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Thread: 50mm lenses

  1. #11

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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.

  2. #12

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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!
    Last edited by ntenny; 08-24-2013 at 04:09 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Nathan Tenny
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    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
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  3. #13
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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)...
    "Never criticize someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. That way, you're a mile away and you've got their shoes."

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  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post
    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!
    Topcon and Miranda are two I'd forgotten. I'll check both out.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by blockend View Post
    Thanks for the replies so far. I'm very tempted by a Pentax MX or ME with a pancake lens. Just about pocketable.
    The ME is AE only. The ME Super gives manual control.
    I do use a digital device in my photographic pursuits when necessary.
    When someone rags on me for using film, I use a middle digit, upraised.

  6. #16
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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.
    I take donations for beer and film​.

  7. #17

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    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	73457if 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:

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by blockend View Post
    ... light and compact, resolution good or better...
    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.

  9. #19
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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.
    Last edited by jjphoto; 08-24-2013 at 07:02 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  10. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjphoto View Post
    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.
    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.

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