Bass Pig's VCL-HG0862K Wide Angle Lens Comments

I purchased the VCL-HG0862K Wide Angle Lens for my Sony HVR-V1U with the intent of widening the field of view, of an otherwise narrow lens on the V1U.

The build quality on this lens is very good to excellent. The hood integrates nicely with the camera, based on its original hood. It has the same features, including the shutter that protects the lens. Mounting is quick and easy, and removal is almost too easy, as only a button push releases the lens to turn on the bayonet thread to remove it from the camera.

This lens is pretty large, with the hood being about 6” wide. It adds significant heft and mass to the camera, making it a bit more front-heavy. But the appearance of the lens/hood underscores the professional image of the camera, and just adds an all-around “coolness factor” to the V1U.

Performance of the lens is about as expected for an 0.8X. The area of view increases by about 40-50%, with a 20% increase in angle of view. It still seems a bit narrow, but at least it’s tolerable for indoor shooting. Dialing in zoom to a value of 12 with this lens effectively emulates the field of view the V1U has without this lens. Not a huge difference, but still a noticable difference.

The good thing about this lens is that it is a true zoom-through lens. It is the only lens I own in which the camera’s full zoom range does not result in degraded image quality at the corners. It remains as sharp as the camera’s native lens at the long end of the zoom. Chromatic aberration seems to be held within reasonable limits as well.

 The drawback this lens has is rather strong barrel distortion at full wide. I was rather surprised by the amount of curvature added to shots through doorways, for a lens with this small a conversion factor. However, I’ve seen movies shot with Panavision cameras and costly lenses that also suffer from this problem, so given the lens’ zoom performance, the barrel distortion seems like a reasonable tradeoff. The lens is also very expensive despite the relatively small gain in field of view it provides.