Samyang 12mm and SRB Elite

You may have noticed that in my “Going Back” series I’m exclusively using the 12mm Samyang on either the Fuji X-T20 or the full-spectrum X-T1 with a single ND graduated filter in the bag for use when required. That ND grad is from the SRB Elite range which I wrote about briefly in Aparil 2017. So, an ideal time to update the post.

© Dave Whenham
Samyang 12mm with SRB Elite holder and ND graduated filter

At the time I said:

So long as the filter holder is ABSOLUTELY square then there is no vignetting visible in the viewfinder. When the filter holder is turned even slightly off-true then there is a little bit of vignetting but I sense that it would be very easily corrected in post.

Looking at the RAW files on the computer there is a tiny amount of corner vignetting visible, more so with the lens wide open than stopped down but it is nothing to be majorly concerned about in my view – if needs be I might frame a fraction wider than I need and crop in later.

Caveat: I’ve not properly tested this “in the field”; this was a “quick and dirty” visual inspection stood in my front garden pointing the camera at a bright blue sky

Well, having now used the combination over the last three days I can report that my initial findings were spot on. I’ve mainly been shooting at f8 and with care I’ve not encountered any problems. Trying to change orientation quickly and realign the filter can be problematic, and I have several darkened corners for my troubles, but so far when I’ve taken time to line the holder up properly and check the corners of my frame I’ve not had any major problems.

© Dave Whenham
Top left and bottom right (hidden by shadow) show what happens when the filter holder is not aligned exactly.

My original thoughts, that I would use the Lee 100mm filter system for any extended outings with the Samyang 12mm lens hold true. I’m cautious however about using the full sized graduated ND filters as the small surface area of the Fuji-X lenses means that the larger graduation on the bigger filters can be problematic.

Had I chosen any of my Fuji-X fit  lenses other than the Samyang 12mm then this brief review would I suspect have had no reservations as I’ve found that the build quality of the SRB Elite system is very good and it is very easy to use. The circular polariser screws into the centre of the filter holder (as does the ten-stop ND filter)  and having played with it a bit more I’m finding it easy to fit and remove now I’ve got the knack. 

© Dave Whenham
Wells-Next-the-Sea

Incidentally, I mentioned before some reservations with using the ten-stop ND filter with ND grads. Well, I have made a very quick experiment this evening and by opening the lens up to f2 and fitting the 10-stop Elite filter I can see enough of the image on the Fuji X-T20s EVF and LCD screen to align a graduated filter. Given the depth of field with this lens when its closed down to f11 focusing is not really an issue but as a matter of course I would focus before adding filters anyway and the focus ring is firm enough to stay put when changing apertures.

© Dave Whenham
Samyang 12mm lens with SRB Elite polariser

All in all I think the SRB Elite range is an affordable alternative to some of the more expensive filter systems on the market which I can use without reservation with my Fuji kit and with care it can even be used with the ultra-wide Fuji-fit Samyang 12mm.

SRB’s Elite Filter System

After having introduced the Elite system in my blog post on 21st March I did not as hoped get the chance for a proper play with the new system the following weekend. Indeed, I am still waiting!

However, it might be worth sharing a few initial thoughts until I do get a chance to test it properly. With a two week school holiday starting last night the chances of me getting the time anytime soon have evaporated!

© Dave Whenham
Clarence Dock, Leeds – Fuji X-T1, 23mm prime lens and Elite 10 stop ND filter

Build quality is good, it feels robust in the hand and will be more than capable of taking  everyday knocks and bumps. Fitting (screwing) the polariser or ten-stop ND filter into the central part of the holder was slightly tricky until I realised there are two knurled lugs with need to be held whilst screwing the filter in to stop the inner thread rotating. Initially a little fiddly I quickly got the hang of it although I think I will fail miserably at the task with gloves on so it might be a little more problematic in really cold weather. That said the arrangement does seal the holder and filter nicely and I had no irritating internal reflections to deal with. It is not an arrangement for speedy removal of these circular filters though, at least not for me, but in reality how often do we need to “urgently” remove a filter?

© Dave Whenham
Leeds Waterfront, Fuji X100T and polariser

The polariser worked well, and with the usual caveats about not using polarisers on extreme wide angle lenses, I found that being able to clip the filter holder on and off very quickly meant that I used it more than I might have done with a traditional screw-in filter attached directly to the lens. I left the adapter ring on the front of the lens, the polariser was screwed into the holder and when not in use I dropped it in my jacket pocket. As my reader will know I do not do technical reviews, there are plenty of those here on t’web, but assess kit from a practical perspective; how usable have I found it. On this count the polariser worked well, combined with ND graduated filters nicely and from a practicality perspective scored well. The image files look good to me and I will definitely be using this combination on my travels.

© Dave Whenham
Fuji X-T1, 23mm lens and Elite 10-stop ND filter

The 10 stop ND filter works well too and as expected from the reviews I was not unhappy with the colour rendition of this filter. Definitely a warmer colour cast compared to my Lee Big Stopper but I was happy to leave Auto White Balance set and tweak during RAW conversion. Popping the filter holder off to set up and focus the composition was easy and it was then simply a matter of popping it on before taking the shot; no gently easing it down and hoping the gaskets line up with the holder as with the square filter. A very pleasant user experience.

