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"Its a kinda magic" – Video review of the SLR Magic 50mm T0.95 Hyperprime lens

By technical editor Matt Allard:

SLR Magic 50mm T0.95 Leica M Mount Hyper Prime Review from Matthew Allard on Vimeo.

I recently purchased the SLR MAGIC 50mm T0.95 Leica M Mount lens while on a work trip to Hong Kong.  I thought it was about time I did some xmas giving and actually do a review of the lens.

This particular lens was originally made for aerial filming specialists Space Cam to use on modified RED cameras for helicopter work.  Unlike some of the other SLR Magic products this is not a toy lens!  I can attest to this lens being made to the highest possible standards. 

I have been very impressed with the performance and look of this lens.  Its ultra sharp wide open which in itself is amazing.  There is also very little if any noticeable chromatic aberration.  Now this is normally a problem with very fast lenses.  It seems very hard for lens manufacturers to get sharpness combined with lack of chromatic aberration.  SLR MAGIC seems to have got this lens spot on.  

It is amazingly well built, probably even more solidly made than my Zeiss ZF2 glass.  Solid build quality does come with a trade off though – this lens is quite heavy, but in saying that I found it still very useable.  

The lens has a factory de-clicked aperture which is a big bonus for me.  Strangely though the aperture is at the front of the lens and you focus at the back – this is something that I’m still getting used to.  

It also features an inbuilt metal lens hood that can extend out (which I forgot to show in the video).  The lens also comes in a nice box and includes a 0.9 ND filter which is very handy. 

The image from this lens is nothing short of superb, like I said it is tack sharp even wide open. It also has a beautiful soft fall off when it comes to highlights and out of focus areas.  It worried me when I first bought this lens about how it’s images would cut in with footage shot on my Zeiss glass.  It actually inter cuts very well.  It has a similar contrast and look to my Zeiss lenses.  

I keep finding myself pulling this lens out of my bag as its just so damn nice.  It is a great Interview lens, allowing you to shoot pretty wide open while maintaining sharp focus.  The ability also in tight places or situations to completely soften the background is a big plus for me.  A couple of times this lens has saved my butt.  I was shooting the World Match Racing Championship (yacht racing) earlier this month and one of the biggest names in the sport announced his retirement out of the blue.  We had to grab him for an interview straight away, the sun had just gone down and I had no access to lights nor the time to use them.  I had to do this fast.  I put on the 50mm and opened it up without having to use a super high ISO (I think I had it at 1250). Magically the lens managed to turn night into day.  The producer was truly amazed at what I had done.  

This lens retails for about $3000 US so its not a cheap but for what you get in terms of build quality and performance its worth every cent.  Now there are other T0.95 50mm lenses available from SLR MAGIC in other lens mounts but be aware that they are not the same lens as this one.  This one only comes in Leica M mount.  
The one I have is the non RF coupled version (The RF version is for Range Finder stills cameras and is more expensive).  Don’t let the Leica M mount bother you too much.  There are lots of adapters out there which enable you use this lens on a variety of cameras. 

Specs are one thing but proof is always in the pudding.  This lens delivers on it’s promise and is one that I will continue to use on a regular basis.  

About Matthew Allard, Aljazeera Team Leader Cameras, Kuala Lumpur:
Matt has been a Camera/Editor in TV news for more 22 years, previously working for both Channel 9 and Channel 10 in Australia. Twice Network Ten Australia’s cameraman of the year as well as being a Walkley Finalist for outstanding camerawork in 2006 (for coverage of the Cronulla Race Riots) and a Logie Finalist for outstanding news coverage 2006 (Bali 9). He has won 14 ACS (Australian Cinematographers Society) awards. His Sword Maker story that was shot on a 7D won the prestigious Neil Davis International News Golden Tripod at the 2011 ACS Awards. He has covered news events in more than 35 countries, from major sporting events to terrorist bombings. Based out of the Kuala Lumpur broadcast centre in Malaysia he is an avid user and follower of new technology, shooting stories on HD broadcast cameras, the Sony FS700 and F3 as well as Canon DSLRs.

