Saturday, February 24, 2018

Comparing Sigma 85mm F1.4 Against Kamlan 50mm F1.1

This is not a scientific test at all.  I have been using my Sigma 85mm F1.4 with my Canon EOS 6D for a few years and is my default setup for my portrait shoots.  My everyday/travel camera is an Olympus OM-D EM10 and recently purchased a Kamlan 50mm F1.1.  The main differnece between the two are, the Kamlan lens is manual focus only whereas the Sigma has auto focus.  Of course the Kamlan is a lot smaller and lighter.  Because the Canon/Sigma combo is very heavy, I just do not want to carry them on vacation and various trips.  Whereas the Olympus/Kamlan combo is hardly noticeable.  I thought it would be a good idea to compare them for sharpness and bokeh.  Lets start with size comparison.  As you can see, the Canon/Sigma is much larger than the Olympus/Kamlan.  Also from my experience, you don't want to carry the Canon/Sigma combo all day.  It gives me a sore shoulder if I have to carry it for a whole day.

So lets start.  Here is a photo from each combination.  Both at the maximum aperture of each lens (I will only compare them at max aperture).  With the Sigma lens the minimum focus distance is much longer than the Kamlan which limit the amount of background blur you can achieve with this subject.  Also, I was shooting indoor at night hand held and had to bump the ISO to 1600 with the Canon to achieve blur free image.  Whereas with the Olympus I was using ISO 400 because it has in body image stabilization (IBIS) and was able to shoot blur free image at 1/15s.  In these two images I was trying to frame them the same but actually the Kamlan is a tighter crop.

Canon EOS 6D, Sigma 85mm F1.4 @ F1.4, ISO 1600, 1/80s

Olympus OMD EM10, Kamlan 50mm F1.1 @ F1.1, ISO 400, 1/15s
Background blur wise Kamlan achieved more blur, only because it can focus closer.  When I shot at the minimum focus distance of the Kamlan, here is what I got.  I was surprised the amount of background blur the Kamlan is quite decent.  Very comparable to a 85mm F1.4 lens on a full frame body.

Olympus OMD EM10, Kamlan 50mm F1.1 @ F1.1, ISO 400, 1/15s at minimum focus distance
How about sharpness?  So here is the 100% crop of these images between the two.  There is no doubt the Canon/Sigma combination is a lot sharper.  There are a lot of details visible of the Russian doll and contrast is much higher.  Canon/Sigma definitely win this.

Canon EOS 6D with Sigma 85mm F1.4 100% crop

Olympus OM-D EM10 with Kamlan 50mm F1.1 100% crop
What I was quite surprised to see was the level of noise between the two images.  Since I was hand holding the cameras, I had to shoot at ISO 1600 with the Canon against ISO 400 with the Olympus.  The Olympus image has less noise.  That is a benefit of IBIS that is less known, but only for non moving subjects.

So in conclusion, Kamlan can achieve very good level of background blur although the sharpness is not at the same level.  With IBIS, image noise can be lower than full frame (if the lens do not have IS).

At the end of the day the Kamlan 50mm F1.1 is not as sharp but fun still the same.  I will carry on using it for day to day non critical photos.  Sharpness is not the be all and end all of photography.  I would highly recommend the Kamlan lens.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Kamlan 50mm F1.1 in Hong Kong & Macau

On a trip to Hong Kong and Macau, I was able to shoot extensively with this lens and returned with a few images and my verdict.  Here are a few cats I shot with this lens while in Hong Kong.  The black cat was relatively easy to focus as it was not moving, the second was much harder but I still managed to shoot a few good images even at F1.1.

Here some people images from my trip.  All were shot hand held with available light at F1.1.  Focusing at  F1.1 can be difficult.

I like this lens, but not as much as the Zongyi 25mm.  It can achieve some great images when focus is spot on but it can be difficult to achieve at F1.1, especilly when your subject is moving.  Chromatic aberration can be bad with high contrast situation.  Sharpness is OK, but do not expect high level of sharpness across the frame even stopped down.  I think it is a great lens for portraits for Micro Four Third.  Even with these in mind I would still recommend this lens if sharpness is not critical and you don't mind focusing manually.  You will get quite a few slightly out of focus images!  It is a fun lens to use and I will carry on using it along with my Zhongyi 25mm lens.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Kamlan 50mm F1.1 on Micro Four Third User Experience

A couple of years ago I bought a Zhongyi Speedmater 25mm F0.95 and was very happy with it.  I wanted something similar in the 45mm focal length and could not justify the cost of the Panasonic 42.5mm F1.2.  Recently another Chinese lens maker, Kamlan, released a 50mm F1.1 lens.  It is again totally manual focus lens which I am happy with.  The cost is low enough not to be an issue if it turns out to be garbage.

Here is the lens in it box and packaging.  It is welled packed an it arrived in good condition.

It is a very small lens and it balances well with my Olympus OMD EM-10.  The aperture ring is click less but is not easy to turn.  The focus ring is smooth but take more effort to turn than I like and nothing as smooth as the Zhongyi 25mm.  I was able to shoot a few images on a short trip to London.  They were shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom only.  All were shot at F1.1.

I will say focus is difficult at F1.1.  The depth of field is very thin and there were quite a few slightly out of focus shots, but when focus is correct, they look half decent.  I will be returning from trip from Hong Kong soon with more images and my verdict of this lens.