SearchSearch MemberlistMemberlist RegisterRegister ProfileProfile Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages Log inLog in

Brief subjective reviews of all my lenses
View previous topic :: View next topic  

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2015 8:28 pm    Post subject: Brief subjective reviews of all my lenses Reply with quote

I sometimes daydream of doing rigorous head-to-head testing of various groups of my lenses, but in all honesty, it's a lot of effort to design and execute such a test in a useful way, and as far as things that require effort go, I have plenty of higher-priority things to be doing, so I'm not sure if I'll ever actually get around to it. Instead, now that I've somehow accumulated more than a drawerful of lenses, I thought I'd just write a few sentences about my experiences with and subjective opinions about each one. It's not as precise and scientific, for sure, but maybe it might still be interesting or even helpful to someone.

Names are generally as they appear on the lens itself, except I've grouped the focal length and aperture information together at the beginning, and skipped some of the less-important filler like "Photo Film Co." and "Made in Japan". My camera is a Fuji X-E1. I've been neglecting properly reviewing and selecting from among my photographs for over a year now, so I don't have any pictures currently uploaded from most of these, though I can probably dig up a shot from a particular lens upon request.

Disclaimer: None of this is scientific, and anything I say about the optical qualities of a lens is only my subjective impression based on my limited experience with using it. I may be affected by any number of cognitive biases, or (quite likely) attributing things to a lens which were actually a consequence of the circumstances in which I used it.

Without further ado:


18-55/2.8-4 Super EBC XF Fujinon
The kit lens. I used it a few times when I first got the camera and haven't taken it out since. Completely boring to use and the pictures I took with it didn't leave any lasting impression either. Going to sell it once I work up the motivation.

20/2.8 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Electric MC Flektogon
The huge front element with all the internal reflections and warping is just beautiful, which, to be honest, was a big part of why I bought it (it also seemed somewhat underpriced). The latter might have been because this copy is optically defective making it essentially unusable at f/2.8. It still takes good pictures at f/8. Despite the huge front element, the lens itself is not actually that big and heavy (it's shorter than wide), it's manageable for a day's shooting, but it's still big enough that I don't take it out that often, and never throw it in a bag or pocket "just in case". So my plan is to try to fix the optical problem if I can, sell it, and put the money towards a (much) smaller lens that's similarly wide (too bad they're all so expensive...).

25/1.4* APS-C (C-mount, maybe Fujian?)
Really: that's all it says on the front plate. It can be ordered on eBay from China or Hong Kong. It looks large-ish from pictures because of the funnel-like shape, but it's actually pretty tiny, especially because the adapter doesn't add anything at all to its depth. Image quality is definitely not perfect, with noticeable vignetting especially at wider apertures... speaking of which, I had read before buying it that it may not actually be f/1.4 at least in terms of light transmission (and there's suspiciously little glass in it for an ostensibly f/1.4 lens, for what that's worth). And that's in fact true: I verified it by shooting at the same exposure settings with it and two other f/1.4 lenses, and the image with this lens came out much darker. I didn't go far enough to test what it precisely is, but it's probably between f/2 and f/2.8, closer to the latter. (That's just light transmission; I have no idea how to reliably test its depth of field, and probably don't really care.) The coatings are also maybe not the greatest, or at least I had trouble with high-contrast scenes (though I often do, but it felt like more than usual). With all that seeming-criticism out of the way: I like this lens. The images it captures, especially stopped down a little, are completely acceptable most of the time. And did I mention it's tiny? It's pretty fun to use. At its size, price point, and focal length (leaving aperture to the side...) it has only one competitor that I know of: the Industar-69. And for all its faults I just described, in terms of image quality it blows the Industar so far out of the water that it probably crashes into the Moon.

27/2.8 Super EBC XF Fujinon
This native pancake lens makes a very nice little package with the camera, and I like some of the pictures I took with it, but the autofocus is slow and annoying, and the manual focusing experience is terrible. If its value were only around $100 I might keep it, but since it's a lot more than that, I'll probably get around to selling it at some point.

