Kowa may not be a brand you know much about but if you’re a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) shooter, they could be someone you become more familiar with thanks to the three MFT lenses found in their range. These lenses are the Prominar Ultra-Wide 8.5mm f/2.8 (not a fisheye), Prominar Wide 12mm f/1.8, and Prominar 25mm f/1.8 standard lens.
David Thrope recently got hold of these 3 lenses to find out how well they perform and to see if they’re a trio of lenses all MFT fans should be investing in.
David says the 25mm lens is rather standard but both the wides are quite fast for their focal lengths and the build quality is really excellent, with David comparing them to 60’s and 70’s Nikon lenses. They’re all manual lenses and you won’t find any electronic contacts on them but focusing is smooth, silky and fairly heavily weighted, something video shooters will particularly like.
What’s unusual about these lenses is that they convert from a click aperture ring for stills to a silent, continuous one for video, something David discusses in much more detail.
All three lenses are supplied with decent hoods and filters can be used on them all but they screw into the hood and not the lens.
As for performance, David begins by discussing build quality and weight as the lenses are much heavier than their counterparts before looking at image quality (which is very good from them all, by the way). The 12mm is David’s least favourite of the lenses due to some images appearing soft at the ages but once stopped down, it’s fine.
Purple fringing is visible in images captured by all of the lenses but it’s not at levels that can’t be corrected and distortion is impressively low and this is even more impressive when you consider there is no data connection to the camera. Out of focus areas are also lovely in images captured by all three lenses, even if it is something that people don’t usually buy wide-angle lenses for.
After the positive remarks comes the negatives and for the Kowa trio, this is their price. They’re a lot more expensive when compared with similar lenses available and this includes 1st party lenses from companies such as Olympus and Pansonic.
Overall, David says it’s easy to see that Kowa has put their several decades of experience behind these lenses but it’s a shame their price tag is so high.