Viltrox sent me the EF-M 23mm f/1.4 and 33mm f/1.4 (aka. the Canon EOS M system) lenses to make a video on. I will be keeping them, so look forward to future videos on these compared to other equipment I have on-hand. These lenses add to the few fast aperture native autofocus lenses available for the Canon EF-M mount.
All of this information is based on firmware v1.0.5, which is the one installed in the lens upon release.
In that video, the two focal lengths are compared side-by-side so you can decide which one might work best for your needs. I talk about features such as the included lens hood, click-less aperture, and manual focus ring. I show how the lenses work in practice for photo and video by taking you along for an outdoor excursion.
There are tests such as manual and automatic large aperture video autofocus, digital stabilization check, click-less aperture in video, photo servo AF, photo aperture comparison, self portrait test, and a lot more! A lot of that I can’t translate easy to a website article, so your best bet is to watch the video.
These lenses have v1.0.5 firmware. Keep that in mind with the quirks I mention. Things can change eventually. There is a micro USB port integrated into the mount. Attaching it to a PC allows you to see information such as version. I’m not sure how the update process will work, but I suspect it will be an easy drag-and-drop method. So far I’ve only tested the lenses on two Canon EOS M50 bodies.
The quirks I noticed with the lenses happen in video mode.
I main issue happened a few times where the lens would appear to reset. The aperture would cycle and the lens would go out of focus. Half pressing the shutter would return things to normal, but if you are recording a video at the time then you’d have some bad footage.
The other issue I noticed is in fully automatic video mode. I normally shoot in manual video mode, so this isn’t a personal issue of mine. In fully automatic I see that the aperture adjusts much too often compared to other lenses that I have. It produces a slight pulsing of the exposure that is noticeable. To remedy that you can have the aperture manual but keep the shutter and ISO automatic.
Using the aperture ring on the lens can also produce some issues in semi-automatic video modes, but if the exposure is dialed in alright then it will work.
They have a quote on their website saying: “To use the video mode, the aperture ring must be set to Mode A.” Manual aperture control, if it is an aperture that’s too bright, the exposure will flash.
Your best bet right now with firmware 1.0.5 is to simply use manual video mode.
The Lens hoods are metal with a plastic back piece that connects to the lens. The first time I remember seeing a metal head was film era gear.
The manual focus ring is large and smooth. it worked well in my quick tests.
The aperture ring has an “A” setting along with a smooth step-less transition between apertures when set manually. F/16 has a hard stop to transition from control of aperture in the camera to controlling it on the lens.
On the 33mm that I have the ring isn’t quite as smooth as the 23mm. The hard stop at F/16 also isn’t quite as strong of a stop. So there is some manufacturing variation, but both lenses work.
I’m not really one for doing detailed image quality tests. At this point I don’t have a solid feel for how detailed the images are, especially compared to other options out there. In time I’ll be able to get a better idea on that as I produce comparison videos with other lenses and use these ones for more photography.
I don’t recommend these focal lengths for vlogging. If you are interested in doing that for some reason, you can kinda sorta make it work with a long selfie stick or tripod.
What I think could be improved upon:
- The lenses need firmware improvement in regard to automatic video modes on the M50. In completely automatic video mode, at least in my testing, I see pulsating exposure. The aperture appears to open and close too often compared to other lenses I have on-hand.
- I’ve also experienced what I’d call a reset of the lens 4 or 5 times when recording video clips. It happens in photography mode as well, but in that case it doesn’t matter. The aperture cycles causing an exposure increase and then the lens goes out of focus. Half-pressing the shutter makes it function as normal. The issue here is that if you were recording videos then that could make the footage from that point no-good.
- The aperture ring being smooth is a niche feature. I’m sure a lot of people would prefer a normal aperture ring, or maybe no aperture ring at all to further lower the cost. Though, I don’t want to discount people that do want the feature. For those users these lens will be a favorite. Given that the aperture ring and aperture are not mechanically linked, I’d personally prefer not to have it at all. Though, with cameras like the M50 that have fewer dials than cameras like the M5, you could use that as a supplemental control… It really depends on your needs.
My favorite features:
- Fully internal focus. I much prefer this to lenses that have a shifting inner barrel or other piece of the lens that shifts outward when focusing.
- The build quality overall feels very good.
- While using the lenses outdoors on a tripod I had no issues with autofocus speed. Very quick and quiet for photos and video.
- A nice large aperture, especially impressive at their introductory pricing.
Considering Viltrox sent me these lenses at no cost to me, I want to be careful about directly recommending them due to the nature of collaborations like this. Look at the information provided in the video and what I’ve copied over to this article to decide for yourself if these lenses could work out well for your needs.
Companies that collaborate with me have no pre-release access to what content I produce about their equipment. They also have no say in changes or edits I make over time unless I make a valid technical mistake that they bring up.
I understand that being given equipment like this isn’t ideal or perfect due to the potential for bias. One of the challenges of producing equipment related content is getting access to equipment, especially when I don’t have a large enough audience to have a dedicated budget for buying or renting equipment (few of my videos have made enough over their lifetime in ad revenue to pay for a day or two of rental fees).
Opportunities like this feel like a reasonable compromise because I gain access to interesting gear while providing visibility to the company and provide information to all of you.