Metabones Speed Booster Adapter Full Review

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The concept of the Metabones Speed Booster Adapter is mind boggling, to say the least.  Not only is it designed to adapt your full frame Canon EF lenses to E-Mount (for Sony NEX cameras, but a micro 4/3 version is in the works and scheduled for release in March, 2013), but it’s also purported to make your lenses wider, thus effectively making your camera full-frame, while also increasing the speed of a lens by a full stop. Although this sounds too good to be true, it apparently works by concentrating the extra light-gathering area of a full-frame lens down to the smaller E-mount sensor area, for example turning an f/2.0 lens into an f/1.4 lens. Additionally, the adapter supposedly increases sharpness on top of all that, and allows users to access automatic functions of later model EF lenses, such as auto-aperture, image stabilization,  autofocus support,etc.

Will the Metabones Speed Booster lens Adapter be able to live up to it’s lofty promises?

EOSHD got their hands on the revolutionary new adapter and wrote up a full review, including sample images.

Here’s EOSHD’s Conclusion

Because full frame is a ‘premium’ photography product, the Japanese corporate machine has been mindful of limiting supply of full frame cameras in order to maintain inflated prices and margins. We waited a long time for the D800 and 5D Mark III and it is only now in 2013 that for the first time we have two ‘affordable’ full frame DSLRs with stripped down features – the D600 and 6D. Neither do very good video. So to have that full frame look when I need it on my Sony video camera is a real blessing.

The real world performance when you shoot with the Speed Booster and see the result is far better than any lab test of corner resolution would imply. The claims of this adapter defy belief… Scepticism well founded. And yet…

Sure the corners aren’t as sharp as the centre but the same goes for all optics to a degree especially full frame – and look at what you’re gaining here -

Your NEX 7 becomes a ‘NEX 9′ full frame Canon mount mirrorless camera.

You get a full frame FS700 capable of 4K and 240fps 1080p plus a low light king in the FS100 which can shoot wide angle material at an amazing 24mm F1.0, with the same lovely wide angle shallow DOF look of the 5D.

You get a full frame camera for the price of a $400 NEX 5N and $600 Speed Booster.

You get a 24-105mm F4 that magically becomes a F2.8 with a longer range than the $2000 24-70mm L and the gain in aperture is done without the lens becoming bulkier. The list goes on…

One thing which could be interesting to try is a medium format lens on the adapter. A Zeiss 85mm F2.8 for Hasselblad can for example adapt to the EF mount and fit the Metabones. This may avoid any loss of resolution in the corners as the image circle of these lenses is designed to fit 70m!! I have not tested this yet.

I had no issues with the electronic side of the adapter but I don’t have a warehouse sized collection of EF lenses to test with it. My investment is mostly in anamorphic and manual focus stuff. It would make sense to check the compatibility list if you rely on things like IS and AF. Some lenses may have issues with focus on the adapter too – the Canon 100mm F2.8L Macro did not play well on the earlier Metabones EOS adapters.

All in all – if this adapter does not send shock waves through the camera industry I don’t know what will.

Pros

  • 1 stop increase in low light performance

    Metabones Speed Booster Lens Adapter</center?

    Metabones Speed Booster Lens Adapter

  • Full frame look – wider field of view, shallower DOF, attractive vignette and light fall off towards corners
  • Extremely good value for money (look at the saving over buying alternative full frame video solution like Canon 1D X / 1D C)
  • Protects investment in existing glass
  • Match glass between full frame camera and Sony E-mount camera on multi-camera shoots
  • Corrects some optical defects in centre of the frame such as purple fringing and coma
  • In-camera electronic aperture control for Canon lenses on Sony body
  • Micro Four Thirds support in pipeline for March (and electronic adapter in June)
  • Turns Blackmagic Cinema Camera into Super 35mm (matching Alexa)
  • Every lens now has dual focal length and aperture (use with or without adapter to change crop)
  • More creative possibilities
  • Excellent build quality
  • Very small and light
  • Tripod mount
  • Infinity focus tuning built into the adapter and straight forward to use

Cons

  • Corner and edge sharpness a bit of a struggle with most legacy glass at fast apertures
  • Soft corners and edges most noticeable at infinity focus with fast apertures or wide open
  • Speed of auto-focus in need of improvement (painfully slow compared to same lens on a Canon body)
  • Some lenses are not yet fully supported by the electronics

(Read full review on EOSHD)

My 2 Cents

If this thing works, this technology represents a paradigm shift in imaging that will make professional photo-videography even more accessible to every day people.  If the Metabones Adpater stands up to every day use, you can look for new lenses and cameras incorporating Speed Booster technology to be released in the next couple of years.  Stay Tuned!

