those types of tests are definitely helpful, but they don’t always give an accurate representation of what the lenses are capable of on a real world set. I find that by far the best way to test a lens is by actually putting it through it’s paces on set, and letting the results speak for themselves. That’s what I decided to do with the Veydras.

Thankfully during the time that I had access to these lenses, there was a project I was Directing/DP’ing that I was able to use these lenses for. It was a book trailer for a well known author, and although the edit isn’t yet complete I did take some screen grabs that I will share below.

Before stepping on set to shoot this book trailer I had never used the Veydra lenses myself. I had heard some very good things about them, but didn’t have any hands on experience with them yet, so naturally I didn’t know what to expect. That said, even with no experience using these lenses before, I felt right at home as soon as I started working with them.

The first thing I noticed was that the lenses felt and operated like true cinema lenses. Unlike Rokinon lenses which are housed in plastic, the Veydras are all metal and feel just as well built as cinema lenses many times their price. The iris and focus rings are unbelievably smooth, and the focus throw is a near perfect distance for focusing by hand, or with a follow focus.

I have shot with many of the best cinema lenses out there, and the fact that the Veydra Mini-Primes feel so similar to use and operate is pretty astounding, especially considering the price point.

But at the end of the day, build quality isn’t everything. A lens is only as good as the image it produces, and most of us would choose a sharper and more accurate lens over a softer lens, even if the latter was built much better. Thankfully in the case of the Veydra’s – it’s a best of both worlds situation.

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As soon as I started shooting with the lenses I immediately noticed their sharpness on the onboard monitor of the camera (which was a MFT Blackmagic Cinema Camera by the way). I can usually trust my eye when working with a new lens, and right off the bat I felt that the sharpness and detail was really incredible. This was especially apparent when I shot on the widest lens that I had in the kit (the 16mm). Wide shots will often reveal softness in lenses, but in this case things were looking really good right away.

Throughout the shoot I used every one of the lenses in the kit – 16mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm. For MFT cameras, these focal lengths are ideal as once you factor in the 2x (approximate) crop factor, these lenses cover a very wide spectrum of focal lengths. If I were to purchase this kit, I would also invest in their widest lens – the 12mm – as that will give a nice wide 24mm equivalent on most MFT cameras.

Read full article at NoamKroll.com “VEYDRA MFT CINEMA LENS KIT REVIEW & ROKINON CINE LENS COMPARISON”

(cover photo credit: snap from NoamKroll.com)

Karin Gottschalk

Karin Gottschalk

Karin is a documentary moviemaker, journalist, photographer and teacher who conceived and cofounded an influential, globally-read, Australian magazine of contemporary art, culture and photography. While based in Europe, contributing to the magazine and working in advertising, she visualised a future telling the same sorts of stories with a movie camera and audio recorder. Now back in her home base in Sydney, Karin is pursuing her goal of becoming an independent, one-person, backpack multimedia journalist and documentary moviemaker. Mentorless and un-filmschooled, she is constantly learning and sharpening up her skill set.
Karin Gottschalk

Comments

  1. Nice test though as a gh4 shooter I still prefer the look of the voigtlanders, but the black magic mft is definitely a solid match for the Veydra lenses.

  2. Great article! One small correction, I didn’t yet have a VLog L enabled GH4 when we shot the Veydra test. Just plain old CineD.

  3. coolrob00g  — could you expand on this?  I’m torn between the voigtlanders and veydra.  As a GH4 user, I’m concerned about the image being TOO sharp.  Veydra may be sharper, but its seems voightlander producers a more cinematic/filmic image.  True?

  4. My concern is the 2.2 t stop. I am sold on the gh4 to the point the third body arrived a couple days ago. I have two entry level primes to start testing. The 25mm and 20mm 1.7 panasonics with the 15mm on the way. ( Web rates these at 2,0 and 2.1 t stop respectively)

    Some time back footage I saw advised to go no higher than 800 iso for low light with the gh4. Was forced to shoot a event at 6400 iso and the 3.5 power zoom at 3.5 with the shutter at 30. Wide open and just a hint of noise.

    So cutting to the chase: Do these lenses allow higher iso usage?

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