28/2.8 Индустар-69 (Industar-69, MMZ)
This is a very tiny lens, about as big together with its L39 adapter as the 27mm Fujinon is by itself, and it's very good-looking on the camera. Its image quality, on the other hand, is so amazingly bad that it comes out somewhere on the other side and (leaping straight over the uncanny valley of lenses which were meant to be good, but aren't) ends up being appealing, like having several strong Instagram filters permanently attached to the front of the camera. Unlike every other lens on this list, you will not manage to take a single normal-looking image with this lens. Its imperfections, distortions, and aberrations are dramatically apparent even on scaled-down images (with luck, maybe not at thumbnail-size, but anything above). This means it can be a lot of fun as long as you're deliberately going for the particular "effect" that it provides. (And the funny thing is: you would never guess it from looking at a scaled down image, which looks "obviously" terrible, but zooming in at full size, it turns out that it actually does have decently good resolution in the center.)

35/1.8 Minolta MD W.Rokkor
I was pretty excited about this lens when I first got it (one of the fastest 35mm SLR lenses for its time, and fairly compact), but when I took it out to shoot a few times, the shots always came back flat and lifeless. And while it's small for a 35mm SLR lens with its aperture, especially with adapters it's still much bigger than the 40/1.4 Zuiko. Basically, as long as I have the 40mm Zuiko I have no reason to ever use this lens, so it's another one for the to-sell list.

35-70/3.5 Minolta MD Zoom (Macro)
This is a pretty big lens on my X-E1 together with its adapter, and for that reason alone I don't take it out often... which is too bad, because it's pretty versatile and image quality is excellent. I wouldn't consider it surprising if this lens had a much higher price than it actually does.

40/1.4 Olympus G.Zuiko Auto-S (Pen-F, later multicoated version)
This is an amazing little lens, and has probably spent more time on my camera than all of the others put together. Size and weight together with the thin Pen-F adapter are perfect on the X-E1, handling it just feels natural, and the focal length and aperture give it lots of versatility. F/1.4 is fine, and f/2 is perfectly sharp as far as I can tell. Whenever I think about buying a 35mm or 40mm lens, I need to ask myself, "Would I ever want to use this instead of the 40mm Zuiko?", and so far the answer is almost always "no". (It also contributes to the relative neglect of my 50mm lenses.) If I want to cite something slightly-negative, handling of flare and harsh light is okay but not spectacular, the aperture only has 5 blades, and when the background is a particular kind of busy at a particular distance (the patterns on the bed behind the cat, as it happened), the out-of-focus rendering can be very noisy and distracting -- but that's been an issue on something like 2 whole pictures out of the thousands I've shot with it.

50/1.4 Canon (LTM, second version)
On photos it looks similar to the 40/1.4 Zuiko, but in reality it's quite noticeably bigger and heavier. The glass looks beautiful and jewel-like with its golden/amber coatings. My copy looks flawless to the naked eye, but has some haze or grime behind the front element that's visible with a flashlight. I haven't used it very much yet, so all I can say for sure is that it's very bad at handling high contrast scenes or in-frame light sources, is at least reasonably sharp, and that the infinity lock is annoying, but can be gotten used to.

50/1.4 Asahi Super-Multi-Coated Takumar
(Note that I'm writing this entry after all of the others, as I started writing the post a while ago and only received this lens a couple of days ago.) From the moment I first put it on the camera, looked through the viewfinder, and moved the focus ring, it was clear that this lens is a cut above. The only word that came to mind was smooth. The physical movement of the focus ring was incredibly smooth. The movement of the plane of focus through the image, and the image in the viewfinder itself, was smooth. This was shortly followed by annoyance when I realized that the focus ring was not smooth when it got near infinity, but was very stiff in that region, and that the aperture ring was also extremely difficult to move. I was just preparing to write a note expressing my annoyance to the seller, who hadn't mentioned any of this, when at home, with the lens off the camera, I noticed that the rings moved fine. Hmm. My first thought was that maybe the lubricant was sensitive to temperature, but after a bit of experimentation I realized that the issues manifested whenever the lens was screwed fully into the adapter, and not otherwise. A bit of googling told me that I wasn't alone, and that the little ledge inside the adapter (for depressing auto-aperture pins etc.) was responsible. The issue was really subtle though: apparently the little aperture tab sticking out the back of the lens was getting stuck against the ledge when the lens was focused to infinity and the rear of the lens block moved in behind the tab, but while this must have been causing the tab to move slightly outwards (and to press against the ledge), the movement is so slight that it wasn't visible at all to my naked eye (and I wouldn't have believed it was happening if the subsequent experiment hadn't confirmed it). After thinking I'd have to order another adapter, instead I improvised and, lacking a file, used a pair of pliers to basically just rub a couple of tenths of a millimeter of material off the inside of the ledge, and... it worked perfectly afterwards. Back to the lens: the mechanics, as already mentioned, are superlatively good, and it has a very pleasant, subtly soft-smooth rendering for portraits wide open. It's not all roses: on several shots it seemed to me that sharpness deteriorated noticeably away from the very center of the image even stopped down, this will take more experimentation to verify. But even with that, this is the first 50mm lens I'm enthusiastic enough about to actually use instead of the 40mm Zuiko now and again, despite its larger size.

