Budget Digital Medium Format – A Kipon Focal Reducer Review – Update 6: Video Review!

When this thing was announced it totally blew my mind. And I have been wanting one ever since the first time I read about it.

 

Kipon was nice enough to send me a review unit, you can checkout their website  for more specs about it HERE!

 

If you need an A7 you can check it out here:
Sony A7
Sony A7ii
Sony A7rii
Sony A7sii

I will have full info on the product and a review running in this article.
This very first update is just my quick first impressions.
Im literally typing this only an hour or so after first holding it in my hand.
More to come!

 

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The box it came in.

If you don’t know what this is all about just think of it as a Speedbooster.
But instead of turning an APS-C into Full Frame it turns a Full Frame into a Medium Format Camera.
And as you may know, medium format in digital is pricy to say the least.
I will have more info and go deeper into this later on.

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Big piece of glass (sorry for the crappy cellphone photo).

The adapter feel very sturdy. All metal and well crafted. It has some weight but I wouldnt call it heavy. More like hefty.
It balances well on the A7 with the 80mm f4 Macro I had at home.

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So here are the first frames!

Please note that most of them are shot at ISO 6400 and many of them have grain and a vignette added in post. Some are also cropped.
I have so far seen NO vignette at all form the adapter!

Closest focus distance in a mirror.

Closest focus distance in a mirror.

Shot at f4 with grain and vignette added in Lightroom.

Shot at f4 with grain and vignette added in Lightroom.

With grain but no Vignette added.

With grain but no Vignette added.

Same as before + Vignette.

Same as before + Vignette.

Close focus without ring in medium format is sweet!

Close focus without ring in medium format is sweet!

This one is slightly cropped. But the 20mp A7 lets you do that without worrying.

This one is slightly cropped. But the 20mp A7 lets you do that without worrying. Missed focus a bit, which will happen when you shoot medium format. Better get used to it :)

Like I said, just some quick first impressions tonight.
But rest assure, this will get a full on review because I have many lenses to try on it.
/M

Update 2 Sharpness

Im still early in the process of reviewing and I haven’t had as much time as I would have wanted to.
But I have made some sharpness tests

In my opinion, sharpness comes pretty far down the list on what makes a particular lens great.
All Im interested in is if its “sharp enough” when using the old lenses and adapter in front of my 20mp Sony sensor.

The short answer is “yes”.

The Test

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The test isn’t the most scientific in the world. I just shot pictures of a book, hand held, using three different lenses.
I decided to fill the frame more or less equal even though that made the two competitors able to get much closer to the subject.
Even still, its sharp enough to my eye.

The lenses where:

  • The Mamiya 80mm f4 Macro + Kipin Baveyes Adapter
  • The Minolta Rokkor 50mm f1.7 (also vintage)
  • The Zeiss FE 35mm f2.8 (as modern as it gets)

All where shot using the same settings at f8. The focus may drift a little but Im sure you can work it out by clicking and peeping the pictures.

Here are the results!
The Mamiya 80mm f4 + Baveyes adapter @ f8.

The Mamiya 80mm f4 + Baveyes adapter @ f8.

The Minolta Rokkor 50mm f1.7 @ f8.

The Minolta Rokkor 50mm f1.7 @ f8.

The Zeiss FE 35mm f2.8 @ f8.

The Zeiss FE 35mm f2.8 @ f8.

I don’t know what you think but I think it looks ok. There is a tiny bit of aberration around the square on right page from the modern Zeiss. Other than that I can’t really pick out any major fault in any of them.

I think its safe to say that the Kipon Baveyes doesn’t have any major impact on sharpness.
Which is nice and lets us instead focus on the good things, like for example the bokeh.

Here are a few frames from this mornings walk with Gunpowder.
Ungraded straight from the camera.

Ungraded straight from the camera.

Here I have played a little with the colors.

Here I have played a little with the colors.

Haven't noticed any weird flaring so far. This was without a hood.

Haven’t noticed any weird flaring so far. This was without a hood.

You can see a tendency to swirly bokeh in the background. Which I like.

You can see a tendency to swirly bokeh in the background. Which I like.

