Metabones Speedbooster XL and Ultra: The Abridged Version

New photographers are often surprised by how much maths is involved in photography. I’ve never been one to shy away from maths, actually, I was always good at it in school (my parents hoped thought I’d been an engineer!). Anyway, I understand most of the technical side of photography, the ratios, inverse square law, blah blah blah. But today I got stumped on trying to understand, and then explain, the mystery of the Speedbooster. So I’ve made myself this little pictorial “cliff’s notes,” so to speak.

Take full frame lenses (specifically Canon and Nikon, in this case) put them on  Micro Four Thirds cameras like Olympus and Panasonic and they have 2x crop factor. Then there is an additional 1.2x crop factor of 4k video. This makes for a 2.4x crop factor on 4k capable MFT camera such as the popular GH4, turning your 24mm lens into a 58mm. So Metabones comes along with these awesome adapters called Speedboosters that restore some of that crop factor while increasing the intensity of the light reaching the sensor. The first generations decreased the crop factor by .71x (2.4 x .71 =1.7) making that same 24mm a 40mm, also taking an f/2.8 aperture to f/2.0 (1 stop gain). A new .64x version of the speedbooster decreases the crop factor further (2.4 x .64=1.5) making that 24mm lens a 36mm with an aperture of f/1.8 (1 1/3 stops gain).

Dizzy from all the numbers? So was I. So a very curious and patient client (Thanks, Jordan!) and I decided to run a quick test in the store. We set up a GH4 using a marker on the counter to keep it in the same place and took 3 images of a set up of random stuff on the counter. In hind sight, I could have chosen a less cluttered background and a prettier setup, but this serves its purpose so please forgive the camera shop mess. We used the Lumix 12-35mm lens and then the 24-70 Canon lens with both the .71x and .64x Speedboosters, and I used a second camera to take these screenshots. Note the changes in angle of view (how much of the edges are cut off) and the aperture changes on these 2.8 lenses.

Speedbooster on GH4 comparison


The .64x XL version of the speedbooster has a larger protrusion into the camera and can BREAK the shutter if used on an incompatible camera. That means DEAD CAMERA! Please make sure your camera is compatible before trying to use it.

Metabones Speedbooster comparison

Check out the size difference in the mounts of these adapters! Please do not kill your camera with the wrong one!


Virtual Insanity

I took a chance to jump way outside of my technology comfort zone this weekend by spending my Saturday at the LA Virtual Reality show (VRLA). I was working for Samy’s Camera in conjunction with Ricoh to demonstrate and sell the Theta 360° camera. While selling cameras is well within my area of expertise, I’m a complete novice when it comes to video, virtual reality, video games, and things of the sort.

Within an hour of demonstrating the Theta camera I caught on to what is cool about it. It only took watching a couple 360° video clips through a Samsung Gear VR headset and I understood the appeal of Virtual Reality all-around photos and video. I eventually got so on board that I put the Theta on a pole and took it for a walk around the showroom floor. The quality isn’t great, so I took the same walk shooting video on my Canon. Believe it or not, it’s the first time I’ve shot any video on my DSLRs …Ever! 

I didn’t get to sample any of the products on display at the show because I was working the whole time, but I can’t say I can see much value in the VR technology available. I don’t know that it actually solves a problem, I think it only provides entertainment. So far anyway. I fear a future of young people unable to communicate in person, unable to separate fantasy from reality and without the drive to have actual engaging experiences in real life. I dislike that “in real life” is something.

Then again, I was skeptical about digital photography, about video in SLR cameras… but eventually I come around.

 (Photographer: Rebecca Joyce)

Ricoh product manager, TK, demonstrates the Theta 360 camera to a VRLA visitor.


 (Photographer: Rebecca Joyce)

visitors to VRLA sample new products and technology from vendors, such as Reload

My first 5D video:

The Theta 360° video is also on YouTube, I won’t embed it because it doesn’t look right outside of YouTube. The 360° view capabilities are available on the Chrome browser as well as the YouTube mobile app. If you have a VR viewer such as Cardboard or Samsung Gear, I suppose it can be viewed that way, too. Click here for the video.

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