50mm lenses

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by blockend, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. blockend

    blockend Member

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    My lens preferences seem to have come full circle, and I've returned to a 50mm as my standard after some years of wide angle mainstays. My criteria is the lens has to be reasonably light and compact, resolution good or better, and not subject to inflated prices. The three which deliver best are Nikon 50mm F2, Yashica ML 50mm F2, Canon FD F1.4. It's difficult to choose a winner as each have different characteristics. Any lenses I've missed out that I should try?
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    What about a 50mm f2 M series Summicron, mine was reasonably priced and is an outsanding lens compared to most of Japanese manufacture - the design criteria are different.

    Ian
     
  3. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I've always been happy with my Canon FD 50mm f1.4, and since all my 35mm S.L.R.'s are canon FD it can be used on any of them.
     
  4. blockend

    blockend Member

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    At current prices, I think it's reasonable to buy a body to fit the glass rather than the other way round. I was particularly wondering about peoples' experience with Minolta MD, Chinon, Konica, Fujica and other makes of 50mm lens.

    I agree benjiboy, the Canon 1.4 is a steal for the money.
     
  5. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I haven't used many 50mm lenses. I have used a couple of Minolta 50mm f/1.7 lenses and they are not very good. I used about 3 Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lenses and they are fine. But both the Pentax K 50mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.4 lenses really impressed me. The Pentax 50mm f/2.0 is not very good.
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I've used Pentax f1.4. f1.8 and f2 50/55mm lenses and they are all superb that's screw mount as well as K and M series, there's no drop in quality with the f2's.

    Ian
     
  7. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    Ian , If he awares of Leica quality , he would buy it , no escape. To advising for a person who is hunting for Canon lens , it is useless to talk to him. He would come up one month later and claim Canon is better than Leica , same as Pentax and call you leicanut.
     
  8. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    I used my Nikon FM3a this week again after several years. I used the Nikkor 45 mm f/2.8P (pancake) lens that came with this camera and it's a fun set to use.
    nikon_FM3a_set.jpeg nikon_45_mm_pancake-01.jpeg nikon_FM3a_camera.jpeg nikon_45_mm_pancake-02.jpg
    Not 50 mm but close enough - and very small.
     
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  9. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    I extensively used the EBC Fujinon 55/1.8 (thread mount). Both the older non-EBC and the EBC are the same optically. I had the EBC (multicoated) version, and it was excellent- sharp, with great color and contrast. Its resolution and nice bokeh make it good for up close and when reversed for macro. It's all I used for several years.
    I wouldn't hesitate to get the non-EBC version unless I wanted to shoot into backlight and maintain highest contrast. IMO the 55/1.8 is better optically than the 50/1.4, and stands well against any other normals I've encountered, like the 50/2 Nikkor.

    The non-EBC version (satin chrome aperture ring) will mount on any M42 body. The EBC version has a small projection on the back of the aperture ring for open-aperture metering on most bodies later than the ST701. That projection will contact the face of the mount flange on some non-Fujica M42 cameras (and K-mounts with thread-mount adapter). If that happens, either the lug can be filed off, or a body with a narrower (smaller outside diameter) flange could be used. I have a Ricoh with a 54mm O.D. flange which it clears by what looks like a half millimeter or so. I think it would just clear a 55mm O.D. flange.
     
  10. blockend

    blockend Member

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    I've used Leica lenses on an M3 (loaned) and very nice they were. However my cameras are never cosseted and the idea of resting an M3 on a shingle beach, as I did this week to my Yashica FR, is not one that appeals. I'm thinking of 50mm lenses that can survive the cut and thrust of real life, outside a camera case or bag and deliver a good image. If it dies in the process, I want to buy another, not mourn its passing.

    I've noticed the quality of my photographs are inversely proportional to how squeamish I am with a camera, and a Summilux would definitely instil delicate treatment.
     
