Fujifilm FUJINON MK Series Cine Lenses

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Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses

The Fujifilm Fujinon MK18-55mm T2.9 and MK50-135mm T2.9 Super 35 zooms for E-mount cameras

Attended by cinematographers Nancy Schreiber, ASC (see our interview with Nancy Schreiber, ASC, on her historic legacy in film and television production here), Bill Bennett, ASC, Eric Longden, Joe Slavin and Izzy Pollak, Fujinon Optical had a Hollywood premiere this last February for their brand-new MK series of cine lenses at the ASC. FUJINON, the Optical Devices Division of FUJIFILM, has designed the new set of MK Series lenses for Sony E-mount camera solutions with Super 35 sensors.

FUJINON MK Lens Official Introduction movie / FUJIFILM

The first lens in the series is the FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9, available for order now at $3,799. With matching 85mm front diameter and 82mm filter thread, T2.9 iris, a weight of 2.16 lbs, and, a phenomenal accomplishment at this price point, the same lens lengths at 206mm, a second model, the FUJINON MK50-135mm T2.9, is planned for release this summer. (The lenses differ in minimum object distance with 2.78 feet on the MK18-55mm and 3.93 feet on the MK50-135mm.) Both are built to be parfocal, as well, to minimize breathing and maintain focus throughout the zooming range. From the presentation, the tracking results seemed very promising, too, with minimal shift to the center of the image through the zoom range.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
The Fujinon MK18-55mm T2.9 and MK50-135mm T2.9 Super 35 zooms for E-mount cameras. Targeted largely at Sony users, the Super 35 image circle will cover the sensor on the Sony FS5, FS7, FS7 II, FS100, and FS700 in addition to still shooters like the Sony a7 series.

According to the press release, the “entire “MK” series is designed with the ‘emerging’ cinematographer in mind, whether shooting a live event, online programming, documentary, corporate video, wedding, independent or short film production.” Interestingly, they don’t have their own Fuji X-mount APS-C versions available as of yet, but those are planned for release at a later time. You can see the Fujinon X-mount lens roadmap here. Check out the available FUJIFILM X lines of mirrorless cameras and lenses here.

FUJINON MK Lens – Image movie / FUJIFILM

Fujinon also offers the ENG Cabrio series with detachable servo units for PL- or ENG-usage, which HDVP has covered frequently. The new MK lenses also bring over a few of the unique features from that series, like 0.8 Cine gearing and Macro focusing. Below is a full transcription of Fujinon’s release of the series with pictures from the event. To get right to the nitty-and-gritty of the lens design, skip to the presentation from Stosh Durbacz, Canadian Sales Manager at Fujinon Inc. He answers several questions about the line, for example, why they are starting the line with the Sony E-mount and a Super 35 image circle rather than full frame. He also discusses a number of design challenges that the company had to overcome.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
The Fujinon MK18-55mm T2.9 was debuted for cinematographers at the ASC in February

His presentation was followed by Matt Duclos of Duclos lenses. Duclos ran the new Fujinon MK series through projection tests, and he was quite open about the results. Read on for a full transcription of the evening with presentations from Shingo Harada, President of Fujifilm North America Electronic Imaging and Optical, Tom Fletcher, Director of Sales at Fujifilm/Fujinon, Dubacz and Duclos. FUJIFILM will have the lenses on hand in booth #C7225 during NAB to be held from April 22-27 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Chuck Lee West Region Manager, Technology Manager, Fujinon: I would like to thank everybody for coming today. This is pretty exciting event for us. I hope you’ll think so too. You know this was asked me… What is Fujinon? Fujinon is the product that is made by Fujifilm Optical Devices. Our parent company is Fujifilm. You’ve all heard of Fujifilm. Probably less film today than there used to be, but still going! All the other divisions of Fujifilm have respective titles.

