Ibelux 40mm f/0.85

Categoria: English Pubblicato: Martedì, 06 Gennaio 2015 Scritto da Max Angeloni

 

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/680, f/0,85, Iso 200

But why such ultra bright lenses, despite being the photographers' secret dream, did not sell that much? And why some top lens manufacturers don't even have any lens that it's brighter than F/1.4?
There are many reasons, let's try to sum it up.

Cost.
An F/1.0 50mm lens requires that the light entrance pupil has a 50mm diameter. In an F/1.4 50mm lens the pupil's diameter is the half of the size, this means 25mm.

It's not easy at all to produce such big optical elements as well as it's not easy to manage light correction when the light passes through all the glass elements that are part of the lens.

Performances.
At the same focal length, the brighter is the lens the more are the elements to take into account when designing the lens. Sharpness, out of focus rendering, chromatic aberrations, lens' quality across the entire frame (center to edge) are only some of the challenges designers have to face. The wrong design choices may lead to poor results, not only with wide open aperture but even when the lens is stopped down.

Usability.
Ultra bright lenses are really heavy. Being bright, they also have a very shallow depth of field when wide open, something that it's really important to take into account especially when shooting a close subject.

All of the above it's just scuffing the surface of all the cons of lenses like this. I'm not here to say that they're useless or that when used properly they can produce spectacular results that really add something to our photography. This will always depend on our personal choices and on the lens capability to add something special to the picture.

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/3800, f/1, Iso 200

Construction.
The Ibelux shape vaguely resembles the Leica Summicron 90mm rather that the Leica Noctilux. It's long metal cylinder with an embedded lens hood. The construction feels solid and accurate even if some details, at least in the demo sample I used, are not free from being criticizable.
The aperture ring is too loose and the click between F/0.85 and F/1.0 is not so clear. The focus ring is very smooth but I wouldn't complain if it was a bit more firm since it would help in manual focusing, but this is just a personal feeling. 
What it's not a personal feeling is the fact that a screw type lens cap it's clearly a wrong choice. It's the exact opposite of convenience. Add to this that the screw is very long, probably a design choice to avoid unexpected lens cap unscrewings...but it takes almost 10 seconds to do something that should and could be as easy as blinking your eyes.
I understand that usually you don't lose your time putting and removing your lens cap at each shot. You usually remove the cap and go out with your lens ready to shoot. I get it...but what if something special happens when you were not expecting to shoot? Would you accept to lose a shot because of such a puzzling design choice?
Other than that, this lens has a sturdy construction.

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/125, f/0,85, Iso 2500

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/1 - 1/60, f/0,85, Iso 6400

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/125, f/1, Iso 2500

On the field.

When you attach a 1.15Kg lens to a 440g camera you know it's not going to be comfortable to use them. It's about the same consideration I had with the Otus 85mm F/1.4. At almost 1.2Kg the Zeiss is better balanced on the 1kg D800/D810 rather than with the "lightweight" Nikon DF.
The ibelux is slimmer than the Otus lenses but the weight is about the same.
But when you attach it to the "tiny" Fujifilm X-T1 at a first glance...you're just blown away by weight and dimensions.
It's clear that for such small cameras a different, smaller design (similar to that of the Leica Noctilux) would have helped handling the camera especially given the usual CSC cameras weight and dimensions.
We don't know the technical reasons that lead to this design...anyway, the advice is always the same in such situations. Handle the lens with your left hand under it in order to avoid to overstress your right arm and to have a better manual focusing.

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/4000, f/0,85, Iso 200

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/1250, f/0,85, Iso 200

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/400, f/0,85, Iso 200

Talking about manual focus I would like to point out something that may somehow affect my overall considerations about this lens and all the manual focus lenses for CSC cameras in general.
While I can easily manual focus with the modern DSLR, thanks to their bright and big pentaprism, I can't really find a way to enjoy manual focusing on CSC's electronic viewfinders and monitors. This gets even worse with bright lenses and their shallow depth of field.
Contrary to what you might think is far easier to perceive the different focusing with a pentaprism.
Furthermore with close subjects and portrait oriented lenses you can also use the focus assist that confirms that your focus is ok.
I can't really feel confident with the various pixel peeking, digital split images and all the other focus assist tools that the CSC cameras adopt...forgive me...but I just can't.

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/800, f/1, Iso 200

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/800, f/0,85, Iso 200

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/80, f/0,85, Iso 6400

Why do I say this? It's because the Ibelux is designed in an old fashoined way. This means that the brightness is far more important than a razor sharp resolution when wide open. Now...let's put hese two things together. Low resolution and shallow depth of field...even on a supersharp display it becomes really difficult to be sure that the focus is spot on.
Let me repeat myself...It's my fault, not someone else's. But I can't help but feel that I won't be able to get the most out of this lens even if I like the way it performs.