50/1.7 Zenitar-M (KMZ, 1981)
The focusing ring on mine is stiff and uneven which makes it not very fun to use, so I've only really taken it out once. Based on that (which is not much to base impressions on!) my impression is that it's competent but unremarkable.

50/1.8 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Pancolar (Zebra)
Kind of the opposite of the previous, the focusing ring is a bit loose and uneven, but still perfectly useable and enjoyable to use. Contrast is lowish, but out-of-focus rendering is very appealing, and subject isolation is very good (as if depth of field were even smaller than advertised). It also focuses a bit closer than most other 50mm lenses (0.35m, rather than 0.45m).

50/2 Jupiter-8 (Black, KMZ, 1976)
Ergonomically a bit weird, it's very small, and both the focus and aperture rings are loose-turning (no click stops), and they're not separate rings, rather turning one will make the other turn with it unless you hold it in place, and the aperture ring rotates around the lens when you turn the focus ring. And annoyingly, it seems like with one of my L39 adapters it doesn't quite reach infinity, and with the other it reaches it way too soon, making the minimum focusing distance something ridiculous like 3m. So as a result, I haven't managed to take enough pictures with it to be able to say much about its optical qualities.

55/2.8 И-61 Л/Д (Industar-61 L/D, FED, 1983)
I also haven't used this enough to really say. It suffers from some of the same L39 adapter problems as the Jupiter, and the rings are a bit stiff. (Fun story: at one point I wrote up all of the issues my lenses had in case I wanted to get them serviced all together, and it turned out (which I hadn't realized) that all of my East German and Russian lenses had some kind of problem and none of my Japanese ones did. I think that's probably not 100% true any more.)

57/1.4 Konica Hexanon AR (EE position on aperture ring)
I basically bought this for the specific purpose of taking cat portraits indoors (funnily enough, I believe this was also the purpose assigned to it by its previous owner), and for that it's been perfect: focal length is ideal, and f/1.4 is great for low light and subject isolation. I don't like the pictures I took with it outside nearly as much. For some reason, the out of focus rendering looks very pleasing indoors, probably due to the mostly flat surfaces and straight lines, and quite unattractive and distracting with the busier backgrounds out-of-doors. The lack of sharpness at large apertures is also much more apparent out-of-doors than in: it just looks confused and washed out.

58/2 Helios-44M-4 (Valdai, 1985)
This was one of two lenses (along with the Pentacon) which I already had, by way of my family, well before getting a "mirrorless" camera and adapting old manual lenses to it was a thought that had even occurred to me. So it was basically my "starter kit". Which was a lucky thing, because (again, together with the Pentacon) it was essentially responsible for all of the other lenses which followed. If I hadn't liked it, I might have considered a different hobby, or saved money for native lenses instead. But I loved it. Even the bad pictures looked good! It was witchcraft! (For context, my previous camera was an "enthusiast compact" Olympus XZ-1.) Positives of this lens, then, are lovely rendering, a nice "3D effect", and cool swirly bokeh. Negatives are rather low contrast and atrocious handling of flare and light sources (e.g. lamps). One time I thought it would be fun to go out shooting in the city at night (based on similar fun when I once got to use my friend's Canon DSLR and 85/1.8 lens), and came out with maybe two pictures which weren't complete dreck after two hours of photographing. Not repeating that mistake again...I don't use this lens any more as it has developed mechanical problems (the aperture usually won't close), and been superseded by smaller, higher-quality, more interesting, or more ergonomic lenses, but I'm still glad to have had the chance to become acquainted with it.

