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Old March 15th, 2005, 09:51 AM   #1
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Manual or Standard lens on XL2?

To complete my set around the XL2 I bought the Manual 16x lens, because a colleague of mine used it on the XL1 and was very impressed by it.

But doing some simple tests with both the standard 20x lens of the XL2 and the Manual lens I started to doubt. The standard lens seems to be sharper and brighter.

Anybody who knows more about the technical differences between the two?
Have 'official' comparative tests been done?

Or, is it because i didnot set the parameters right for the manual 16x lens?


I am curious after other experiences.
Thanks in advance.
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Old March 15th, 2005, 10:43 AM   #2
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I would expect the quality of the 2 lenses to be very similar. The biggest differences are in there behavior. Most buy the manual lens because....well.....it's manual and looks and feels like video and film lenses have for years. The 20x lens (for as good as it' optics are) behaves different than most lenses. same for any servo lens. It is just a different beast and if you can get used to it great. But if you want to have the feel of a classic lens, the manual 16x is the bomb.


The one and only complaint I have of it is I miss the OIS on handheld shots.

I think that the lenses are very, very similar in quality but I would have to give the nudge to the 20x on optical quality. Having said that I use the 16x manual almost exclusively because it behave exactly how I want it to. I can consistently and repeatedly focus clear and sharp and not have to haggle with a servo that just doesn't feel like it's moving the lens elements as I turn. There is just a lag or impreciseness to servo designs and I can do better work with the manual. And I always know where I am at in regards to focus and zoom by the numbers on the lens.
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Old March 15th, 2005, 11:13 AM   #3
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I agree with you on the 'classic' feel and use of the 16x lens. I partly work alone, but for commercial assignments I hire always the same camerawoman. She complained a lot about these servolenses. So that was an important reason to buy the manual lens.

Interesting that you always use the 16x-lens on the XL2.

Last week I myself shot a doc completely with the standard servo lens. I was very happy with the autofocus. ( I know, I am not a real camera man ;-) )
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Old March 15th, 2005, 11:26 AM   #4
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I am doing a lot of run and gun and I use 16x9 and 24P exclusively. The autofocus in 24P is super duper slow and I can focus much quicker myself. The biggest concern I always had was if I was in perfect focus or just off by a smidgen. With the servo it was so uber sensitive that I could easly focus just past the subject or just in front of the subject and have a hard time hitting my "mark". The smaller LCD in 16x9 adds to this tough task. With the manual lens the focus just seems to "snap" into place and even though I still have to view on the small LCD it just helps immensely.

A big plus for the manual lens is that I can always set the focus to infinity by turning the focus ring all the way to the end. everything is always in focus on the wide shot here.

On the servo lens there is not a hard stop at infinity. It automatically rolls into the Macro mode. So if you turn the focus all the way (figure of speech as the servo will just keep spinning) you end up with the focus being on 1 inch in front of the lens because it has switched to macro focus automatically.

Everyone will have different opinions but I rely now on the infinity focus point to always have reference shot to fall back on.

FWIW
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Old March 15th, 2005, 12:05 PM   #5
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Someone recently (in the last month?) did a resolution chart comparison of the two, and found the Manual lens sharper and had better colors.

If you have not adjusted the back-focus, then yeah, it'll look like crap.
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Old March 15th, 2005, 12:16 PM   #6
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The simple fact that the manual lens has a back-focus control is one of the biggest positive points for me.

Each camera body and bayonet has very slight differences, and then add temperature extremes, changing lenses etc, and there is always the possibilty of an AF lens being slightly 'off' focus.

With a touch of a back-focus knob, micro-adjustments of the 16X MF lens gets everything back in line for crisp focus throughout. That, and the facts already noted by others about the sheer pleasure and ease of using the MF version 16X lens make it my favourite optic (along with MF ED-IF Nikkors).

It is possible that some people who complain about slight softness in the 16X MF have not adjusted back-focus correctly. It can be easy to be very slightly out of correct focus if you do not take your time making fine adjustments at regular intervals.
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Old March 15th, 2005, 12:28 PM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Richard Alvarez : Someone recently (in the last month?) did a resolution chart comparison of the two, and found the Manual lens sharper and had better colors.

If you have not adjusted the back-focus, then yeah, it'll look like crap. -->>>

I think that there was some question to the validity of this particular test. The results the person was getting was so "far" apart that there seemed to be something wrong. Several people weighed in on the subject and the orignal "tester" even agreed that the test seemed "off". I totally love the 16x manual but it is not "light years" better in image quality than the 20x. In fact they really should be very close. The test was like comparing night and day. Which made us all think that there was some other variable causing the major qulaity difference.

