It was only a couple of weeks ago that the Viltrox 0.71x smart m43 focal reducer became widely available through eBay for the stunning introductory price of only $159 including shipping from HK to North America (Toronto for me). It follows the optical prescription of the original Metabones Speedbooster with 4 lenses in 4 groups and full EXIF/AF support for Canon lenses. Given that the current Metabones T Speedbooster Ultra retails for $649, this seems like an incredible deal … but is it any good? I’ve had the misfortune of buying a Chinese made smart adaptor that was so poorly machined that it was extremely difficult to mount and never worked, likely because the electrical contacts did not line up correctly.
Things were off to a good start. I received the adaptor in under 10 days during the peak of the Christmas rush!!!! The packaging was very good and clearly a nod to Metabones. Also included was the correct sized hex wrench and miniature Phillips head screwdriver.
And it was nicely machined, slipped onto all my m43 bodies without stress and with a positive lock. Unfortunately the AF does not work reliably with the E-M1 or E-M1.2 but that was disclosed by the company from the onset. It apparently works with the E-M5, E-M10 and GH4/5 so likely not talking well with the phase detect focus system. It also does not work at all with the Yi M1 or the Z Camera E1. I have faith that a new firmware version will be available to make it work with the E-M1 family.
My test camera is the EPL-5 and the AF was quick and accurate much like what I experienced with the Kipon or Metabones adaptors that I have. There was no real need to quantify the AF speed as I have in past tests because Viltrox AF is simply more than fast enough for real world applications and there is no hunting. I did want to test the optics of the focal reducer and for that I performed my usual MTF tests as described ad nauseum in past articles. Going in a clockwise direction from the upper left: Kipon adaptor (with Canon 200mm f/2.8 L series prime), Metabones Speedbooster S, Metabones T Speedbooster Ultra, and Viltrox EF-M2. Red curves are MTF10 and green curves are MTF30.
The MTF curves do appear to demonstrate that the Viltrox has the sharpest centers with a rapid falloff halfway across the frame but the undeniable take home message is that it is as good as the Metabones. For a whole lot less. In fact, the current eBay listing shows a price change already to $200 USD so demand appears to be healthy. I heartily recommend that this little trinket find its way to your favourite m43 user’s stocking.
Addendum Dec 16/17.
Even the family pet is intrigued by the new Viltrox adaptor and wanted to check it out for himself. Fortunately he soon grew bored of it after realizing it was inedible and allowed himself to be photographed.
If you click on the image, you can inspect it at 100%.
The Viltrox adaptor was used on the left, and the Metabones T Speedbooster Ultra on the right.
Addendum Dec 24, 2017.
In case it’s not clear that the optical sharpness of the Viltrox is very similar to the Metabones T Speedbooster Ultra, I’ve included the ISO test chart and 200% center crops of each for study.
Metabones (left) and Viltrox (right), click to see in full original resolution
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