The Viltrox AF 13mm f / 1.4 STM lens For APS-C cameras, Viltrox slots nicely into an existing range of primes, a focal length that is missing directly from Fujifilm. 13mm, the equivalent of 20mm in a 35mm full-frame, is fairly wide and works well for landscapes or architecture, especially for less than $ 429.
Viltrox has built a solid reputation over the past decade as a company that provides low-cost quality optics. It has expanded from the original Focal Length Manual Focus offer to full autofocus models that are more mysterious and – increasingly – across many mounts.
Viltrox is a China-based photography company that has been producing accessories including lenses, LEDs and video monitors since 2009. The Purpose Offering the latest technology at significantly lower prices than the newer brands of photography startups – the growing Chinese – name brand. The past has been replaced by low-quality, low-tech, accessories, much more modern designs and materials.
As for the Viltrox lens, it has wisely decided to start its range with a simple optical design that is possibly the largest available in the market. This means targeting the full-frame Sony E-Mount and APS-C Fuji X-Mount models, however, it is also being expanded to Nikon Z-Mount and Canon RF-Mount, though more on that later. It focuses exclusively on primes because they are easy to design and create; It is arguable that intoxicants of choice runs the taste in professional and discerning amateurs.
The AF 13mm f / 1.4 STM, which was announced in January with the addition of two additional mounts in June, slots in an existing range or Viltrox Prime which includes 85mm, 56mm, 33mm, and 23mm; Note that these are APS-C lenses so give a 1.5x crop factor equivalent to 128mm, 84mm, 50mm and 35mm of 35mm. 13 mm, therefore, rounds this range with the equivalent of 20 mm. The fairly wide 13mm is an interesting focal length to choose from as it inevitably creates more complex optical formulas.
So why would you want a 20mm equivalent? Interestingly this is a focal length that I never shot and don’t even have in my camera bag. My “gotos” are always 24, 35, 50, and 85mm, including a 14mm for those more secret wide shots that aren’t fishy. It’s not that 20mm is necessarily unusual, but it’s one that never appealed to me because 24mm is small enough, this time I moved to 14mm. So did Viltrox make the right decision? This is a personal choice and for some, 20mm may be perfect. Yes, it is more than 24mm distorted but not catastrophic and so can be a good match for landscape or interior architectural shots, in addition to the inevitable vlogging lets you get very close to the action.
Build quality and design
The lens is made up of 14 components in 11 groups, including four ED and two aspheric components and a multi-layer coated, waterproof, front optic. It has a nine-blade aperture, weighs 420 grams and takes a large 67mm filter. Since it is a fly-by-wire design, it comes with a micro-USB port that allows you to upgrade the firmware which Upcoming with Viltrox. Outside the box, there are front and rear lens caps, a cloth case and a lens hood.
As you can see from the lineup, the Fujifilm 27mm is a sleek pancake lens that really fits in with the ergonomics of a street camera; The Viltrox 23mm and 56mm look positively similar to the DSLR. One step up in both 13mm size and weight.
Although the average chunky 56mm f / 1.4 weighs 260 grams, up to 13mm which is again 420 grams. This is certainly expected because of the wide field-of-view and the larger (domed) front optic; The lens is 74x90mm, in contrast to 65x72mm for 56mm f / 1.4. In short, it’s a relatively large lens when fitted with a more decent camera – like my X-E3 – so probably more suitable for larger X-Series cameras.
One of the highlights of all the Viltrox lenses I’ve used is the “premium” feel to them, and the 13mm is no different. Widely used throughout metal and machining is of a high quality. For example, the hood of a lens that is inverted – and neatly clamped – barrel with a reassuring click; Everything fits perfectly. In short, instead of a plastic cracking, lightweight, budget model the lens feels great in the hand. It should be noted that there is no weather seal, so it does not match the best of the class, although there is an internal dust seal where all the focusing is inside so no dust should be reduced.
The back of the lens hood has a large ribbed focus ring that is smooth and has a nicely weighted resistance. After the barrel mark, you will then find the aperture ring clicked at the one-third stop. This differs from the previous 56mm and 33mm which were de-clicked; It may be suitable for video shooters (silent and smooth exposure changes) but I found myself constantly tapping the ring which was annoying when shooting stills. At 13mm, this is not a lens you would choose for a bokeh, so perhaps the choice is as realistic for as many users as possible.
