Posts Tagged Wide Angle Add-On
A few weeks back a Singapore based firm that sells the EMOLUX series of filters, conversion lenses and accessories, contacted me and asked if I was interested in doing a review of a wide-angle add-on! I naturally said YES! 🙂 It has sort of become an interest of mine and a lot of my blog readers! I was allowed to pick from their quite extensive selection of lens add-ons. Being a Canon photographer myself and also being a blogger I naturally picked an add-on for the most common Canon lens, the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II kit lens with 58mm filter thread! For those of you that are not so familiar with Canon products this is a lens for a APS-C size sensor Canon camera.
The company has NOT interfered with my review in any way and has let me write this review in my usual style and all the results and opinions are my own!
I picked the EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD 58mm as I thought that was the one most people (well at least many Canon photographers 😉 ) would be interested in. I would hope, though, that this review also would interest photographers with other camera brands as well as this wide angle add-on or conversion lens comes in many other sizes for other cameras as well! I have seen prices on the web of around €80/£71/$95 for this (November 2017). As with my previous tests I wanted to compare the add-on and kit lens combo with my $480 Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM. Well, let’s start from the beginning!
The EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD comes in a rather stylish black, green and silver box with the usual writings on the mostly black box. I will just mention a few: 0.45x magnification, Broadband Multi Layer Anti-reflection coating and it also states that Lens Compatibility is f=28mm. I will comment on these claims in the following text.
You get the add-on packed in one of those double boxed solutions. With a nice looking outer box and a sturdy brown carton inner box. The lens add-on is packed in a proper faux leather, slightly padded, lens pouch with a 86mm lens cap and a 58mm rear lens cover.
As can be seen from the picture the wide angle lens add-on is much wider then the Zeikos ZE-WA58B that I tested previously. The Emolux looks as if it could actually do the job – properly! It is weighing 312 gr on my scale – bare! And 375 gr with covers and lens pouch. Together with the kit lens the combo weighs 512 gr. That is very close to the same weight as that of the Sigma (508 gr) – albeit the Sigma is then including a lens hood!
Removing the large spring loaded plastic lens cap reveals the almost(?) flat front lens. It is obviously anti-reflex coated as one can see green, blue and purple slight reflections from the lenses inside the add-on. They call it “Broadband Multi Layer Anti-reflection” coating and I can not dispute that.
What puzzles me a little is that it states that Lens Compatability is f=28mm. It is very natural to assume that is means that it works well with a wide angle lens with equivalent focal length of 28mm! In my case it would have to mean f=18mm as that is the equivalent of f=28.8 – using the Canon crop factor of 1.6 – maybe even with 0.8 mm to spare! It does NOT say anything like that on the box so these (in my opinion very reasonable) assumptions are my own! As you will see from my following testing this seems to be correct!
The EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD is a rather impressive looking add-on. It widens in two separate steps from the 58 mm filter thread at the back. First it widens onto a rubber coated grip-friendly ring and then the second widening is to the full 88 mm outer brim – filter thread is slightly less at 86 mm. It is quite easy to hold it both on the rim and especially well on rubberized inner ring. It looks quite impressive screwed onto the rather anonymous 18-55mm lens. Want to impress someone? This add-on is the thing to get! 😉 All the lens surfaces are clean looking and looking through the lens is like looking trough crystal clear water! It is built as one single unit. Nothing that can be screwed apart – as with the other add-ons. The rear lens is opening a full 52.5 mm towards the original lens – boding good for the light transfer! We will soon see if this bears out in the testing!
Using the Add-On
These types of add-on lenses you screw onto the front of an ordinary lens using its filter thread. That said the add-on must naturally have the proper size to fit in your lens filter thread. In my case 58 mm. It will fit on all (most?) lenses with 58 mm filter thread. These types of wide angle add-ons makes most sense to use either on a fixed prime lens or on a zoom lens. It is also worth noting that as the reason for having a wide angle add-on is (naturally) to get a wider angle of view so the zoom lens should (naturally) be used in the wide angle end! There is no idea using the tele side of the zoom lens with this type of add-on! There exists instead teletype of add-ons for that particular purpose!
Screwing the EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD onto my Canon EF-S 18-55 mm was quite easy. You want to be a litle careful as the Canon lens is made of plastic and the Emolux is made from metal! A trick is to place it against the thread and turn it slightly backwards till you feel a little “bump” – then carefully try to feel if it will catch the proper thread. Repeat until successful! Works best – I think – with the camera on the back with the lens pointing upwards!
This review would not be complete if I did not mention that this is a substantial piece of lens to put onto your original lens. It is quite an impressive chunk – it booth looks impressive and feels it too! (See the picture to the left!) It works surprisingly well with automatic focusing – you feel the focusing move a little clearer but it focuses almost as quickly as normal. The contrast focusing in live view seems to need just a little bit extra time. Manual focusing I think feels actually a little better than normal, because of the bigger diameter – especially the rubberized ring! As you can see i the picture it is much bigger than the original focus ring!