58/2 Helios-44 (Silver, Zenit M39, KMZ, 031... serial)
This older version of the Helios seems to have even swirlier bokeh and possibly better colors, contrast, and/or sharpness as well, though I'd need to use it more often to be sure. (I wonder what the strange serial number might mean.) It looks pretty funky when attached to the camera with an L39 adapter and an extension tube that's much less wide than the lens itself. :)

85/2 Minolta MD
After much agonizing over which 85mm to get (they're all so expensive!) and lots of eBay-watching, I finally won an auction at a decent price for a copy which had apparently been modified to EF mount. No matter: I just ordered an EF adapter to go with it. Basically, it's as good as they say. I experienced some slight blooming at f/2 under harsh light, but otherwise it's sharp and contrasty, has smooth out-of-focus rendering, and probably the best coatings out of any non-native lens on this list (nighttime shots with this lens turn out just the way I want them). For portraits (not that I take many of those except of pigeons), it's kind of the alterego of the Helios: eye-catching swirly bokeh versus smooth, out-of-the-way bokeh. (I imagine the older 85/1.7 Rokkor must be even smoother, according to its reputation.) Physically it's a bit large and chunky on the X-E1, and while I have a strong preference for smaller lenses in general, in this case the whole combination has a very pleasing shape and heft and carries well, giving a decidedly "Real Camera" impression.

100/2.8 Olympus OM-System Zuiko MC Auto-T
This was my third lens after the Helios and Pentacon (and the first which I bought myself), and it's much smaller than either (though, with adapters, still not nearly as small as the rangefinder and half frame lenses to come later). It's perfectly competent, quite small for the focal length, and I don't have any obvious complaints I could level against it. But while I've taken it out a few times and taken some good pictures with it, for some reason it doesn't inspire me or give me any excitement at the thought of using it, so it spends much more time in the drawer. Maybe the focal length is awkward, or maybe the colors, contrast, sharpness, or DoF control are just imperceptibly below the level where it would "pop"... I'm not really sure.

135/2.8 Pentacon Auto MC
As I mentioned above, this was one of my first two manual lenses. I'll get the bad parts out of the way first: it's bloody huge and heavy ("built like a tank" doesn't count as an advantage in my book if it's not self-propelled like a tank), the focus throw is longer than a tank tread, and mine has succumbed to mechanical problems as the aperture closes down completely and won't open without disassembly and tinkering (which only solves it temporarily). Otherwise, it's pretty sharp and I've struggled to find another 135mm lens with a rendering which evokes the same kind of feelings in me as the the Pentacon does. Back when my only two lenses were the Helios and the Pentacon, I believe I used the Pentacon much more.

135/3.5 Asahi SMC Pentax-M
This is the smallest/lightest 135mm f/3.5 lens I've been able to identify (at least based on specifications on the internet), and indeed it's my only 135mm lens which doesn't constantly make me feel like it's too big. That said, I've tried to give it a chance multiple times and just haven't been able to like it. The biggest problem is horrific amounts of chromatic aberration on high-contrast edges, which makes me not want to use it at all. The build quality, while not actually bad (maybe slightly below average for a first-party legacy lens) also doesn't fill me with enthusiasm. It has this dinky little built-in hood which doesn't fix in place, but instead slides about on its own based on the influence of gravity, so that if I hang it about my neck I'm always hearing these metallic clinks when the hood slides down.

135/3.5 Fuji EBC Fujinon-T
This is a very handsome-looking lens (only rivalled by my Takumar), but (despite allegedly still being one of the smaller 135/3.5s) it just feels too big on the camera, and while the image quality seems quite good, it's not so amazing as to make me want to carry it.

