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I have my grandfathers set of Canon FD lenses (among the most fun are a 50mm f/1,4 SSC, a 28mm f/2,8 SC, and a 200mm f/4 SSC) and a full set of filters for the same mount. So wanting to mount it on a micro 4/3 I'm looking at some focalreductors/speedboosters to use that set of lenses. And here quite quickly I noticed that there is a huge price difference.

  • Metabones~ 400€ (US-of-A)
  • Quenox~ 110€ (Germany)
  • Zhongyi~ 150€ (China)

For an FD mount is fully manual that has no electro-pixies running through the lens. So I don't fear any incompatible functions. But I do wonder. Is the quality difference that big? Does anyone have any experience with any comparison? Because 400€ seems a bit much, especially if Quenox, Zhongyi or any other company does the same for 1/4 of the price.

  • @xiota How much do you need to step it down? As for the negative aspect mentioned -> I like the old lens less saturated look. And sure olympus lenses will outperform them. But the thing is. I have these lenses already. I'm not buying them. I used them and I loved them on film. They were my grandads. I mostly wannted to know if the focalreductors are any good and why there is such a price gap. 400€ if a lot, but if the 100€ ones perform alright, they would make a fun addition to my FD lenses. I now for sure I wont get olympus lenses for those 100€ (if the focalreductor is any good) – Katpton Liamfuppinshire May 31 '18 at 9:22
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I have a ZhongYi focal reducer, but no others to compare with. I have included crops from photos taken with it at the end of this post. Maybe others can post crops from a series of photos taken with other focal reducers for you to compare.

Overall, I have been unhappy with results I've gotten from adapted 35mm lenses. The color and sharpness are not as good as I remember getting on film. Modern lenses, especially if they have OIS, will easily outperform old film lenses. (There are threads on forums with people taking amazing photos with adapted lenses. I'm not at their level.)

If I had a do-over, I would not bother with the focal reducer or lens adapters. I would stick with image-stabilized, native-format lenses. If you must put your old lenses to use, I'd suggest playing with plain adapters first (if you haven't already). If you're not happy with the results you get from those, it's unlikely you'll like what you get with a focal reducer.

The only lens I have that is close to worth using with an adapter is an MC Zenitar-M2,8/16 fish-eye. It's reasonably sharp, has good color, and provides a different perspective from ordinary rectilinear lenses. I do have a few issues though (mainly my own fault):

  • It is difficult to focus because everything is so tiny. What I end up seeing on my monitor at home isn't necessarily what I thought I'd captured. Somehow, I do better focusing by wire on modern lenses.

  • There is no image stabilization. Even though the lens is "fast", image stabilization makes a huge difference. (I've gotten pixel-peeping sharp images, handheld, at 230mm F6.7 at 1/15". That's about 4 stops worth with the 1/focal-length rule.)

  • With the focal reducer, everything is soft-focused unless it's stopped down. In the images below, it looks good between F5.6 and F11.

Here are some 100% crops from photos taken on a FujiFilm X-E2 on a tripod. I'm showing the most in-focus section within the central region, which isn't necessarily what I thought I was focusing on. Here is a set taken with the focal reducer at (F2.8, F4, F5.6, F8, F11, F16, and F22).

with focal reducer

Here is a set of images taken with a plain adapter, without the focal reducer.

without focal reducer

  • I see your point. They do give more light but mess up the lens if fully opened. That ruins the "Speed" purpose in them. Only widens your lens. From what I could find so far: Metabones one is better than ZhongYi, but not by much and not on all lenses. (ZhongYi has better edge of frame sharpness on some lenses even) I was mostly planning to pair it with Olympus with in body stabilization. But now I'm thinking of a larger sensor camera and ditch the idea of a little Olympus for fun. Then focalreductors either make less sense, or are just not needed at all. – Katpton Liamfuppinshire Jun 1 '18 at 7:28
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It's not surprising that a knockoff sells for a quarter of the cost. Even if the exact same materials and manufacturing quality are used, and all are made in China (because of course they are), the clones can be sold for razor-thin margins, because that's the business model: churn out lots of knock-offs of all sorts of things rather than worrying about the success of any of them. Metabones, on the other hand, has staked its success on something they pioneered. (See, for example, the "Quenox Superklemme", a take on the Manfrotto Superclamp.)

That said, in this case, the copies are not made to the same standards or from similar materials. You can find plenty of competitive reviews online, like this one, which concludes (sic):

Lens Turbo II, while optically inferior to Speed Booster Ultra at wide open apertures, is actually not overall bad option. It’s optical qualities improves stopped down, to deliver quite nice IQ with tested lens.

I'd look at the various reviews and see if you are okay with the image quality compromises, and then decide if the difference in cost is worth it over supporting the innovator. (And to be fair, a 290€ delta is quite a lot!)

  • Thanks. I'd argue that one can't call them knockoff's really. I mean the basic optical concept existed before. The innovation is that they are used as a full frame lens to smaller sensor body adapter. Like you cant argue that Nikon and Canon are Zeiss knockoffs or vice versa. So most of the innovation was marketing. All brands optical properties, all had to calculate their elements, unless they bought them from the same maker at same specs. But thank you for the review link, will try to find more. Quenox is supposed to be German. But my main point is 300€ is a lot of wood. – Katpton Liamfuppinshire May 30 '18 at 14:32
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    Well, the original "Kwanon" was definitely a Leica knockoff. But it's been a while and Canon has done quite a lot of their own work since then. :) – mattdm May 30 '18 at 14:37
  • true.dat I give you that point :D Well ill wait a bit longer before giving you the little check. Just in case someone else has a good review link as well. – Katpton Liamfuppinshire May 30 '18 at 15:04
  • The problem with reviews is they're almost always positive, or at least over-emphasize the silver lining. Or they use equipment that most people in real life wouldn't. For instance, that Metabones vs ZhongYi review is using a Canon EF 50/1.2 L lens that was made to be used on modern, full-frame digital cameras and costs $1000+. People who have that lens have a good chance of having the digital camera it was meant to go with, and thus no need for a focal reducer. – xiota Jun 1 '18 at 1:09

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