Ours is Fujifilm Optical Devices, maker of Fujinon devices. So today, we’re introducing a new lens series in the Fujinon world, and Tom Fletcher is gonna outline the schedule. It’s quite brief and I think it’ll be fun. But before that, I would like to introduce the president of the Americas, Mr. Shingo Harada, based out of Hollywood.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
Chuck Lee West Region Manager, Technology Manager, Fujinon, introduces the new Fujinon MK series

Shingo Harada, President of Fujifilm North America Electronic Imaging and Optical: Thank you, Chuck. Thank you very much for joining us today on this important day for Fujifilm and Fujinon brand of lenses. We take great pride in the quality of the lenses that Japanese master craftsmen and women make to create beautiful images and capture them on movies, in motion.

Today, you will hear about our very greatest innovation, the MK lenses. This lens follows in the pioneering footsteps that started with the cine lenses used in Star Wars, Episode Two and Three. I’d like to thank Kees Van Oostrum for allowing us to share our news with you at this prestigious location. We are grateful for their hospitality. Now we have Tom Fletcher, our director of sales, who will outline our program for you. Again, a sincere thank you for your time and attention!

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
Shingo Harada, President of Fujifilm North America Electronic Imaging and Optical

Tom Fletcher, Director of Sales at Fujifilm/Fujinon: Thank you very much, Shingo. Thank you again everybody for coming. This is a great honor for me to be here. I’m excited to launch these lenses at a historic place and hopefully, we’re gonna make some new history with these lenses moving forward. I want to also go through the agenda, what we’re going to be talking about today, just kind of a quick schedule. I’m going to be introducing Stosh, who is from our Canadian office. Stosh is going to through and give the presentation. He is going to be assisted a little bit by Matt Duclos who’s going to come up and say a few words here. The presentation won’t be very long. We’ll have a little bit of question and answer period. We’ll have ample time for you to ask questions of the DP’s that are here.

I’d like to thank Nancy Schreiber, by the way. Nancy and I first came to the ASC many years ago to the open house. If you haven’t been to the ASC open house right before the ASC awards, it’s one of the best events to come to. But I came and it was in a small rental house and Nancy welcomed me and helped introduce me around. So I’m always grateful to Nancy. She’s always been there. I thank her for coming today.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
Tom Fletcher, Director of Sales at Fujifilm/Fujinon

We have a couple of other cinematographers that are here today. Kind of looking to reporters so that you talking to your readers can talk to cinematographers and get their opinions on what we’re building with these lenses. I want to thank Eric Longden, Joe Slavin, and Izzy Pollak for being here, Cathy, both of them can speak a little Japanese too. That was a nice find that they can speak Japanese. So, I want to say thank you, and at this point I want to turn it over to Stosh. Stosh will go through the presentation for you. Thank you very much for coming. Thank you Shingo for allowing us to do this and have this place. Thank you.

FUJINON MK Lens – Image movie making / FUJIFILM

Stosh Durbacz, Canadian Sales Manager at Fujinon Inc: Welcome everyone. I’m the last stop before you guys get lunch (audience laughs), so, thanks for having me. I’m gonna go through a presentation here outlining a little bit about the thought process the factory went through in the design. What they learned communicating with the industry around the world and what the result was in the product that, hopefully, you’ve all had a chance to touch and experience already today.

Of course, as Chuck and other guys have already mentioned, we’ve had a long lineage, a long history in making cinematic lenses. In the larger image format size, we started with the HK series back in 2008, and then evolved into the ZK. I have to be careful. I am from Canada, so I want to call it the ZedK, and then the Cabrio series which certainly are world-renowned with five focal lengths in that world now. So what comes next? It’s the MK, which we introduce here today.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
Available for order now at $3,799, the Fujinon MK 18-55 mm T2.9 is an affordable, lightweight, and incredibly compact zoom lens for Super 35 cameras. The Fujinon MK50-135mm T2.9 zoom is planned for delivery this summer.

