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Archive 2013 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?
  
 
adrianb
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


HI
I currently have a SMC Takumar 50mm 1.4 and a Canon 5D

I had a Zeiss pancolar zebra 50mm 1.8, a helios 58mm f2, a pentacon 50mm 1.8, a canon ef 50mm 1.4 etc

I'm interested to know what are the best 50mm lenses out there, for us alternative gear heads.

I know that if I sell my Takumar 50mm 1.4 & my jupiter 85mm f2 I 'll have the cash for a EF 50mm 1.4, but I don't want that anymore.

I could sacriface these two lenses for either a good 50mm 1.2 manual lens or a 50mm 1.4 lens...

or sacrifice one for a good 50mm 1.5 - 1.7 lens..

Sometimes i am in doubt and don't know what I really want from a good 50 mm lens.
Do i wanat character? do I want sharpness? do I want bokeh? do I want contrast,colors, and no CA, fringing & etc?

From most 50mm lenses I shot with,I was pleased with the Pancolar 50mm 1.8 (it was a zebra, but the glass was from a MC version).

What other 50mm lenses are out there that are worth taking a look?

If you can contribute with your opinions/experience/samples...

I was considering the Planar 50mm 1.4 (cy mount with adapter to eos EF) is it any good? is it worth the money? (it's more expensive than my current takumar 50mm 1.4, is it worth the difference? any better?)

if this 50mm issue has been discussed on some other thread, perhaps you can provide me the link

Thanks



Jan 10, 2013 at 10:37 AM
mpmendenhall
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


As you mention, there are many different dimensions to what makes a lens "ultimate," a lot of it up to personal tastes in rendering.

The upcoming/announced Zeiss 55/1.4 will probably set the standard for "ultimate" performance in sharpness/contrast along with excellent rendering, but is very large and expensive.

The C/Y 50/1.7 is a fun and relatively inexpensive lens, providing similar capabilities (aside from f1.4) with Zeiss-style "pop" to the Planar 50/1.4.

The Leica Summicron-R 50/2 is an excellent all-around lens; perhaps not the absolute best in any one category (speed, sharpness, bokeh, etc.), but one of the best "balanced" 50mm's for reliably pleasing performance.

An SMC Macro-Takumar 50/4 is slow and not great at infinity due to field curvature, but at medium/close distances is extremely sharp and contrasty (though with busy bokeh and somewhat "flat" rendering). And the build quality of these Takumars is, IMO, the best of any lenses. For the low price of this lens ($50-$100), it is a nice option that can really shine under the right conditions. The Oly OM 50/3.5 Macro is a similar consideration.



Jan 10, 2013 at 10:56 AM
rirakuma
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


The 50mm 1.4 ZE would be great if you want lots character (the Zeiss pop), 50MP is also superb and still has the Zeiss pop with a more "clinical" render. I like the Rokkor 58mm 1.2 because it has beautiful bokeh IMHO. There are also Leica crons and lux, if you look at the R-thread Alex has posted some samples with his E60 lux which is my personal favourite although I have never owned one. I personally use a 50MP its sharp wide open with beautiful smooth rendering. I don't know any 50mm that has good control over CA/fringing.

You can see some shots I've taken with the 50mm here



Jan 10, 2013 at 11:00 AM
mpmendenhall
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


rirakuma wrote:
I don't know any 50mm that has good control over CA/fringing.


The Olympus OM 50/2 Macro has reasonably good (better than normal for 50mm-ish lenses) control over color fringing, and is quite sharp. Its rendering can be a bit "nervous," and global contrast is somewhat low. For a slow 50mm lens, the Contax Vario-Sonnar 35-70/3.5 is very nicely corrected (at f5.6+, better performance than most 50mm primes) --- highly recommended.



Jan 10, 2013 at 11:06 AM
adrianb
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


thanks for the replies.

I forgot to mention that expensive lenses are pretty much out of the question. If I had the money, I'd probably go and buy a 50 1.2L which has AF and be done with it...

I can't even decide for myself what I want...

I mean, If I wanna go down the 50-55-58mm 1.2 lens road, I know that I can't expect the lens to excel in sharpness or anything at 1.2 You buy a 1.2 lens for its character and feel of the photos that it takes...

If I wanna go down the 50-55-58mm 1.4 lens road, I'll consider sharpness also, because I can accept a not-that-razor-sharp 1.2 lens, but a 1.4 one should perform better...

And as far as 1.7 1.8 or 2.0 lenses are concerned, if I were to get one of these, it would really have to be a performer,since i would renounce fast aperture (such as 1.2 or 1.4, for 1.8, 2.0 )

I don't want to become a snob and get a lens just because it looks cool or just because it's 'sought after' by others on the internet.