135/3.5 Minolta MD
This is the 135 I actually end up using most of the time, if I'm really intent on using an 135. The image quality is nice enough, but also hasn't really "grabbed me". On its own it gives the appearance of being quite small (I once almost bought a second copy at a flea market because it looked so small, and I wasn't sure if the one I had at home was the same version, but I later checked that it was), but still looks rather imposing when attached to the camera with an adapter. I think I have some kind of psychological barrier where I expect 135mm lenses to be small and at least reasonably fast, and it really bothers me if they're much bigger than an 85mm or 100mm lens, while for 180-200mm lenses I expect them to be really huge (thinking of the 180/2.8 CZJ Sonnar, for example), and if I can sacrifice a bit of aperture to get one that's only moderately large, and small enough that I'd be willing to contemplate carrying it, then it makes me feel like I've somehow gotten one over the world.

180/5.5 Meyer-Optik Görlitz Telemegor (Black, M42, "1" in triangle, no V)
Speaking of which, this is the smallest and lightest of my 180-200mm lenses (by some margin, at least for weight), and is very attractive from that perspective. Unfortunately, the focus on mine is even but very stiff, taking conscious effort to turn, making it not so enjoyable (although tolerable) to use, and it's also very visibly unsharp (not getting much better stopped down, either), which also makes focusing difficult and annoying. A scaled-down image to my 1366x766 laptop screen's size looks sharp enough, but softness is very obvious when viewed at full size. And focusing is much less pleasant, having to move the focus back-and-forth and try to identify the point of least unsharpness, instead of the point where "now it's sharp" being obvious when you reach it (because you never do).

180/5.6 Sigma APO Macro (MF version, OM mount)
There's not much information about this one out there, with no threads at all on this forum that I could find, only one on FredMiranda. This is a bit chunkier than my other 180-200mm lenses, but just as short and not any heavier, and unlike all the others, it doesn't get any longer when focusing close (the focusing mechanism is purely internal). It has a more modern-looking rubberized design, and (but?) build quality is good enough. So that's two of my four reasons for being interested in this lens: its small size and its rarity, and the other two are "APO" and "Macro". True to its name, I don't remembering seeing even a hint of CA on any of the photos I've taken with it. And I verified that indeed, it appears to be a macro lens, so I took some cliché macro shots with it like a flower and a bee. But I didn't end up making much use of this capability otherwise; it seems there's just not much macro photographer in me. With respect to image quality, although it's definitely not as bad as the Telemegor, it still seems slightly lacking in sharpness, and harder to focus because of it. It's the kind of thing where it's not immediately obvious from any single shot (after all, you may have just slightly misfocused, or maybe you're expecting too much), but you start to have a nagging suspicion, and over time you become more and more sure of your impression that it's not quite there in terms of sharpness. Still (unlike the Telemegor) I would rate this as probably acceptable, if not ideal.

200/5 Olympus OM-System Zuiko Auto-T
This was the ~200mm lens I was originally interested in, but being the perfectionist that I am, I wanted a multicoated version (I feel like I wouldn't want to acquire a second copy of the same lens, so I should make that one copy count), which in this case was not easy. After foolishly letting one go on eBay right at the beginning because I was hoping I might find one for less money later, it was something like a year before I even saw a second one. That was the fastest I've ever clicked through the "Buy It Now" process, for sure. In return, it turned out to be not just multicoated but an NMC version (plain "Zuiko", rather than "Zuiko MC"). (And actually, I did order a single-coated (silvernose) version at some point in between, because it was slightly damaged and marked down enough that I thought "why not", but then... it got lost in the mail.) As far as the lens itself is concerned, sharpness, colors, contrast, and OOF rendering all seem perfectly acceptable even at full aperture. There can be a bit of color fringing along high-contrast edges, but not enough to be really bothersome. It has a built-in hood as well, which is pretty useful. This is probably my favorite of the 180-200mm lenses so far.

200/5.6 Asahi Tele-Takumar
I had heard the Takumar hype, but didn't really understand what it was about, until I got this lens. Maybe in part because the scalloped focus rings had always evoked a subconcious impression of "old and probably inferior" in me (and photographs don't really convey how smooth and polished they are in real life). Boy, was I ever wrong. When I first got this lens I spent many minutes just turning the focus and aperture rings out of sheer pleasure. It's hard to know what you're missing when you have no idea that it's even possible (and when most people just refer to it obliquely as "build quality"). Anyways, apart from mechanics, the lens also holds its own optically, with a bit of light fringing the only particular issue I've noticed (similar to the Zuiko). And ironically, while preset lenses are regarded as a primitive mechanism on film cameras from before automatic aperture was invented, it's actually a useful feature again when using it with an adapter.