 

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/105, f/0,85, Iso 6400

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/240, f/1, Iso 200

An F/0,85 cannot be perfect, we all know this. As I said before, such an extreme brightness forces to accept many compromises in the design phase. This means that even if performances are not perfect when wide open, the lens should be able to give some benefits in return thanks to it's brightness.
The benefits are the brightness itself that allows to get well lit shots where other lenses can't, and a very distinctive bokeh (I'm not saying beautiful or pleasant but distinctive...this means that is specific of this lens) and a three dimensional rendering.

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/160, f/11, Iso 200

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/950, f/8, Iso 200

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/950, f/5.6, Iso 200

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 2", f/16, Iso 100

To me, the focal length is not the right one to take advantage of these benefits. As I always say a focal length maintains its typical behaviour regardless of the sensor size. It's no coincidence that all the ultra bright lenses have a focal length that is at least 50mm. At 40mm the Ibelux is too close to being a wide angle lens to expect that bokeh and three dimensional rendering can be the key highlight of the lens.
I'm not saying they can't, but not as much as a 50+ mm lens.
Those who have had the chance to use a Leica Noctilux, a Voigtlander Nokton or a Canon 50mm can easily understand what I mean.
Some may say that 50mm on an APSC sensor are not so usable on a daily basis due to the reduced viewing angle but...that's the only limit of such sized sensors compared to the full frame ones, and there's nothing you can do about it.

These considerations are due in order to better understand and evaluate a lens like this, especially considering the price of this lens.
It's easy to notice some of the peculiarity of this lens from the attached pictures.
Even if I had to use my memory when writing the shot details (there is no electronic that informs the camera of the selected aperture) it's clear that up to F/1.0 the sharpness is not that great.

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/125, f/0,85, Iso 250

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/1000, f/2, Iso 200

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/850, f/4, Iso 200

 

 

At F/1.4 the lens starts delivering more details and the more the lens is topped down, the more the overall image quality is boosted.
The bokeh looks similar to that of the Voigtlander Nokton with a swirly effect with foliage and vegetation. For what concerns vignetting it's noticeable but it's something that you have to expect with such bright lenses.

I don't think this is a shortcoming especially because if you're able to mix both vignetting and bokeh the results may become really pleasant, and it's no coincidence that I usually try to replicate this when post producing my shots.

For what concerns other optical flaws it's not so easy to give a final verdict. Probably thanks to the X-Trans sensor capability to take care of chromatic aberrations and other optical issues, and due to the fact that being an F/0.85 lens it's normal to be more indulgent I must admit that I didn't found anything to criticize.

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/1000, f/1,4, Iso 200

Conclusions
It's hard, real hard to make a judgement on this lens.
The problem is that this lens lives on the edge: on one hand is the brightest lens available in the market with a distinctive character while on the other hand the lens is not spectacular when wide open and the focal lenght is anomalous on an APSC camera.
It's like one of those old style lenses that, thanks to an adapter, was brought to a new life with the modern digital cameras.

The thing is that those lenses are usually on the cheap side and you can easily forgive all the flaws they have, just because you can take advantage of some distinctive results that in the name of perfection most of the modern lenses cannot produce.

The Ibelux though...it's expensive, really expensive and it's not so easy to forgive its flaws even if it produces some distinctive pictures.
With the half of the price you can get a Voigtlander 50mm F/1.1 Nokton: it's no perfect lens but it is plenty usable wide open, with a distinctive character, and smaller dimensions. And at an even cheaper price you can get the brand new Fujinon XF 56mm F/1,2 that is an autofocus lens. It is the less bright of these lenses but it's the most refined one on the optical side.

So what?
Nothing. It's hard to give a final verdict on this lens, as I said before.

If I had to evaluate wide open performances only I would hardly recommend this lens.

But this is a lens that tries to be something different from what we are all used to.
I can't but appreciate the bravery behind the decision to design and produce the most bright lens in the market for an APSC camera.
If I had to give my feedback to the manufacturer I would clearly recommend to continue to work on a lens like this maintaining all the good things this Ibelux was able to bring to the table.

I would probably recommend to use a 50mm focal length, and a smaller aperture around F/1.0.
But this would mean losing the scepter of the brightest lens in the world and this would probably harm the appeal of the lens and the will of many to at least test it...including us.
That's why it's so difficult to make a judgement on extreme lenses like this.

Fujifilm X-T1 - Ibelux 40mm f/0,85 - 1/340, f/1, Iso 200

 


Special thanks to:
Francesco Monte, Pamela Camassa, Gianfranco Apicerni, Lisa Gritti, Silvia Sera.