How about the 0.45x?
Is the EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD converting the 18mm of the kit lens to 0.45 x 18mm = 8.1 mm? Well, I have to say no! It is the same as other wide angle add-ons with the same statement. They are not stating that it is actually converting the focal length that much – but it is sooo easy for us consumers to jump to that conclusion! As I have calculated earlier the focal length you get is around 11.8mm which gives you an additional 0.45x the area or 45% more area coverage. If you are interested the resulting focal length factor is around 0.65x. At the wide angle end of a zoom lens every mm matters a lot – even just 1.8mm difference to Sigmas 10mm! You can easily see in the comparison pictures that the Sigma has a wider angle at its 10 mm setting – which I think has proved this point!
First of all: How should you test two “lenses” like this? What is a fair comparison? How would you use a wide angle lens combo like this? Well, I would use it at its widest angle – naturally depending on the motif! 😉 What I mean is that I would not want to keep off using the widest angle – so it would have to be good enough! I have refrained from any detailed comparison of the Emolux and other add-ons I have tested because this is a real add-on conversion lens! It is much more relevant to compare the Emolux add-on to a proper wide angle lens like the Sigma!
Also to consider is how you intend to use the pictures! Is it smaller pictures shown on the web? Then you are lucky as you can pick as you please – because it will matter very little – sharpness wise. No one will see any direct fault with your pictures whichever alternative you pick! Do you intend to make large meter size prints? Well then only the best lens and the best aperture for that lens will do!
Emolux sample picture of the reddish leaves and the tree trunks. The slight hill is emphasized by the lens being pointed slightly downwards. Another sample taken straight up into the trees with their yellow leaves. (Click the sample pictures to see them full size!)
The first test spin I took the EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD was on a lovely, sunny, but a little cold autumn day shortly after lunch. Here in Sweden we are just finishing autumn and will move into winter any day now! I naturally brought along my Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM for comparison.
The local park with its colourful autumn leaves I thought would be a great place to try it out. I screwed the EMOLUX onto my Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II kit lens and, with the camera on a tripod, I took a number of comparison pictures with the help of a infrared remote control and I also took a number of free hand sample pictures. My main camera nowadays is Canon EOS 760D, an APS-C cropped sensor camera, and I naturally used that for this test. I got a number of pictures done!
The second test spin was a few days later and I thought that winter slowly had begun because of a thin layer of snow and a few degrees below frezzing. I was waiting for the light to improve and it was a little late in the afternoon before I could go out for the test. The light was fading so quickly that I decided to go out a third time.
I really had to wait for the third test spin to get a day with decent light! Finally it arrived and I brought along all my stuff outside once more. The list of all the settings and different combinations that I wanted to do, the tripod, all the lenses, camera, warm gloves and a nice knitted cap! Now all the previous (little) snow had disappeared and turned into water and mostly been sucked up by the grass and soil. The temperature a few degrees above freezing. A pale sun barely crept over the horizon.
At last I had all the comparison pictures of all the settings and with all the lenses in reasonable similar lighting conditions, that I wanted! I have compared the EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD + Canon EF-S 18-55 mm (“the Combo”) with both the Canon EF-S 18-55 mm (“the Kit Lens”) and the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM.
According to my calculations with the “Combo” you will get a new wide angle zoom with the range 11.8-36.1 mm.
Full Screen Viewing
Full screen viewing is when the picture is shown on the display screen so that you can see the whole picture at the same time on the display! That also means that it is scaled down to the resolution of the display screen. All viewing was done on a 24″, 1920×1200 pixel, factory colour calibrated, DELL U2410 computer display. All comparison pictures are taken with “Av” mode (aperture value selection) and fully automatic exposure.
First of all, vignetting is practically zero – this really works as a wide angle add-on should work! Vignetting is the darkening of the corners and can be seen on the other wide angle add-on reviews I have made. I could use it at my widest angle of the 18-55 mm lens and no noticeable vignetting! This is clearly where the Emolux has its greatest advantage compared to some other smaller add-ons! Or, as I already have said, rather it works as one would expect a wide angel add-on to work – with no vignetting! It would also be really super on a video camera or any camera with a fixed lens – when this is the only way to get the wider angle! In the sample pictures above you can easily see that there is no vignetting! (Click the sample pictures above to see them full size!)
Lets start with the widest angle for the Combo 11.8 mm and compare that to the Sigma. At the largest aperture (shown in the TrippleCrop) I think that the Emolux Combo corner actually is a little sharper than the Sigma lens. Also, as you will see in the following comparison the Sigma generally gives a slightly darker exposure. ‘
As we stop down the lenses the difference gets so small that I would call them both as sharp or at least extremely difficult to differentiate from each other. The optimal aperture for all lenses is around f11.0 give or take 1 f-stop.
