A.M. Flight — Cinematic Short Film with a Fujifilm X-T4 and Pergear 50mm f/1.8

I just uploaded a new video, entitled A.M. Flight, to the Fuji X Weekly YouTube channel! I hope you enjoy it!

The reason why we—and by “we” I mean mostly Amanda—created this short film was to test the Pergear 50mm f/1.8 lens for video. I already published a review of the Pergear lens for still photography, but I thought this lens might be a good inexpensive option for cinema. I needed to put it to the test.

Amanda recorded A.M. Flight on her Fujifilm X-T4 with a Pergear 50mm f/1.8. All of it was handheld, no tripod or gimbal was used. The 50mm focal-length, which is 75mm full-frame equivalent, is telephoto, and camera shake is exaggerated because of this. The X-T4 has in-body-image-stabilization (IBIS)—the X-S10 and X-H1 are the only other two Fujifilm X cameras with IBIS—and even with the stabilization there’s still a fair amount of shakiness to the clips. We recommend the use of a tripod or gimbal to help reduce shake; if your camera doesn’t have IBIS, a tripod or gimbal is a must with this lens.

The Pergear 50mm f/1.8 is all manual, which means you’ll have to manually focus. A.M. Flight has a lot of fast movements in the film, and nailing focus manually proved to be very difficult; this lens might be better suited for projects that don’t have quickly moving objects. The focus ring is smooth, a positive for sure! The aperture ring is click-less, which is great for video because you can change the aperture while recording a clip, either increasing or decreasing the depth-of-field.

The f/1.8 aperture is fast, but the depth-of-field is shallow (making nailing focus even more difficult) and image quality isn’t the best when wide-open. It was nice to have f/1.8 as an option when filming in dark locations, but it’s definitely better to stop down a little (at least f/4 is you can) to maximize image quality whenever you can.

When light hits the lens just right, there’s something special about the results. There’s a particularly nice quality to some of the video clips, thanks to the Pergear lens. There’s a certain character that you just won’t find in most modern lenses; if that’s something you want in your video, this lens is for you.

The Pergear 50mm f/1.8 lens is challenging to use for video because it is all manual and because it doesn’t have any stabilization. Cameras with IBIS, like the Fujifilm X-T4, make it a little easier to use, and it’s possible to get away with not having a tripod or gimbal, but if you don’t have IBIS you’re going to want to do something to stabilize the clips. This lens is not the most ideal option for video, but if you are on a tight budget or want the special character that this lens can give you, it’s a good one to consider.

This review contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase using my links.
Amazon $79

Lens Review: Pergear 50mm f/1.8

I get asked frequently, “How can I make my digital pictures look more like film?”

My film simulation recipes—made possible by Fujifilm’s commitment to the camera-made JPEG and their long history with film—are a great start for achieving a film-like look. Another step that can go a long way towards achieving an analog aesthetic is the lens that’s attached to the camera. You see, most modern lenses are precision engineered, designed to eliminate flaws as much as possible. They score well on test charts, but often at the expense of character. Modern lenses render photographs differently than vintage lenses; old lenses have flaws, as they weren’t designed with today’s technology or for today’s standards, and these flaws are why they render images uniquely. For (typically) not very much money you can buy antique lenses intended for film cameras, and mount them to your Fujifilm X camera with an adapter—something that I love to do! Cheap third-party lenses often accomplish the same thing, but you’re buying something that’s new (instead of old) and you don’t need an adapter. The Pergear 50mm f/1.8 lens is an inexpensive option for your Fujifilm X camera, and it indeed has character similar to a vintage lens!

I get gift cards sometimes, usually for my birthday or Christmas, and it can be hard to know what to buy myself. In the past I have purchased a Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens and a 7artisans 25mm f/1.8 lens—both are under $100, which is the right price range for those gift cards that I don’t know what to do with. The Pergear 50mm f/1.8, with an MSRP of $79, is in that same category. The Pergear lens has other things in common with the Meike and 7artisans models: click-less aperture rings, seemingly good build quality, similar flaws, and lots of character. You’d almost think that they were made by the same company, but apparently they’re not.

The Pergear 50mm f/1.8 is a 75mm-equivalent manual-focus, manual-aperture prime lens from China. It has 10 rounded aperture blades, 6 elements in 4 groups, a maximum aperture of f/1.8, a minimum aperture of f/16, a minimum focus distance of about 15 inches, and accepts 43mm threaded filters. The aperture and focus rings are both smooth. I do wish that the aperture ring had f-stop clicks, but it doesn’t—not a big deal, though.

Center sharpness is pretty fantastic on the Pergear 50mm f/1.8 lens at all apertures. Corner sharpness is decent-enough when wide open and noticeably improves when stopped down to f/4. There’s some minor vignetting when wide open; it improves when stopped down, yet it never fully goes away, although it’s hardly noticeable at apertures smaller than f/2.8. There’s some noticeable chromatic aberrations in extreme high-contrast light, but is otherwise well controlled. There’s almost no distortion. Bokeh is pretty good thanks to those rounded blades.

The Pergear 50mm f/1.8 has a weird flaw, which can be stunningly beautiful or terribly awful, depending on your tastes and the exact situation: the center of the frame can get a warm haze. It seems to become more pronounced when the aperture is (roughly) f/5.6 and smaller, and when there’s a bright light source somewhere in front of the camera (it can be outside the frame). Sometimes I really love this haze, and it’s almost like having a diffusion filter built into the lens, and sometimes it’s just too pronounced and essentially ruins the picture. Opening up the aperture seems to reduce the effect in those situations where it might be too pronounced. This strange haze is both the reason to buy this lens and the reason not to, depending on your opinion of it. I personally really like it, although I’m happy to have it limited to one lens, which I can choose to use when I want this character in my pictures. To be clear, this haze won’t show up in every picture—there are many situations where it won’t, either because the aperture is too large or because the light isn’t right, and even when it does appear, it’s often very subtle, which is great.

The Pergear 50mm f/1.8 is a good, sharp lens, producing lovely images in most situations. It has character that you just won’t find in most modern lenses. It has quirks, which can be good or bad, depending on the situation and your tastes. It’s all manual, which I like, but can take some practice to get good at if you’ve only ever used auto lenses. The Pergear 50mm f/1.8 lens, when used in conjunction with the Fujifilm JPEG settings, can help you achieve a much-sought-after film-like look from your digital camera. It’s not for everyone, but, for the price, it’s worth a try, especially if you are unsure what to buy with that gift card in your wallet.

This review contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase using my links.
Amazon $79

Below are camera-made JPEGs that I captured using the Pergear 50mm f/1.8 lens attached to my Fujifilm X-T30. For the color pictures I used my new Kodak Portra 400 v2 recipe (available on the Fuji X Weekly App for iOS), except for the the top picture, which was captured with Velvia, and the two night pictures below that, which were captured with Porto 200 (also available on the app). For the black-and-white pictures I used my Kodak Tri-X 400 recipe. The photographs of the lens (above) were captured with a Fujifilm X100V using my Superia Premium 400 recipe.

Piano Abstract – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Train at Night – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Windshield Bokeh – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Red Berry Tree – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Resting Girl on Chair – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Handicapped Parking – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Trash, Truck – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Rural Trash Can – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Dam & Bridge – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Water Under The Bridge – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Cold Country Road – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
December Reeds – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Hunting Journey – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Winter Sunflower – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Reed by a Frozen Lake – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Cattails – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Pole Cone – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Duck Hunters – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Grass in the Cold Water – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Motor Vehicles Prohibited – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Steel – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Barren Landscape – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Grass in the Frozen Marsh – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Storm Over Frozen Marsh – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
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