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  11. blockend

    blockend Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far. I'm very tempted by a Pentax MX or ME with a pancake lens. Just about pocketable.
     
  12. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    The Topcon 58/1.8 Auto-Topcor is a pretty terrific lens, and I think a little underappreciated because of being an orphan mount. The Topcon bodies are fun and bulletproof, too---the two make a very good casual knock-around 35mm SLR outfit.

    -NT

    Edit: OK, so that's a little hard to defend as "reasonably light". But still, it's so much fun!
     
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  13. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    I'm really impressed with the pancake lens by Canon in EF mount...the 40mm f2.8. Amazingly sharp.

    The size and portability is a great asset. Far as sharpness and contrast go, I'd be curious about the Zeiss (Nikon or Canon mount)...
     
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  15. blockend

    blockend Member

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    Topcon and Miranda are two I'd forgotten. I'll check both out.
     
  16. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    The ME is AE only. The ME Super gives manual control.
     
  17. choppastyle

    choppastyle Member

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    I love the Yashica ML 50/2. Unfortunately I haven't been using it lately in favor of my Pentax ME Super with its Av mode. The FX-3 it came with is great (for a total of $10), but sometimes it is awkward to make fine adjustments to the shutter to nail the aperture I want.
     
  18. JimCee

    JimCee Member

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    No.7 - Barrio Duplex.jpg No. 2 - Meyer Ave. Red Door.jpg if you really want a compact Nikkor lens try to obtain one of the 50mm f/1.8 lens that were made from 1980-82 and originally sold only in the Japanese market. This lens is referred to as the "AI Nikkor 50mm f/1.8S" lens in most sources (link: http://imaging.nikon.com/history/nikkor/2/index.htm ). It's only 36.5mm from the lens flange and is a very nice lens (link: http://www.destoutz.ch/lens_50mm_f1.8_2257006.html ) These lens show up on eBay with some frequency, although the lens was produced for only a short period.

    I recently acquired one of these lens on eBay for a reasonable price myself. After using the lens for a short time I'm quite pleased. Here's a couple of sample photos:
     
  19. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Elmar 5cm f3.5. It is so light and compact that I find out that I use it more often than my 50mm summicron. And my elmar is M mount version - LTM is even more compact, and elmars are not expensive.
     
  20. jjphoto

    jjphoto Member

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    With digital you can use Live View, or similar, to ensure focusing accuracy. With film cameras you have to focus accurately in the viewfinder. You will get better image quality from an accurately focused image but not all focusing screens/viewfinders are equal. This is obvious to one and all but easily forgotten. Don't discount the importance of the viewfinder/focusing screen or your own ability to focus accurately.

    Another aspect that I think is ignored is that most 50mm lenses really are in about the same ball park. There certainly are differences, often to rendering of OOF areas more so than sharpness, but often these are only visible in direct comparisons in identical circumstances. I tested about a dozen 50mm lenses a few years ago and TBH, there was not a dramatic difference between a $10 Yashica 50/2 ML (worst) and a Leica Summicron-R 50/2 or Contax 50/1.4 (best). What tends to happen is that there are a myriad of minor differences or improvements with 'better' lenses so in some circumstances the differences become obvious whilst in others the lenses can all perform about the same. For example, if shooting at F8 I doubt the differences will be dramatic. If shooting wide open, in very high contrast situations or at night, then that's another matter.

    For flare control I've always liked the Contax lenses and I think the Contax 50/1.4 is one of the best relatively cheap lenses on the market. It also has smoother bokeh at identical apertures than the Leica Summicron-R. It's the 50 I tend to use the most (on digital, not film).

    The Olympus 50/1.4 is one of the best cheap 50's and combined with the brilliant OM viewfinder I think it's an ideal lens if you like it's slightly pastel colour rendition and funky WO bokeh. It is very sharp stopped down and WO sharpness is quite good too. The OM bodies and lenses are all very small/light and really in about the same size range as most rangefinders.