One final point – and this is a small thing – is a red circle to mark the orientation of the lens to attach to the camera body. It’s white on previous lenses, but oddly enough I find it much easier to detect!
Image quality and performance
The lens on the X-E3 feels surprisingly a little heavier on the front, but not unnecessarily. It was still fun to use, but on a larger camera it would be better balanced
As far as autofocus performance is concerned, I was satisfied with the performance. I set up my X-E3 for single spot focus (the lens also supports eye focus) using a joystick to move the focus point around. It fits the bill for most scenes and I found that the stepper motor was fast and accurate in focusing. If anything, it was better than the 33mm and 56mm lenses I used before; This was probably most noticeable in low light where there was little prey and it often failed.
From my experience, this is a sharp lens, although predictably softer at the edges where you get more distortion. Diffraction also inevitably becomes a problem when you stop just below and the sweet spot of the lens seems to be around f / 5.6 to f / 8 which is confirmed by Viltrox’s MTF chart. Unusually for this type of wide-angle lens, the aperture widens to f / 1.4 (equivalent to f / 2.1) which opens up somewhat unusual applications with the greater creative use of astrophotography and bokeh.
The lens has a competitive minimum focal length (MFD) of 22 cm, with a hyperfocal distance of 57 cm, which means that everything from 30 cm will be nominally in focus. The f / 1.4 aperture can create some surprisingly effective bokeh. It’s obviously not a bokeh monster, but it can be effective for intimate matters. Bokeh itself is smooth and neutral if not too pleasurable or unpleasant.
Flair was reasonably handled, something that would always be difficult for a wide lens. It goes without saying that you will always use this lens with the supplied lens hood and there is no excuse for it to be stored in the barrel. There is a slight decrease in direct contrast to the sun, the flare at the 45-degree lens is becoming significantly more problematic although it is never objectionable and something that all shooters will be aware of anyway.
Great lens, great price
At the moment, I don’t really mention the price: $ 429. This is significantly less than the amount of lenses you get. At 13mm, it is wider than anything Fujifilm sells and offers a wonderfully wide alternative without going into serious distortions.
It is ideally suited for vlogging where you want a feeling of spaciousness, space and closeness. Similarly, it will find a home in the bag of many steel shooters where it will specialize in landscape, architecture and astrophotography. If you haven’t shot with a 20mm equivalent lens – regardless of the system – give it a try. You can find it to fit a niche that you have been looking for. Viltrox covers many bases here from quality construction, fast AF, and well-controlled images.
It’s not perfect, inevitably suffering in flares when stopped and at soft angles, especially at wide apertures. Its sweet spot is close to f / 8.0 where you can expect to take regular quality pictures. However the f / 1.4 maximum aperture that will appeal to them in search of light – think of Mosh Pitt or the starry sky – at the same time offers a bokeh possibility at a wide angle.
Coming back to my previous point about other lens mounts, Viltrox has taken an unusual step Indigogo campaign To finance the production of Nikon Z-Mount and Sony E-Mount APS-C versions of the lens. Some manufacturers (perhaps the most notable of the peak designs) follow this path to reduce financial risk when measuring market size. This is an organic way to increase the range of a lens based on demand, rather than the choice of Nikon and Canon as those who gradually build their range based on perceived needs. It also shows that mirrorless APS-C lens designs are alive and well in Fuji, Sony, Nikon and Canon.
Of course there is, although there is probably nothing unusual that is directly comparable in terms of focal length and aperture. Fujifilm has an abundance of lenses, though the closest XF 14 mm f / 2.8 R – with 16mm and 18mm variants – while Sigma recently released it 16mm f / 1.4 for X-mount. This puts the Viltrox 13mm in a class of its own and that was probably the purpose.
Will you buy it?
Yes. Although I initially questioned the equivalent focal length of 20mm, it is quite clear that – although not as popular as other focal lengths – there is a market. The lens adds a focal length option that isn’t available in Fujifilm’s first-party lineup, and what Viltrox makes here works well, especially for the price.
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