I'll see if I can find the thread about that "comparison" and post a link. I don't remember if there was ever a conclusion other than the original test seemed too far off from what we all have knowledge about these lenses.
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Old March 15th, 2005, 01:06 PM   #8
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Marty,

Yeah, I think that was the thread.... Honestly, I can't recall all the details. Personally, I find the manual to be a 'bit' sharper, and I like the look ... but I wouldn't consider the two lenses miles apart.
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Old March 15th, 2005, 09:29 PM   #9
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Which lense is heavier??
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Old March 15th, 2005, 11:02 PM   #10
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I have both lenses, but I prefer the 16x Manual lens. As the others have pointed out there are many benefits: back focus adjustment, mechanical focus and zoom, repeatable zoom and focus marks can be hit. With the distance scale and focal length markings, you will actually know what your distance and focal length are. The 16X is already geared for follow focus. I have been very happy with it's sharpness, resolution and overall quality. The one downside is that the lens breathes noticeably when you rack focus.

The 20x Auto is a good lens. I like being able to use the image stabilization when hand holding, run and gunning, or if I'm zoomed way in, especially on a windy day. The longer tele end is good for news and wildlife, etc.

Down side of the 20x Auto lens: electro focus, meaning electric brushes. No mechanical hard stops for focus or zoom. You can't zoom in to get focus and then zoom out, the focus point will move. You have no way of knowing your distance to the subject, or what your focal length is. The silly little slider bar in the viewfinder is almost useless.

The Cine Tech Titanium II follow focus is really great. If you are shooting cine style with a focus puller, or doing it yourself, it's really great.

Karl at Cine Tech Makes a follow focus gear for the 20x, I have one, and it fits right on the focus ring. The only problem is with the 20x Auto lens, not being able to hold focus or accurately hit a focus mark. Ironically the 20x doesn't breathe when you rack focus.

Jim, both lenses seem to weigh about the same.
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Old March 16th, 2005, 12:12 AM   #11
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This may or may not matter (and I may or may not be right :) but IIRC the 20x glass has fluorite coating while the manual doesn't. I think Fluorite is supposed to help avoid lens flares and other such, er, "effects". You can also do nauseating zooms and focus tricks with the manual, the auto does have that preset stuff which is pretty neat but not as great as a pulling rig

I started using the camera with the 20x and recently tried using the 16x more often to get time with a true manual (one of my main reasons for going XL2). It's good fun; the camera feels a bit smaller/lighter for some reason and if you can get the backfocus right then it looks pretty good. If Canon made a manual equivelant of the 3X wide motorized lens it would easily be ' CAMERA ACCESSORY OF THE DECADE '

**Extra, from my GL2 manual:
"Fluorite provides outstanding resolution, contrast and color reproduction and delivers the ultimate in clarity and image quality"
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Old March 16th, 2005, 12:16 AM   #12
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<<<-- Originally posted by Mark Sasahara : Down side of the 20x Auto lens: electro focus, meaning electric brushes. No mechanical hard stops for focus or zoom. You can't zoom in to get focus and then zoom out, the focus point will move. -->>>

Hi Mark. If your 20x lens focus is shifting during zooming, I would suggest that either you have a faulty lens or you are touching the focus ring inadvertently with your finger. I use the zoom in/focus/zoom out method all the time and I do not see the focus shifting unless my finger touches the focus ring. I also checked this out using a full size monitor (rather than the EVF) and got the same results.

What you CAN'T do reliably with the 20x lens is shift focus using the focus ring, and then try to shift back to the same mark by reversing the movement of the focus ring. (The amount of focus change is affected not only by the amount you turn the ring, but also by the rate at which you turn it.).

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Old March 16th, 2005, 12:35 AM   #13
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<<<-- Originally posted by Richard Hunter : you are touching the focus ring inadvertently with your finger. -->>>

Dude! I'm not retarded! :~)
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Old March 16th, 2005, 04:27 AM   #14
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I didn't say you were, Mark. But anyway, what you said about losing focus while zooming does not apply generally to the 20x lens. I did quite a bit if testing for this with and without the 0.7x Century Optics adaptor and did not see it.

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Old March 16th, 2005, 08:17 AM   #15
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After playing around with the 20x a bit, you're right, the focus doesn't shift. When I zoom out, the focus does seem to go a bit soft, but the focus does hold when repeatdly zoomed in and out.

The last time I did some testing I thought that the focus shifted on the 20x. I guess not.
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