Continuing with widest angle that all three lenses have in common – the resulting focal length of 18 mm with full aperture. I have included that focal length here for completeness sake as you would probably not want to unscrew the Emolux every time you need something else than the widest angle! So it is interesting to see how it performs also at this focal length!
For the resulting focal length of 18 mm: ALL the pictures from ALL the lenses look perfect in the major centre part of the pictures when viewed full screen on a 24″, 1920×1200 pixel, factory calibrated, DELL U2410 screen. I will not bother to show cut outs for this as they all look very similar!
At their largest aperture you can see a slight softening or blurring at the very corners for the kit lens and then naturally also a little more for the Emolux – while the Sigma, that at 18 mm not is used at its widest angle, is nice and sharp. The Sigma though shows similar slight blurring at 10 mm – when viewed at full screen. The TrippleCrops shown above were all taken at the largest aperture opening of each lens (from left 3.5, 4.0, and 5.6). (Click TrippleCrop above to see it pixel for pixel on your screen!)
Less blurring is visible at the top and bottom sides.
For 18 mm corner softness improves a lot by stopping down the lenses. At each lens’s optimal aperture there is practically no difference at all in full screen viewing for any part of the picture! That goes for all other focal lengths as well. There is slightly more corner blurring at the widest angles 11.8 mm and 10 mm – both for Emolux and Sigma. Nothing to get worked up about and at lesser picture sizes not noticeable! And this is also probably the way that most people will use the pictures! BUT if you need pin sharpness then stopping down might be good enough for you or else you will have to shift lenses!
At the maximum tele setting for the Combo 36.1 mm the sharpness at full aperture is respectable with the Emolux but it is better with the kit lens. Even if sharpness gets better for both lenses as you stop down the kit lens is slightly sharper. The TrippleCrop illustrates this well – a difference but not that big.
Summary full screen viewing:
Very similar sharpness for all three lenses for the major centre part for all apertures and all focal lengths! Slight blurring of corners for the wider angles for kit and slightly more for Emolux at larger apertures – but diminishing at smaller apertures. All in all very similar sharpness.
“Pixel Peeping” or “Microscope View”
If you intend to do large scale prints – maybe meter (several feet) size – then you should chose your photo equipment accordingly! You should probably go for a full size sensor and very expensive lenses. You would also need to use the best aperture for your lens and naturally also a sturdy tripod – this is not for everybody!
“Pixel Peeping” is when the picture is shown on the display screen so that you can see each pixel of the picture on the display! That also means that you can only see part of the picture and will have to scroll around the display screen. All viewing was done on a 24″, 1920×1200 pixel, factory colour calibrated, DELL U2410 computer display. All comparison pictures are taken with “Av” mode (aperture value selection) and fully automatic exposure.
A typical 24″ full HD screen is 20.5″ wide with a horisontal resolution of 1920 pixels. The pictures from my Canon EOS 760D has a resolution of 6000×4000 pixels. Looking at such a picture on a pixel for pixel basis would result in looking at a picture with a total size of over 3 times the width of my screen. It would actually be over 64″ /5 feet/162 cm wide! We should always keep that in mind when we now look at the following TrippleCrops and comparison pictures on the pixel level! Here any difference will be seen!
At the widest setting – 11.8mm
Looking att the pixel level the corners of these pictures does not look very sharp at fully open aperture. The shock is that “the Combo” is actually better than the expensive Sigma – the aperture for the Emolux is f4.0 and for the Sigma at this focal length it is f4.5. Here you can also see that there is some chromatic aberration – cyan (bluish) for the Emolux and magenta (reddish) for the Sigma. Also the difference in exposure is quite big!
Stopping down aperture to f11.0 improves the sharpness quite a bit! Also the chomatic aberration is less and now both are in the purple range. But still I think that the Emolux is sharper than the Sigma – and that goes for the entire f-stop range!
The centre sharpness is very good through the whole f-stop range! Fantastic that the low price Combo is actually as good as the Sigma all over the f-stop range! Here the exposure difference is small.
Comparison and Sample Pictures
Click them to see the full size pictures!
Above: Sample pictures with the Emolux and the Sigma lens at their widest 11.8 mm and 10 mm at f11.0. Not directly comparable but you can easily see the difference in wide angles! The Sigma is slightly wider.
Above: Full size comparison picture from Emolux and Sigma at optimum f-stop.
Review Summary of the EMOLUX 0.45X PRO HD
This is altogether something completely different from the cheap wide angle add-ons that I have tested previously. (Read those reviews here!)
Here the Emolux is tested on the popular Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II kit lens.
First of all, I can see NO vignetting – this really works as a wide angle add-on should work! I could use it at my widest angle of the 18-55 mm lens and – and no noticeable vignetting! This is clearly where the Emolux has its greatest advantage! Or, as I already have said, rather it works as one would expect a wide angel add-on to work! It would also be really super on a video camera or any camera with a fixed lens – when this is the only way to get the wider angle!