I remember that a few months ago I desperately wanted a 58mm Biotar, just because it looks how it looks and because it's a zeiss..

That was stupid,because any Helios (44M-2, -4,-6,-7) performs perhaps exactly the same (or better) than that lens..

I had a Tair-11A (133mm silver lens, 20 blades, 2.8 aperture, m39 mount) and I felt so 'cool' owning it....instead of caring more about the photos it took. (it was actually a pretty good lens)

I sold it when I bought the 135L (which pretty much destroys any other 100/135mm lenses), but I don't have the 135L anymore now...


So in order to have a more accurate 'input' from you guys, on this issue, I would like to know:

in terms of 50-55-58mm 1.2 lenses, which are worth looking at (and mention what are their strenghts & weaknesses, for instance this is sharp and has no CA, or this is soft but has etc etc)

also in terms of 50-55-58mm 1.4 /1.5 lenses....and then in terms of 50-55-58mm 1.7/1.8/2.0 lenses

I'm not interested in lenses slower than 2.0

many thanks and I appreciate the effort.



Jan 10, 2013 at 11:14 AM
mpmendenhall
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


For f1.2 lenses, I like my Minolta Rokkor 58/1.2 ("MC Rokkor PG"; there are a few coating/barrel variations with similar optical performance). However, the lens requires a mount conversion, filing down the rear element retaining ring, and luck to clear the 5D mirror at infinity. Wide open, the lens has low contrast but reasonably good fine detail across the frame, and smooth bokeh. Lens performance stopped down is also good compared to similar era 50/1.4-2 lenses. There are some 50-58mm Nikkors that, from what I have seen (I haven't owned one), provide similar sharpness at a lower price and guaranteed 5D compatibility, but tend towards more nervous/bright-ring bokeh.

For slower, the CY 50/1.7 is the best bargain for Zeissy contrast and pop. It's lower priced (and lower build quality), but similar performance to its 50/1.4 "brother," which is basically the same optics in CY or ZE mounts. Wide open, bokeh can be a bit "wild" (bright rings), but sharpness, contrast, and "pop" are excellent. Stopped down, it is a superbly sharp landscape lens (though pentagonal bokeh can be an issue for closer subjects).

If you like the convenience of native mount and auto-aperture, the Voigtlander Ultron 40/2 SL (I or II) might be a good choice. This lens has about the best global contrast performance I've seen (can capture extremely bright and dark regions in the same scene without flare washing out the shadows), though local contrast has some issues with purple flare seeping across edges. The CV 40/2 is like a slightly better corrected version of all the "classic" 50/1.8-2 designs (more uniform sharpness and decreased, but not absent, artifacts towards frame edges). Build quality/handling is excellent.



Jan 10, 2013 at 11:40 AM
johnahill
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


Summicron-R is a great all rounder, maybe not the best in any one area but very very good in most areas (sharp wide open, bokeh, low distiortion etc)


Jan 10, 2013 at 11:40 AM
mirkoc
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


Adrianb, how do you like your SMC Takumar 50mm 1.4 on Canon 5D? I heard it is a well regarded lens.


Jan 10, 2013 at 11:43 AM
adrianb
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


mirkoc wrote:
Adrianb, how do you like your SMC Takumar 50mm 1.4 on Canon 5D? I heard it is a well regarded lens.


I like it quite well actually.

My 5dc has a problem (for which I will open a different thread on Canon, to ask the 'elders')

But the lens performs very well. In fact I have to wonder why am I thinking of different 50mm lenses, and perhaps I should focus on photographing or increasing photographic skills...




Jan 10, 2013 at 11:55 AM
adrianb
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


@mpmendenhall: that's exactly what I needed,thank you for those fine details.

@mirkoc: here are some samples with 5dc + 50mm takumar 1.4


(I can't recall the aperture at which I shot these, unfortunately)


























Edited on Jan 10, 2013 at 12:08 PM · View previous versions



Jan 10, 2013 at 12:06 PM
 

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adrianb
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


& one more







Jan 10, 2013 at 12:08 PM
mirkoc
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


Very nice samples and look sharp enough. Rendering has a character without being too nervous in the oof background (branches are always tough, so no wonders expected here).
I guess these were wide open or close to wide open? Bokeh is probably somewhat smoother at F2.8.



Jan 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


adrianb wrote:
But the lens performs very well. In fact I have to wonder why am I thinking of different 50mm lenses, and perhaps I should focus on photographing or increasing photographic skills...


What ... no gear lust or GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) ... blasphemy.

Actually, looking at your pics, may cause some GAS for others.

