My own little Lens Turbo review

.. or how to shoot yourself in the foot. See, I have conflicting interests here. Because I bought a Lens Turbo adapter for my NEX cameras, and now I listed it back for sale. So it’d be more favorable for me to say how great it is. However, here’s the naked truth : that thing SUCKS.

NEXvsLX7-03But I guess for the sake of honesty and shared knowledge with my peers, I’ll give you the dirt anyway. I can always hope to sell it to someone who hasn’t read this. Or who’s read it but thinks the Lens Turbo can still suit their type of shooting. And I’m sure it can be good to *some* type of photography (though please don’t ask me to think of one, because the answer seriously eludes me right now…).

So as discussed here earlier the Lens Turbo is an optical adapter that more or less negates the crop factor of APS-C chip equipped camera, basically giving them the attributes of a “full frame” 24x36mm traditionnal film camera. Your 50mm lens IS a 50mm lens (well, 53 to be hair splittingly specific) and the depth of field is that you would expect from a full frame body with any lens you mount.

TestLT-01Here’s an example : with Lens Turbo adapter, Nikon Ai 50/1.8 @1.8

TestLT-02Without the Lens Turbo adapter, Rokkor MD 50/1.7 @1.7.

Here you can notice two things : 1) the FOV (field of view) is much tighter, because of the x1.5 “crop” factor of the NEX’s APS-C sensor, the 50mm lens behaves like a 75mm one. 2) the shutter speed at same ISO and aperture, is much slower to achieve equivalent exposure. In another words, the Lens Turbo gives an enormous speed gain (which is where it can be extremely useful for concert and indoor sports shooters, for instance).

TestLT-07Again, to make my point : here with the LT, 1/60th exposure

TestLT-06and without it, using a 35mm lens for equivalent FOV, 1/30th exposure.

Lens Turbo is the obvious winner when light is scarce and you need to keep your shutter speed high. Ok, so why all the bitching and hating ?!?

TestLT-14Simple : because it turns otherwise fine and perfectly sharp lenses into Coke bottle bottoms with mushy bokeh, uncontrolable flare and obscene ghosting…

NEXvsLX7-02Sure, post processing can cure things a bit, but it still not great

TestLT-15and it best benefits from using smaller apertures to control a bit all the above mentioned phenomenons, which is counter intuitive in the first place. If I buy an adapter to give me shallower DOF, it’s certainly NOT to stop my lenses down and ruin the thin DOF look !

50OM1.4ExBokeh smoothness is really all important to me (as here with the wonderful OM 50/1.4 and its icecreamy goodness) and the out of focus areas of the Lens Turbo are a mushy mess that looks like it’s been induced in Photoshop.Horrid

MarlaJuin13-08Who the fuck instagrammed my picture !?!

See what I mean ? I don’t want none of that D. Hamilton softness and glow. Not if I haven’t specifically processed for it anyway…

MarlaJuin13-10OK, I have to admit it works for SOME shots.. (I’m really fond of this one)

MarlaJuin13-09Some softness in portraits bring a dreamy quality that can be pleasant

TestLT-13and a bit of glow can be poetic

TestLT-12But see how only a tiny part of the frame is decently sharp and focus falls off immediately, within millimeters of the (so so) sharp zone ??

MarlaJuin13-11There’s also a terrible lack of contrast, and global haze over most pictures

MarlaJuin13-12Which, again, can be put to use in dreamy portraits…

TestLT-05So overall I’ll live with my crop factore, slower shutter speeds and lack of wide angle. Thank you.

BUT… if you are a concert shooter using a fast tele lens for instance, or an indoor sports photog with the same requirements of fast shutter speed, a Lens Turbo might be just what makes the difference between screwing your job and getting the shots. Of course, if you can spring for the more expensive original Metabones Speed Booster, that’s probably a great idea 😉

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About marla2008

Shutterbug. Shallow DOF nut. Mother of Child. Student of the Horse.
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14 Responses to My own little Lens Turbo review

  1. Laurent says:

    Thanks for the review!!! Maybe it was too good to be true!

  2. marla2008 says:

    In fact it’s pretty much in line with its price. it does what it should for 150 bucks…

  3. Ross says:

    That’s a shame you didn’t like yours. I knew they had limitations when I ordered mine but I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far. I haven’t seen any of that ‘haze’ and most everything in focus has been captured pin sharp on a NEX 7 with an MD->NEX Zhongyi/Rokkor. Some light fall-off seen at the image edges wide on a Vivitar S1 zoom but no more so than on the Sony SEL16F28 pancake. Images also exhibit a bit more vignetting than with a plain glassless cropping adaptor. Some occasional lens flare taking towards light sources can most often be managed by a judiciously placed hand. The advantages are outweighing the disadvantages for me and as I live at 56 degrees latitude, the extra big of light reaching the sensor is very useful. Also, it’s nice that the sensor stays clean when swapping lenses.

    • marla2008 says:

      I’m glad you’re enjoying yours. From what I understand there might be slight differences between mounts, and maybe Nikon wasn’t the best choice. I’m not immune to giving them another try in the future. Thanks for stopping by !

    • Gloombug says:

      Hi Ross, I have a nice set of MD lenses including the MD 70-210mm F4 and am considering the Zhongyi. I need a ‘cheap’ solution to improve low light indoor pictures with annoying light sources in the background. Flash or bringing my own light at the In-laws Christmas party might be stretching their patience. I could either stick a wide angle converter on my 50mm F1.4 or go for the lens turbo. Do you have some full-sized images with the lens turbo on the net I could inspect? RAW would be even better.

  4. Ross says:

    Thanks for the reply. There’s an ebay bought Rokkor 50 Macro en route to me here in Scotland which I think should provide both a great challenge for the Lens Turbo and give it an opportunity to shine. As the Rokkor Macro 50 has an unfortunately small aperture, it’s also renowned for super sharp images so that bit of extra light should complement it, IF the Lens Turbo doesn’t soften or distort the image. I’ll make a point to stop back and post a link to some pictures when I’ve tried it.

    P.S. Love your photos and blog. 🙂

  5. marla2008 says:

    Great news Ross, I appreciate you taking the time to update me, and I will be very curious to hear your thoughts about the lens and adapter combo !

  6. Larry Zapata says:

    I Just got mine, but i really don’t get that glow. Maybe it’s not compatible with cameras with aa filters.

  7. Steve says:

    Funny, when I first saw user reviews of the Lens Turbo, most were like Marla’s- it technically works, but haze and poor sharpness. I only recently started revisting the LT, and now read a lot of better things, such as potentially even increased sharpness in the center, etc. I wonder if improvements were made to the design, coatings, etc. So now I’m thinking of getting a Leica R Lens Turbo and using it a NEX-6 with a 50mm Summicron for that ‘fast normal’ look (there are more practical options for a fast 50, but I had one once and really liked it adapted to a Canon Rebel.) Maintaining central sharpness and decent contrast would be important, edge sharpness less so.

    Oh, and yah horses! Both my daughters ride-

    • marla2008 says:

      Thank you Steve for stopping by !! I wouldn’t be opposed to using a focal reducer again, but I’d definitely spring for the higher quality Metabones Speed Booster 😉

  8. I have no problem using it, especially for shooting macro (bsmall butterfly)
    chek it on my link below:
    http://1x.com/member/sangpengembara

  9. mrbenji says:

    A new Lens Turbo II has became available in early May 2014… I have one on the way. It claims improved coatings & optics, which eliminate “blue spot” issues in backlit scenes, and better sharpness edge to edge. I’ve seen a couple of user samples posted online and they’re really quite impressive. Looking forward to trying out my Minolta MD collection on it.

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