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SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy Lens Review

SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy Lens Review - We review the SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy lens on an Olympus E-P2

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : SLR Magic Toy Lens 26mm f/1.4
Price : £79
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Features and Handling
Performance

Verdict

Toy Lens 26mm f/1.4

The Toy lens from SLR Magic is a compact 26mm fixed focal length lens with a bright f/1.4 maximum aperture for use with Micro Four Thirds cameras from the likes of Panasonic and Olympus.

SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy Lens: Features and Handling


1/6 sec | f/8.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 400

The lens arrives in a colourful toy like box...and when opened reveals 14 bright coloured grip rings and the lens on a Micro 4/3rds mounting plate. The 26mm f/1.4 lens, on closer inspection, is a lens looking remarkably like ones normally sold as a CCTV lenses. It has two controls; focus measured as near and far and an aperture ring from f/1.4 to f/8 and C (closed).

Both controls are smooth to adjust thanks to being well lubricated. It's odd using a lens that has an aperture ring that closes after f/8. The screen went black and I wondered what was going on. It's a six bladed iris that that goes from a normal hexagonal shape to rectangle as it closes.

The lens mounts on the camera using a Micro 4/3rds to C plate. The C thread is 1 inch (25mm) diameter. The plate is recessed so the lens will focus on infinity. Once you have one of these you could buy different types of cine lens and other CCTV options with C mount.   

SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy Lens: Performance


1/6 sec | f/8.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 400

Having an f/1.4 aperture on a lens equivalent to 52mm (in 35mm terms) means you can recreate the depth of field of those film based 50mm f/1.4s from the likes of Olympus, Nikon, Pentax and Canon. The only downside is the lens is small and the image circle is smaller than the camera's CCD so you get vignetting. I took two shots of the wooden ornament below to show the affect at both extremes of the aperture range. You really don't want to use the lens stopped down, so this can cause problems in bright light. At ISO 200 I was regularly hitting the 1/4000sec shutter speed region in daylight. 

The lens has a filter thread but it's an unusually 30mm, so ND filters will be hard to come by. A common 30.5mm will just thread slightly on to hold in place, should you need to reduce the exposure.

The results I got below show some of the crazy characteristics of this lens. It flares badly, it vignettes like hell, there are chromatic aberrations and distortion in all the unexpected places and sometimes these all come together, with the right subject, to produce a really pleasing creatively artistic result.

1/800 sec | ISO 200 1/13 sec | ISO 200 1/1250 sec | ISO 200 1/4000 sec | ISO 200
The tribal ornament, taken at f/1.4 (left), has a subtle edge vignette, while the photo taken at f/8 (right) has an unpleasant harsh edge vignette. For portraiture the lens gives that super perspective feel of those legendary 50mm f/1.4s. The lens is not coated and flare is very obvious in the graveyard photo taken at 1/4000 sec and ISO 200.      
 
1/4000 sec | ISO 200 1/4000 sec | ISO 200 1/800 sec | ISO 200 1/4000 sec | ISO 200
Soft focus edges and vignette can be used to great artistic effect as seen on this shot of a fence (left) at 1/4000 sec and ISO200.

There's a weird effect on the chimney as it's sharp at the bottom and top but not in the middle.(1/4000 sec and ISO200)

Look at the strange colour fringing in the middle of the struts. It's usually edges where this occurs. 

Creative industrial shots like this flour mill are ideal subjects for this type of lens - 1/4000 sec at ISO200.
1/4000 sec | ISO 200 1/320 sec | ISO 200 1/4000 sec | ISO 200
Sometimes the lens has a hot spot of exposure... it's all part of the creative technique - 1/4000 sec | ISO200.

Depth of field at f/1.4 is minimal and can be used effectively to throw aspects out of focus - 1/320 sec | ISO200.

The lens isn't good for close ups. 36cm is about as close as you can get. There are some nice swirly out of focus bits around the rose though - 1/4000 sec | ISO200. 


SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy lens: Value for money

A quick look on eBay reveals you can buy a lens similar to this for about £14, and a plate for as little as £5. Further investigation reveals loads of Far East sellers are knocking out lenses like this with 4/3rds plates for £20 to £30. So what makes this little package worth £79? Well there are those colourful plastic grip rings. They do make the thing look bright and funky and aid handling, but £50? That's £3.50 each...and you can't even wear them as friendship bracelets!
You also get a rear cap with SLR Magic embossed on the flat.

