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50 fifties - Lens comparison
  
 
Rob70
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


Like probably many others in this forum I've developed quite a bit of an addiction to old lenses. Especially those around 50mm have summed up to more than 50.

I decided it was time to give them (and a few modern ones for comparison) a test run. I suppose it will take me a year to complete everything I want to do (if I ever make it), but one set of results is already online and can be viewed on my blog that I decided to start mostly for this reason.

The first test I did is about sharpness. The subject is at a distance of about 50m. I did test shots (if available) at f/0.95 - f/1.2 (f/1.4) - f/2 (f/1.8) - f/2.8 - f/4 - f/5.6 - f/8. I cropped several 500px x 500px areas of the frame for comparison. Since the images can't be viewed at their full resolution on my blog I also uploaded a comprehensive version of each cropped area to flickr. You should view those if you like to judge yourself. The necessary links will be provided in the text I wrote.

If you're interested, take a look here: 50 fifties

Let me know what you think.



Aug 18, 2017 at 10:54 AM
retrofocus
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


Rob70 wrote:
Like probably many others in this forum I've developed quite a bit of an addiction to old lenses. Especially those around 50mm have summed up to more than 50.

I decided it was time to give them (and a few modern ones for comparison) a test run. I suppose it will take me a year to complete everything I want to do (if I ever make it), but one set of results is already online and can be viewed on my blog that I decided to start mostly for this reason.

The first test I did is about sharpness. The subject is
...Show more

Probably the most concise 50 mm SLR test I have seen so far - excellent work! Since I shoot mostly M lenses these days, I wish some M mount lenses would have been included in this test, too - but maybe this is up for a separate test. Your test should be linked somewhere for future references.



Aug 18, 2017 at 11:20 AM
Rob70
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


retrofocus wrote:
Probably the most concise 50 mm SLR test I have seen so far - excellent work! Since I shoot mostly M lenses these days, I wish some M mount lenses would have been included in this test, too - but maybe this is up for a separate test. Your test should be linked somewhere for future references.


Thank you for appreciative words. I'm glad you like what I did. Sorry about not including more Leica glass, but especially the M-mount lenses are too expensive for me. I guess instead of 50 others I could have bought some M-lenses, but (so far) I just can't get my head to accept the prices.




Aug 18, 2017 at 11:46 AM
retrofocus
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


Rob70 wrote:
Thank you for appreciative words. I'm glad you like what I did. Sorry about not including more Leica glass, but especially the M-mount lenses are too expensive for me. I guess instead of 50 others I could have bought some M-lenses, but (so far) I just can't get my head to accept the prices.



This is fully understandable, and I intended more to test one Leica M lens like the 50/2 versus similar M mount ones from Zeiss and Voigtlander which are also cheaper in price. From my experience there is not really a "bad" M lens, but they all exhibit different lens characteristics subjective to personal preference. Again, your 50 mm lens test is a very good summary - from the list shown on the last page, I have experience with the Canon 50/1.4 FD and the Minolta Rokkor 50/1.4 lenses which were also rated as good performers.



Aug 18, 2017 at 11:58 AM
Samuli Vahonen
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


Rob70 wrote:
Let me know what you think.

Nice article, thanks for producing it.

Main issue in article is that this test was done with lenses, which are mainly designed for film, but you used standard Sony sensor (there was no other mention of camera than it's A7 I, most likely referring to A7 mkI). Standard Sony A7 has thick glass in front of the sensor, much thicker than for example Canon DSLRs. Based on my experience at least these lenses (I don't have as wide collection of 50mm lenses as you have), do suffer from sensor cover glass and are usable for me only at f/8-16 on standard camera:
Carl Zeiss Contax-G Planar 2/45
Carl Zeiss Planar 1.4/50 (AEJ)
Carl Zeiss Planar 1.4/50 ZE
Leica Summicron-R 2/50
Nikon Nikkor AI 1.2/50
Rodenstock Rodagon 2.8/50 (there are variant, my lens says APO-Rodagon-N, I don't know are you referring to same lens).

So I would mention in article that test is showing performance of lens + standard A7, with thick sensor cover glass, which is not part of the optical design of legacy lenses. By doing the Kolari UT (Ultra Thin) modification we can get close to real performance of the lenses.