With the huge front lens gathering a lot of light I saw no change of exposure times compared to using only the kit lens – even if that was not in my testing scope. That is always good! As I took natural pictures in a naturally varying environment this could also be due to natural variations between lens swaps. It could go either way!
The centre sharpness is very good through the whole f-stop range! Practically as good as the Sigma and almost as good as the kit lens.
Talking about corner and edge sharpness gives a more mixed result. I can not say that the corner sharpness is good! But this has to be considered in comparison of what to expect! The sharpness can naturally not be any better than the lens on which it is attached! The corner sharpness is naturally the toughest to master as this is the widest of angle of the picture.
Comparing the Emolux to the Sigma shows that surprisingly the EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD has actually better corner sharpness than the $480 Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM lens for just 1/5th of the cost! Remember that the Sigma gives you a little wider angle at its 10 mm setting. Even if the Emolux beat the Sigma neither is really as super sharp as I want my dream wide angle to be! But I wonder at what cost…? 😦
The EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD is definitely a quite usable alternative to a wide angle lens with quite good quality. For this low price though you have to accept some compromises concerning corner sharpness.
So is the EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD worth having? I would say yes – if you want a wider angle of decent to good quality at a reasonable price! Most especially if your camera can not swap lenses – then this is a very good solution! For this price though you have to accept some compromises concerning corner sharpness.! Also remember that this combo is bulkier, but need not be heavier, than a single lens solution.
Once again I return to testing a Wide Angle Add-on but this time it is actually a Wide Angle and Fish Eye Clip-on and it is for a mobile (cell) phone camera. Again it was very cheap! Ebay £1.20/$1.80 – so I was not expecting much! The question is naturally if you are entitled to expect a lot? For that low price! Well that is an open discussion without much of chance of a single correct answer! So … I will mostly be checking out if the kit is usable at all and show you a few sample pictures so you can see yourself what to expect!
I have used my iPhone 6 for all the sample pictures! But you should get the same results with any decent camera. It will fit any mobile (cell) phone camera as long as the camera is surrounded by a, mostly, flat area. You might have to slant the clip-on to one side so that you will have something for the clip-on to clip on! See the picture above or on the side – in which you can see that the bottom part of the clip-on is actually shorter than the top part!
Be sure to check out my review of a 0.45x Wide Angle Add-On for ordinary cameras!
What I got was 7 parts; clip-on holder, 0.67x wide angle + macro combo, 180° fish eye, two plastic lens covers and a small pouch to keep it all in. That is if you do not count the two small plastic bags that contained the lenses. You could get it in several different colours – I got a rather nice shade of blue!
Looking at the lenses mechanically they are very well built! Made from anodized aluminium and have threads that work very well. Here you can see the two-part wide angle clip-on as separate pieces. This is not a very advanced optical construction – just two lenses. But they are at least made of glass! As far as I can see there is no anti reflex coating on the lenses. You screw them together to use the 0.67x wide (as you can see on the first picture, above) and unscrew the “front lens” and use only the part marked “MACRO” when you want to take macro pictures. 😉 You only get two lens covers – for the front of the lenses but no back covers! So the plastic bags are kind of necessary to keep the rear lens elements clean! The clip-on is (naturally) made from plastic and is spring loaded and also padded to keep it attached to the phone without leaving any marks! It will fit on almost any mobile phone camera – as long as there is at least some flat area around the lens! It does not matter if the lens protrudes a bit as long as it is less than 3 millimetres – just over 1/10th of an inch and the diameter of the protrusion is less than 9 mm! It is OK attached tho the phone but it will fall off if you are a rubbing it a little bit too much and too hard against other items.
Looking at the lenses optically the story is a bit more varied! Starting with just the macro lens. First of all – it gets you very close to your subject! Its depth of field is very narrow – just a few millimetres or 1/10 th of an inch! It does give reasonable sharpness in the centre of the picture so pictures like the sample picture on the side works surprisingly well! But note that this type of motif is ideal for this lens as that there is nothing along the edges of the picture so except for the middle of the picture everything else is in a … rather nice soft blur! You can also see the difference in close up limit without the macro lens. The two first sample pictures illustrate how close as you can get with and without the macro lens. By taking into account the shallow depth of field and moving the camera you can get more of the flower in focus as the third picture (of another flower!) illustrates. Just click on the pictures to see them full size!
I have added two more sample pictures that I think shows very well the sharpness that is obtainable with the macro lens. Skittles – I love ’em! 🙂 Note also the difference in the depth of field between the both photos! The second one – without macro lens – is practically sharp all over the (too) small bag of Skittles! Check out the full size macro picture and see how sharp the printed dots are! I also think that the colours comes out as they should – with no changes at all! The iPhone was set for fully automatic and I used the standard Apple camera app! That software can naturally have compensated for any change in colour temperature – but I do not know if it has! These are the results you will get also!