Even at f4 the depth of field is very thin. Cant wait to try my 80mm f1.9!

Even at f4 the depth of field is very thin. Cant wait to try my 80mm f1.9!

Then Gunpowder got bored so we will leave it at that for now.
Plenty more to come, more lenses and of course video.

/M

This was cropped. 20mp goes along way, imagine if it had been the A7r!

This was cropped. 20mp goes along way, imagine if it had been the A7r!

The Camera

To get his to work at all you obviously need a camera. It works with Leica M, Leica SL or Sony A7x.
You can of course use it on APS-C like the Sony a6300 or Leica T, but then there are cheaper options.

I have the original Sony A7 which is quite old by camera years. Still, its 24mp power house that easily competes with todays offerings.

I have made two reviews of it. One for stills and one for video that I made three years ago :)

Stills
Video

 

Update: The mighty 80mm f1.9

Sweden is a great place for camera nerds in the summer when the sun never sets and the golden hour lats for ever. The winter is of course the opposite.
So when I come home from work I can usually see a sunset but then its lowlight photo or no light photo. And thats why this review is evolving a bit slower than one could have hoped.
But I can at least take indoor shots to test my second Mamiya 80mm f1.9 that arrived today.
We have a service here where one can return items for a full refund within 24h when buying used stuff from regular people online.
So light or no light, I needed to test it.

The lens was in great shape.
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Its of course bigger than a f2.8 version but with the adapter its never gonna be a pancake anyway.
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Both shots are f1.9 because.. you know… it can.
That of course means not the maximum amount of sharpness. But I still really like the detail without looking “too digital” if you know what I mean.

The closest focus distance is 70cm compared to 35cm of the 80mm f4 Macro.

The closest focus distance is 70cm compared to 35cm of the 80mm f4 Macro.

I like how when zooming in I can see that GP had a hair stuck in her mouth that goes in and out of focus on its way down to the bed spread.

Gunpowder can't believe it when I told her how wide the aperture is.

Gunpowder can’t believe it when I told her how wide the aperture is.

Update 4: Film vs Digital

The two contenders. Both using the 80mm f1.9.

The two contenders. Both using the 80mm f1.9.

Today I did a little test with the adapter vs my Mamiya 645 Film Camera.
Here are the results.

First of all the rules:

  • Same lens on both cameras.
  • Same ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed.
  • I did NOT shot from the same distance.
  • I did NOT focus at the same point (to dark).
  • The Film was Kodak T-Max 400
  • Developed and quickly scanned by me.
  • The film has been adjusted in post.
  • The Digital has had a “Kodak T-MAx400” Preset added.

For me the goal of the test was to make sure the camera worked or else return it.
Thats why I didn’t do it more scientific and exact than this.

A mirror selfie with the Sony A7.

A mirror selfie with the Sony A7.

Mirror selfie with the Mamiya645.

Mirror selfie with the Mamiya645.

Gunpowder captured with the Sony A7.

Gunpowder captured with the Sony A7.

Gunpowder captured with the Mamiya645.

Gunpowder captured with the Mamiya645.

The Mamiya captured with the Sony.

The Mamiya captured with the Sony.

The Sony captured with the Mamiya.

The Sony captured with the Mamiya.

One question Ive gotten before is if the adapter adds barrel distortion.
Looking at the door behind me on the mirror selfie I might say, no, it was already there.

Another note is the bigger image from the Mamiya, but I can’t guarantee thats not due to different distances. Might be the Mamiya viewfinder that makes me back up a bit.
Will test again.

Update 5: Time for Video!

This is a quick video test using my Sony A7 which means only 28mpbs AVCHD.
And on top of that, Youtube has really compressed the crap out of this. Loads of artifacts and blockiness thats not in the original file.

The lenses and adapter performed great. Any shortcomings is more about the cameras codec imo.I did not grade this footage.

Also, with wider modern lenses I usually get plenty of moire and aberration. Much less of that here without loosing detail.
The adapter and lenses are certainly sharp enough.