From article usability point of view, it would be nice if images would link to correspond Flickr image, as now they are scaled to your page width, and there really is no easy way to get to corresponding fullsize image. Now crop images embedded to article are downscaled various amount (faster lenses have more crops, they are scaled down more than slow lenses).

Samuli



Aug 18, 2017 at 12:17 PM
mirkoc
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


Thanks for the test. I would like the images were bigger, though.


Aug 18, 2017 at 01:06 PM
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


Danke für den Test.

Surely it was a lot of work and it is not simple to decide if the contrast or the sharpness alter the picture impression.
I've collected a lot of old 50-60mm lenses, too, and I found a lot of similar lenses in your list. But I've never compared them all and the product variety and quality of one example could be greater in comparison to another brand.



Aug 18, 2017 at 01:38 PM
Rob70
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


Samuli Vahonen wrote:
Main issue in article is that this test was done with lenses, which are mainly designed for film, but you used standard Sony sensor (there was no other mention of camera than it's A7 I, most likely referring to A7 mkI). Standard Sony A7 has thick glass in front of the sensor, much thicker than for example Canon DSLRs. Based on my experience at least these lenses (I don't have as wide collection of 50mm lenses as you have), do suffer from sensor cover glass and are usable for me only at f/8-16 on standard camera:
Carl Zeiss Contax-G Planar
...Show more

Samuli,
thank you for your input regarding my articles. You may be right, that the lenses' optimum performance cannot be found by using them on a Sony A7 mkI (yes, that one). On the other hand, I would think that the greatest part of full frame Altglass-users have a Sony A7xxx. At least for them my findings have some relevance. Also I think lenses that do well on the A7 probably do so also on another full frame camera and, since the corners are not that relevant anymore on any crop format.

As far as usability of my articles goes, I agree with you. The problem is, that I don't have many choices being a free user of the services at wordpress (also I am new to writing there and probably don't really know all the options). This much I know: Either I choose "Mosaic" for showing the images. This results in them not being in the right order and without title, but makes it possible to view them at their original size. Or I can put them in order in the middle of the text like I did. Sadly then there is no link to the original images.
So I did the workaround with the images on flickr. I don't thinks it's any hassle, though, because you can view everything that interests you in only four images that you need to download at full size. Your view does get me thinking though, I might still try to change it.

About the Rodagon: It's a plain Rodagon, no N, no APO. You can see all lenses as the header image in my introduction article.



Aug 18, 2017 at 01:45 PM
Rob70
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


mirkoc wrote:
Thanks for the test. I would like the images were bigger, though.


Download the original images from the flickr account mentioned in the articles. Each image is a compilation of all the crops of one area in the frame. All in all it's four large images. They contain the crops at their original size and can be viewed comfortably for instance with IrfanView.




Aug 18, 2017 at 01:48 PM
Rob70
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


cgrille wrote:
the product variety and quality of one example could be greater in comparison to another brand.


This may be true, but that's also true for all amateur tests on the internet and it suggests that there is always a great sample variation. You could compare a few of your own lenses if you think my findings are due to me having a bad copy. Let me know what you find.




Aug 18, 2017 at 01:54 PM
 

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cgrille
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


Rob70 wrote:
You could compare a few of your own lenses if you think my findings are due to me having a bad copy. Let me know what you find.



Alas, currently I have little time for extensive tests and the weather and change of light conditions are not the best for this, I think. I'm glad for every hour I could take pictures during a walk.

I think there are about 15 lenses I own who are also at your list and some like Biotar 58 or Helios 44 exist in more than one version on the market.



Aug 18, 2017 at 02:39 PM
Samuli Vahonen
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


Rob70 wrote:
thank you for your input regarding my articles. You may be right, that the lenses' optimum performance cannot be found by using them on a Sony A7 mkI (yes, that one). On the other hand, I would think that the greatest part of full frame Altglass-users have a Sony A7xxx. At least for them my findings have some relevance. Also I think lenses that do well on the A7 probably do so also on another full frame camera and, since the corners are not that relevant anymore on any crop format.

Of course results are relevant for A7 users. There are also differences between full frame cameras - I had earlier few Canon 5DmkII and 1D series cameras and many Contax/Yashica lenses become obsolent when I moved to A7 series, due to how bad they worked. Now when I have few Kolari modified bodies I enjoy them again (thou not so often as meanwhile I have got few new lenses which get too often to field with me).