There is a “but” coming however. You sensed that I’m sure! The slightly problematic moment came when I decided to try to tame the extremely bright upper part of the frame with a soft ND grad. Not easy when the ten-stop ND filter is attached – and if you unscrew the ND filter to line up the graduated filter you need to remove the graduated to replace the screw-in filter.  Perhaps I have missed something obvious here (and if I have please tell me) but it was frustrating to say the least. On the day I went out it was very sunny, in fact I had to work around harsh sunlight for most of the afternoon, and I was ably to see, dimly, on the Fuji’s live-screen view and line the graduated filter up reasonably well but not with confidence. On another day when the sun was perhaps not quite as bright I strongly suspect I might have had even bigger problems.

So with that in mind, and bearing in mind this was a quick test on an afternoon when I was mainly using the X100T to take street photographs so not using the filters extensively, how was my initial impression shaped by using the filters? Well, still very positive; it is well-made, well-priced and functions as it should. The niggle about lining up graduated filters when using the ten-stop screw-in filter may or may not be a deal breaker, only time will tell, but as an affordable and efficient entry to the world of filter systems it was a solid purchase.

Postscript:

I had a query this week regarding vignetting with this system on a 12mm Samyang lens. I’ve just quickly put the Samyang on a Fuji X-T1 body to check. So long as the filter holder is ABSOLUTELY square then there is no vignetting visible in the viewfinder. When the filter holder is turned even slightly off-true then there is a little bit of vignetting but I sense that it would be very easily corrected in post. Looking at the RAW files on the computer there is a tiny amount of corner vignetting visible, more so with the lens wide open than stopped down but it is nothing to be majorly concerned about in my view – if needs be I might frame a fraction wider than I need and crop in later. Caveat: I’ve not properly tested this “in the field”; this was a “quick and dirty” visual inspection stood in my front garden pointing the camera at a bright blue sky

If I was taking the Samyang 12mm out for “serious” landscape work I’d take the Lee 100mm filters to use with it.  HOWEVER if you want to travel light then based on this very quick and very subjective and un-scientific test the SRB kit should work well I think. I will certainly not have a problem carrying and using the Samyang/SRB filter combination for urban work when I’m travelling with just what I can fit in my pockets or a very small bag; I use a Fujinon 23mm f2 prime for urban shooting on the Fuji X-T1 with the 12mm in my pocket “just in case”.

Reflections …

© Dave Whenham
Fuji XT-1, Samyang 12mm and Lee Big Stopper

On Saturday after a grey, grey adventure on the Ridgeway I decided on an impulse to visit an old childhood haunt of mine, know known as the Coate Water Country Park I believe. I wasn’t expecting to be able to make much photographically in the wall-to-wall greyness but it would be a useful scouting exercise for a future visit down south.

Of course, I took a few shots and the one above came out quite well in the end. This however is a large crop from the original frame. Two reasons, one that I was aware of at the time and one that became apparent when processing the image.

I knew that with the 12mm Samyang fitted I would need to use either a screw-in ND or my full-size 100mm Lee filters to avoid vignetting. However, all I had with me was the Lee Seven5 filters so I composed knowing I would need to lose the left and right hand edges of the frame. Barely an issue on this occasion as I envisaged a square crop so all was fine.

Until I got home and tried to add contrast to the image  …

© Dave Whenham
The ghostly swan was expected (at top) but not the advertisement for Samyang (bottom)!

The white lettering around the inside of the front of the lens reflected beautifully in the dark blue water.  It is not visible in the RAW file as-exposed but once I started to tweak the image then Hey Presto!

Now there are several possible explanations including light leaking in, a poor quality filter picking up the reflection of the lettering and even the fact that the Samyang proudly proclaims itself in bold white lettering! It was a Lee filter, fitted at the rear of the filter holder with the gasket properly in position so the first two are less plausible I suspect which leaves the bold lettering as suspect numero uno. However, I remember setting the lens at f16 for these images so I wonder if it is also possible that the lens was focused on the back of the filter with such a massive depth of field?

Whatever the cause I shall be getting the black marker out tomorrow at the very least.

Swansea …

A few weeks back I spent a couple of days in Swansea visiting family. The best opportunities for photography were before breakfast and after dinner. Unusually for me I managed the pre-breakfast opportunities every morning for three days. The following images are simply a record of the few days. No story, no morals – just some photos.

© Dave Whenham
Swansea Waterfront Fuji X-T10 and Samyang 12mm

© Dave Whenham

© Dave Whenham

© Dave Whenham

© Dave Whenham
Swansea Bay

© Dave Whenham

© Dave Whenham
Mumbles Lighthouse – X100T

© Dave Whenham

incamerapano_DSF0249The-Mumbles-X100T-.jpg
in-camera panorama
© Dave Whenham
Mumbles Lighthouse from Bracelet Bay – X-T10

I shall post a few more another day!