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50mm lenses, fast ones
  • I thought there was a thread on this already but I can't seen to locate it. I guess it could have been on another site tho... Anyway I recently compared 10 "normals" with apertures larger than 2.0 in a 1m res-chart test and thought in might be useful to post up.



    During the shooting of the Takumar I caught some specular reflections. I recently built an automatic indoor bird bath for my parrot and it's got a little lightshow that goes off every time it turns on. Those lights showed up in the test chart without me noticing - and I'm way too lazy to reshoot. :D

    These were all done on the 1m chart at ISO 100, with AE turned on. WB was set to the chart's white looking through the Canon FD 50/1.4 SSC and left there so the color differences (for white at least) could be compared. I only included the right and left corners cuz that's pretty much mid-area if shot on a FF anyway (not center, but mid).

    This test obviously won't tell everything about a lens like how sharp it is when focused to infinity or what the bokeh is like, but I guess it's a pretty good comparison for these to show sharpness at one meter. And 1 to 3 meters is nice bust portraiture with a 50mm on the GH1.

    The chart numbers are to be multiplied by 100 to get LPP (Lines Per Picture). But actually, since I was pulled out just a tad in order to use the box for framing the shots, maybe multiplying by 107 or so would be more accurate. :D I shot them all in 4x3 format on a Linhof tripod, with the 10s timer, using the 15X zoom MF assist - using the right-most red box (above) as the focus point.

    The Canons seem to be the winners (in this test) but all of those are IMO excellent lenses - except the Rokkor-PF F/1.7 maybe. And it's an awesome looking antique. I have a bunch of other 50's that start at 2.0 or greater which are also very wonderful - like the 55/2.8 Nikkor Micro, the Minolta AF 50/2.8 Marco or some of the Zeiss/Jena Biotars and various Tessar implementations, etc..

    I also wanted to test the Voigtlander 50/1.5 but I can't seem to find my adapter.
  • 120 Replies sorted by
  • Also try the Rokkor "X" "MD" late model (orange letters, 49mm filter) 50mm f/1.4. I have quite a few Rokkors and this is my sharpest Rokkor in that range. Some of the models are substantially more resistant to age, and so test netter, Even so, you will see big variations in older lenses. Also look at the 50mm macro.
  • thanks a lot for the tests. Would have been interesting to have seen how the nikkor 50mm 1.2 Ai-S would have compared since it's supposed to be the sharpest nikon lens ever made at f/2 aperture, and definitely much sharper than the nikon 1.4
    It'd be cool if there was a way to test my nikkor 1.2 Ai-S using the same chart and then just add it to the bunch... probably too complicated though
  • The 50mm 1.2 Nikkor is a great lens for center sharpness.
  • Comparison of Seven 50mm prime lenses :

    •Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM EX ($499.00)
    •Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G ($439.95)
    •Nikon Ai-S 50mm f/1.4 manual focus ($469.95)
    •Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Planar T* ZF.2 manual focus ($725.00)
    •Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G ($219.95)
    •Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8D ($124.95)
    •Nikon Ai-S 50mm f/1.2 manual focus ($699.95)
  • Nobody mentioned the Revuenon 55mm f1.2, also known by many other names (Porst, Cosina, Rikonon but they all point back to the legendary Tomioka @ M42 mount.)

    I just acquired the lens and been shooting with it. I like it very much, its has its own swirly character, especially the bokeh, which is actually very much in the vein of the Nokton f0.95 wide open (think lemon shaped points of light).

    Interestingly, if you trace the history of the Revuenon, you will find it was at one point manufactured by Cosina (maybe still is, am not sure). Incidentally, the Revuenon has the same lens elements and build as the Cosina 55mm f1,2, and many people argue they are the same lenses.