240/4.5 MC Revuenon (A.K.A. Tele-Ennalyt, Porst)
I had almost forgotten about this one (maybe because I wish I could forget). Based on internet specifications this seemed like an interesting option, being both slightly longer and larger of aperture compared to the others while still comparatively small and light, so I went ahead and ordered one out of curiosity. And well... it sucks. Granted, this copy has a nonnegligible amount of haze on one of its elements, but I don't think that completely excuses the crud it produces. It has a significant fraction of the badness of an Industar-69, and none of its charm. And that's not even the worst of it. The worst of it is the build quality. The focus ring comes off if I pull it. (I originally wrote "too hard", but then deleted it because I realized it's not accurate.) It's made of crappy plastic that was once glued together with a kindergarten glue stick, as far as I can tell. Also it just slides around on the lens without moving the focus if I apply the wrong amount of force (it's not actually hard to apply the right amount, though). Anyway, don't buy this.


There's also a couple of lenses which have recently come into my possession, but which I haven't been able to use due to not having the appropriate adapters yet:

50/1.4 Carl Zeiss Jena Prakticar MC (1st version)
This came up as a BIN on eBay for 99 EUR, while I had vague recollections that it usually goes for much more, and there wasn't enough in the sold listings to really confirm or deny my suspicion. After a lot of hand wringing I flipped a few coins and they all came up heads (actually I looked at the time to see if the last digit was divisible by 5, and it was), and then I sent the seller a Best Offer of 90 EUR, and they accepted, so now here I am with the lens. It feels a bit heavy, and the focus ring can be stiff until I turn it there and back a few times (probably needs a lubricant change), and the glass looks fine.

58/1.8 Tokyo Kogaku RE.Auto-Topcor
I found this for like $10 on a local auction site. Perhaps surprisingly it seems to be in great condition.

I'll write more about these once I've had the chance to try them.


Conclusions and recommendations:

Anyone with an APS-C mirrorless camera who doesn't already have either it, the 38mm Pen-F lens, or a fast, high-quality 35-40mm rangefinder lens needs to get the 40/1.4 Zuiko.

Anyone who has an APS-C mirrorless camera and fifty bucks burning a hole in their bank account, and who wants to have a bit of off-beat fun with an imperfect but tiny wideangle lens should think about getting an Industar-69 and/or a C-mount 25mm "f/1.4 APS-C" lens.

Anyone who doesn't already have a Takumar (M42, metal focus ring) should buy one immediately.

Nobody should buy a 240mm Ennalyt/Revuenon/Porst.

There's three focal length ranges where I have more than just a couple of lenses, so:

Winner in the 50mm class: The Super-Multi-Coated Takumar is optically superior to most (though possibly not perfect), and ergonomically superior to all. The 57/1.4 Hexanon merits an honorable mention for indoors B&W cat photography, and the Helios for its special swirly bokeh. Many of these lenses have only received limited use, however, so this is still subject to revision in the future (though honestly, I doubt it). (And two new challengers have appeared...)

Winner in the 135mm class: None! All of these lenses have different strengths and weaknesses, and I'm not completely satisfied with any of them. (I've seen a lot of praise for the Pentax in other quarters - do I have a bad copy, or just lower tolerance for CA?) The 135/3.5 MD is the most well-rounded of the lot, but also unexciting. The solution, naturally, is to get even more! I'm currently planning to look for a 135/3.5 Zuiko (again with the hunt for a multicoated version...), a 135/3.5 CZJ Prakticar, and maybe even a 135/2.5 S-M-C Takumar (my reasoning being that, if it's going to be heavy, then at least it should be fast and have Takumar build quality).

