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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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy lens: Value for money
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: ProsSuper fast f/1.4 aperture
Shallow depth of field
Creative vignette and edge aberrations
Fast wordwide shipping included in price
SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy Lens: ConsHigh price compared with similar CCTV lens
No focus scale
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
SLR Magic Toy Lens 26mm f/1.4 Specifications
|Angle of View||No Data|
|Box Contents||14 grip rings|
The SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy lens is available from SLR Magic on eBay for £79