SainSonic Kamlan 50mm f/1.1 Lens Review

SainSonic Kamlan 50mm f/1.1 Handling and Features

Kamlan 50mm F1,1 On Sony A7rii Without Hood

This is a tiny lens by current standards, but it makes a lovely compact package with the Sony Alpha A7R II body. As mentioned, switched to APS-C mode the camera delivers 18MP, but the mirrorless design comes into its own here as the image is displayed full size on the screen, whereas an optical viewfinder would be cropped in some way. The lens is manual focus only, down to 0.5m, around 1.5 feet, which would be a normal expectation for a 50mm focal length. Being designed for APS-C format, the lens has a “35mm-format equivalent” of 75mm, making it an ideal short telephoto for portraits and other close/medium range applications.

Despite the compact nature of the lens, the very fast, bright aperture means the front element fills the available width of the lens barrel and the filter thread is 52mm. Peering into the lens we see clearly the 11 bladed diaphragm, which forms an almost perfect circle. The lens elements are multi-coated. A round bayonet fit lens hood is provided for further protection against flare and physical damage.

Lens formulation is a fairly straightforward 5 elements in 5 groups, in other words, 5 separate pieces of glass.  

Kamlan 50mm F1,1 On Sony A7rii

The focusing ring is smooth enough, with clear engravings in feet and metres. There is also a traditionally styled depth of field scale, which can be used for rough guidance. The aperture ring is marked from f/1.1 to f/16 in the usual steps, but misses out f/11, going straight from f/8 to f/16. The aperture ring is very stiff, not as stiff as a classic film camera such as the Halina 35X, which is an object lesson in solidly stiff controls, but it could be usefully a little smoother.

Everything on the lens is manual, with no electronic contact with the camera. As a consequence, some techniques need to be practised to make use of the lens easier. For example, with manual focusing, this can be easily done with the lens set on f/1.1. Images snap in and out of focus on the screen or in the viewfinder, the only caveat being that depth of field at f/1.1 is so minuscule that nailing the point of focus at that aperture can be a bit tricky. Taking lots of shots is one answer to this. Once focused, as we turn the aperture ring to whatever working aperture we desire, the increasing depth of field can be clearly seen on the monitor screen. It is a very useful feature and works in this way because the aperture is always at the value set, there is no stopping down, unlike an SLR lens.

The lens is fun to use and there are no serious pitfalls, but the manual-everything route does mean some fiddling about for the photographer. This slows things down, although I can see that some might think that is a good way to go as it promotes thoughtfulness when shooting images.

The lens is available in Sony E, EOS-M and soon Fuji X mount, and Micro Four Thirds.

Kamlan 50mm F1,1 Rear Oblique View

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