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SLR Magic 12mm T/1.6 Hyperprime Cine Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the SLR Magic 12mm T/1.6 Hyperprime Cine lens.

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Handling and features
SLR Magic 12mm T/1.6 Hyperprime Cine Lens Review: SLR Magic Hyperprime 12mm T1 6 (3)

This manual focus wide angle lens for Micro Four Thirds system cameras provides an angle of view equivalent to a 24mm lens on a 35mm format camera and sports a bright T/1.6 maximum aperture. The aperture is expressed in T-stops rather than F-stops as this takes into account light transmission losses through the lens, which is useful for video work. The lens costs around £400, which seems quite reasonable for a lens sporting such a bright maximum aperture. In this review we'll take a look at how it performs.
SLR Magic 12mm T/1.6 Hyperprime Cine Lens Review: SLR Magic Hyperprime 12mm T1 6 (2)

SLR Magic 12mm T/1.6 Hyperprime Cine Handling and features

The build quality and design of this lens harks back to lenses of a bygone era. In fact, the all-metal construction is reminiscent of the M42 screw fit lenses that used to be available for Pentax, Cosina and Zenit 35mm cameras. Thanks to the heavy-duty construction, the lens feels quite weighty for its size, but it is still only 330g, which ensures it balances well with the Panasonic Lumix G3 camera used for testing.

Quite a lot of resistance is provided by the focusing mechanism, which can make applying quick focus adjustments a little troublesome. To overcome this, SLR Magic offer their 'Lens Gear' accessory, which attaches to the focusing ring to make performing follow focus easier when recording video. This accessory clamps to the focus ring, providing gears for follow focus equipment, as well as giving the focus ring a wider diameter, increasing the mechanical advantage, which should make it easier to turn. Unfortunately this accessory costs an eye-watering £80 extra. For still photographers, the resistance of the focusing mechanism can actually be of benefit, as it makes it very difficult to accidentally knock the lens off focus, which is especially useful when using the excellent hyperfocal scale as a focusing guide. Closest focus is 15cm from the sensor plane, which is ideal for close-ups and shooting in claustrophobic environments.

There is no electronic contact between the lens and camera, and the lens features a stepless aperture, which can be especially useful for applying adjustments during video recording. The scale on the aperture ring isn't linear, so the ring needs to be turned further at fast apertures than at slower ones to apply the same amount of adjustment. This can take some getting used to, as close attention need to be paid to what aperture values are actually written on the ring.

The lens accepts 58mm filters, and the filter ring does not rotate during focusing, which will aid the use of graduated and polarising filters. No lens hood is supplied with this lens as standard.

SLR Magic 12mm T/1.6 Hyperprime Cine Lens Review: SLR Magic Hyperprime 12mm T1 6 (9)

SLR Magic 12mm T/1.6 Hyperprime Cine Performance

Although this lens is sold more for the effect it produces, rather than the performance it delivers, it still performs well for a lens with such a bright maximum aperture. At T/1.6 sharpness in the centre of the frame is already very good, although the clarity towards the edges of the frame just falls short of fairly good levels. Stopping down improves sharpness across the frame and T/4 provides peak performance. Here sharpness is outstanding across the frame.

SLR Magic 12mm T/1.6 Hyperprime Cine Lens Review: Resolution @ 12mm
Resolution @ 12mm

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix G3 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are well controlled, keeping well below one pixel width at all apertures. This low level should pose few issues, even in large prints and harsh crops from the edges of the frame.
Falloff of illumination towards the corners is quite well controlled for a wide angle lens with such a fast maximum aperture. At maximum aperture, the corners are 1.92 stops darker than the image centre and illumination is visually uniform by T/5.6.

SLR Magic 12mm T/1.6 Hyperprime Cine Lens Review: SLRMagic12mmCA
Chromatic aberration @ 12mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc. to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix G3 using Imatest.

Imatest detected 2.5% barrel distortion, which is quite low for a wide angle lens with a fast maximum aperture. Unfortunately there is a slight wave to the distortion pattern, which may make applying corrections in image editing software afterwards a bit of a pain.

In the same way that this lens handles like a lens from a bygone era, it also provides a similar look as far as contrast and flare is concerned. Shooting into the light results in a noticeable loss of contrast and flare can be quite common. However, the look of images taken in light that may cause these effects can be quite endearing, but this lens may not be for you if this kind of look isn't your thing.

SLR Magic 12mm T1.6 Hyperprime Cine Sample Photos

Value for Money

With a price of around £400, this lens represents pretty good value for money, especially as it is capable of delivering decent quality images and sports a very fast maximum aperture.

The closest equivalent for Micro Four thirds cameras is Olympus' 12mm f/2.0, which costs around £550. This lens may have autofocus and automatic aperture control via the camera, but the maximum aperture isn't as fast and it costs quite a bit more.

SLR Magic 12mm T/1.6 Hyperprime Cine Verdict

Although this lens won't be for everyone, due to it's back-to-basics manual control, it will be a bit of a bargain for those it will suit. It is capable of delivering high quality images, with sharpness you'd expect of much more expensive lenses. The fast maximum aperture will suit film makers and still photographers alike, allowing images to be taken in dark, dingy places where you'd normally be reaching for a flash, or giving up entirely.

SLR Magic 12mm T/1.6 Hyperprime Cine Pros

Well priced for its spec
Excellent sharpness when stopped down
Metal build

SLR Magic 12mm T/1.6 Hyperprime Cine Cons

Wavy distortion
Stiff focusing ring may not suit everyone
Lens Gear and hood are optional accessories


SLR Magic 12mm T1.6 Hyperprime Cine Specifications

ManufacturerSLR Magic
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Focal Length12mm
Angle of View84°
Max Aperturef/1.6
Min Aperturef/11
Filter Size58mm
35mm equivalent24mm
Internal focusingNo
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus15cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsScrew on Front lens cap, Rear Cap, Quick Guide

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Ninolino Avatar
22 Apr 2016 8:18AM
Hello everybody, I am hoping to get an answer soon, as this is very important to me

On the website I read that there´s a slight vignetting when using ND filters on that lense.

Can you confirm this? They write "please take a look at our special ND filter bundle"...but there is no bundle ^^

Regards from Austria


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