Sirius 28mm F2.8 is one of these lenses that I’ve had for a long time now, hoping to test it out some day. It’s an unknown, third party brand and on paper it doesn’t stand out in any way, except for the “MACRO” feature, which is often found on various vintage zoom lenses too, so I never took real notice of it.
Before I go any further I wanted to clarify that even though I’ve tested this lens on BMPCC it will work on almost any camera, depending on the mount you buy. The one I have has the Canon FD mount which is not great for Canon EF mount cameras, but quick look on ebay revealed that this lens comes in various other mounts including M42, Olympus OM, Minolta MD, Pentax PK, so it’s not limited to just one particular camera and even if you’re not interested in BMPCC you might still be interested in this lens.
As some of you know I recently I bought the BMPCC which made me see a lot of my lenses in very different way. Suddenly I wide angle 28mm prime like Sirius becomes more like an 80mm prime at which point MACRO feature becomes very useful because close up shots look much more natural and flattering at 80mm than on 28mm focal length. Saying that, a 28mm lens effective focal length that you would get a full frame camera can give you some very interesting results too that might be perfect for certain situations.
My first experience using this lens was when I picked it as the widest taking lens for my BMPCC Anamorphic Test, but since the Proskar anamorphic lens I was testing can’t focus closer than 5ft, I couldn’t really test out the MACRO capabilities of the Sirius, so I decided it deserves its own dedicated test.
The Sirius 28mm is capable of 1:4 magnification ratio which is not a real Macro magnification, but with effective focal length of just over 80mm on BMPCC getting nice shots of eyes or small writing is not a problem at all. Also when focusing so closely you have just about as much shallow depth of field as you can take, so the images are very cinematic even on a smaller sensor camera like BMPCC.
Even though it’s definitely not a high-end lens, like most other vintage lenses, it very well with a full metal construction; smooth, very long (300°) focusing rotation, similar to what you’d find on cine lenses, helping you fine-tune your focusing in very precise way. There are 11 aperture settings from F2.8 to F22, which is also helpful when aperture adjustment is used to help achieve a perfect exposure.
I’ve used this lens along with the Canon FD 50mm F1.4 for the anamorphic test and in terms of built quality, Sirius actually felt superior to Canon, has a solid, quality, but plastic body.
Coming round to optics, they looks nice thanks to multi-coating both on the front and back elements. There are total 6 elements in 6 groups inside, so it’s a fairly comprehensive optical design.
Even though everything above sound very nice, it’s not good enough if the actual optical performance is poor. Let’s start from the bad news: at F2.8 the image is dreamy/fuzzy and not even in a nice way, but with 1 click down to F4 things improve dramatically, which is often the case with cheaper vintage lenses. The chromatic aberration is also present in certain lighting situation, but its no worse than you’d find on a 5 times more expensive modern Canon zoom lens.
The images from this lens certainly have the vintage feel, which is what I love such lenses for. As you can see in the video above it produces some really nice purple flares what definitely add nice character and this is the real stuff, not digital light leaks, so doesn’t get better than this.
Overall, If this lens would cost £100/$200 I would say don’t buy it. £50/$100? Probably still a bit too much, but the reality is that you can buy this lens for under £25/$50, so at this price I think it’s definitely a great value for money lens, especially for those who need a wide angle prime for their full frame camera, or a close up lens for one of the Black Magic cameras. I think teaming it up with a speedbooster would also be a great idea, meaning that you could keep it at F4 without worrying about shallow depth of field or low light performance + it would become a fairly wide angle lens on Super35/APS-C sensor cameras.
Lastly, to get an idea what field of view you should expect from this lens, here is an (approx) Effective Focal Length you’d get on different size sensors (without speed-booster/focal reducer):
- Full Frame/35mm: 28mm
- Super35/APS-C: 43mm
- Micro 4/3: 56mm
- BMCC: 65mm
- BMPCC: 81mm
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