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Auto Universar PC HI-D 35mm f1.8
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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 4:33 pm    Post subject: Auto Universar PC HI-D 35mm f1.8 Reply with quote

I have this lens coming. Anyone knows who made it?

Click here to see on Ebay.de

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Universar was a German photo dealers brand, just like Porst or Weltblick. All these sold
Japanese made 35 mm f/1.8 lenses, probably made by Mitake Optical Co.

There are also Eyemik (Mitakes own brand) and Spiratone- branded versions, probably more.

A thread about the Porst version:


PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks! I've figured that Universar is rebadged Japanese lens. Is there a common source behind Porst, Weltblick, and Universar though, or are these different lenses?

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Im not 100 % sure, but I believe, that they are the same.

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, at least the filter size is 58mm on all 3 and the build seems similar. Now, where is the damn postman?

PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finally the lens is here! I've bought it as a backup to my trusty Canon FD 35mm/f2 to serve mainly as a normal on NEX, but also as a short portrait on EPL-1. This truly excellent FD lens is my main reference point when judging the Universar.

The lens came new in the original box, which contains a faux leather carrying case, the lens itself, and screw in metal hood. Initial impression: this is a budget lens and it shows. The caps suck. Rear cap is not even a proper FD cap, just a friction fit cover. The front cap is a ridiculous screw-in thing. That's cheap, saving money on $1 caps. The construction is solid, however the focus ring is cheap plastic, far cry from Canon polycarbonate focus rings.

Technical details:
6 aperture blades (Canon has 8 )
Click stops at f1.8, f2.8, f4, and so on. Canon has half-stops. I don't really care for the stop between f11 and f16, but a stop at f2 would have been nice.
Min focus distance 50cm (Canon focuses down to 30cm).
8 lenses in 6 groups (Canon has 10 lenses in 8 groups).
Weight 300 gr (Canon is 260gr).

Being an optimist, I was secretly hoping for usable performance, but my expectations were pretty low. The voice of reason kept telling me that I've bought a junk that's not worth little money that I've paid. I thought that f1.8 would be so low contrast that it's usable only in marketing brochure, but perhaps one could use it in a pinch for low light portraits with heavy dose of contrast in lightroom.

Reality exceeded my wildest dreams. The thing is properly sharp and contrasty right from get go. I mean Canon FD 35/f2 sharp, not "good for the money" sharp. I haven't made any formal comparisons yet, but the point is that f1.8 is completely usable. Even if Canon beats it in resolution (which it likely will, Canon is great), it's going to be on the level of 100% crops.

So far I am less sold on the colors and OOF rendering. They are not unbearably ugly, but lack finesse and smoothness for me. Then again, FD 35/f2 has very nice OOF rendering and I haven't tried Universar on E-PL1 yet (that might produce better colors).

In summary, the Universar has been a pleasant surprise. A serious downside is large MFD, which is too large for 35mm lens. The stuff like colors and OOF is always subjective and colors are just a matter of finding the right processing (which might not be easy). Here are some of today's shots. The last three are wide open and 3 and 4 are either wide open or f2.8