    Fantastic lens, makes a great pair with the Nokton 0.95
  • @DrDave I will be getting my Minolta MD 50 mm 1.7 with a kipon adapter soon. Whats your experience with Minoltas? How do you handle settings on the GH2?
  • I'm a fanboy of the Pentax SMC 1.4. Very nice cinema lens. And real inexpensive.
  • I have the Sigma 50mm f1.4 in Four Thirds mount, which auto-focuses on the GH2 with a Panasonic or Olympus adapter. It's a very nice lens and I agree with the Nikon Rumors review on its remarkable wide-open sharpness and bokeh. With an appropriate hood, the Sigma is also more resistant to lens flare than Nikon, Canon FD, and Konica 50-ish primes I've used, no doubt due to its aspherical lens design.

    For me, the only drawbacks to the Sigma are its slow auto-focus (common to Four Thirds lenses when used on the GH2) and its lack of a manual aperture ring. Unfortunately, the Nikon version of this lens also lacks an aperture ring, making it unsuitable for use on the GH2.
  • I did gather several 1:1.2 lens and the Cosina / Tomioka / whatever is among them, in "Porst" alias. I did look briefly and it seem to be the worst but not sure yet. Other 1.2 lens I have

    Canon FL
    Canon SSC
    Nikon 55mm
    Porst Color Reflex (Fujinon) 50mm
    the already mentioned Porst 55 mm made by Cosina

    At one occasion (soon) will test them against each other.

    @kazuo: I am VERY-VERY sceptic about Tomioka because it is a hype started by two German guys few years ago, they had some Tomioka lens to upload on the eBay and generated a bit of sales pitch. Now it grew into a cult - without respect to the fact, the original M42 Tomioka is merely GEOMETRICALLY a 1:1.2 lens. In order to fit into M42 the rear element was cut, making it probably 1:1.4 or even less. So it's most likely a 1:1.4 (or so) lens from the point of view of light throughput but 1:1.2 geometrically (more difficult to focus properly).

    This is my guess only so far, want to test a specimen to verify.

    Also to consider:

    - in the lens test made in Germany somewhere in 80-s the Yashica ML 1.2 wasn't very exiting (that's the successor of Tomioka) - the Canon SSC and Canon FD was quite better.
    - it looks for me, that not the tail did wiggle the dog, but the other way. I.e. the Tomioka 1.2 design may came from Cosina originally to Yashica/Tomioka, not the other way. The later Cosina lens still used that design for a while... while Yashica / Contax at one point rather preferred the German way.

    The Cosina lens later were mostly sold in German market as Revue or Porst. Porst seem to be later (has "1:22") but that does not mean, it would be better. Or maybe my specimen is lousy or maybe I was not precise enough while testing. After receiving most of my lens, they go for CLA here. It's cheap (ca. $15 - $30) but takes a while, I completely over-loaded the poor repair guy. Once these went through the CLA will tell more...

  • >>>> Unfortunately, the Nikon version of this lens also lacks an aperture ring, making it unsuitable for use on the GH2.

    @LPowell : I have such adapter, I can use G lens on my GH. Basically, you can go two ways:

    a) get the MFT<--> EOS adapter and use an EOS <--> Nikon "G" ring (that's what I do)
    b) get the MFT <--> Nikon "G" adapter (there are some).

    Now these "G" adapters may or may not work, I had bad luck with one and very good luck with an other one. The Kipon adapter ring works. You can see here used with EOS <--> MFT shift adapter and the much-praised Tokina ultra-wide angle zoom. I don't see any vignetting till ca. 7mm shift and afterwards only because the shift adapter is lousy, really lousy. There is much to modify it. That's the Photodiox shift adapter for $120 on Amazon but these guys really do not know how to do an adapter. :(