So the first thing we want to touch on is what was the opportunity? What did the research that the factory did tell them? Well, when we look at the camera market share out there, what we’ve determined is that the E-mount cameras that Sony makes are a large piece of the market, in terms of the camera side. EF cameras are also a large piece, and then we get into the Micro Four Thirds series and the PL mount. Further to that, when we look at the lenses, we’re finding that there’s a relatively small percentage of E-mount lenses being used, followed by a very large percentage of EF mounts. The Micro Four Thirds matched pretty closely, and then the PL mount taking the smallest section of the market overall.

What would we see in this? Oh, their formatting is a little bit off but, what we notice is that we’ve got a huge section of the market, the users, the shooters out there in the industry, that are using lenses that weren’t designed for a camera system. So they’re using them with adapters and they were designed to be used in different applications from motion picture capture. So that is the fundamental opportunity that we saw existing in the marketplace.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
Camera and lens market share according to research by FUJINON

From there, the research continued because we determined most people are using digital SLR glass. So there was a lot of communication with those users just to determine how that was going. Is that something that works for them? The negative feedback that we got, was things like the focus loss while zooming. So those lenses were never designed to be used in moving picture capture, so they don’t hold focus when you zoom. They’re not parfocal.

They tend to breathe. Again, you’re not capturing moving pictures, so when you wrap focus, they tend to have that zooming effect. They tend to breathe significantly. Exposure ramping. When we zoom to the tele end of some of these long lenses, your exposures will change. That could be troublesome. There’s no manual iris so a lot of EVF, a lot of these photo lenses, the irises don’t provide a manual option. We need to employ adapters. There’s added cost. There’s added size. There’s added weight when we start putting adapters between cameras and lenses.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
A few of the issues that FUJINON wanted to address in the design of the new MK Series lenses

Again, some of them need electricity to control. Some of these adapters have to have that electrical filling tag, and now we have challenges with those lenses. They don’t have that standard cinematic gear pitch on their range, so they use of the accessories that the shooters, and cinematographers, have become accustomed to, aren’t usable on those lenses… There are some limitations, as a result of their core design for photography, in terms of optical quality in again moving picture applications. So, the users of the SLR lenses felt that they certainly were not ideal for cinematic applications.

So, what was the strategy? Well, we wanted to develop a lens that was 100% optically parfocal, meaning when we start from our wide shot and zoom to the tele, we’re gonna hold focus. What the imagery here shows, if you’ve inserted the SLR lens, you’ll find that when you do change your focal length, you zoom to the tele end, you do lose focus. How did we do that? We’re doing that by having independent zoom and focus groups within the lens. Some people will say “Well that’s fine, but my SLR lens will just autofocus and then I’ll be okay.” Well that results in some lag and loss of control, so that’s obviously not something that’s desirable.

FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 Footage Shot by Philip Bloom

Another key feature is there’s no axial shift. What we’re saying is we’re staying optically centered as we zoom from the wide to the tele end. So we’re not gonna get that change in our center point, or spiraling effect, per se. What we’re also going to talk about here in a moment is the breathing. That’s what we really wanted to show… But again, when you talk about the actual shift, if we’re looking at the left side, we’re seeing the new lens, whereas if we’re looking on the right side we’re seeing the SLR lens, it’s going to start to shift off of focus. So generally your framing is gonna change as you change focal points. Which again is not overly desirable, but in a photography world you can reframe and capture a single image.