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Posted on December 24th, 2012 by Matthew Allard | Category: DSLR video news, Lenses |

6 responses to ""Its a kinda magic" – Video review of the SLR Magic 50mm T0.95 Hyperprime lens"

  1. raitank Says:
    December 24th, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Looks like a brilliant lens. M-mout is not my cup of tea though.

    …so you’ve shot this review while you were in Tokyo. Was it before or after I met you at System5? :-)

  2. tata steva Says:
    December 26th, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    why Matt can not focus to infinity with this lens… 
    BECAUSE IT IS AN “M” lens, as a rangefinder lens. “film” plane on rangefinder is closer to the lens by construction, so NONE of the lenses from M line can be focused to infinity on DSLR, or any large sensor video camera. You can do another way around, and mount DSLR lens on Leica m, with a proper adapter ( that is what they will be doing with “new M” in spring and R lenses). 
    So, to put it all together, to buy a $3K lens and be limited to close up shots is crazy, if you ask me…
    Second, SLR Magic STOPPED PRODUCING ANY M LENSES FEW MONTHS AGO! You can read about it on the net. Apparently they got fed up with negative feedback from “Leica fanboys” how their lenses are not up to pair with the ” real stuff”. BS!
    So, practically, once current batch of this lens is sold out,… No more…

  3. Matthew Allard Says:
    December 27th, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Hi Tata,

    The version of the lens I have is a non RF version, there are two available. The RF version is a lot more expensive. This lens focuses to infinity on my Sony FS700 with no problems. It is the F3 where it won’t. So saying they won’t work on any large sensor video camera is not true.

    As for SLR Magic stopping production of M mount lenses well that is completely false! I am currently testing another of their new Leica M mount lenses at the moment. I know Andrew from SLR Magic personally. I will take his word over posts on the internet. There will always be fan boys for all types of brands. It is a big compliment to SLR Magic that Leica fan boys feel threatened enough to complain about a competitor.

    This lens is not for everyone and It is not massed produced.

  4. tata steva Says:
    December 27th, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks for clarifying it!
    On the other hand, it is not clear to me why there would be a “M mount” lens in “2 versions”? If your M mount lens focuses on F700, than it means that in order to focus on Leica M body, it needs an adapter…
    As far as “rumors” I mentioned, here is the full quote from your friend Andrew:

    “Dear All,

    We are now working on lenses for anamorphic and cancelled all RangeFinder coupled lens projects due to too much effort in defending our brand from Leica community attacks. It had been tiring for us and tiring for moderators of many websites. It is hard to develop in a market where users do not want another alternative to Leica lenses and that is understandable. Hopefully when the HyperPrime LM 50mm T0.95 get acceptance as a new third party lens we will consider to continue future RangeFinder coupled lens projects again.

    I have mentioned in personal-view today with our decision on RF coupled lenses.

    “A lot of damage was done to us when we got attacked by the Leica community by releasing the 50mm T0.95 lens. We cancelled the HyperPrime LM 35mm T0.95 and HyperPrime LM 24mm T1.4 for Leica camera project and went along with the HyperPrime CINE 35mm T0.95 and anamorphics project instead due to lack of user support in the Leica community.”

    source: Most wanted ANAMORPHIC lens – Personal View Talks

    Kind rgds.,
    Andrew Chan”

    I found it here:
    http://www.getdpi.com/forum/leica-m-x-r/41540-slr-magic-press-release.html

    Please, don’t shoot the messenger…

  5. charlesmackenziehill Says:
    December 31st, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Great post Matthew. enjoyable! Great looking lens. Slightly off subject , you also picked my interest re then ND filter behind you. Would love know more about how about you controlled the windows there .

    Thanks Matthew.

    Happy New Year to you and your readers

  6. amitchell Says:
    February 8th, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Now imagine if they made an ef mount version, and then use it with the Metabones Speed Booster…. That would bee insane.

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