There are at least a dozen of options on the market when it comes to extremely fast manual focus lenses for your Canon EOS M or Sony E-mount camera, but none of them could come even close to the price tag of this particular one.
The Chinese Sainsonic Kamlan 50mm lens for APS-C cameras boasts maximum aperture of f/1.1 and will set you back just $169. It’s an appealing choice for the price, but can the build and image quality possibly be good enough for your professional workflow? Let’s find out right away in the quick video review produced by Christopher Frost Photography below.
Apparently, the lens provides some decent image quality and is capable of producing a stunning bokeh when being wide open. Plus, it has extremely small and lightweight form factor with a very solid metal body which according to Christopher Frost feels nicely engineered. It’s a fully manual lens, so no AF, image stabilization, or any other advanced optical technology built-in whatsoever.
Both the focus and aperture rings work very smoothly with the latter being de-clicked which is a serious advantage for videographers who want to change exposure flawlessly while shooting video. The lens has a claimed eleven circular aperture blades that produce smooth bokeh when the lens is fully stopped down. The unit also features a metallic 52mm filter thread on the front and comes equipped with the usual front and rear caps, microfiber cleaning cloth alongside a small plastic hood.
Considering the price you pay for this dirt cheap Chinese lens, the build quality is surprisingly good and robust. Regarding the available glass elements, the Sainsonic Kamlan 50mm f/1.1 lens packs five pieces in five groups with high quality multi-coated optical glass. From the tests in the video above, we can see that the lens is extremely sharp in the center of the frame even when shooting with it at f/1.1 aperture. Here’s how it stacks up aginst the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens that currently costs twice as much.
Of course, there are certain shortcomings such as the purple fringing artifacts of the image that can be easily spotted in multiple high-contrast situations, but we can’t expect more from a lens in this price range. Sadly, the corners of the image are quite soft as well, especially when shooting at the maximum aperture that the lens provides.
Sainsonic Kamlan 50mm f/1.1 Lens Specifications
Focal Length: 50mm
Visual angle range: 31°@ APS-C
Filter diameter: 52mm
Minimum Object Distance: 0.5m
Focus type: Manual
Lens structure: 5 groups 5 elements
Net Weight: 248g
Canon M-Mount, Sony E-Mount versions
Nevertheless, the Sainsonic Kamlan 50mm f/1.1 is a nicely built manual lens that can give you some exceptional value for the money as it could hardly be beaten by any of its rivals in this class. Overall, the lens could be an excellent choice for newbie videographers and enthusiasts alike working on a shoestring budget.
Last but not least, there are Fuji X and Micro 4/3 versions of the Sainsonic Kamlan 50mm f/1.1 coming down the road which eventually will make it even more versatile and appealing budget option for video shooters predominantly filming with any of the natively supported APS-C camera systems out there.