Tamron 4-12mm F1.2 – VLOG Review

Here’s a review I did of Tamron 4-12mm 1.2 CCTV C Mount lens on GH2 using the ETC mode. To my surprise, the video became an overnight hit with the Panasonic DSLR community and got almost 20,000 views in the first day on Youtube. I then got an email from Youtube inviting me to be a part of their beta partnership program (this was shortly before they democratized the whole partnership program).

I originally liked the idea of using super wide C Mount lenses after seeing some work done by Seb Farges, a French videographer. Seb experimented with the Pentax 6mm prime and Rainbow 3.5mm prime lenses on his Panasonic GH2. The whole time I’m watching Seb’s videos, I wanted to see what a good C Mount zoom lens would do. I saw a list of C Mount lenses someone posted online and everyone was dying to see how well they would work on the Panasonic GH2 ETC Mode. For those who don’t know, C Mount lenses were made for smaller sensors so they vignette heavily on a larger sensor. However most Panasonic DSLRs have an ETC mode that allows you to use the middle portion of the sensor while still retaining 1920 by 1080 HD resolution in video mode. This effectively removes the vignette while STILL GIVING YOU HD resolution.

So I gambled and purchased the Tamron 4-12mm 1.2 from BH Photo and Video. I liked the idea of having zoom capabilities on top of the wide end of the Tamron 4-12mm being 2mm wider than the Pentax 6mm video I saw from Seb Farges. The C Mount adapter I ordered didn’t fit the lens. So I had to sand down the adapter and the lens itself to make the lens fit, as discussed in the video.

Wow, was I surprised. I was expected sub par image quality for video, but the lens is RAZOR sharp and the image is perfectly intact. Granted ETC mode induces more noise at higher ISOs, since you’re using a smaller portion of the sensor, so you still have to be careful of exposure. The only minor disappointment was that the zoom end of the lens at 12mm really isn’t usable as a medium closeup lens for head shots as the image quality goes down hill at the long end. HOWEVER, this was IMMEDIATELY made up for when I discovered the macro capabilities of the lens. In a lot of people’s eyes, this lens has major advantages to more expensive, dedicated macro lenses. You can TOUCH the lens and the entire subject will BE IN FOCUS with a beautiful blur in the background, and this is wide open. Typically macro lenses need to be closed down to about F8 since the depth of field is razor thin. However, the Tamron 4-12mm has an EVEN CLOSER focusing distance than most macro lenses, while still offering adequate depth of field at wider apertures.

You can see a few picture samples down below.

The lens has a VERY CLOSE focusing distance.  It's SO macro, you can touch the lens and still have the whole subject be in focus, with MORE depth of field than a macro lens.  You don't have to stop down to F8 on the Tamron 4-12mm like you would on a typical Macro lens.  The vignette is because this is a photo.  In video mode you would just enable ETC mode on your Panasonic GH2, GH3, GH4, G6, or G7 to get rid of it.
The lens has a VERY CLOSE focusing distance. It’s SO macro, you can touch the lens and still have the whole subject be in focus, with MORE depth of field than a macro lens. You don’t have to stop down to F8 on the Tamron 4-12mm like you would on a typical Macro lens. The vignette is because this is a photo. In video mode you would just enable ETC mode on your Panasonic GH2, GH3, GH4, or G6 to get rid of it.
Another SUPER Macro example from the 4-12mm Tamron F1.2, but more abstract.
Another SUPER Macro example from the 4-12mm Tamron F1.2, but more abstract.
Tamron 4-12mm still photo of my mousepad on top of some animation doodles.
Tamron 4-12mm still photo of my mousepad on top of some animation doodles.
Tamron 4-12mm sample of some hangers.  You can still make your subjects POP despite the increased depth of field a super wide angle lens has.
Tamron 4-12mm sample of some hangers. You can still make your subjects POP despite the increased depth of field a super wide angle lens has.
Tamron 4-12mm F1.2 lens with the box.  You can buy these at BnH and most other lens/camera superstores.
Tamron 4-12mm F1.2 lens with the box. You can buy these at B&H Photo and Video and most other camera superstores.
Tamron 4-12mm features screw locks for the aperture, iris, and focus.  This is mildly annoying as the screws can become loose and is one drawback of the lens, but not a deal breaker in my eyes.
Tamron 4-12mm features screw locks for the aperture, iris, and focus. This is mildly annoying as the screws can become loose and is one drawback of the lens, but not a deal breaker in my eyes.

Tamron 4-12mm rear with the C Mount adapter attached.  Most C Mount adapters are too small to fit, as this lens was meant for security cameras and C Mount adapters are generally used for cinema C Mount lenses, such as on a Bolex 16mm Film camera.  However you can sand down the lens/adapter to make it fit.  Since the release of the video and due to its popularity, I've seen some manufacturers are now making C Mount adapters that fit security lenses now.
Tamron 4-12mm rear with the C Mount adapter attached. Most C Mount adapters are too small to fit, as this lens was meant for security cameras and C Mount adapters are generally used for cinema C Mount lenses, such as on a Bolex 16mm Film camera. However you can sand down the lens/adapter to make it fit. Since the release of the video and due to its popularity, I’ve seen some manufacturers are now making C Mount adapters that fit security lenses like the Tamron 4-12mm.

 
Thanks again for reading Psynema.com,

Gary Hanna
Psynema, Philadelphia Video Production  

7 Comments

  1. Hi, Is possible to use this lens on Sony Alpha A33 ???????

  2. No clue, but doubt it if there’s no ETC mode. Also won’t work on mirror DSLRs

  3. Hi again, I use now G2 Hacked version. This camera have ETC mode, just I do not now it same GH2 ETC mode ?????? Can i use this lens on G2 ?????? And where can i buy ? In Ebay cant see…. Thanks

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