Enjoy,

Update 6: Review Done

The journey is over for this time. I haven’t had a chance yet to test all the stuff I wanted but thats going to have to be in future posts. Ive sold my A7 and plan on getting an A7s instead for better video and that might take a while.
Therefor I felt it was best to end this evolving review now.

Should you buy it?

Well that depends. Im certainly very glad I have it. I love it. Like seriously, Love It!

For others I say:

  • YES if you are an analog MF shooter that has lenses.
  • YES if you are an A7/Leica shooter that want to get into analog MF as well.
  • YES if you are an A7/Leica shooter that loves vintage glass and experimentation.
  • MAYBE if you are primarily a digital shooter that wants some fast portrait lenses or just happen to have $500 burning a hole in your pocket.
  • NO if you think DOF is everything.
  • NO if you think megapixels is tha shit!
Pros:
  • The awesome MF lenses!
  • $500 isn’t much to give another dimension to your camera.
  • Quality is great.
  • 80mm f1.9 at x0.7 crop is awesome.
  • Its the Medium Format Experience on the cheap.
Cons:
  • If you don’t have an interest in MF film it becomes niche.
  • No AF.
  • Some MF lenses are big.
  • Not all MF lenses focus to infinity (according to rumor).
  • $500 is still $500 and used once aren’t gonna be very common.

Thats it!

/M

  • Pingback: 5 Reasons to Buy a Sony A7 in 2017 – Medium Format on a Budget! | Gunpowder Video()

  • Antiduott

    Great article, thanks for your insights. Looking forward to more stories and tests ! I noticed the difference in fov though, it seems there is a slight crop on the sony compared to mamiya. I wasnt expecting that. Nevertheless still amazing.thanks again for posting

    • Mattias.B

      Yes there is some extra crop. x0.62 vs x0.7. Still pretty big :)

  • what about infinity focusing?

    • Mattias.B

      No prob so far.

  • Pingback: Review - Digital Medium Format on a Budget! - Kipon Baveyes MF Focal Reducer (Mattias Burling) - sonyalpharumors sonyalpharumors()

  • John Cullings

    I had to return the Kipon Mamiya-to-Sony focal reducer. It would not let me focus to infinity on my 24, 35, and 150mm lenses. The 150 came closest. Kipon USA did not respond to my two emails. I was expecting great photos – but was very disappointed.

    • Mattias Burling

      I’ve not experienced any such issues.

  • John Cullings

    I should have mentioned that my camera is a Sony A7 (original) for which the Kipon focal reducer would not allow infinity focus on my three Mamiya lenses.

    • Mattias Burling

      Same camera as I have. No infinity issues.
      One might think you simply got a lemon.

      • Josh Mitchell-Frey

        Hi Mattias,
        Can I ask what the widest lens you tested with was?
        I’m having similar issues to others (but with Pentax 645), it seems like the wide lenses hit the focal reducer glass when trying to focus to infinity. Just trying to gather information because Kipon don’t seem too helpful!

  • André Rijo

    So, the Medium Format has a more like a square sensor, did you crop your photos after using the adapter?
    Can we get a look at what it looks like from the view finder please?
    Thank you so much in advanced! Great content!

    • Mattias Burling

      No cropping needed. And no, medium format doesn’t have a square sensor. Only some MF does.
      Also it wouldnt matter. All lenses from all cameras in the world project a round image. So all lenses in the world could be used on both a square or rectangular sensor.
      If it can cover the with it would be able to cover the height :)

  • Alex Ibasco

    Hi Mattias. Great article! I hope Kipon responds to infinity focusing concerns as I would really want to get one.

    Btw, as a focal reducer..is there a significant increase in brightness? I get about a stop more on 35mm to apsc speedboosters.

    Thanks!

  • Thomas Starlit

    Asking your advice… I am currently a Nikon shooter, and very happy with that. If the Kipon adapter existed for Nikon, I would buy it. It doesn’t, so this calls for a change to Sony for one of my bodies. I am fine with that as I was thinking about it anyway. Having access to MF lenses and the overall look which I guess in many ways resemble what you would get with a Pentax 645z is very appealing. Would you say the difference between FF and MF (as with a Kipon adapter) is worth it? I am a portrait photographer