So here when we look at breathing what we’re seeing is, as we rack focus, we’re not getting a change in the overall framing. We’re not seeing those bamboo trees shift. We’re not seeing a zoom effect from the lens, as opposed to when we use the SLR lens. And now if we do that same focus wrap, you can see that noticeable breathing, changing in your overall image framing. There we go with a split screen to give you a sense of what we’re showing. Bamboo trees are helpful for that demonstration.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
Both lenses are parfocal to suppress breathing and focus shift

Another key feature when being used in the cinematic applications is the flat T stop. So the team was able to design these lenses at T 2.9. It is important to note that it is a T stop, not an f-stop. It gives a flat exposure from 18 to 55 on the lens that you see on the cameras here today. On the new lens that will come in July, the 50 to 135, that will also be T 2.9. So, now your second lens covering from 18 to 135 mm will be consistent T 2.9. That speed is going to allow for the shallow depth of field to give you that creative control over your depth of field. And the consistent T stop, we feel, is very important in conjunction, in addition to, the relative speed to allow for lighting your scene, then just leaving it, and you have the ability to use whichever focal length and not worry about exposure changes.

Another key feature is the small size. Hopefully you’ve all had a chance to hold it in your hands. We really think that’s gonna be one of the first reactions for you to get across to your readers are going to experience when they pull up this lens. It’s hard to believe how small, how lightweight it is. It comes in at just under 2.2 pounds, which is really equivalent to a popular digital SLR lens with the adapter for the 18 to 55. What’s very impressive is that the 50-135 mm, the companion lens, that will come in July, is the exact same weight. It’s 2.2 pounds. So now, when we look to the equivalent SLR lens with the adapter, it’s almost twice the weight, or getting close to twice the weight. So again, lightweight, small.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
The Fujinon MK18-55 T2.9 zoom lens

Further to the lightweight, we had some questions with some of the early reviewers, “Why didn’t you consider full-frame image circle size?” Well, the factory decided that a 28.5 Super 35 mm image circle was key. Certainly in an E-mount environment, the Sony FS 7, version two, version one, and the FS 5, all have centers with the diagonal size of 28.5. So really, with those mount cameras being the target market for these lenses, that made sense. But more importantly, if we were to consider a larger full frame image size, the result of that would be that the lens would be more than 50% bigger. So to use my props, what that means is full frame size with the MK 18-85, assuming we’re gonna keep T 2.9, of course, meant it’s going to be bigger than the 19 to 90 Cabrio. So now, some of those design goals of small, lightweight, inexpensive, would start to slip away on us a little bit.

Also, the decision to make it exclusively E-mount. Why did we do that? So again, in the physics of it, the optics, that short flange distance of the 18 mm on the Sony E-mount camera system, the good news is that it allows you to deploy with different adapters any other mount. That’s great and allows for great versatility with the Sony E-mount camera system. However, it results in bigger, longer, heavier, more expensive systems. So, in designing the lens exclusively for the E-mount, that enabled us to make it as small as possible.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
The 18mm flange distance on the Sony E-mount allowed the lenses to be built more compactly than other formats that FUJINON looked at

Just from the design team, if we were to have made it PL, that would have added 20 millimeters to the size. If we were to try to make it interchangeable, that would have added up to 34 millimeters to the size. So that certainly was important to consider when making that final decision. Also, that short flange distance allows for better control of chromatic aberrations in the overall actual design.

Now, in terms of the mechanical design of the lens, they were really designed to be a cinema tool. Certainly we spent a lot of time in the marketplace with the highest-end tools, and cinematographers, on the biggest shows. Here we see Claudio with one of our HK, Claudio Miranda, ASC, on Oblivion with the HK and a Sony F65. So, really, taking that same mechanical feature set down into this world, we have, just like the Cabrio, a 200 degree barrel rotation on the MK lens.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
Bill Bennett, ASC, taking a first look at the Fujinon MK 18-55 zoom lens

That allows for enough real estate on the lens to get good lines and give you some ability to hit your marks, but also at 200 degrees, the ability to run and gun, and, in a single-person operation, have the ability to get that barrel, get those focus marks, around on your own. Also 0.8 gear pitch. So all three, focus, zoom, and iris, have the .8 gear pitch. Again, I touched on that earlier, all your accessories that you love, you can use, from the third-party vendors. Integrates seamlessly. All manual, so we’re starting with a high-quality, all manual lens and you can add the accessories as you like for seamless iris.