Using the macro lens with a flat motif, the shortcomings of this lens is very obvious! It will not give a sharp picture over the whole area! Feels a little like you have twisted the zoom during exposure! Is this really useful? As always it depends on what you want to use the pictures for! It is rather cool to be able to get as close as this and the pictures do have a sort of novelty feel for macro pictures with a mobile camera – at least for the flower pictures above! The two pictures to the left also illustrate how close as you can get with and without the macro lens. The macro picture is taken at the very centre of the other picture.
Conclusion is that this macro lens is OK for “natural” non-flat motifs but is not very suitable if you want to document your stamp collection!
The other two lenses
First of all I have to really stress that these clip-ons does NOT give sharp pictures!
But as always there are different levels to sharpness – and also the position of sharpness! Another important factor to get maximum sharpness with this clip-on is how well centred it is over the camera lens!
There are two clip-on lenses to compare; a 0.67x wide angle and a fish-eye.
All lenses can be attached to both the ordinary front facing camera and to the “selfie” camera. It is actually a little easier to attach the lens to the side where the “selfie” camera is, because it is located further from the edges of the phone. I expect that the close-up lens will not be of any real use for the “selfie” camera! There is soft plastic area on both clamps of the clip-on that press against the phone so as to not scratch it.
You need to be very careful about centring the clip-on exactly in the middle over the camera lens! Look through the clip-on lens when you do this – you will then see the camera lens very clearly! Make sure you get the camera lens exactly in the middle. Also, when you switch on the camera you will see the dark vignetting in the outer edges/corners. If it looks as if the picture not is centred then move the lens a bitt to get it centred! Be careful once you have it in position as the whole clip-on – lens combo is quite easy to knock off the camera or move it away from the centre position.
Wide Angle Lens 0.67x
I will start with the wide angle clip-on. First picture is original iPhone lens with no clip-on. Second picture is with wide-angle clip-on. Click on pictures to see full size pictures! The wide angle does give very powerful vingetting, that is: dark corners! It also gives a big drop in sharpness, especially along the edges and the corners. Or I should maybe rephrase that and say that it is only reasonably sharp in the centre of the picture – sharpness drops significantly as you move away from the centre part! But even in the centre there is not as good sharpness as without the clip-on! The picture also has most other forms of distortion!
The difference to the original camera lens is striking! So picture quality in just one word: BAD!
As above the first picture is the original iPhone6 picture and the second picture is with the clip-on. The fish-eye clip-on gives almost a circular picture with black sides and corners! Notice the very unsharp branches on the left! Not much good to say about the picture quality at all!
As for the wide angle clip-on: the quality in just one word: BAD!
Well, this is very cheap product and the wide angle and fish eye lenses are almost useless due to their low picture quality! Still, the close-up lens is quite fun – but only when you have the motifs just in the centre! The clip-on is also quite large and is easy to knock off.
As the close-up lens does give ok sharpness (at least in the middle of the picture) I still think it is a fun thing to have for less than $2! But you might as well loose the other two lenses!
You can buy the same lenses – for a few dollars more – with magnetic attachment instead of clip-on. Probably even easier to knock off – but if you are just using the slim close-up lens it might be a more handy and compact solution!
In my previous review of a Zeikos ZE-WA58B 0.45x wide angle add-on one aspect that I forgot to write about is how sharpness is affected by aperture. As this is one of my most popular articles I wanted to rectify this shortcoming! I talked to one of the readers of this blog, Somu Padma, and he kindly offered to do the test and has sent in the resulting pictures he took with a similar wide angled add-on, the Power Pak. Thank you! It seems very much like my own wide angle add-on – except for the name!
Especially interesting is the ones he took with his AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1.8G DX – a very good prime lens. This is a good use for an add-on like this – to widen a lens with a “normal” focal length. Somu had a real challenge to take pictures with all apertures – on that sunny day! So much that the pictures that I selected start at 2.8 – a little stopped down. This is also good in that the lens in itself will not affect the sharpness of the pictures too much. The Nikkor lens is especially good if you stop down to f2.8.
A recommendation is to unscrew any filters (UV or similar) before screwing on the wide angle add-on to get the add-on as close as possible to the front of the lens. This minimizes the vignette if you use it with a wider angle lens to start with! Remember from my first article on the subject that the vignette is very pronounced up till around 22 mm focal length (with APS-C sensor). Read about that and also what “0.45x” really means here!
Pictures have all been taken with the camera, a Nikon D5200, on a tripod. Automatic setting on both exposure (A for aperture selection) and focus.
These three pictures I think illustrates very well the effect aperture has on the picture sharpness. Here we can see that the smaller apertures give a much better sharpness.
The f2.8 picture is very very soft along the edges – too much to be ignored really! Can maybe be used for an “old-time soft” effect though … Please see the full resolution picture to really appreciate the amount of softness and the linked loss of contrast!
