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Review: SLRMagic 12mm T1.6 Hyperprime

Recently, I picked up the 12mm T1.6 Hyperprime from SLRMagic as I was in need of a fast wide angle lens that would fit my GH2 and upcoming BlackMagic Cinema Camera. While I haven’t yet tested the lens in the field, I’ve done some simple shooting with it to get a feel for it- Overall my experience with this lens has been extremely positive.

I purchased the lens with both of the additional accessories available for it; Lens Gear and the 58mm to 77mm step up ring. I plan on using this with a follow focus, so I knew immediately I needed the Lens Gear. It really is a must if you plan on using this lens with a FF system as the lens itself is very narrow and as such many follow focus gears may not work well with the lens. The gear is only $50 when you buy the lens (as opposed to $80 on its own) and well worth it. The lens gear itself is exceptionally well constructed and feels very heavy duty. The step up ring is solidly constructed out of metal as is the rest of the lens. The ring may or may not be of value to you, but since I own so many 77mm filters it was a no-brainer.

All in all the lens is beautifully made. Before even seeing the images it makes, the build and look of the lens alone makes it feel worthy of cinematic production. The focusing ring has hard stops and is super smooth, as is the clickless manual aperture control. This really is a true cinema lens and built for production. The construction of it almost brings to mind old Bolex film cameras in that it feels like a piece of mechanical precision. Even the lens cap is awesome.

Mounted on the camera, the lens lives up to it’s beautiful exterior. This lens has such a unique aesthetic to it. The images that it produces are unlike any those coming from other lens that I own. The only negatives about this lens (which are few and far between) tend to end up being positives in other ways. From a strictly technical standpoint the lens does have some very minor quirks that certain shooters may be deterred from. For example, I tend to find it flares relatively easily and has other small imperfections. Again though, this is a negative and a positive depending on the type of shooter you are. I like that this lens has character to it. A large part of the reason this lens looks so great to me are those slight technical imperfections that make for a unique look. These imperfections are almost unnoticeable to many and can be dealt with (with a mattebox, color correction, etc.), but for most I would argue that these minor imperfections are what they will grow to love about the lens.

In comparison to my 25mm Leica 1.4, the Leica has a much more “perfect” image. But that’s not always what I want (although that is one of my favorite lenses too). In fact I could see myself using this more than any other lens I own.

For the price of this lens, I don’t think there is anything else out there that can compete. If this lens was a T0.95 like some of SLRMagic’s other lenses, it would be the perfect lens for me. At 1.6, it is a very fast lens and much better than most lenses in this focal length for MFT mount, but I still wish it was just a tiny bit faster. There is a noticeable difference between the lens and my Leica 1.4 which feels significantly brighter. I haven’t done any side by side comparisons, so that is purely subjective – but the Leica just feels brighter overall, and more than I would think considering it is almost the same speed lens. Nonethess, the SLRMagic is still a very vast lens capable of great low light shooting.

What was a huge surprise for me after shooting with the lens, was that it actually functions as a macro lens. In the attached shot below, the lens was only about 1/4 of an inch from the Yashica. This will definitely open up some really fun, creative shots that are only possible when shooting macro.

All in all, this is one of my favorite lenses and destined to stay mounted on my camera most of the time. It feels purely cinematic and any imperfections it has only work to make the final image look that much more unique, without being distracting in any way. It really feels as solid as a Zeiss prime, but for 1/10 of the price and I would highly recommend it if you are looking for a more filmic image.

I will post some updates once I have some proper footage with it!

About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!

4 Comments

  • Van
    October 22, 2012 at 4:11 am

    Where did you purchase the 12/1.6? I want to get it with the lens gear, but I’m not seeing that option on Adorama or the noktor.com site…

    Reply
  • Noam
    October 22, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Hi Van,

    I ordered mine directly from the website – http://www.noktor.com – If you would like the lens gear, you can e-mail the sales team directly at sales@noktor.com and they will assist you. I would also recommend getting the step up rings if you have larger filters that would work with it.

    Reply
  • Dave Patterson
    July 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    I hope to invest in this lens, someday. A few years ago, SLR Magic had some quality control issues, and they offer a few lenses called “toy lenses”; two factors that have worked against them in the view of some professionals. Regardless, I think they make good products for the prices they charge.

    I have a SLR Magic 35mm T1.4 for that I like very much. It comes with focus and aperture gears installed, and shows very little “breathing” when focusing. It can be a bit finicky to focus wide open, but the image quality is very nice and the bokeh is beautiful. Compared to my GH2/GH3’s Lumix lenses (14-140mm, 14mm, 20mm) the SLR Magic 35 has a more filmic look to it. The T1.4 is great in low light, too.

    Reply
    • Noam
      July 15, 2013 at 2:04 am

      Hi Dave,

      Glad to hear the 35mm SLR Magic is working out so well for you. I really think they make great products that are perfect alternatives to buying used vintage glass online. They definitely help achieve a cinematic feel in camera. I’m looking forward to trying out their new anamorphic lenses soon!

      Reply

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