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HandeVision Ibelux 40mm f/0.85 – Build and handling
On first impression, the Ibelux 40mm f/0.85 appears to follow the model of German car manufacturing, which is often reserved when it comes to styling and design, and is best known for its robustness and stellar build quality. With an all-metal and glass design, and no plastic in sight other than the lens cap at the rear, it’s a solid chunk that feels a lot heavier than you’d expect for a lens of its stature. To put its weight into perspective, it’s almost double that of the Voigtländer 42.5mm f/0.95. The mass of this lens (1.2kg) goes against the weight-saving approach that many photographers are trying to make by switching systems and moving to mirrorless.
As well as heavy, the barrel is incredibly long. This combination never bodes well for mirrorless cameras and can make the smallest models feel nose heavy and unbalanced in the hand. Though our X-mount sample of the lens didn’t feel out of place when it was coupled to the Fujifilm X-T2 with the VPB-XT2 vertical power booster attached, I was aware that the combination of camera and lens felt much more front heavy with it removed. With no tripod collar or tripod thread built into the lens, you’ll find yourself supporting the barrel in the palm of your left hand. It’s also worth pointing out lenses as heavy as this one can put increased strain on a camera’s lens mount.
To shield the front element from flare and glare, there’s an in-built lens hood that operates in a push/pull fashion. Despite reports of the hood working loose on other press samples, ours was a good tight fit and operated without fault. The only thing I would say about it is that it doesn’t extend particularly far beyond the front element and the screw-in lens cap can’t be removed when it is extended. I tended to keep the lens cap stowed away in my pocket as I found it too much of a nuisance unscrewing and screwing it back on each time.
Working back from the lens hood, you’ll come across the thin and finely grooved metal aperture ring. This clicks between stops but doesn’t click at half-stop intervals like many other manual-aperture lenses. The aperture settings and focus distance markings are all engraved and well painted. However, a prolonged spell of shooting revealed that the focus ring could benefit from being better damped. As it is, the tiniest knock or touch of the manual-focus ring is enough to throw the focus out – something that’s incredibly easy to do on a lens that allows you to shoot with such a shallow depth of field. The throw of the manual focus ring is fairly long, too. From its minimum focus distance (75cm) to infinity you’re looking at a rotation of almost 270 degrees. This has its advantages, in that it’s good for precise focusing adjustments, but makes it rather slow to acquire focus quickly between near and far subjects.
HandeVision has always been open about its mission to create high-grade lenses of metal construction with a clean, aesthetic finish. There will be some who find the old vintage style rather attractive, but as far as practicality and usability is concerned, I found it a bit of a pig to handle and it’s definitely not the lens you’ll want to pull from your bag when time is against you in a fast-paced or pressured shooting environment.