    If not shift, than there is much choice. I think, we need to design a better adapter... :)
  • Like my old radioactive Rokkor MC 58 1.2 nice bokeh and built like a tank.
  • I have the Canon FD 50SSC and its amazing, the Olympus 55 OM Zuiko 1.2 and OM 50mm 1.2 plus the OM 50mm Auto MAcro f2 lenses are also very good - and pretty rare nowadays.
  • Do not have the 1.2 Zuiko, all I did hear the Canon 1.2 SSC is better. In general, the Canon-s seem to generate a lot of praise. The Fujinon 1.2 is probably also good, just it's rare and very-very difficult to get outside of the German area. You probably can pick up at any German flea market it easily - or you need to convince the German eBay seller to send you that lens. There is a lot of confusion because both Fuji and Cosina/Tomioka are marketed usually as "Porst". One is in AX mount, the other in M42 or K. One is 50mm, the other is 55mm. I believe, Fuji is (much) better and (at this moment) much cheaper, too - but let's see. The pictures of the Tokina (see above) were made by Fuji, at 1:16 stop. The pictures of the Fuji

    were made by micro-Nikkor.... 50mm macro. I did not care much about light, just put the camera next to the keyboard and the light is lousy. Under such conditions Fuji seem to be a better lens.... OK, you do not buy the 1:1.2 for the macro work but you are the judge.
  • @Krolik
    Yes, I've tried the Nikon and Canon FD M4/3 lens adapters that have "lock" rings and none of them worked in a satisfactory manner. These rings were intended to be used in stopped-down exposure mode on still cameras. In the open position they simply hold the aperture wide open for focusing. Since they weren't really engineered for precise control of lens aperture, they do not function repeatably or reliably for that purpose.
  • @LPowell
    I have no problems with my fotga adapter. In lock position on the adapter the aperture works normally. In open position it remains wide open. It's easy to see if the aperture is fully functional or not.
  • @RRRR
    Yes, that's the way it's designed to work, in either fully open or fully locked positions. What I find unreliable is attempting to use the lock ring in intermediate positions to manually adjust the iris of a lens that lacks an aperture ring.
  • In some cases there is not much to do. For instance if you want to create a shift lens, than on the wide side the best you can use is the Sigma 12-24. That works, but on MFT it's equivalent to ca. 24-50 and sometimes you want wider than that. In that field there is nothing anymore what has aperture ring. The closest you can get is to use a "G" lens with adapter on EOS <--> MFT shift adapter. That would be satisfactory... would be such adapter made with brains. Unfortunately it was made by people who never tried how it works.

    @LPowell: I do not understand, why you did use lock ring on FD... FD lens have nice aperture ring don't they?
    I did see adapters with extra iris and own aperture ring for EF / EOS (not FD). I wouldn't use any because the iris is not where it was designed, it's a poor man's solution. Proper would be to have an MFT <--> EOS adapter with electronic data transmission for the aperture control. Depending on the transfer protocoll which I am absolutely not familiar with - it could be just not worth to do or maybe not even possible in a small package. So we probably stuck with manual aperture control the way it is in these lock rings.
  • @Krolik
    You're right, Canon FD lenses have no need for a "lock" ring on the M4/3 adapter. If someone could translate that sentence into Chinese and broadcast it over eBay it would be greatly appreciated.

  • 佳能FD镜头也没有必要为“锁定”环上的M4 / 3适配器
    Jiānéng FD jìngtóu yě méiyǒu bìyào wèi “suǒdìng” huán shàng de M4/ 3 shì pèiqì

  • @Alexauwa The Minolta 50mm 1.7 is one of my favorite alot of the scenes in this video were shot on this lens. Real contrasty and pretty sharp wide open.
  • While the Rokkor 58mm 1.2 is a great lens, it's not radioactive. I was curious and used a Geiger counter on it. Nothing above normal. Or, maybe, my lens is a few billion years old ;-)

    Not even the old aluminum Jupiter 9 (which shows some yellowing) is radioactive. And, yes, the counter works – you can see basic radioactivity everywhere.
  • Best 50m lens for me is now Olympus 45mm :-)
  • @nomad

    Its a 60 s Thorium laced one according to the serial number and v yellow ( which I dont mind ) As in

    Although my degree years ago was astrophuysics, sure Thorium is quite pokey in the alpha activity department. Maybe its all a myth :p

  • Well, at least nothing to be concerned about (and, yes, I opened the alpha filter of my counter).

  • Like I said we all love a myth lol - I'd rather it wasn't emitting that close to me already ugly face :)