Kamlan 50mm F/1.1 mkII Review (x-mount)
Disclaimer: All the photos have been “retouched” to some extent or another. If you want SOOC you’ll need to look elsewhere - I was more interested in showing what an end result photo can look like with this lens.
The Kamlan 50mm F / 1.1 lens for Fujifilm X-Mount is an interesting, fun lens for those who enjoy the manual focus experience. If you want the full tech specs, sample photos
and links to other reviews check out Kamlan's KickStarter link. And if you prefer a video
review, I recommend Christopher Frost’s review where he dives into image and build quality. What I want to present here are my thoughts on this lens after having used it for about five months.
First, this lens is cheap; you can find used versions for around USD $220. For an aperture of f 1.1 that's a steal (that is if the image quality is decent - more on that below). Now if you live and die by autofocus and the thought of going manual gives you shivers, you may want to look elsewhere. For those of you who enjoy the experience (on a Fujifilm X-T3 it's a pleasure), you will really like this.
Focus and aperture rings are wonderfully dampened and clickless. I’m not a videographer, but I would imagine this being a huge plus (if ever you are shooting 75mm equivalent focal length). Markings like hyper-focal distance and all the rest are clear enough, but I find myself rarely using them, instead relying on focus peaking (which modern mirrorless makes a breeze). With the aperture ring located to the rear I find myself not bumping it out of position as much as I do with a lens like the Mitakon Speedmaster.
Color and contrast are decent, but it isn’t winning awards. Wide open the center is sharp enough, although if you were to compare it to something like the Mitakon Speedmaster f .95 you’ll notice the later is significantly better wide open. However, I rarely shoot wide open, instead stopping down to 1.4 or so for portrait work. I find the extra bump in center sharpness versus bokeh to be a sweet spot when filling the frame with a subject.
When shooting with any sort of back light or strong light source in the background you will get mad flaring and a rather sharp decrease in contrast. Some of this can be fixed in post, but be forewarned that this lens does not play well in those situations. Natural light shooters might have to get a little more creative. The lens hood will not help very much in this respect (seems a little short).
For studio work it’s a great, cheap option that will give you great results as long as you
respect the quirks it has. Definitely not a lens for an action / sports shooter unless you’re prepared to Photoshop images all day long. This lens would make a great gift for those just starting out, someone who needs the light gathering properties of a black hole, or in need of an “artistic” portrait lens.
Check out some sample images below.