Winner in the 200mm class: My preference is for the 200/5 Zuiko, though it's worth keeping in mind that mine is an NMC version, which is very rare, and I don't know how well the single-coated versions compare. If you're interested in a slowish but small 200mm lens, however, then the very first thing you should do is immediately go out and buy a 200/5.6 Takumar, and then shoot with it while you deliberate. It can be had for peanuts, is quite small, built like a Takumar, and gives no reason for complaint optically, either. It may turn out that you don't need to look any further, or that a slow 200 isn't really your cup of tea, and you won't mind owning it in any case. My reasons for preferring the Zuiko are that it has a slightly better shape (fatter, but shorter), slightly less weight, slightly larger aperture, and a useful built-in hood. The Takumar, in exchange, has better mechanics and the preset mechanism. Optically, I'm not sure which one comes out on top. They seem at least comparable. Presumably newer coatings on the Zuiko should count for something, although I haven't experienced this personally so far. In the future I hope to also get a 200/5.6 Topcor to try if I can find one for a low enough price. I used to have plans for an 180/4 Elmar-R as well, but actually using these lenses has given me a much greater appreciation for the importance of weight as opposed to just size, and seeing as the Elmar is half a kilogram and (though inexpensive by Leica standards) not quite an impulse buy, I've given up this aspiration for now. (The Voigtländer APO-Lanthar, smallest of all, is unfortunately way out of my league.) Finally, if it should turn out that my Telemegor is a lemon, and other copies are better than it both optically and mechanically, then it would deserve serious reconsideration as well for its lighter weight.

Last edited by glaebhoerl on Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:14 pm; edited 2 times in total

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent, I enjoyed reading that. Probably because I agree with most of what you say about the lenses I also have - mostly the Takumars. But I will disagree about the Minolta Rokkor 135 / 3.5 which I really like.
And yes, the Pentacon 135 is "bloody huge and heavy" - and all three of mine have had problems with the aperture, which is why I now have two, one to use, a spare and a box of parts!

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

very telling, great reviews!

I own just shy abut half of the lenses covered, to mention two absolute favourites of mine, the Pen-F Zuiko 1.4/40 and S-M-C Takumar 1.4/50. I agree with and second all good thing you had to say about the Zuiko, the S-M-C 1.4/50, Takumars in general and your conclusion.
Concerning the Pen-F I have been asked various times which one to get, the 1.8/38 or 1.4/40. IMO they render very distinctly and therefore one can not say that one could take either the one or the other. Both are very sharp from wide open, but the bokeh of the 38mm is a bit erratic which often may disturb, but it's also very distinct and can be used to advantage too, images look playful and lively. The 40mm is the more universally usable lens.
The S-M-C 1.4/50 on APS-C is superb for portraits
( Takumars and Pen-F lenses actually make for the biggest part of my lens collection. I also have the 2.8/100 OM you mention and quite a number of other SLR lenses but in the end found that most others have left me lukewarm in comparison, that my quite complete set of Takumars and Pen-F lenses fully satisfy my SLR lens wishes. For having small wideangles with more modern coatings than the Pen-F wides already on APS-C, and generally for having smaller lenses than the SLRs for FF Sony A7 I did add CV rangefinder wide angles and Canon LTM lenses. )

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lloydy, It is writen MD Minolta 135 3.5 which is a different lens:
sharp , good contrast, some CA, super light and compact.

It is not as good as my Rokkor MD 2.8 ( 4 elements) but not so far. It has probably a little less than 135mm focal distance.
I used to take it when I wanted something small but now I prefer the Canon FD 100 2.8 which is a very nice little lens.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lenses will perform differently on different sensors. I have a copy of Minolta MD W.Rokkor 35/1.8. It is a very good performer on NEX-5N and A7 with good color.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent review.

In my use, the 135mm range has some better: I have both pentacon 135/2.8 (newer 6 blades and older 15 blades). I like the older better due to bokeh is completely round at any aperture. There is no difference between f2.8-f4.
There are many 135/3.5, but I like the color of s-m-c takumar 135/3.5. No winner in 135/3.5 class.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Happy Dog

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 8:06 am    Post subject: Re: Brief subjective reviews of all my lenses Reply with quote

glaebhoerl wrote:

18-55/2.8-4 Super EBC XF Fujinon
The kit lens. I used it a few times when I first got the camera and haven't taken it out since. Completely boring to use and the pictures I took with it didn't leave any lasting impression either. Going to sell it once I work up the motivation.

