Metabones Speed Booster Hands-On Field Test

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By now, you’ve surely heard all about the Metabones Speedbooster Lens adapter for NEX cameras (and soon, micro 4/3 cameras as well).  Not only is it designed to adapt your full frame Canon EF lenses to E-Mount, 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.

In the video above, Chris Niccolls of theCameraStore takes a look at the new Metabones Speedbooster adapter and puts it through it’s paces in this hands on field test – and I suppose the biggest question on everyone’s mind is simply “Does this thing work?”

My 2 Cents

From most reports, it does appear that the Metabones Speed Booster Adapter does work as advertised.  So am I ready to order one right away and should you too?  Well, in my opinion, not so fast…

What follows is my opinion and you’re welcome to disagree as vehemently as you would like.  While the Speed Booster does offer some interesting prospects, I’m personally going to pass for now, and here’s why:

  1. I’m not a fan of using adapters.  In my experience, whenever you use an adapter you open the door to issues you wouldn’t have if you just used a lens that’s designed to work with your cameras (i.e. – electronic functions don’t work, lens and camera mount don’t fit properly, etc.).  While this is usually true because the lens in question is a cheap foreign knockoff and the Metabones is a much higher quality piece of equipment, I have already read an article where the reviewer used a Speedbooster Adapter with a Zeiss Lens that cost thousands of dollars and during the testing, the electrical functions on the Zeiss lens burned out (I apologize for not having the link in the article – when I read the story, I was in an airport and don’t remember where I saw it – when I find it again, I’ll post the link).  Was this because of the Metabones?  Not necessarily.  Do I think that this will be typical?  No, but the Speedbooster is new and there are bound to be a few glitches, and the fact is that it did happen – so it could happen again.
  2. The lenses I already have perform wonderfully!  I shoot micro 4/3 cameras and there are a ton of great lenses that I have at my disposal, and most of them are pretty affordable.  Better yet, they’re made to work with my camera.  For the money I would spend on the Metabones, I could easily add another great lens to my collection.
  3. Size does matter.  Part of the reason I went with M43 is because they’re smaller and lighter, so why would I want to attach a huge Canon lens plus an adapter to the front of my camera.  Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?
  4. Why should I try to make my camera something that it isn’t?  When I purchased my cameras, I did so because they were excellent image making machines that produces superb HD quality stills and videos.  They were easy to use and had advanced features that I couldn’t necessarily find on their “Full Frame” counterparts.  So why is there an obsession to hold a camera up to the antiquated standard of a 35 mm “full frame” camera that is ostensibly built around 60 year old film camera technology?  I’m not knocking full frame cameras here in any way, shape or form.  They’re marvelous image making machines too.  All I’m saying is that the IQ and advanced technology in today’s smaller sensored mirrorless cameras can stand up on their own and they should be embraced for what they are.

Who is the Metabones Speedbooster For?

Just because I’m going to pass on it for now doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of people for whom the Speedbooster is perfectly suited. For example:

  1. NEX Shooters might find the adapter more appealing because there aren’t a lot of high quality native e-mount lenses available at this time (although I still think those big lenses will look ridiculous on the from of an NEX camera).
  2. Those who already have a large collection of Canon EF lenses and want to switch to/add a mirrorless camera system.
  3. Filmmakers who want to use their Canon glass.
  4. Those looking to build an affordable lens collection by picking up inexpensive used EF lenses and don’t mind the oversized nature of those lenses when compared to their mirrorless camera bodies.

Why I’m Really excited about the Metabones Speedbooster

I hope that I haven’t given the impression that I’m all negative on the Metabones, because truth be told, I’m very impressed by the technology that’s built into this little guy.  But what excites me the most is that I don’t think it will be very long before lens manufacturers start to build this kind of technology right into the lenses they are designing for our cameras.  This technology only promises to produce brighter and faster lenses at more affordable prices, and that is something to be excited about!

Comments

mike whiles says:

A most interesting review!

Paul Taylor says:

Well I am as entitled as anyone to my opinion thanks very much for trying to censor free speech. My point is, if I am allowed to speak please sir, is that I bought a m43 camera because it is small, light and fits in my pocket. If I put a full frame 70-200 lens on it then it will no longer be small or light or fit in my pocket. If I have a 70-200 FF lens the chances are I have a DSLR on which the lens will handle better and give me better image quality. Sorry for giving further opinions of mine.

pnaciona says:

There are many reasons why it’s not feasible. The biggest hindrance are the mirror box and the lens flange distance–there’s no room to do the magic.

pnaciona says:

You clearly have not used a large lens on a NEX or any other mirrorless cameras. That alone should stop you from saying something about it being a bad idea or worst of both worlds.