Taking from, a little bit, let’s just say, the ‘DNA’ of the Cabrio, we’ve included on this lens the flange focal adjustment and the macro. The beauty of that is it allows you to adjust your flange, your back focus, set that, and then it also gives you the ability to get close focus up to the front of the lens using that macro feature. Anyone that’s used to that from the Cabrio series, it’s on all of those lenses. That’s a great feature that lets you get closer to the front of the lens with your subject matter than the spec minimum object distance.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
Zacuto has already designed several accessories for the FUJINON MK family of cine lenses

And as we said, part of the strategy is really allowing for those third-party vendors to integrate with the lens… You see some photos here from our friends at Zacuto, who have already got the lens, and are working towards products that are specifically going to help your readers, the users, to use these as best suited to them individually with the accessories that they’re bringing together.

High optical performance, obviously that’s important as well. If you have a chance to have a look, you’ll see that they certainly didn’t trade off on cost or size with optical performance. We like to say it’s sharing a lot of the same DNA as the Cabrio series. You’ll note that it does have the same HTEBC coating, so the high transmitting electronics beam coatings, from the Cabrio. It shares the same color temperature, so if you are using this on your B camera and you have Cabrios on your A, it’s gonna give you that same color, so in hopes you’ll have some savings there in terms of color correction. The center-to-corner optical quality is of particular importance. That certainly is maintained and the zoom and focus mechanical structure, and internal length of the lens, is shared again with the Cabrios.

At this time, though, I’m going to talk a little bit more about quality. We’re finally going to get to Matt Duclos. Matt has had a chance to project this lens. He did have an E-mount on his projector at his shop here locally. I was real excited to finally have an opportunity to see it myself projecting. I’ll let Matt tell you what his experience was now.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
Matthew Duclos, COO, Project Manager, Duclos Lenses, talks about his findings in testing the FUJINON MK Series lenses

Matthew Duclos, COO, Project Manager, Duclos Lenses: Hello. I’m Matt Duclos, for anybody who doesn’t know. This was taken a while ago (*referring to presentation image) despite the exact same outfit. This is what I wear. We had this lens a couple of times, pre-production, and just recently the past couple of weeks, mostly just to give feedback to Fujinon on what we thought. Throughout the whole process we were always very, very pleased with the optical performance. To be completely upfront, I wasn’t sure about the plastic body at first, but the more I had it, the more I played with it, the more I realized it really wasn’t a trade-off for any other aspects… By having the plastic body you really gained versatility, you didn’t lose any performance in the optics, which to me is what’s probably most important, optical performance.

I think you can see in the photo, this is the primary tool that we use for checking lenses, the lens projector. That lets us measure a ton of different metrics. To me it’s really the primary way to check lenses. A lot of people love throwing them on MTF machines, looking at numbers, MTF numbers. But, we’ve seen lenses that MTF really-high, and then perform really low on the camera, just don’t give a good look, and vice-versa. Lenses that don’t perform really at all on the MTF machine, but then look great on camera. So, the projector for us is a primary tool.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
The FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 looking sporty on Sony a7 model mirrorless

When we were projecting it, we found the resolution was easily 4K-ready, 6K, pretty much any resolution you would want. It’s 200 line pairs in the center, which for anyone who doesn’t know, you can’t really equate it to a resolution, because your resolution is really dependent on your pixel density, but 200 line pairs is good. We’ll leave it at that. That’s about as good as you can get, right? And it maintains that 200 line pairs almost all the way out to the edge. You lose a little bit, which you do with every lens. So, in terms of resolution, we were really happy with it. Contrast was beautiful…

Other aspects? T-stopped it. Everything was great there. What else did we see? There wasn’t anything that they haven’t already talked about. We just confirmed it, basically. The tracking, zoom-tracking, it does track really well. The fact that it’s parfocal, which seems to be the huge buzz word right now, all of a sudden everyone’s a lens tech who knows what parfocal means! But, the lens does hold focus at zoom, which most lenses of this price won’t. The adjustable back focus really helps that. Even if there is a little bit of flaw in your zoom curve, you tweak that back focus adjustment and it’s perfect again.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
There is macro mode as well as back focus adjustment on both lenses

So that’s a really really nice feature. I’m glad that they kept that in there, because they easily could have saved a couple more bucks and left out the back-focus adjustment. What else about it?