Rob70 wrote:
The problem is, that I don't have many choices being a free user of the services at wordpress (also I am new to writing there and probably don't really know all the options).

Ahaa, limited by tools, sorry about that.

Rob70 wrote:
About the Rodagon: It's a plain Rodagon, no N, no APO. You can see all lenses as the header image in my introduction article.

Thanks for the info. As the APO Rodagon N improves faster and is slightly better wide open, I wondered if you have bad copy or different Rodagon 50. Very lovely lens, but I hate the 5 aperture blade aperture, and haven't had yet time to create perfectly round ~f/5 aperture for this lens.

Samuli



Aug 18, 2017 at 03:16 PM
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


Samuli Vahonen wrote:
...
Thanks for the info. As the APO Rodagon N improves faster and is slightly better wide open, I wondered if you have bad copy or different Rodagon 50. Very lovely lens, but I hate the 5 aperture blade aperture, and haven't had yet time to create perfectly round ~f/5 aperture for this lens.

Samuli


The standard Rodagon 2.8/50 and APO-Rodagon-N 2.8/50 are different lenses, although both 6-4 designs. Typically, enlarging lenses don't work very well at distance (usually still very sharp in the centre but sharpness falls off to the edges (typically, but not always)) however I've found this not to be the case with the couple of apo-rodagon-N's that I have so I suspect a similar performance from the APO-Rodagon-N 2.8/50 (which I don't have).



Aug 18, 2017 at 10:05 PM
Rob70
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


JohnJ wrote:
Typically, enlarging lenses don't work very well at distance (usually still very sharp in the centre but sharpness falls off to the edges (typically, but not always)) however I've found this not to be the case with the couple of apo-rodagon-N's that I have so I suspect a similar performance from the APO-Rodagon-N 2.8/50 (which I don't have).


I have another enlarging lens in my test: the Hoya Super EL 2.8/50. I think it holds up quite well. At least in comparison to the Rodagon.




Aug 19, 2017 at 08:14 AM
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


I'm not surprised by the performance of the Canon FDn 50/1.4. It's not expensive enough to get a lot of attention, but as Canon's reference lens it certainly provides impressive performance. It's stunning how sharp it is stopped down just a bit.

DJK



Aug 19, 2017 at 12:34 PM
wayne seltzer
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


I seem to remember at least one or two of these fast 50's type comparison threads a few years back in this forum. Not sure if someone can find the link to those? Thanks for all your hard work on this!


Aug 19, 2017 at 02:19 PM
Rob70
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


expwmbat wrote:
I'm not surprised by the performance of the Canon FDn 50/1.4. It's not expensive enough to get a lot of attention, but as Canon's reference lens it certainly provides impressive performance. It's stunning how sharp it is stopped down just a bit. DJK


Pretty much all the 1.4/5x lenses are awesome performers for the money, but you're right: the Canon is one of the winners even under those. In the future I'll try to acquire a Planar 1.7/50 MMG and a OM Zuiko 1.4/50 with a high serial number to be sure who wins the throne when comparing the "cheap" ones. Surprisingly the Auto Revuenon 1.4/50 MC (to my knowledge made by Chinon, not the 1.4/55 by Tomioka which is not bad either) can score very high too. It comes with many names: Auto Chinon, Auto Revuenon, Agfa Color, ...;



Aug 19, 2017 at 07:43 PM
Rob70
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


wayne seltzer wrote:
I seem to remember at least one or two of these fast 50's type comparison threads a few years back in this forum. Not sure if someone can find the link to those? Thanks for all your hard work on this!


If you do find the threads again, be sure to link them. I'd be thrilled to compare.



Aug 19, 2017 at 07:44 PM
JohnJ
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


Rob70 wrote:
I have another enlarging lens in my test: the Hoya Super EL 2.8/50. I think it holds up quite well. At least in comparison to the Rodagon.



I too have the Hoya Super EL 2.8/50 but unfortunately not the Rodagon2.8/50 otherwise I'd compare them at distance for the sake of a second set of tests.



Aug 20, 2017 at 08:12 AM
wayne seltzer
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · 50 fifties - Lens comparison


Rob70 wrote:
If you do find the threads again, be sure to link them. I'd be thrilled to compare.


Found one:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/996387

Enjoy!



Aug 20, 2017 at 10:09 AM
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