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Mini-review of Phase One SK 80/2.8 BR Mark II vs. SK 80/2.8 BR (original)

I focus-trimmed a copy of the new Phase One 80/2.8 BR Mark II lens. It was set to a focus trim value 170 at the factory, and back focused noticeably out of the box, but in reality needed a focus trim value of 70 to eliminate back focusing. Then I did a side-by-side comparison of a test scene shot on a tripod with the 80/2.8 BR Mark II vs. original.

Testing specifications: f/2.8, about 1 m distance, ISO 1600, 1/400s, tripod-mounted, leaf shutter triggered by seismograph, IQ4-150 on an XF body.

One small note: the autofocus-recompose (AFr) mode works with this new lens only after updating the XF-IQ4 firmware to the current (8.00.18) firmware, which you can download here: https://www.phaseone.com/en/SupportMain/Camera-Firmware/XF

Raw IIQ files (about 200 MB each):
Original: https://www.dropbox.com/s/kfbis2mhxu416qy/80 2.8 BR original P0003362.IIQ?dl=0
Mark II: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6ozwpcvb4i8tzjx/80 2.8 BR Mk II P0003359.IIQ?dl=0

Here are center-zone tiny 100% crops of JPGs converted with Capture One 20 in default settings (the center of the image and the AF target was the center of the large target):
Original:
80 2.8 BR original P0003362-cr.jpg


Mark II:
80 2.8 BR Mk II P0003359-cr.jpg

I always considered the 80/2.8 BR original lens to be a very good lens, but not an exceptional one. Wide open, it suffers from two issues in my opinion:
1) Pronounced chromatic aberration, very evident in the first crop above.
2) Tangential lines are noticeably softer than radial lines, also evident in the first crop above—see the sides of the 0 in the red square and the circular lines in the large target, for example. The center of the image was the center of the large target, so all the circles in that target are tangential. This tangential softness gets quite a bit worse towards the outer parts of the image—it's actually minimized in this crop of the center of the frame.

Both of these weaknesses have been corrected to an impressive extent in the new 80/2.8 BR Mark II lens.

In addition, the slightly warm color tinge of the original lens, which didn't bother me but was something to be aware of during post processing, has also been partially corrected in the Mark II.

The sharpness of the Mark II lens, even wide open, is spectacular corner to corner—similar to that of the Phase One 150/2.8 BR lens, which is one of the sharpest lenses I've ever used. Here is a whole-frame test scene taken at f/2.8 and a 100% crop of the same image from the upper left corner. Raw file: https://www.dropbox.com/s/v8unqwhhpj9o2ut/80 2.8 BR Mk II wide open extreme corner P0003600.IIQ?dl=0
Corner Test 80 2.8 BR Mk II wide open extreme corner whole scene.jpg
Upper left corner.jpg

By some manufacturers' standards (Leica, Hasselblad), the Mark II lens is sufficiently resistant to chromatic aberration even wide open that it might be branded as an apochromatic lens if Phase One used such classifications. I'm especially happy about the greatly reduced CA, which shows up in many out-of-focus areas in images taken with the original 80/2.8 BR lens.

Of course the arrival of the new Mark II lens doesn't make the original lens any less good (except to Dante's followers perhaps), and the original remains a very good lens that also happens to be the most compact lens in Phase One's current lineup. The Mark II version is slightly longer and heavier, but still the smallest lens (other than the original 80/2.8 BR) in the current lineup.

AF response speed and accuracy was similar for both lenses—the AF feels fairly fast, noisy, and... aggressive.

Is the Mark II worth $6,000? If you like your original 80/2.8 BR and don't mind its astigmatism or chromatic aberration, which is only bothersome to me wide open or nearly wide open, then probably not. But if you want a still-quite-compact 80/2.8 lens that is more-or-less apochromatic and clearly sharper wide open, you won't be disappointed. If you don't have the original and are thinking of getting an 80/2.8, I highly recommend the Mark II. The $2,500 extra is a lot of money but scaled to medium format glass isn't unreasonable given the performance gains, especially if you shoot a lot wide open.
 
