I may be slightly late and slightly slow, massive understatement, with this review of the DZOFilm 10-24mm T2.9, but I have quite a bit to say after months of testing. Some good and some frustrating bits with the DZOFilm 10-24mm cinema-style Micro 4/3 zoom.
It seems to me, and I reserve the right to be wrong, lens makers from Asia have added quite a bit to the world budget cinema lenses. Hell, in my opinion, they are redefining what a “budget cinema lens” means. The DZOFilm lenses built for Micro 4/3 cameras, the 20-70mm and 10-24mm respectively, are cinema lenses with cinema-style Focus, Zoom, and Iris rings. The low price and all-metal build quality of the DZOFilm lenses help these two options be the go-to lenses for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. Now they offer not only Super35mm cinema zooms but a set of prime lenses as well. All of this sold for a very reasonable price.
The DZOFilm 10-24mm T2.9 MFT lens has a parfocal design allowing users to change focal length without a need to reset focus and designed to maintain focus when you zoom in or out. If you’re like me, I zoom in for focus, then zoom out to my desired framing; you will find a parfocal lens a near must. I found the DZOFilm 10-24mm to hold focus when changing my focal length.
DZOFilm 10-24mm T2.9 also has near-zero breathing when shifting focus. When spinning the focus ring, its full 270° rotation, you might see a bit of image shift, but for most applications, the shift in focus for most shooting situations is well maintained and near-zero. I quite like the look of a near-zero image shift when I rack focus.
This lens also comes with a dedicated back focus adjustment button. The small back focus button allows for 19.2mm of movement to dial in your parfocal back focus, allowing you to quickly switch the DZOFilm 10-24mm T2.9 between different lenses. The story I tell myself is this; I doubt this lens is jumping from a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K to a GH5. I kind of feel shooters are either or with their camera systems. But, hey, what do I know, nice to have a feature like the back focus button. Though, I kind of wished this button acted like the ones on B4 ENG lenses, which allow you to shift the near focus a little closer for certain shots.
Zoom Range & Vignetting
On a Micro 4/3 camera, 10-24mm is a good wide to mid-range zoom. The problem with the DZOFilm 10-24mm T2.9 is if you use a 77mm screw-on filter, it will vignette from 10-11mms. Double stack two 77mm filters and the vignette appears from 10-14mm. And not slightly in an “I made a choice” range. The vignette is harsh, even with the thinnest of thin screw-on filters. One could use a 77mm to 82mm adapter and use 82mm screw-on filters, but then you still get a bit of vignette.
Considering neither the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and Panasonic GH5 come with internal Neutral Density filters, users will either need to use a matte box or live with the harsh filter vignette. This is kind of a problem for me. I see Pocket 4K owners mostly as ones who might not be able to afford a dedicated matte box for their DZOFilm 10-24mm. Then the filters needed for the matte box, 4×5.65, are more expensive than 77mm screw-on filters, which pushes the complete real camera cost of a Pocket 4K with DZOFilm 10-24mm, and matte box, and a set of 4×5.65 filters up a little bit.
The problem here comes from the idea the DZOFilm 10-24mm must match the DZOFilm 20-70mm lens. Clearly, DZOFilm built the 20-70mm first and the 10-24 later. It appears to me, the 10-24 is designed to fit the 20-70mm mechanically, flaws and all.
DZOFilm 10-24mm T2.9 Flare
The flaring found in the DZOFilm 10-24mm T2.9 is alright. I do not see anything wildly offensive or wildly pleasing and interesting. Mostly, the 10-24mm controls flare reasonably well. Take a look for yourself in the short video below.
Softness and focusing
I found the 10-24mm T/2.9 to be a touch challenging to focus. Not mechanically. Mechanically the lens housing and gears all work as expected. In the image, I found a bit of trouble getting a perfect critical focus. Some of this could be working with an M4/3 camera. Some of this could be working with the digital focus assist on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. Either way, when I double tapped the LCD screen the Pocket 4K to check focus, I found it challenging to see sharp edges to catch a focus. It was with how soft the roll-off between in-focus and out-of-focus planes.
When I used an EVF on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, I still had trouble focusing the image with detail set to medium on the Pocket Camera. At first, I thought my screens were not as good as I thought, but the same problem did not appear on other cameras and lens. I know DZOFilm describes the image from the DZOFilm 10-24mm T2.9 as soft and forgiving, but I found it soft and challenging to focus. Honestly, it knocked my confidence a bit because I initially thought I was the problem. Once I figured this out, I could work past it.
The DZOFilm 10-24mm T2.9 lens is neither a big lens nor a small prime lens. When the DZOFilm 10-24mm T2.9 is paired with a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, you get a decent-sized rig. A rig requiring a bit more work to shoot with or fly on a gimbal. The combo worked well with the original DJI Ronin, but a smaller gimbal may struggle with the weight. Buddy in the video below did not want his face on camera. But, you can see how well the combo works.
DZOFilm 10-24mm T2.9 Conclusion
I think DZOFilm is one of the lens manufacturers leading the way with less expensive cinema lens options for creatives. The gap between using DSLR lenses on a video camera has been the smoothness of an aperture, a parfocal lens design, and a good zoom range purpose-built for specific sensor size. With the DZOFilm Ling-Lang lenses, the 10-24mm, and the 20-70mm, you have a great one-two punch for M4/3 cameras. Once you get past the imperfections, you can find a decent inexpensive lens.
- Maintains focus throughout the zoom range
- Minimal breathing
- 12-blade iris; rounded highlights
- T2.9-T22 aperture
- 270° focus rotation with 26 focus marks
- 19.7″ minimum focus distance
- All-metal housing
- Imperial focus markings
- Back focus adjustment for use with different cameras (19.2mm adjustable by +/-0.3mm) adjustment)
- 100° zoom rotation
- 70° iris rotation
- 80mm front diameter
- 0.8 MOD