I'm not a 50's shooter much, but the C/Y 50/1.7 is a nicely regarded lens (in my bag), and I prefer it's drawing style to the C/Y 50/1.4 (on my shelf). The Rokkor 58/1.2 is on my maybe someday list (along with a few others), but the drawing styles here are vastly different. The key aspect isn't "better" ... but different. Knowing what you want out of a lens will determine whether or not its differences are "better" for you or not.

If you have a lens that has rapid transitions that produces contrast is spades, it might not serve as well for those images where you want smooth tones. Conversely, glass that produces smooth tones may not have as much contrast ...etc.

I tend to think of my lenses like different paint brushes or chisels ... which one you pick up kinda depends on what you are planning to do with it.



Jan 10, 2013 at 12:27 PM
mcbroomf
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


Also consider the 50mm 1.4 Sigma. It got bad press for poor AF but is supposed to be an excellent lens optically. The 58/1.4 VC (Voigtlander) SL is also very good.

Mike



Jan 10, 2013 at 12:42 PM
Beni
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


I actually really enjoy the rendering of the Canon 50mm 1.4 wide open, a nice balance between dreamy halation and contrast, but only in flat light, in anything involving contrast or heaven forfend, specular highlights, the bokeh is ugly beyond belief.

This was from last week, Canon 50mm 1.4 wide open, across from the shuk, Jerusalem.



I've been waiting for it to be sunny to test and see if the bokeh is better at 1.6 (it's nice by f1.8 but without much character, most of the halation is gone, fine for my wedding work however, my most used lens and aperture for weddings). With a foot of snow outdoors I may have to wait a bit I'd buy an f1.2 but I can't begin to afford one at the moment.

Here is one of my favorites from the Tak Super also at 1.4, it's a gorgeous lens.




Jan 10, 2013 at 02:26 PM
hauxon
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


I currently have two 50mm lenses, Leica Summicron-R 50/2 and Olympus OM 50/1.2. Both lenses are beautiful an have their strengths and weaknesses.

My Summicron is the older version (1967) which does not have sliding hood like the newer ones. From what I've read about it Leica changed the optical formula slightly to get more sharpness (on the expense of bokeh). In my experience the lens is plenty sharp at f/2, maybe the newer version is sharper in the corners at f/2?? As other have told above the 50 Summicron is a good all rounder where color and bokeh are excellent and sharpness is good. To me the main fault is it being "only f/2" v.s. the Olympus 50/1.2.

The Olympus 50/1.2 is a beautiful lens. It lacks some in sharpness and contrast at f/1.2 but that can be fixed to some extent in post. Bokeh is very smooth and draws beautifully, highlights disks are round and solid, renders creamy and beautiful images. The most annoying part with this lens is that it has whole stop clicks, so it's f/1.2 and then f/2, f/4, f/5.6 etc. It's means you can't stop down to f/1.4, f1.6, f/1.8 for slightly sharper image but have to go all the way to f/2 and lose more than a stop of light. So for critical shooting it's an f/2 lens (a good one).

I'm considering sell either one and will probably keep the OM 50/1.2 mostly because it has f/1.2 and is at least equally good at f/2.

Ive also had the Canon 50/1.4, Canon 50/1.2L, Takumar 50/1.4. I might buy the 50L again some day, I had a good copy and it's the best 50mm lens I've had. ...but now I think I'd rather buy a 50 Summilux-R instead :-P

Hrannar

Edited on Jan 10, 2013 at 02:38 PM · View previous versions



Jan 10, 2013 at 02:34 PM
Paul Yi
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


I'd love to try ZE 50/2.0 .....


Jan 10, 2013 at 02:36 PM
hauxon
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


Here are few images from last summer. 5DII and Summcron 50/2 wide open.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8046/8364973217_69c65f8186_o.jpg
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8186/8366044722_dec22a0656_o.jpg
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8367/8366044730_f693e87dd9_o.jpg
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8512/8366044690_5b31c8fb95_o.jpg



Jan 10, 2013 at 02:50 PM
mco_970
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


Hauxon - to get half stops on my 50/1.2 I just park the aperture ring in between clicks... It works pretty well to get 1.4'ish. It does sharpen up nicely just slightly stopped down.


Jan 10, 2013 at 03:00 PM
bmwrider75
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Ultimate 50mm lens for alt gear?


Summicron-R 50 has been the best 50 I've ever used (compared to Canon 50 1.8 and 1.4, Nikon 50 1.8G and1.2 Ais, SMC Tak 50 1.4, Zeiss ZE 50 1.4, and Zeiss C/Y 50 1.7).

The samples above from the 'Cron reflect my experience. There's a quality to the files that cannot, IMHO, be matched by any other lens I've tried. I had the later model sliding hood one. Wish I could have kept it. My C/Y Zeiss would be a reasonably close 2nd place.

dc



Jan 10, 2013 at 03:53 PM
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