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SLR Magic Rangefinder vs. FM vs. Rectilux..?


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Hey guys - I know there's a few testers here ;-) Wondering if anyone had made any comparisons between any of the 3 variable diopter focusing-things, in terms of image quality?

I was looking forward to the SLR magic rangefinder, mainly because of its form factor - but was disappointed to read in Andrew's review that it's soft wide open. I'm not necessarily one for pixel-peeping, but I do like to shoot wide open on my Kowa B&H + Zeiss 50mm 1.7 combo...

 

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This is at a T/2.8 on a GH4 using a Kowa Bell & Howell with the Rectilux, followed by the SLR Magic Rangefinder. For each, I am seated as close as focus would allow. Forgive the sloppy alignment issues, I rushed this. Must get back to writing so i actually have a movie to use this stuff for... :)

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also, if you're wondering which one looks more like the Kowa on it's own, it's the Rectilux. The Rangefinder adds warmth, blue flares/haze. Preference for either is left up to individual taste, I suppose.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

The RG softens the image when wide open, considerably based on my initial testing. So no I wouldn't use it if I like to shoot Sub F/2.8. 

After you stop down to 2.8 for example on a prime, just a stop or a little more, then no loss at all in sharpness occurs, tack sharp and you get all its benefits.

I'll post 4K images wide open with and without the RG on the other main RG thread on the main forum so keep checking that to get more information on it. 

It's a Pre-production sample but I doubt any changes are coming except in the box design not the optics, it's shipping very soon anyway. Less than a month.

But as a standard disclaimer, these findings are based on a preproduction sample and not indicative in any way of the final product :) 

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I'm liking the look of the Recti vs the RG, but it's significantly cheaper price than the Recti. How's the weight of the Recti with Kowa? In comparison to the FM lens module, since that's what I currently have. And we all know it's a bit cumbersome.

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In my experience FM works well with most lenses and doesn't work well with some. I couldn't get a sharp image using some really fast lenses wide open in some instances, but in most cases, especially when using a slower lens or using lenses stopped down, or using vintage primes with simple element designs produced very sharp images and it didn't add or subtract from the image that you would get from the anamorphic attachment alone.  I guess in that respect the performance is pretty much the same with the Rectilux, although not speaking with any scientific comparative knowledge.  

However both the Rectilux and Focus Module has significant lens breathing and both are quite cumbersome in size as well. It really depends on your style of shooting but FM was a bit too big and heavy for the type of work I mostly do thesedays. Which is why I really like the idea of the Rangefinder. 

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I'm liking the look of the Recti vs the RG, but it's significantly cheaper price than the Recti. How's the weight of the Recti with Kowa? In comparison to the FM lens module, since that's what I currently have. And we all know it's a bit cumbersome.

The Rectilux is nearly half the weight of the Focus Module. The Focus Module alone weighs 850 grams, Rectilux alone weighs just under 470 grams.

I don't own a Focus Module, but i can say that breathing aside, The Rectilux is a neutral addition to my scope and taking lens. By that I mean, the taking lens is not restricted any more than it would be on its own in terms of shooting wide open. Chromatic aberration or blooming is not further exacerbated by the Rectilux. It is definitely more costly, but in my opinion, it's money worth spending for a piece of gear that doesn't degrade the optical chain in any way. And the breathing is nearly identical to what you see with this old Russian Lomo anamorphics. And you can keyframe it out via horizontal scaling in post if you need to.

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This is at a T/2.8 on a GH4 using a Kowa Bell & Howell with the Rectilux, followed by the SLR Magic Rangefinder. For each, I am seated as close as focus would allow.

Hey Zak, so the Rectilux can focus closer than the Rangefinder, isn't it? 

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The RG softens the image when wide open, considerably based on my initial testing. So no I wouldn't use it if I like to shoot Sub F/2.8. 

After you stop down to 2.8 for example on a prime, just a stop or a little more, then no loss at all in sharpness occurs, tack sharp and you get all its benefits.

I'll post 4K images wide open with and without the RG on the other main RG thread on the main forum so keep checking that to get more information on it. 

It's a Pre-production sample but I doubt any changes are coming except in the box design not the optics, it's shipping very soon anyway. Less than a month.

But as a standard disclaimer, these findings are based on a preproduction sample and not indicative in any way of the final product :) 

Front focusing attachments are more sensitive to entrance pupil diameter than they are to f/#.  So, if it is soft at f/2.8 with an 85mm prime, then it might be just fine at f/1.4 with a 28mm prime since the pupil diameter is actually less for a 28/1.4 than it is for an 85/2.8.  So, my question is what focal length(s) give you soft images at sub-f/2.8, and are you able to get sharper results by using a shorter focal length?

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Front focusing attachments are more sensitive to entrance pupil diameter than they are to f/#.  So, if it is soft at f/2.8 with an 85mm prime, then it might be just fine at f/1.4 with a 28mm prime since the pupil diameter is actually less for a 28/1.4 than it is for an 85/2.8.  So, my question is what focal length(s) give you soft images at sub-f/2.8, and are you able to get sharper results by using a shorter focal length?

This is interesting.

I will try a few wider lenses with the RangeFinder and see how it goes.

I briefly tried the FM. Wasn't impressed.

The Retilux looks better than I expected from Zak's test that's for sure!

The Zeiss 80mm F1.8 Jena DDR was backed onto the Speed Booster XL for this shoot.

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Interesting, Brian. Does the size of the front optical element (of the taking lens) affect the sharpness as well?

Andrew - how was the FM's performance in comparison, from your experience? (I know there was some shitstorms with the seller, it's quite faffy and cumbersome, etc etc - but I mean purely in terms of unbiased optical image quality...) Was it soft wide open as well?

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I'm still very confused as to where to buy the newxRangefinder. Some deals were mentioned including an Adorama one, but from my side of the pond (USA), I haven't seen a $399 special release price anywhere yet. SLR Magic have a deal but it's in £, not USD. Not trying to punch pennies here, but to some of us even $100 difference is no small amount, and I'm rather confused as to where the best deal is to be had.

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The Focus Module is very sharp if you know how to use it

 

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Regardless of the FM, Rect or Rangefinder, sharpness and performance is dependent on your 1) taking lens 2) anamorphic lens.  As far as the Rangefinder goes, stopping down 1 - 2 stops helps with sharpness.  In the pictures below, I shot at F4, stopping down 1 stop.

 

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As Nahua says above, all three options are viable if you know how to use it. To my knowledge from reading some past forum posts, Mr.Reid had some beef with the guys who made FM and didn't want to post anything on it. I have some issues with the guy who makes Rectilux and I know I would never buy it no matter how good the product is(Goes against my ethics, not like he would care though). They are just different price, form factor etc. They all use the same principle of variable diopters. One thing to keep in mind though FM is made by a very small company, Rectilux is essentially one guy trying to do everything and Rangefinder is a bigger company than the other two. 

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