While I was browsing the goodies for my Sony NEX3 at Adorama (one of my favorite online Camera stores) I came across a lens called the SLR Magic. There were a couple of them, but the one that caught my eye was the 35mm F1.7.
I was very curious about this lens that I’ve never heard of. So, I started searching online for some information. One of the websites that popped up in my google search was Steve Huff Photo, and he had done a review of the NEX5 with the SLR Magic 35! After reading Steve’s review I was hooked and went back to Adorama and pushed the button.
After a few short days my package arrived, and I was surprised at how small it was (it actually fit in our small mailbox! After opening it, I could see why. The box containing the lens was small, and so was the lens itself. Small yes, but it had a solid feel to it. I quickly mounted it on my NEX3 and went into the menus to get it set up for a test.
The SLR Magic Lens is completely manual, no autofocus, no auto anything! I had to set the camera to be able to fire without a lens attached since it didn’t recognize the SLR Magic. The NEX3 also has a feature called Manual Focus Assist. This will enlarge the picture on the LCD and make it easier to get the focus just right. I assigned the MF Assist to one of my 3 soft buttons making it very simple to use when needed.
Here’s what the SLR Magic looks like mounted to my NEX3:
Here’s what the SLR Magic looks like compared to the Sony 18-55mm lens:
Just to give you another a different view and sense of the size of the NEX3 with SLR Magic, I placed it next to my Sony F707:
One of the questions you may be asking is why go back to a manual focus lens when I have all of this technology at my fingertips? Good question, maybe I’m starting to go soft in the head! Actually I was looking to shrink my photo equipment footprint, and stumbled upon the SLR Magic. Using it was like stepping back in time, when there were no autofocus cameras, no image stabilizers, no auto exposure, no auto anything! You actually had to stop and think about how you wanted to capture the scene, and how to set the camera to make it happen. Having to manually focus and set the aperture gave me a taste of that simpler time, and I have to admit that I really enjoyed it!
Before I show you more samples from the NEX3 and SLR Magic 35mm I want to touch the subject of a smaller footprint again. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or maybe I’m getting a little lazy, but whatever the reason, I’m very interested in shrinking the size of my photo equipment. It really hit me in the back of the head during my month long vacation to the Eastern Sierra. I had 5 cameras with me, and all of the bags and other crap to go along with them. This takes up quite a bit of space in the motorhome. And then when I actually used my larger DSLR Canon’s, I started to resent them a little. At 7,500 feet, carrying anything for any length of time starts to become a chore. When I started hiking (up to about 8,500 feet), I really started to dislike my heavy, bulky DSLR! Small, quick, easy to carry; that’s what I’m interested in now! The Sony NEX3 meets those requirements nicely! I’ll talk more about shrinking equipment in another post.
Back to the NEX3 and SLR Magic 35mm. Overall, I’m pleased! The SLR Magic 35mm gives me another option that I didn’t have before (specifically F1.7). Using F1.7 really blows out the background, something that isn’t as easy to do with my Sony 18-55mm lens.
Here are a few more photos. These are from an outing to the Los Angeles Arboretum.
Orchids, Sony NEX3 & SLR Magic 35mm @ F1.7
Sony NEX3 & SLR Magic 35mm @ F1.7
Sony NEX3 & SLR Magic 35mm @ F16
Sony NEX3 & SLR Magic 35mm @ F2.8
Time to wrap this up! My final thoughts on the SLR Magic are positive. No, it’s not a perfect lens. While it does feel pretty solid overall, the fit and finish are just ok. The focusing ring has a rubber ridged grip that is crooked. It doesn’t affect operation but looks sloppy. Trying to nail the focus down even with the MF Assist feature of the NEX3 can be a bit tedious at times. That’s not the lens fault, but some may not enjoy the challenge. And even when it is properly focused, it will probably not be as sharp as other high end lenses such as Canons L series. But the cost of SLR Magic is a whole lot less (only $139), so I’m ok with it’s imperfections. If you’re looking for a simple, light weight lens with a big aperture, then the SLR Magic may be for you! Check out Adorama and see if they have one for your camera!
Until next time, Happy Shooting!