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onasj

Active member
Added to my original post the discovery of a bug: AFr does not work with the new Mark II lens. I hope this will be fixed in the upcoming "early December" XF firmware update.
 

lance_schad

Workshop Member
David thanks for sharing your review.
It is confirmed that AFr works with 80mm MK II with new XF firmware.

L
 

SCHWARZZEIT

New member
Thank you David for the write-up of your initial impressions of the new 80 BR Mk II and also for sharing two raw files. I’m still waiting for a demo lens to arrive for testing.

Have you checked how many aperture blades the new 80 BR Mk II has?

I noticed the 45 BR has 5 rounded aperture blades which looks much better on out-of-focus highlights than the hard-edged pentagon iris shape of most Phase One lenses. The 150 / 2.8 BR has 8 rounded aperture blades for even better out-of-focus rendering. So I was wondering if they updated the aperture design on the new 80 as well.

From your test images it seems the new 80mm Mk II has a slightly narrower field of view (longer focal length) than the original. Can you confirm this?

-Dominique
 

DaveRosenthal

New member
Thanks for the writeup! The longitudinal chromatic aberration was the big thing I was hoping they would address when I first heard about the lens. And while it looks like a big step forward, it's also not quite as much as I had hoped for given the difference in years and dollars.

Any thoughts on autofocus speed and precision compared? The 80mm mark I autofocus has always seemed a bit sloppy to me, like there is a lot of backlash in the mechanism or something.
 

onasj

Active member
Thank you David for the write-up of your initial impressions of the new 80 BR Mk II and also for sharing two raw files. I’m still waiting for a demo lens to arrive for testing.

Have you checked how many aperture blades the new 80 BR Mk II has?

I noticed the 45 BR has 5 rounded aperture blades which looks much better on out-of-focus highlights than the hard-edged pentagon iris shape of most Phase One lenses. The 150 / 2.8 BR has 8 rounded aperture blades for even better out-of-focus rendering. So I was wondering if they updated the aperture design on the new 80 as well.

From your test images it seems the new 80mm Mk II has a slightly narrower field of view (longer focal length) than the original. Can you confirm this?

-Dominique
Yes, the MkII has a slightly different focal length than the original 80/2.8 BR as you noted. In practice, I don't think it is enough to affect shooting style or expectations in the field or studio.

I just checked and the MkII has 5 modestly curved aperture blades. I no longer have the original 80/2.8 BR so I can't compare directly. When I used the DOF preview feature I can see the shape of the pentagonal aperture and the corners and sides are not very rounded, as expected from only five aperture blades.
 

onasj

Active member
Thanks for the writeup! The longitudinal chromatic aberration was the big thing I was hoping they would address when I first heard about the lens. And while it looks like a big step forward, it's also not quite as much as I had hoped for given the difference in years and dollars.

Any thoughts on autofocus speed and precision compared? The 80mm mark I autofocus has always seemed a bit sloppy to me, like there is a lot of backlash in the mechanism or something.
The AF speed and precision seems fine, but not noticeably better than the original version. Overall AF is good—fast and reasonably accurate—but not as fast or as accurate as state-of-the-art offerings from Sony or Fuji, for example. I think the body and firmware are limiting AF performance more than this lens. The reduction of CA and increase in general sharpness wide open are very noticeable.
 

ASTeamwork

Active member
From your test images it seems the new 80mm Mk II has a slightly narrower field of view (longer focal length) than the original. Can you confirm this?
From my initial test of the Mark II I assumed this was down to the Aspherical element, where the Mark I spheres slightly at the edges.
 
Is this lens now edge to edge sharp wide open? I remember the 45 LS was faultless same as the 35 LS ... is this a similarly high performance design?
 

onasj

Active member
Is this lens now edge to edge sharp wide open? I remember the 45 LS was faultless same as the 35 LS ... is this a similarly high performance design?
I just added a different test scene image to my original review post, with a 100% upper left corner crop of an image shot at f/2.8, along with the raw file. The sharpness even wide open in the extreme corner is pretty spectacular, similar to that of the 150/2.8 BR or 45/3.5 BR. It's actually a bit better in the extreme corner than I thought it would be.
 
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