At f8.0 it is acceptably sharp (for the price!) – especially if you intend to use it only scaled down for web publication or similar. Centre sharpness is naturally best and optimum seems to be around f8.0. Edge sharpness and contrast have picked up very well but there is still some softness left.
At f16 it is still acceptably sharp and stays with similar sharpness also at f22. It is difficult to say exactly but centre sharpness seem to have gone down very slightly and edge sharpness have improved still a little bit!
Just click on the pictures to see them at full resolution.
I have also included two “Tripple Crops” where you can see small 100% pixel for pixel sections from the original full resolution pictures at centre and edge. Click it to see them at 100% size!
It is a very cheap way of getting a wider angle lens – but remember that it is at a quality loss! Might be the only alternative for cameras with a fixed lens! For moving motifs it is hard to beat the price for this type of wide angle add-on! There exists more expensive products – that might give higher quality!
If you are photographing stationary motifs I would certainly recommend you to take a panoramic shot instead! Either just two or more pictures side by side to get a wider panoramic picture or take a matrix of pictures to get the normal wide angle height as well and join them together with Microsoft ICE – read my article about how to do it here! This way you get top quality with higher sharpness and more pixels for an even lower price – free! 🙂
Once again, thank you Somu for your help with the pictures for this article!
Several times over the past few years I have seen wide angle add-on lenses and wondered how well they actually worked. So, recently I saw a really low-cost wide-angle add-on that I could not resist – Zeikos ZE-WA58B for just $13.19 from Amazon! Setting my hopes and my expectations as low as the price I ordered it … looking forward to find out how good or bad it was. As I was having a reasonable wide angle zoom already – Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM for $480 – I thought it would be fun 😉 comparing them to each other! Putting up some sample pictures! But I can – even without testing – say that the Zeikos will be worse and the Sigma will be better! That said, can I bring this little add-on with me as a replacement to my Sigma lens when I am lazy? At this low price is the Zeikos usable for anything?
I should point out that at no place does Amazon actually say that this is suitable to the Canon 18-55 mm kit lens. There are other similar looking add-ons that states this but I picked this because the picture showed a slightly more wide front lens. This was, I am sorry to say, not the case with the delivered product – it looks very similar to most of the other low-cost wide-angle add-ons!
The assumption that it would be suitable to my Canon kit lens is made by me! Well … the threads should work at least… 😉
Also see my other reviews for Wide Angle Add-Ons!
EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD Add-On! NEW Review!
Now on to the Zeikos ZE-WA58B 0.45x Wide Angle review:
Fair comparison to the Sigma lens? Pricewise – NO! Claimwise – ABSOLUTELY! Just for fun – listen to this from the box of the Zeikos ZE-WA58B:
- Professional High Definition Wide Angle Lens – this is very hard to understand what it really means – but is sure sounds as if it is supposed to be something really GOOD!
- Titanium Optics – well your guess is as good as mine where the Titanium is used – I guess it is supposed to impress – and it IS impressive as it IS in fact rocket science (Check this at NASA)
- Digital multi-coated – this is something the big brand guys use – not that I know what the “Digital” is in this context …
- Heavy Duty Construction – not that difficult to grasp
- 0.45x – what does this mean? Guess: 0.45x the focal length? My kit lens 18-55 mm would turn into 8-25 mm which is quite impressive! It would beat my Sigma 10-20 mm in both “ends”!
- 58 mm – this is just the lens filter diameter – it fits my 18-55 mm kit-lens
As you can see in the picture at the left, the box contains a (rather flimsy) pouch and the wide-angle lens itself. The lens is covered by a press-on lens cap at the front and a screw-on cap at the back. There is also a one-page “manual” that says what one-page “manual” usually says! That is not much – but it states that you should not use lens-paper but microfiber cloth. This could indicate that the lens is very sensitive to rubbing – making me wonder about the multi-coating … but you can not expect everything for $13!
Starting with the outside it is actually surprisingly well-built. Heavy Duty Construction? Maybe..! Let me be clear: It is NOT the product that is show on either the Amazon site or the box! It is not at all widening as much towards the front lens.Still, the finish is a good velvety black. It is very difficult to see any of the usual telltale of multicoating – the lens (at least now when it is all new) is extremely clean – not a single little speck of dirt on the lens surfaces! So I once again ask myself is there any multi-coating or for that matter any coating at all? But it is actually stating it right there on the box!
I tested it on the Canon EOS 550D (Canon Digital Rebel T2i) with kit lens 18-55 mm 3.5-5.6 IS one late afternoon when I hurried to catch the last sun rays of the day. “P“- mode. Most settings in normal or standard except contrast +1, saturation +1, sharpness +1. The sample pictures below has not been edited in any way except the name change! (I might try to test it during daytime to see if that matters in any way.)
You actually screw this wide-angle adaptor/lens onto your ordinary lens!