    The Leica Summicron-R is an excellent lens overall but not leaps and bounds ahead of it's competition. It's just an excellent lens.

    What differentiates Leica R (and I think Contax) is that most of the makers (Leica) lenses are about as good as each other (some much better, but mostly the later lenses) so when shooting film you can't really pick and choose your lenses like you can with digital where you can mix and match eg Contax 50, Leica R 80, Canon 70-200 zoom, Zenit 16mm etc. With a Leica film body you are stuck with Leica R lenses, but they are pretty much all very good-excellent. The same can't be said of every other brand and I think this is the sole advantage of Leica film cameras/lenses. The Leica R6 (not sure about RE/5) and later bodies all have excellent focusing screens. The Leica R4, has a darker focusing screen but larger image magnification. It's screen can be replaced with later focusing screens to improve focusing dramatically. My favourite Leica Film body is the R4(but only with a later focusing screen), because of it's large image magnification, or the R8/9 bodies.
     
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  21. blockend

    blockend Member

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    That's only partly true I think. Unlike the days they were still manufactured, most SLR bodies are now perceived as little more than a light box to hang a lens on, with prices to match. Although I own a variety of focal length lenses, 90% of shooting is taken care of by a wide and a standard, and as I said in the original post, 50mm has come to dominate. It's normal for me to dedicate two camera manufacturer's bodies to different lengths, for example a 24mm Canon FD and a 50mm Nikon. It also depends on what the subject is and how much value I attach to a lens financially, or personally. If I know a camera is in for what most people consider abuse (lying on a beach, being dropped or banged on solid objects, balanced on a rock, etc) a Nikkormat and a pre-AI lens is what I'd typically grab. If I need point and shoot characteristics, one of the A-series Canons, probably an AV-1 is what I'd use.

    I agree with what you say about 50mm lenses being more equal IQ wise than most other focal lengths. I usually test mine on a DSLR body at 100% magnification which picks out any discrepancies, especially in the corners, but at a couple of stops down there's little to separate most. Interestingly, I find shooting on movie to be a great way of defining the character of a lens, as the moving image resolves the look of a lens in a way stills rarely do. It's also a good way of seeing whether any lens defects translate into aberrations in use, as flare can be seen increasing, or not, with each subsequent frame.
     
  22. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The Olympus OM 50mm f/1.8 lenses are excellent, in my experience.
     
  23. blockend

    blockend Member

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    I owned an OM1 and 1.8 back in the 70s/80s and it was indeed a great lens.
     
  24. David Brown

    David Brown Member

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    Respectfully disagree.
     
  25. MartinCrabtree

    MartinCrabtree Member

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    I recently picked up a Nikon 50 f1.8 Series E from an member here for $6. So far it's a great little (very little) lens. Haven't developed any film with it yet but it works on all my electronic cameras. No auto functions but I still know how to adjust a camera for proper exposure. I think it's the best buy yet and I'm a deal seeker.
     
  26. BradleyK

    BradleyK Subscriber

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    For the first decade-and-a-half or so that I shot, I never owned a 50mm lens of any sort. The subject matter before me was either "wide angle" or "telephoto." That changed, however, when I picked up my first M6. I bought the camera second-hand (it must have seen little use because it still had the plastic sticker across the base!) with a 50mm Summicron included. By virtue of necessity, I learned to frame in 50mm. While I subsequently added 28mm, 35mm and 90mm Summicrons , and a 50mm Summilux ASPH to my Leica arsenal, the 50mm Summicron remains a favorite. The lens remains permanently attached to one M6 body (loaded with HP5). By virtue of experience of shooting with the Leica 50s, I eventually picked up a 50mm F1.4 AIS Nikkor and, more recently, a 50mm F1.2 AIS Nikkor. Certainly not the smallest of lenses, nor quite in the same league as the Leitz glass, the Nikkors are solid performers in my estimation .