Audience member: Is there distortion?

Matthew Duclos: Distortion, there is some distortion. It’s not bad. I can’t remember, I think at the wide end, there’s like two point five percent… It switches throughout the zoom, so at one end, it’s barrel, and on the other end it’s pincushion. I can’t remember which one was which right now. But, it went from like two point five, I want to say barrel, to like four percent pincushion, which is perfectly acceptable. In fact, that’s kind of what you expect, especially at this price. Anything better than that you would definitely looking at a much more expensive lens. Most lenses, four to five times the prices of this, have more distortion. So, that was very impressive.

David Alexander Willis, HDVideoPro: Did you test the macro at all?

Matthew Duclos: It works! Macro, from the tilt plane, I think it goes down to… on the film plane it’s like, 16 inches or 14 inches, so from the front of the lens, you’re talking like ‘right there’. Which is almost too much, because then you start casting shadows from the camera, but it works really well. Yeah, macro works. What else about it? I think that’s about it. I definitely do talk a lot more when there’s Q & A and stuff about what we do.

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
The primary features of the new FUJINON MK family of cine lenses

Audience member: Back focus versus shims?

Matthew Duclos: Back focus versus shims. So we are doing Q & A! (laughs) I assume that Fujinon brought me on because I’m sort of the lens police. I’m not affiliated with Fujinon in any way. I’m very, very neutral as it is with every manufacturer. Back focus versus shifts. If you know what you’re doing with a back focus adjustment, it’s a very, very good feature to have on a lens. The problem for us is that people fiddle with it. They don’t know what they’re doing, and then they say the lens isn’t working. We have to show them how to actually correct it.

But for guys who are in the field and have that adjustable back focus, it’s a lifesaver. You’re talking a difference of okay quick, adjust the back focus in, I don’t know, if you’re good at it, 30 seconds? Compared to sending a lens all the way back to a rental house, having it down for a day, taking it apart, putting in some shims, back together, and shipping it back the next day. It’s a difference of 30 seconds and two days. So the adjustable back focus, if you know what you’re doing, is brilliant. It couldn’t be easier. That’s a really, really useful feature. Thank you guys! (applause)

Fujifilm Fujinon MK lenses
Planned availability and pricing for the FUJINON MK lenses

Stosh Durbacz: And further with back focus. If you don’t know what you’re doing, and for members of the press, if your readers don’t know what they’re doing, certainly it is a very simple process. With practice a couple of times, it’s something they can pick up really easily. It’s certainly not something that translates from the photo side, but we have a video online, and asset to help training anyone at any time. So, to wrap things up, the next steps. I’m not sure if we’ve mentioned it yet (laughs), but there’s gonna be a new MK lens, it’s an 18 to 55 coming, T 2.9. It’s an E-mount cine zoom, a family of cine zooms.

The price point for this lens is going to be $3,799 and it starts shipping now. The lens we have over there is the first saleable production unit to come to North America. So, they’re in stock and starting to deliver in the next week. The 50 to 135 MK telephoto version, there is a mock-up here at the show. Again, I mentioned, same T 2.9, same feature set. The price point will be in the same ball park, we haven’t nailed that down just yet and we plan to have it delivering in July 2017.

Check the price and availability of the Fujinon MK18-55mm T2.9 lens at B&H.

Check the price and availability of the Fujinon MK50-135mm T2.9 Lens at B&H.