- The model that I bought fits only 58 mm filter threads. It fits quite snuggly on the camera lens. Weighing in at 120 gr it is not directly heavy … It has 62 mm filter threads so you can screw on a filter or a lens hood if you want to.
This “lens” consists of two screwed together parts: first the wide-angle lens itself that is the top part – a little bulging outwards – as you can see in the picture. Then there is a close-up “macro” lens – the narrow part in the picture – with the red text “MACRO“. They can either be used together as the wide-angle add-on or you can use just the close-up macro lens.
Autofocus works well, both with the ordinary phase detecting and the live view contrast detecting. There is a soft “thump” when using the ordinary focusing. This is probably due to the extra 120 gr that has to be moved when focusing and the ordinary focusing is much faster than the live focusing therefore starting and stopping more abruptly.
Vignetting (dark corners) is VERY pronounced at the 18mm setting of the kit zoom. In the picture to the left it is extra pronounced because I have stopped down to f 16. It is softer at bigger apertures – as you can see in the samples below. The vignetting can be either very disturbing … or just a cool effect – you decide! I myself would prefer to add it afterwards – if I ever wanted to. Zooming out to 22 mm it goes away completely – but it is a little dependent on the aperture value … I expected the vignetting – therefore I tried to get an add-on that had extra-large opening diameter hoping that it would help – but as you saw above it missed! I have to point out that there exists other wide-angle add-ons that has larger opening diameter – but at a much higher price and I wanted to go cheap!
How about the 0.45x ?
Before I get into the image quality I want to address the 0.45x – what does it really mean! It is NOT 0.45 times the focal length! Even if that is a reasonable assumption as normally when you talk about a lens you talk about the focal length.
The 0.45x actually refers to the area coverage increase! It would be better to say that it will add 45% more to your picture – but then it would not be so easy to misinterpret it … 😉 I will use % below when I refer to the area coverage. You can see it in the picture – I have marked the original 18 mm coverage with a red rectangle. In this picture the red rectangle represents 55% of the area and the surrounding area is the 45% area increase. (Note that the 18 mm covers the house – so you can see in the other pictures how much extra coverage you will get.)
It IS an increase – even if it is not that much – I am sure that it can come in handy sometimes …! For stationary motifs I would take a panorama picture instead. If you want to get 45% area coverage increase it also means that you have to accept the pronounced vignetting! In the widest setting this translates roughly to a 11.8 mm lens – giving a focal factor of 0.65x. (This is what should have been put on the box!) If you can’t accept the vignetting you will only get what corresponds to a 14.5 mm lens which translates to focal factor of 0.80x – which is not very much to write home about! You only get 3.5 mm added extra zoom – from 14.5 to 18 mm! But still it might be handy in some situations!
I took a number of sample photos with Canon EOS 550D + Canon kit lens 18-55 mm 3.5-5.6 IS with and without Zeikos wide-angle add-on and Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM. I will not bother to put up all of them but will try to put up the most significant ones and also some 100% crops. (Should you feel different, please let me know!) I will concentrate on the wide-angle aspects as this is a wide-angle add-on! But the add-on works in tele as well. Just click on the pictures to see them in full size 18 Mpix!
Sigma 10 mm is where it starts for me. This is the widest angle I have access to. This lens is not the sharpest of lenses even if you select a small aperture – but it is quite wide! Vignetting can be sensed in the far corners but it is not very noticeable. The EOS 550D can correct this automatically in camera but I have not bothered (yet 😉 ) to register the information for the Sigma lens. (Corrections is already included for most Canon lenses.) Calculating the area coverage increase (compared to 18mm) makes it 66% – which actually is much better than 45% – you want the area coverage increase as BIG as possible! I am focusing just below the top centre window in all of the pictures.
The Sigma at 12 mm. Here I tried to get a coverage that was close to the widest coverage with the Zeikos add-on.
The Zeikos at 18 mm. It is close in coverage to the Sigma 12 mm above. This is the widest coverage you can get with the Zeikos – but you pay for it with a lot of vignetting and some barrel distortion – making straight lines bend.
The Zeikos at 21 mm. This is very close to the coverage you would get if you do not want vignetting! There is a very small vignetting in the upper left hand corner that I did not see in the viewfinder when I took the picture. I have not marked the 18 mm coverage but as it covers almost exactly the house (see above) you can see that the extra coverage you get is quite small – a little extra sky and a little along the other edges. This is not much – at least if you have a 18 mm lens to start with! Having a lens starting from 22 mm you would get the advertised 0.45x (or a more common 45%) extra coverage area – without the vignetting. This Zeikos add-on is much better suited for a lens starting at 22 mm! But lenses starting at 22 mm are quite scarce!
I took one picture each with the three different “lenses”. I have created two 100% crops, center and edge. The have been saved in PNG-format so that the picture quality should not be affected. I tried to get a similar coverage on all of them but I did not manage to get the exact same coverage … I had to pick the only focal length that was common – around 18-20 mm. Zeikos add-on was zoomed to 27 mm on the kit lens. Just click on the “tripple-crops” to see them in full size!
