If you are not using any Super16 cameras, you might want to skip this review because this lens doesn’t cover bigger sensors.
While testing the little Canon C-16 13mm F1.3, I wasn’t planning on making a review about it. “Just another c-mount prime lens” I thought to myself. It was only when I edited the test footage and applied the grade to it when I saw the real potential of this lens, but before we get into the visual part let’s take a look at technical aspects of this lens.
Build Quality & Usability:
Like most c-mount lenses, this 13mm is very compact, which makes a perfect companion for bmpcc or digital bolex. While this lens is fully metal and is quite weighty at 240g, my copy feels “loose” because there is tiny bit of play in a between a few joining parts of the lens, although it doesn’t seem to create any problems when filming. Aperture ring has click-stops and focus ring only has about 90° of rotation, both of which are not idea for video use, but on a more positive note, the closest focusing distance is pretty good at 30cm/1ft and with c-mount is very easy to get even closer if you really need to, just unscrew a lens out a bit and you will be able to get even closer to your subject. I think I’ve done that for one of the shots in my video above.
Coverage & Image quality:
Sensor coverage is often the problem when it comes to wider c-mount lenses, but thankfully this 13mm covers the BMPCC sensor perfectly, with no vignetting whatsoever, however edge sharpness can often be a problem on lenses that aren’t designed for a much bigger sensor and as suspected, extreme edges are really soft all the way F4/5.6, but in real life, how often will have something important right it that corner of the frame? 🙂 In my real life shooting conditions, corner sharpness did not bother me at all even at F2. The canter sharpness is what I’m usually more interested in and while it’s quite soft wide open, by F2 it improves enough to be usable and by F2.8/4 it’s pretty much as good as might need on bmpcc. My “beauty shots” were actually shot around F2/2.8, which looks pretty sharp to me, but some might say: what is the point of it being an F1.5 lens if it’s not usable wide open? Well, I always prefer to start as fast as possible, knowing that if I stop the lens down a bit, I’ll get the best out of it. That is the case with most lenses and not only vintage ones. Most F1.4/1.5 lenses will perform much better at F2.8 than any F2.8 lens wide open.
Now this is the real reason why I decided to make this review. When lens has character, I can ignore usability issues and soft edges. This lens flares beautifully has the most amazing, smooth bokeh, which gets pretty “swirly” at the closest focusing distance! It also stays pretty round at all f-stops thanks to the 10 aperture blades. Some c-mount lenses suffer from a lack of character, but this lens is certainly not one of them!
- Filter thread: 43mm
- 9 aperture presents from F1.5 to F22
- 90° focus throw
- Closest focusing distance: 30cm / 1ft
- Weight: 240g
- Mount: “C” screw mount
- Made in Japan
Let’s now put some things into perspective with some pros and cons.
- Very fast at F1.5
- Great closest focusing distance at 30cm
- Amazing character
- Full sensor coverage on BMPCC
- Questionable build quality
- Quite short focus throw
- Soft wide open
- Poor edge sharpness
While 13mm might sound wide, on Super16 sensor this lens is more of a medium wide, great all-rounder. Even with its downsides, the images it produces are worthy of its price (as long as it’s under $200). If you are a serious Super16 / c-mount user and come across one of these cheap, then I would certainly recommend checking it out!
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