Just because your mind can’t wrap around the concept doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. One law of practicality states that it doesn’t make sense to buy another lens of the same focal length when you already have a really good one that you can use.

pnaciona says:

Actually, with this adapter, the focal length changes (“converted” in your words). The lens element(s) in the speed booster has a magnification (or reduction) factor of 0.71x.

Also, on your second point, your invalidity argument only applies to pixel peepers. Nothing can please pixel peepers except absolute numbers.

imagexphotography says:

Hey Chris – nice review. I have speedbooster -use it on the NEX6.

I have tried it with the Canon 85mm 1.2. You said in the video that you dont get faster than F1.0. I think you do. If you try it again, turn your aperture down to F1.0, then click it once more.It doesnt show 0.95 on the screen but it does achieve it im sure.

Then – if you try clicking the wheel back the otherway one time, it will stay on F1.0 click again and it then goes to F1.3. (it is clicking from 0.95) can u confirm?

IndigoEyePhotography says:

Awesome. I shoot using Canon, but this combination looks a hell of a lot more attractive than purchasing an EOS M.

Raphael Jan C. Ferraris says:

wow. oly needs to learn from sony. awesome stuff

Xzefreeman says:

What makes you judge people that fast? that i don’t own one? have you even read all of my last 2 comments? quote : “Yes, infact i own one (d600), and i like borrowing some old D3’s from our university club. but my point is, ALOT of people moving to full frame especially prosumers and FULL FRAME WHORES like me will probably consider this as a real budget option. then again, if one have the right money, then why the hell would you not buy a real full frame instead. “

MarcusChatreeMadsen says:

yes yes. i am lucky to get my gift iphone 5 from youtube questionnaire for nothing. Listen, email and your address is enough to get your iphone 5. you can also get it from here >-> bit.ly/10YQ4H2?=ikywi

Bongo2k says:

but you don’t actually have one? You’re one of those forum whores who pixel peeps and gets a boner over stuff you’re never gonna have

Xzefreeman says:

I hope you didn’t judge me that fast on what i said earlier… I myself is a sick Full Frame fanboy whore, and i think i know the idea of what real benefits full frame cameras can give you.

angarhusk8 says:

this guy sells this product very easily!!

Xzefreeman says:

Yes, infact i own one (d600), and i like borrowing some old D3’s from our university club. but my point is, ALOT of people moving to full frame especially prosumers and FULL FRAME WHORES like me will probably consider this as a real budget option. then again, if one have the right money, then why the hell would you not buy a real full frame instead.

EDHBlvd says:

High capacity batteries? The 5D2 and 5D3 use the same battery as my APS-C 60D DSLR. The D800 and D600 use the same battery as the APS-C D7000 and D71000 DSLRs as well as the CX sensored Nikon V1. So your comment about high capacity batteries is rubbish.

EDHBlvd says:

Awesome!

rthjuanca says:

exactly what u said. that was a ipad3 in the parcel which i got from Apple-YT questionnaire content last week. And, dont forget to give ur email id and delivery address to receive via courier. i got it from here. you can also try it >-> bit.ly/126pnSb?=rlsrj

flip mac says:

It’s an added bonus. A NEX owner has the option of mounting E-mount lenses or EF lenses via this adapter. It “makes” the adapted lenses brighter while maintaining DoF as if it’s mounted on FF body. Except for AF (which is slower) everything (IS, aperture control, etc.) still works. The balance is no worse than mounting a 70-200 on a D7000. Actually, mounting the 35/1.4 on a Rebel is a waste because of the cropping, but mounting it on a NEX with this, is not because it’s cropless and brighter.

flip mac says:

What you probably need is better/more lenses. Try the 50/1.8, it’s cheap and bright. Or the 28/1.8 for something wider. That said, the problem with Canon is that they don’t make a lot of EF-S primes, so you need to get EF, which are bigger/pricier and it’ll be cropped. Nikon is better in this sense (more DX lenses). Actually, NEX and m4/3 are better in this sense.

You could try a D5200/3200, K-30, NEX-6, or E-M5. All of which have better IQ than a Canon APS-C that haven’t improved since 7D.

trollwitchdoctor says:

It’s an amazing device, I couldn’t have dreamed of more. Hope they make it adapt Sony Alpha soon.

Bongo2k says:

you obviously know nothing about full frame cameras. They are usually built way better, have high shutter durabilities and high capacity batteries

Golan Katz says:

How is your D600? no oil & dust on the sensor?

MacertoVideo says:

can you test K5IIs ?

jshaw6600 says:

Still, there is nothing bad about the speedbooster coming to mft. 1.4x is still much better than 2. And mft could definitely use the extra low-light capability. As an mft user, I can’t wait. It’s a definite buy, essentially doubling the amount of lenses I own.

jshaw6600 says:

And/Or expect Canikon to start making their own adapters as well as L versions.

Ken Cheng says:

Does the focus peaking still work with this adapter?

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