The center crop is alright on all three “lenses” I think. Thinking of the price difference they are all amazingly sharp and clear! There are small quality differences but not that much to complain about. Remember that this is a 100% crop from a 18 MPixel camera – meaning that the full picture would be over 1.5 meters (5 feet) in width on a normal screen – like you are probably looking at now! You make your own decission about sharpness at the center – but to my eye differences exists but are small enough to be ignored – if you have a good day! 😉
The edge crop is something different altogether! Here we can see really big differences on all three pictures! The Canon kit lens is by far the sharpest! Canon and Zeikos was stopped down to f 8.0 and the Sigma to f 11.0. This should be the “easiest” focal length for the expensive Sigma lens but it is not even near the Canon kit lens in sharpness – even though it is using f 11.0! But it is still way better than the Zeikos that is really blurry and is showing a lot of chromatic aberration (splitting up colours).
How does this translate to a picture of a normal size? Amazingly enough, scaled to fit on a 19″ screen with an IPS panel all three pictures are actually looking OK! Note though that there are differences! Both the Canon and the Sigma pictures are looking tack sharp! The Zeikos has just about acceptable sharpness around the edges, the blurriness is not so visible scaled down (as expected) but the chromatic aberration is more noticeable – in the light-dark transitions!
The close-up “macro” lens
Unscrewing the rear part of the Zeikos Wide Angle “combo” gives you a rather powerful close-up or “macro” lens. You screw this single element lens onto your favorite lens and will be rewarded with the ability to focus much closer – how much depends on the focal length of the lens used. I used my trusty old 18-55 mm kit lens once again. I could have used my 55-250 mm also – because that also has a 58 mm filter fitting.
I wanted to compare the Zeikos with a proper close-up lens so I brought out my B+W Macro +10 lens. Both lenses have rather wide brims making them less than ideal for use with wide angle lenses. I wanted to see how different they were considering the price difference. The Zeikos – for “free” with the Wide Angle Add-on and the B+W for 380 SEK/40 EUR/$53. The question to answer is if the “free” close-up lens is anything to have?
I started by going as close as I could focus in wide-angle (18mm) to find out if there was any difference between the two close-up lenses. They were both very similar. This also pins the Zeikos in the area of -10 to -13 diopter – a little more powerful than the B+W lens. Both images look reasonably similar – both with powerful vignetting in the corners. The Zeikos has a little more barrel distortion along the edges. Middle sharpness (the only place where you will get sharpness with wide-angle) looks similar with both lenses.
With the kit zoom at 55 mm there is no longer any noticeable vignetting with either of the lenses. Centre sharpness is also quite similar even if the little darker exposure of the Zeikos makes that seem a little sharper when looking at it full-screen. Looking at the pictures pixel-by-pixel reveals that centre sharpness is as good with both lenses but that edge sharpness – though not very good – is slightly better with th B+W lens.
Coming back to the question: Is the “free” Zeikos close-up lens is anything to have? In the real world – where you are not only photographing flat objects – I would have to answer a clear “Yes!”. You could actually buy the Zeikos wide-angle add-on just for the close-up lens! It is close to as good as the many times more expensive B+W lens! Does it give supersharp and crisp images?It does not affect the sharpness very much in the center of the picture but along the edges it certainly gives a definate blurriness! With as powerful close-up lens as this the field of depth is very shallow – which can be both good and bad – but being aware of it certainly helps – use it to your advantage!
Is it worth the $13?
First of all I would say that a cheap add-on like this can be used just for some fun effects – and then you probably will not think too much of the disadvantages or might even consider them to be artistic advantages! Into Lomography perhaps …? 🙂
Secondly, using this on a zoom lens starting on 18 mm is a bit of a waste as you will have to zoom to around 22 mm before the vignetting disappears and that will only give you a corresponding 14.5 mm lens – and to get that very small wide-angle effect you have to put up with rather poor edge performance!
This lens is NOT something to use for serious photography!
Definitely not with the Canon 18-55 mm kit lens – it gives too little wide-angle increase while sacrificing a lot of quality along the edges!
If you have a lens starting at 22 mm or longer then you would not have to accept the vignetting! Also if you have a camera with a non-changeable lens it could definitely have its use – or a with a video camera!
Finally answering my own question: Is it worth the $13? (Note that the price matters much in this answer!)
I would say: Yes – for a 22 mm or longer lens! But be aware of its blurriness along the edges!
Counting also the close-up part of this Zeikos add-on makes this an even clearer “Yes”!
BUT this is ONLY as long as you do not expect a high quality lens for almost nothing…!
This is NOT a high quality lens – but it might be OK for you if you have low expectations!
Power Pak 0.45x Add-On in part 2! Be sure to read part 2 – where you can see how to improve the result!
EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD Add-On! NEW Review of a higher quality wide-angle add-on!