SLR Magic quick test


How well do you know your lenses ?  If you want to test yourself, Watch this short video and see which lens family you like most.

You can choose between A, B or C, but which is the Panavision Primo, which is the Zeiss CP and which is the SLR Magic APO ?

I’ll reveal below in case you want to try and test your knowledge of lens characteristics.

In this short test I had a subject lit using a 12k Tungsten Maxi Ultrabounce wedge with a light grid. I actually added a daylight S60 syk panel to get the white balance to exactly 3200K.

I shot this using an Ursa Mini 4.6K shooting RAW. You can download the camera original files here. Be warned, they’re very large !

I applied a simple LUT form the show I’m shooting right now. Thanks to my crew who volunteered their time to help me with this and especially to Akeria for modeling for me.

This is my standard way of testing lenses, starting with a lens flare which I then pan across to show it moving through frame to a Kino tube which I find is a good way to test for CA, and for veiling flare. You can see the veiling flare change as the camera pans through it.

I SHOULD have frozen the pan instead of what I did, so it’s hard to gauge in this version how the CA is. I’m an idiot for forgetting this crucial step!

I then land on some skin tone, before racking to minimum focus for each lens and then through to infinity to check for focus breathing.

There’s some xmas lights there for looking at the Bokeh.

All shot at T2 1/2 and you do see some exposure variation between them but I’ve left that as is.

I’ve had the SLR Magic APOs in daily use now for a couple of months and I’ve been finding they match really well alongside the Primos that I’m shooting, much more so than the Zeiss CPs which tend to be very sharp and contrasty. The SLR MAGIC APOS are indeed sharp but they don’t pop as much as the zeiss, they’re more flattering to skin. Breathing is good and sometimes you can get an unusual flare which I wasn’t able to provoke here.

There was also a small bump in the focus on the SLR Magic 25mm as it went towards minimum. I haven’t noticed it in practice on set, but it’s there in this test. They have been remarkably well built though aside from this anomaly, and in daily use on high torque focus motors they’ve stood up perfectly well.

So how did you go ? Where you able to pick which lens family was which ?

Now for which is which ?

Lens family A is the SLR Magic APO Primes, the 25mm, the 50mm and the 85mm
Lens family B is the legendary Panavision Primo primes, the 27mm, the 50mm and the 75mm
Lens family B is the Zeiss CP2 primes, the 28mm, the 50mm and the 85mm.

Here are the DNG frames from each lens. Smaller downloads of single frames.

and the SLR Magic shots themselves (large files 40GB+)

And the 4k ProRes of the finished file (45Gb)



About johnbrawley

Director Of Photography striving to create compelling images
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11 Responses to SLR Magic quick test

  1. Greg says:

    Nice little exercise JB. Happy to say that I picked the A, B or C lens families in the first setup.
    Hope all is good with you. Greg de M.

  2. J Friedman says:

    Thank you for doing that! If you do something similar in the future I would love to see the shots side by side simultaneously to see how each lens set compares. Looking forward to more!
    Josh Friedman

  3. GJ says:

    My favorite was B, then A, then C. Hoping Olympus hooks up with you for the release of the EM5iii, though it appears you’re really busy. You make any camera shine.

  4. Thanks very much, JB. I love my APO primes, and preferred both A and B over C (which looked a bit boring). I’m happy the APOs cut so well with the Primos. Great test. Shame about the kino. Cheers!

  5. Actually, I have a question.

    Does the resistance of the focus ring vary across your APOs? My 25 is butter smooth, the 50 a bit more stiff, and the 85 is much more stiff than the 50. I want to send them back to get examined, but China is a long way away. How do yours behave?

    • johnbrawley says:

      Mine are all pretty consistent I think, but I also tend to use them on remote focus motor so I don’t get my hands on them that much. I did find the 25mm had some issues which they have promised to fix and they tell me they’ve changed the design to address it. I haven’t sent it back yet, but man they do look good.


  6. Thanks for these tips! Super helpful while I’m on the hunt for other lenses. The DP I use for all my projects has mentioned wanting to get some of these primes, and I think it’s just as important for a producer or screenwriter to know how to get the absolute best results from a shoot. I’ll definitely send him the link to this post. Thanks, again!


  7. darrellmartin says:

    nice test JB! Yes love B the Best followed by A . C looks a little “plastic” or digital to me…

  8. Blake says:

    I liked B, C, A in that order. The lens flares with C are more subtle but it looked cleaner then A.
    2 cents

  9. Nouf says:

    I think I like C the most, then B and A.
    But it was fun to see the different results ! Thank you for doing this

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