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Lens review

SainSonic Kamlan 50 mm f/1.1

15 October 2018
Maciej Latałło

3. Build quality

The following chart presents basic parameters of the tested lens and those of other mirrorless models with a similar focal length and aperture fastness. It is clear the Canon remains physically the biggest and the heaviest in this group but it is a class of its own because it is able to cover a bigger detector. Still even if you limit yourself to APS-C sensors the Kamlan is still the smallest and the lightest. It also sticks out from the crowd with an aperture with 11 diaphragm blades.

In the photo below the Kamlan 1.1/50 is positioned between two Fujinons, the 1.4/35 and the 1.2/56; you can notice at once that the tested lens is a lot smaller than the second, a bit slower device.

SainSonic Kamlan 50 mm f/1.1 - Build quality

The tested lens starts with a metal mount which is blackened in itself. A rear element, 21 mm in diameter, is positioned in a black, well-matted inner tube which moves with the lens during focusing. With the focus set at infinity the rear element system is fully retracted; when you pass to the minimum focusing distance it remains hidden less than 1 cm inside a blackened and ribbed tube. There is a very tiny slit between the tube, surrounding the lens, and the ribbed barrel so we have no objections whatsoever to blackening and sealing of the lens.

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SainSonic Kamlan 50 mm f/1.1 - Build quality

The Kamlan 1.1/50 doesn’t feature any contacts so a camera won’t get any info about focal length and aperture values; it means such data won’t be saved in the EXIF file of your photo.

The black casing of the lens is made of metal; it starts with an immobile ring with an orange dot, making an alignment with a camera easier, a branding inscription ‘Kamlan’ and the serial number of the device.

The next part is an aperture ring. It is 10 mm wide and most of its surface is covered by ribbing. Above that ring you find aperture marks by f/1.1, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/16. I would understand the lack of f/11 value because the distance from f/8 to f/16 is really short but the fact that the producer omitted the f/1.4 mark is, in my opinion, strange. The ring moves smoothly and is properly damped but it is a ‘clickless’ mechanism, with no fixed f/stops so you cannot change the aperture by a given, pre-determined value. Perhaps it is a nice bow to videographers but during photography such a solution is moderately functional. If you want to control the aperture value you have to glance at the lens first and set it where you want it to be. It is impossible to work with your camera close to your eye because you don’t know what value you are setting and you cannot get any digital viewfinder readings either.

SainSonic Kamlan 50 mm f/1.1 - Build quality

Above the aperture ring there is a depth of field scale with markings by f/16, f/8 and f/4.

Further on, you see a manual focus ring, 19 mm wide. One part of the ring is covered by metal ribs and below you find a distance scale expressed in feet and meters. The ring works evenly and is properly damped. Running through the whole distance scale needs a turn through an angle of 180 degrees.

At the end of the lens you see a yellow strip and a hood mount. The front element is 44 mm in diameter and surrounded by an inscription with the name and parameters of the lens along with a non-rotating filter thread, 52 mm in diameter. The element moves with the whole optical system – it means the lens doesn’t change its focal length with the change of the distance from a photographed object.

SainSonic Kamlan 50 mm f/1.1 - Build quality

The optical construction of the tested lens is very simple for such parameters – it consists of 5 elements positioned in 5 groups. The producers don’t boast of any special glass elements inside but the lens does feature a round aperture with as many as 11 diaphragm blades. It can be closed down to f/16 at the maximum (or at least such a value is engraved on the aperture ring; it has little to do with reality and you are going to find out why very soon).

The simple optical construction should be emphasized here - such a fast, bright aperture and just 5 elements. Other 50 mm f/1.4-1.8 devices often feature 6-7 elements. Direct rivals of the Kamlan, the Samyang and the Fujinon mentioned earlier, have twice the element count inside.

Buyers get with the lens both caps and a hood in the box.

SainSonic Kamlan 50 mm f/1.1 - Build quality