Schneider-Kreuznach is a well respected lens maker, who primarily has specialized in ultra-high end cinema lenses and large format photographic lenses for their subsidiary company B+W, which is probably the most well respected photographic filter maker in the business. They also make many of the lenses for the Samsung NX series mirrorless cameras, though the construction isn’t quite reminiscent of their other top grade lenses.
On Thursday, Schneider-Kreuznach announced their first entry into the Micro 4/3 system with their new Super-Angulon 14mm f/2.0 lens. Schneider joined the Micro Four Thirds group a while back, so it’s great to finally see the fruits of their labor. I think this release is notable and very exciting for a few reasons and underwhelming for a few reasons as well, and I’ll elaborate in a shot bit, but let’s first take a look at the new lens:
There are a few things that are a little disappointing about this lens, at least how it fits into the existing Micro 4/3 range of lenses.
- At 14mm, it covers a range that is already massively represented by existing Micro 4/3 lenses. Already covering this range are all versions of the Olympus 14-42mm kit lens, All versions of the Panasonic 14-45mm and 14-42mm kit lenses, the Olympus 12-50mm zoom, both the Panasonic and Olympus 14-150ish super zooms and the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 pancake lens. Needless to say, it’s not a focal length that is missing from the lens lineup.
- At f/2.0, it offers only a slightly brighter view than the much smaller Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 pancake.
- While not unexpected, this lens will be quite expensive. No official price has been released, but they have said the target is ‘under €1500′. That’s not cheap.
For this reason, it’s not going to be a lens that I think will sell in large volume. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s a lens that isn’t going to stir a ton of excitement on specs alone. However, I think there IS reason to be excited for this lens for high end users.
- While some of the more ‘exotic’ lens makers like Zeiss and Cosina Voigtlander have made lenses for many different formats, including Micro 4/3, when these lenses have come to formats other than their native mount (or any mount in the case of Voigtlander), they have been strictly manual focus lenses. While Zeiss has at least made for autoaperture control with their ZE and ZF line for Canon and Nikon, they still are left without AF. Schneider-Kreuznach, however, has made this first entry a true, completely native Micro 4/3 lens. It has full electronic aperture and autofocus, plus a focus ring that works like the rest of the native lenses. It’s wonderful to see a high end lens maker embrace a third party mount with such completeness. It bodes very well for the future.
- The Super-Angulon lenses have historically been absolutely stellar optics. There is every reason to believe, especially given the premium pricing, that this will be the highest performing Micro 4/3 wide-angle, and probably by a good margin. There’s a little pressure here as well if it doesn’t live up to expectations, but I’d expect this lens to be essentially razor sharp corner to corner with extremely minimal CA and distortion. Should be a truly pro-grade optic.
- Schneider-Kreuznach has said two additional lenses are slated to be released later already. We can only hope that they build out a rather exciting lineup of really high grade stuff. Again, ultra-high grade native lenses are a really welcome addition to the system.
So there you have it. While this lens will likely be well out of my budget for a 14mm lens, I am really excited to see that they’ve committed to the m4/3 mount in full force with a truly native lens. The company’s reputation for creating outstanding lenses gives me hope that this lens will be a truly world-class optic. I hope for more great things to come from this new entry to the format.