Well well… it appears Fujinon is jumping onto the affordable cinema zoom bandwagon. Today the company announced two new cinema lenses: the MK 18-55mm and the MK 50-135mm both with constant F2.9 apertures. The price? Falling around $3,799 USD for the MK 18-55. Here is the hitch, these two lenses are E-Mount only. This is great news if you are a Sony FS7 or FS5 shooter. Now, PVC’s own Adam Wilt has an extensive review up on Pro Video Coalition now. If you want the deep dive details I suggest heading to his post. If you want to hear from a doc shooter’s perspective well then keep reading as this post is more of a little sidekick to Adam’s.
In many ways, these lenses sport all we have come to expect from digital cinema zooms. For example, these lenses have three 0.8 pitch rings for Focus, Iris, and Zoom, a constant aperture throughout the zoom range is found in both lenses and the lenses appear to have durable build qualities. The MK 18-55 and 50-135 are built with aluminum housing and stainless steel lens mounts. Yet, these lenses seem like they dive a little deeper into cinema lenses than some other affordable cinema lenses. Both lenses are parfocal, no focus breathing and limited axis shift from zooming. The lenses share a common 82mm filter thread and an 85mm common diameter. Lastly, these two lenses are the same length of just over 8 inches long.
Then Fujinon took it just a little bit further by adding some features usually reserved for more expensive cinema zooms. Like a back focus adjustment and macro function. When shooting at 18mm the macro setting can keep objects in focus as close to just a hair over 6 inches. When zoomed to 55m on the MK18-55mm that macro goes to a little over 1.5 feet.
I had the luck to talk to Brian Murie from Take One Film and Video about the MK lenses he was able to test. I had a lot of questions for him as you may have already guessed. “The MK18-55 and 50-135mm lenses are a perfect combo for the documentary filmmaker, or the doc style commercial shooter. The lens feels crafted for doc style use with all mechanical movement and none of the build issues you may encounter when using a stills lens for video.”
For me, it all comes down to how the lens resolves images. Is there a sharp flare, a creamy flare, or no flare at all? Does the lens look sharp and how is the contrast? All of these answers can only be answered after using the lens. Thankfully, Murie was able to test these two lenses out and here are his thoughts, “The flaring qualities that I saw in the 18-55mm are clean and held contrast well even when flared directly. When filming a subject backlit by the sun or a strong source on my test days the lens rendered a clean image with no ghosting or aberrations. It seems to me that Fuji has paid careful attention, in the Cabrio line of lenses, to not lose significant contrast or go “milky” like you would see in a lesser quality zoom.”
It seems to me lens manufacturers have found the $4,000 to $9,000 lens niche is in much need of filling. Recently we had Sigma announcing their cinema zooms and prime lenses, Tokina Cinema ATX primes and update to their zooms, Zeiss LWS3 21-100, Angenieux Type EZ Series, Sony 18-110G, and now Fujinon. According to Murie, “There are very few zoom lenses in this category anywhere near this price point. The MK18-55 and 50-135mm lenses are a perfect combo for the documentary filmmaker, or the doc style commercial shooter.”
The price for the MK 18-55mm will be around $3,799 and the price for the MK50-135mm will be announced at NAB 2017. The MK 18-55mm lens will begin to ship in March 2017. The MK50-135mm will not ship until summer 2017.
MK Key Features:
• 200-degree focus rotation angle
• Three mechanical lens rings with full manual operation
• 0.8M standardized gear pitch
• Seamless iris
• 82mm filters
• Macro focus
• Bundled zoom lever, support foot, lens hood