Comments

PhotoLynch says:

I think this is definitely going to really be BIG. I’ve even been telling people about it to get them ready. People who are having fears about jumping from their 1d or 1ds to a GH3 etc.
It may seem like Rocket Science or Voodoo magic, but actually if you think about it… I don’t know why nobody ever thought of this before…

It increases resolution by making the lens have to project less. Think if you have a projector and you set it closer to the subject vs. farther away. What happens? The light gets brighter and the image gets smaller and sharper. Because we have more demanding sensors on the MFT the photosites are smaller. It’s making the lenses have to not work as hard. It’s also making the image brighter. So the actual technology to change the image makes sense, what makes it even better is the electronics that talk to the lenses. Now we’ve got some real magic going on.

Ok so this is all great, but I wouldn’t want to shoot my G5 or a GH3 with a Canon 70-200 IS, 24-70 etc. … no thank you. I might want to use a 50 1.4 though or an 85mm prime though. That’s where it is going to see some real benefits. Also with APS-C cameras, it makes a ton of sense.

Great points, Steven!

I agree that using some over sized full frame lenses on a micro 4/3 camera just wouldn’t make sense. But what I really see happening here is a huge leap forward in optics that could potentially level the playing field between “full frame” cameras and those with smaller sensors – assuming that the technology works.

I always thought that the term “full frame” is a misnomer. I mean… technically, ANY camera that uses the entire surface of it’s sensor is “full frame” – but that’s a discussion for another time. ;)

PhotoLynch says:

Haha. Yup! Full Frame. More like 35mm diagonal sensor. Just like Medium Format or large format. Well there is 645, square size, there is 4×5 8×10.

Sometimes I miss the 2×3 crop of dslr sometimes the 4×3 crop works so well. My favorite thing is viewing on iPads 4×3 screen.

What this device does though is make the sensor size not matter for dof. Of course dynamic range and SNR still make a difference Mirrorless cameras will catch up there it’s just going to be another 1 or 2 years I’m predicting. But look where we already are. Micro43 has surpassed the dynamic range and SNR of the 40d/50d/ equal to 60d and surpassing. So yeah.

Mft for the win! Lol

Chuck Jones says:

Scott, I agree with you that this is only the first baby step in what is likely to soon become a lens revolution for small sensor cameras. But I disagree about using “oversized” lenses on a micro 4/3 body. Dude, that is were the JUICE comes from! I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be able to use all of my lenses collected and hand selected for their signature look over the years on my mirrorless bodies. To me, it’s all about the glass…. and this new MetaBones SpeedBooster taking my collection of Zeiss primes back to full frame coverage, with an extra stop of speed gain on what are already very fast primes, is icing on the cake! What is not to love?

Great Point, Sir Charles!

There are indeed, several ways to look at this. I was coming from the standpoint of traveling small and shooting big, but there are indeed several pros and enthusiasts who have spent a lot of time and moolah collecting great legacy glass.If this thing delivers, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Speed Booster for the Win! :)

PhotoLynch says:

I can agree with that especially when we’re talking primes. I just can’t imagine a Canon EF 70-200 2.8IS on a micro four thirds, especially with the awesome Lumix G 35-100 2.8. You are using Sony NEX though if I’m not mistaken so no 35-100. :-/

I’ll just be excited to see what people can create and use with these tools and new technology in the pipeline. Really exciting stuff.

PhotoLynch says:

Sorry Chuck, I forgot you had decided on the GH3 as well. :) How are you liking it by the way? Are you currently adapting any legacy lenses to it?

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