Update...since writing this opinion we've been alerted to the fact that many of the CCTV lens options are lower quality. Some of the mounts you can buy are rejects from factories and as a result the manufacturing tolerances are poor. There are forum topics on the Internet about mounts getting stuck on cameras. Also some mounts may not be perfectly set to allow the lens to focus on infinity. This kit has been adapted to be sure the lens suits your camera.

We're told it also features anti-reflective treatment of the internal lens barrel, whereas most CCTV lenses are usually just untreated silver or black.


SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy Lens: Verdict

I'm really enjoying using the array of weird and wonderful lenses as they appear on the market. This one is better built than many of the other plasticky options, and the vignette effect caused by the lens' small image circle and distortion through lack of coating / computerised optical alignment means results are truly toy-camera-like. Fun to use, with artistic results, but the price tag is high. SLR Magic may throw in a few plastic rings and a branded rear lens cap to give it their own unique slant which warrants a bit of a hike in the price. And they have ensured that their product does meet quality control, but is that really worth £50?! It pays to shop around, but do some research to avoid buying a duff product or, of course, you could play safe and get this one - and join the many satisfied eBay customers.

SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy Lens: Pros

Super fast f/1.4 aperture
Shallow depth of field
Creative vignette and edge aberrations
Solid build
Fast wordwide shipping included in price

SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy Lens: Cons

High price compared with similar CCTV lens
No focus scale

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL

 

SLR Magic Toy Lens 26mm f/1.4 Specifications

ManufacturerSLR Magic
General
Lens Mounts
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length26mm
Angle of ViewNo Data
Max Aperturef/1.4
Min Aperturef/8
Filter Size30mm
35mm equivalent52mm
Internal focusingNo
Focusing
Min Focus36cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades6
ElementsNo Data
GroupsNo Data
Box Contents
Box Contents14 grip rings
Dimensions
Weight85g
Height42mm

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The SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy lens is available from SLR Magic on eBay for £79

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Comments


johnriley1uk e2
10 26 4 United Kingdom
18 Aug 2011 9:46AM
It will be interesting to see how the market takes to the new toy lens options, including the upcoming ones for the Pentax Q.

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davey_griffo 5 213 165 England
18 Aug 2011 12:25PM
For not much more than this, Canon & Nikon owners can get a proper lens (admittedly "only" f1.8), & take some decent photo's. Why on earth anyone would want to make their expensive SLR take photo's like a kid's camera is beyond me.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.2k 6 England
18 Aug 2011 5:59PM
Pete you have set the WE link wrong, its showing a lens hood Smile


Quote: It will be interesting to see how the market takes to the new toy lens options

Judging by lensbaby, very well Smile


Quote: Why on earth anyone would want to make their expensive SLR take photo's like a kid's camera is beyond me

Its about choice, creativity and having fun, something a lot of recordist type camera users will never understand Smile
Pete e2
13 18.4k 96 England
18 Aug 2011 6:09PM
Yes John ...lots more to come from all angles I would expect..
Davey as Paul says - it's different options. Why would anyone buy a lens and then stick a special effects filter on the front...but they did...in their masses. This is just one of many gadget that will appear over the coming years tom satisfy the appetite for shooting in different ways.

Paul yes the WE link is automatic if they don't have a specific item our system sometimes throws in a nearby alternative. Not sure how this is remotely near but that's automation for you!
cameracat 10 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
18 Aug 2011 10:37PM
Its really aimed at those who missed " Blue Peter " .....Grin

Those who avidly watched Blue Peter can do the same thing with an empty " Cornflakes Packet " and a roll of " Sticky Backed Plastic " .........Smile

The only major difference is having to pay the better part of 80 quid to become more creative and have a laugh, Versus the cost of a roll of sticky backed plastic...!!!

Just no imagination these days.....Or maybe its the " Out Of The Box " experiece......Sad

Wink
davey_griffo 5 213 165 England
19 Aug 2011 12:12PM
It's not creative, it's tat. Smile

At the 20 or so suggested in the review it may be something to have a play with, but at 80 it's just a rip-off.
redsnappa 11 1.9k United Kingdom
19 Aug 2011 6:14PM
I can see the point of this lens but the price is nothing but a rip off scam.
These Toy lens where probably bought for next to nothing from an ex soviet factory that still makes lomos then tarted up to suit the 'sophisticated' western market.
Trust me, creativity does not cost 79, but the marketing types have realised that the promise of creativity does.
redsnappa 11 1.9k United Kingdom
19 Aug 2011 6:49PM
Or you can buy one of these Toy Camera Lens 12

As you can see creativity cost alot less than $79.
Also, if you are good at it creativity can be free.

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