Review Wide-angle conversion lenses: Sony VCL-ES06 x 0.6 for micro 4/3

Paul C

Mu-43 Veteran
Oct 29, 2017
Sony VCL-ES06 x.6 wide angle conversion lens

Sony VCL-ES06 .jpg
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I found this Sony Wide Conversion lens for 1 penny on eBay last month....and couldn't resist it
as it has a 52mm filter thread. Added to a kit lens at 14mm gives you a 14 x 0.6 = 8.4 mm perspective - or about a 17mm in full-frame equivalent.

Now to get an affordable 8mm M4/3 lens just remember - we are in the territory of the lower quality but great creative fun of the 9mm F8 Olympus "lens cap" fisheye with a online price of £89.00 GPB - or nearly 9000-times more expensive! Please keep this in mind as you read on............

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The Sony VCL-ES06

[1] It came originally with several different adapters to fit different filter sizes - mine had the 52mm
[2] It is lightweight made of polycarbonate plastic - so should be a good choice to adapt to other cameras and is no extra weight in a camera bag on a day out.
[3] Added to the Lumix 14-42mm lens - the picture is a fuzzy mess - but there is a reason. This lens is a VERY VERY "longsighted" design in that it focuses way past infinity. This can be accommodated if your camera has very good close focus - as is seen on small format sensor compact cameras for which it was designed. However this usually is why this fails to be of any use on larger format cameras.

Solution - place a close-up filter between the native lens and the Sony VCL-ES06 - I carry a +4 dioptre close up lens in my camera bag - and just put this in-between the Lumix kit lens and the Sony Conversion lens. You will see this solution made into a virtue with many of the current new Chinese wide adapters that come into two parts with a strong close up lens as the element closest to the native lens. Would a +3 or +10 be better? I don't know - the +4 was to hand.

With the Lumix / +4 dioptre / Sony VCL-ES06 combination there is no vignetting at 14mm - giving a 28 x 0.6 = 16.8mm full frame equivalent field of view. As you would expect - there is chromatic aberration & loss of acuity at the edges and barrel distortion that can be corrected by "de-fishing" the images in post processing programmes such as DXO-Pro or the free "Hugin" App.

Lumix kit zoom at 14mm - JPG taken on Auto-everything, no post processing at all
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Lumix kit zoom at 14mm & +4 close-up filter lens + Sony VCL-ES06 - JPG taken on Auto-everything, no post processing at all
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Lumix kit zoom at 14mm & +4 close-up filter lens + Sony VCL-ES06 - JPG given 24% "de-fishing" in DXO-PRO and nothing else
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Lastly - here is a composite of the 2 pictures taken from the exact same point showing you the significantly wider view that the Sony VCL-ES06 gives you.
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Is it worth it? Well just remember that I paid 1 penny for mine on eBay (1 US cent).

There is no vignetting - this was the big surprise. Furthermore, you can improve on the chromatic aberration with post processing or by shooting B&W - but here I have posted pictures straight out of camera as JPEGs shot on full auto-everthing. These pictures were shot at F6.3 - perhaps a smaller aperture woul be better?

The chromatic aberration and the loss of sharpness at the edges still leave a "good enough" quality of image in the centre of the view. this makes this OK for video and potentially OK for stills if you are only printing small size or your key subject is centred in the frame - in addition, there may also be some of us that appreciate the "low-fi" feel of less then optically perfect pictures - think of all those skateboarding pictures !

Now my preferred solutions to the utra-wide image is to shoot 3-5 portrait orientation overlapping images and fuse in Panorama Stitcher-Mini (remember - the cost of this is zero !) - or I use a 7-Artisans 7.5mm F2.8 fisheye and de-fish in DXO or Hugin in post-procesing......but for only a penny, this Sony conversion-lens was a fun exercise if nothing else. With its F3.5 aperture and autofocus / auto-exposure and anti-shake capability it certainly gives the 8900-times more costly Olympus body-cap fisheye a run for its money !!!

Now - I bet more of you on the MU43 forum have tried a cheap and surprisingly creative fix like this - so please do share the experience!
The current prices for a secondhand Lumix G2 and kit lens means that Micro 4/3 is a wonderfully affordable lead into creative photohraphy for young people taking their first experimental steps away from smartphones.

Oh yes - just a reminder - the Lumix 8-18mm is currently 87,050 times more costly than this on UK Amazon today !

Best wishes to you all - Paul C


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