Aaaahm - contradico!

It's a rite to critizise kit-lenses as cheap & awful.

But I've made very best experiences with the 18-55 Fujinon: It's sharp, colors are wonderful and handling is acceptable.
The only two things I have to criticize :
I love small lenses, and the 18-55 is not the smallest one, especially with it's tulip shade; I got myself a conventional metal round one for some cents on ebay.
The second point: it's a zoom lens and for a lazybone like me unrewarding.
Using the zoom I don't move for best image view - taking serious photos I should use primes and move myself....

Give it a second chance, the lens is worth it!

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 10:28 am    Post subject: Re: Brief subjective reviews of all my lenses Reply with quote

duckrider wrote:
Aaaahm - contradico!

It's a rite to critizise kit-lenses as cheap & awful.

Oh, I'm not saying that at all! It seems to be a high-quality lens. It's just boring to me. I don't like autofocus (like maybe if it were instafast I might, but it's not), and by-wire focus and aperture rings aren't any fun, peering at the display is my only feedback with respect to whether anything is even happening. (At least the zoom is mechanical and kinda fun. I really don't understand why Fuji didn't choose to make actual mechanical focus and aperture rings just with some kind of electric coupling in addition, it would have been a perfect fit for their brand and design philosophy.) The image quality is good but doesn't have any character, and while faster than the usual kit lens the aperture is not really large enough to give substantial amounts of DoF control either. If I want something with autofocus, modern rendering, a flexible zoom range, and small amounts of DoF control I'd rather have a P&S camera like the Canon G7X, which is a much smaller and more practical package (a "take it everywhere" camera) than a mirrorless camera with a zoom lens.

EDIT: In fact, I just calculated that, given the 1"-type sensor of a G7X or RX100 has a crop factor of 2.72 relative to full frame, while Fuji's APS-C sensor has 1.52, that means the crop factor of a 1"-type sensor relative to APS-C is 2.72/1.52=1.79. Multiplying the G7X lens's f/1.8-2.8 aperture range with that, we get that it's equivalent to an f/3.2-5 lens on APS-C - barely smaller than the f/2.8-4 of the kit lens. And that's with a larger zoom range of 24-100mm equivalent, as opposed to 27-84mm. I don't doubt that the Fuji combination would have better image quality, but I don't think it would justify carrying a much bigger camera that's more than twice as heavy, for me.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

memetph wrote:
Lloydy, It is writen MD Minolta 135 3.5 which is a different lens:
sharp , good contrast, some CA, super light and compact.

It is not as good as my Rokkor MD 2.8 ( 4 elements) but not so far. It has probably a little less than 135mm focal distance.
I used to take it when I wanted something small but now I prefer the Canon FD 100 2.8 which is a very nice little lens.

Yes, I was getting a bit confused with the Minolta 135's Rolling Eyes I have got the 'Minolta MD 135 / 3.5' which is a very good little lens, the 'MD Tele Rokkor 135 / 2.8' which is better but a lot bigger and heavier, and recently I got a 'MC Tele Rokkor QD 135 / 3.5' which now that I set infinity is another great lens. I just like Rokkors Wink

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent write up! Very entertaining and informative. Smile I generally agree with everything being said about the lenses that I too own and it makes me want to get some of the ones that I don't. Especially the industar-69 sounds like fun. Smile

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

miran wrote:
Excellent write up! Very entertaining and informative. Smile I generally agree with everything being said about the lenses that I too own and it makes me want to get some of the ones that I don't. Especially the industar-69 sounds like fun. Smile


The Industar 69 was designed for use on a specific 1/2 frame Soviet camera and has a unique back flange distance. In order to use it effectively on any other camera some surgery is in order. It isn't necessarily difficult surgery but you need to be ready to perform it.


That said the lens is dirt cheap so if you want to experiment it is an excellent subject.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting write up.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you!

I also was about to write that the 18-55 Fuji kit-lens is the best kit lens I ever have shot with (incl. Canon, Nikon and Pentax), but you are in so far right that it is very modern, very neutral, rather "objective" than "subjective".