Case study: “A great piece of glass”

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“With its extremely affordable price, you wonder how good the Canon the KJ20x8.2B can be. I was lucky enough to put it through its paces on a few shoots.

The first thing you notice is the build quality, it’s good. To bring it in to this price bracket, you can see Canon have used different casting materials. No doubt probably used different materials inside the housing of the lens compared to the HJ series. Don’t let this put you off, it does however feel solid and well built. The lens barrel movement is nice with slight friction and not sloppy. It has the same degree of focus turn as the HJ22. The rear mount is well machined, with a nice and tight fit with no movement when connected to the camera body. The weight of the KJ20 is good as it is surprisingly light. When filming in handheld mode, the lens feels comfortable.

Smooth control zoom

The lens has a basic servo unit and this looks to be where Canon have made the most savings. With only an analog 8 pin remote socket which can be controlled with a ZSD-300D with an adaptor lead or the ZSD-300M version straight in. The normal VTR, ret, memo and shuttle buttons for crash zooming into a position set with the memo button. The latter two can be turned off to stop accidental crash in on shot. There is no separate zoom speed control. The zoom rocker feels like the HJ range and is fixed with the manufactures saw pattern unlike the more expensive lenses. Putting that aside, the zoom control rocker works very well with a smooth control of zoom speeds throughout the range. The full zoom speed has a travel from wide to tight in one second. The servo unit also comes with the ALAC circuitry to help with chromatic aberration which worked well when connected to a Sony PMW-500, with the camera able to recognize and read the lens when plugged in. 

Impressive optics

The optics are very impressive for a lens in this price range too. Designed for 2/3 CCD cameras, it’s 8.2mm wide to 164mm fully zoomed and comes with a two times extender taking the focal length to 16.4mm - 328mm with the closest distance at 0.9 meters. The lens also comes equipped with a macro to allow closer subjects up to 10 mm from the front of lens, but with no zoom through which is normal. The lens has an aperture of F1.9 when fully open. 
Minimal flare

It’s very similar to a HJ22 lens with the normal 1 stop ramping at the far end of the zoom. Sharpness is excellent throughout the full zoom range and has minimal geometric distortion. It only suffers a little when aperture is wide open, fully zoomed in and extender is in, but this is to be expected. Ghosting and flair is hardly noticeable in strong contrast scenes. Even with a bright light straight down the barrel of the lens, flair was minimal.

Well worth the price

In conclusion it’s a very nice piece of glass for its price. For the budget conscious cameraperson who needs a long lens to complement their HD wide lens, and can’t stretch for the HJ range of long lens. Then you can’t go wrong with the Canon KJ20 x 8.2B. It’s well built, will take the everyday filming knocks and give lovely sharp shots. For the price it’s well worth it.”

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