SLR Magic Hyperprime 12mm f/1.6 - Review / Lens Test
Lens Reviews - (Micro-)Four-Thirds
Saturday, 05 November 2011 19:11

Review by Sebastian Milczanowski, published November 2011


"The lack of speed" is still one of the most frequently used argument against micro-four-thirds. However, things have actually improved quite a bit recently. There's the well-known Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 and the ultra-large aperture Voigtländer Nokton 25mm f/0.95 (manual focus). The Panasonic Leica DG SUMMILUX 25mm F1.4 ASPH and Olympus 45mm f/1.8 joined the speed club a few months ago as well.

Besides these popular genuine brands there're also a number of smaller players and one of the most exiting is SLR Magic who have just announced the SLR Magic Hyperprime 12mm f/1.6, an uncoupled, manual focus lens and obviously much wider than the existing high-speed offerings. Due to the lack of electronic coupling you will have to live without a camera-controlled aperture and no EXIF data in your images. This may sound somewhat limiting but the lens is very affordable (in relation to its speed) at just 499USD (via eBay).

The SLR Magic Team started in 2009 with c-mount conversion lenses before they founded SLR Magic in 2010 and acquired the full licensing rights for Noktor in May 2011 when Noktor couldn't sustain their lens production.
SLR Magic is based in Hong Kong and their lenses are manufactured in China as well as Japan and finally assembled and adjusted in Hong Kong. According to Andrew Chan, Product Manager from SLR Magic, the company believes "great images are better achieved with manual lenses". Furthermore, they try to achieve "images with character" and therfore they do their best to create "cinematographic lenses for photography use".
"The SLR Magic Hyperprime was a much more complex design than we thought, but we finally made it", said Andrew Chan and explained that they startet with a couple of prototype lenses months ago and sent them to a few very experienced reviewers to get their opinions before production. Finally, after some minor adjustments, the new SLR Magic Hyperprime was borne. Furthermore, Andrew Chan proudly pointed out that their success is based on "the excellent help and support from their distributors as well as their reviewers and volunteers."

Fair enough, let's have a closer look at the lens.

The SLR Magic has a full-metal construction which is assembled with very tight tolerances. The focus as well as aperture rings operate very smoothly and the latter is continuously adjustable from f/1.6 to f/11 without distinctive clicks - and as such optimized for video use. Andrew mentioned that it is actually a f/1.4 lens by design - f/1.6 refers to the T-value thus the transmission characteristic. The lens extends almost 2mm when focusing towards shorter distance. A screw-in metal lens cap is supplied instead of an ordinary clip-on type - which is certainly something to get used to. According to SLR Magic there is an optional circular lens hood available, the "SLR Magic 58/77 RING", which doubles as a 77mm filter adapter to avoid vignetting.

The following figure shows the SLR Magic Hyperprime 12mm f/1.6 and the Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO HD 14-140mm f/4.0-5.8 ASPH. OIS - just to give you an idea.

Equiv. focal length24 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/3.2 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction12 elements in 10 groups (inc. 3x Tantalum glass elements)
Number of aperture blades12 Aperture blades (circular)
min. focus distance0.15 m
Dimensions (L x W)78 x 60 mm
Weight324 g
Filter size58 mm
Other features-