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Information on the Alpa 50 F1.7 Macro
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:58 pm    Post subject: Information on the Alpa 50 F1.7 Macro Reply with quote

I recently picked up this lens and like it quite a bit. Wondering if there is any information available on it. Google has revealed little. From what I understand it was one of the last lenses branded ALPA, its not a Kern lens, and was made in Japan, possibly Chinon? Was it a Kern design? Its the only fast 50 macro I know of are there others? Is there an unbranded version?

I am new here, I own a handful or two of MF lenses, and shoot on an A7R2....

PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome aboard!
Most probably it was made by Chinon.
Fast and macro - 1:1- no good. DOF would be inexistent. So no reason for joy in that regard.
Somehow I doubt it's 1:1. Probably it would be 1:2.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alpa was a Swiss company, and they put their nameplate on some M42 lenses in the late seventies. According to wikipedia and some forum posts that was an attempt to move into the popular 35mm market.
Certainly some of those rebranded lenses were also sold as chinons. Six of the Alpa lenses listed on M42lens.com are of what can be referred to as the "Chinon tapered barrel" series - late 1970's. I have the 35mm and the 300mm:

Most of those seem to have been remodelled tamrons from the early adaptall lineup and as well as Alpa were sold as Chinons, Experts, (see BKS lens reviews) and probably other marques as well.

And (what I presume is) your lens has the same looks and design


The 35mm of that series was discussed in this thread on pentax forums, the only real conclusion reached was that it is unlikely to be a tamron - tamron were not making an adaptall 35mm and the lens is distinct in optical design to previous tamron 35mm f2.8's. The origin of that, and your 50mm, remains up in the air I guess.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:35 pm    Post subject: alpa\chinon Reply with quote

In this thread:


I posted the catalogue and there is a brief, inconclusive discussion. The pictures seem to have disappeared.


PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:26 pm    Post subject: Kerns? Reply with quote

I had thought that most Alpas at least the high end / Priced ones were Swiss Kerns, didnt realize they were Chinon.... I had suspected Chinon made the 1.7 but I did a fair bit of searching and never found a Chinon 1.7 50 macro (I saw the 55)..

As far as the use for a 1.7 macro, Im having fun with the shallow depth of field aspect, and if I want it sharp, I can stop it down and it runs real well with anything else I have as far as sharpness.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:07 pm    Post subject: not just Kern Reply with quote

Alpa did not make any optics, but did test the lenses they bought in before they passed them on to customers. They used Angenieux, Asahi, Berthiot, Chinon (last gasp before they went broke), Delft (and the Swiss Delft-construction producer: Spectros), Enna, ...and many others ranging from Kinoptik to Zeiss constructions.The Alpa-engraved Chinons may not have been produced in large numbers.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It ain't f/1.7 wide open at 1:2 magnification. Wink

Welcome Gatorengineer64

Can we see it? Smile

PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think, I have the cheaper brother of this lense.
A Porst color reflex MC 50 1,7 Macro, you can find some theories, that Chinon bought the rest of a Kern-order from Alpa and distributed it under Chinon and Porst. Rolling Eyes



some pictureseries, cropped and slized


at 1,7


at 4,0


at 8,0


at 1,7


at 4,0


at 8,0

For me its a fun lense, not bad stopped down.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:36 pm    Post subject: Thats It.... Reply with quote

I agree its a fun lens... I reached for it price wise, but I agree its fun... Porst Picked some interesting glass to rebadge, I have the Porst 58 1.2 that I really like....

PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:28 pm    Post subject: switar Reply with quote

Kern only made the 1,8\50 Switar and then the reformulated 1,9\50. Not any 1,7\50.

A very small number of Switar optical cells were mounted by Chinon after Kern ceased production. These do have an m42 mount below the Alpa auto-aperture mechanism. They are clearly engraved "Kern Macro-Switar".

If you exasmine the 1,7 and the 1,9 closely you will notice that the rear of the Switar protrudes deeper below the mount than the 1,7. You will also note the slightly different diameters of the front elements and the slightly reddish-orange coating of the Switar.


PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

some theories to the Kern-Alpa-Chinon connection...it`s about the 55 1,7 MCM, but the 50 1,7 macro is also mentioned:


and some words to the 50 1,7 macro:


so there is a little bit myth about it...

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:18 am    Post subject: Kern v\s Chinon\Tomioka Reply with quote

83 of the Chinon mount Switars were registred. Compare its rarity with another famous lens mounted in a non-native mount; apparently 4 times more of the very rare early 15mm Zeiss Hologon were mounted in Leica M-mount.

Alpa bought in the optics they labelled and sold, they did not design lenses. They claimed to test every sample and the Ballaguies factory did have a room where the impressively solid camera mount and its test target was located. I am not so sure that they actually tested the Takumars they bought in towards the end of Pignons -or the Auto Alpas for the Chinon made and Alpa-modified Si2000 & 3000.

* The sales brochure for the first Alpa\Cosina Si2000 M42mount makes a point of the Japanes-Swiss collaboration and that cameras are being tested by "Swiss quality control", but does not mention lens tests. The brochure front-page title is "A CONNOISSEUR CAMERA for every vintage lens" and has pictures of a Takumar, a Vivitar. Mounted on the camera is an auto-alpa 1,7\50 macro, not a Switar.The Si2000 also had the "Alpa group"\T.A.G. Photorgraphic Inc. in Westbury N.Y. as its sole distributor, not Heitz in Brooklyn who had handled all previous Alpa products.

* Yesterday I fished out two of my Switar 1,9s from their secure storage. One with the early rounded-edge button support with a 109. number , the other with the last, square edge design. in the 110 series. I compared them with my Chinon mounted Kern Macro Switar which is in the 112.. number series. Same colour of the coatings, same front and rear glass dimensions-. Slightly thicker rear element retaing ring for the Switar in the Chinon mount. There is also a small engraving difference; the Kern mounts are labelled "KERN-MACRO-SWITAR" while the Chinon mount lacks the " - " between Kern and Macro.

*I also looked closer at the "made for Alpa" 50\1,7 macro that comes with the Alpa Si2000. The Kern optical cell does not have the same mount as the Chinon macro. Superficially similar, but the aperture ring sits in a slightly different position. .

Given the mechanical differences I mentioned in my earlier post and the commercial and cosmetical differences listed above, I maintain that the later Chinon 1,7 macro does not contain the Kern Switar optical cell. Since not many of the Si2000 variety were sold, and perhaps even fewer Si 3000 and K-mounts were sold, I assume that the Auto-Alpas are not that common.

The Tomioka connection is mentioned in a link in a post above. As is well known, Tomioka allied with Yashica & both ended closely connected with with Zeiss, Kyocera and Cosina. The speculation on where the optics came from and who just made the mechanics , is exhaustively covered elsewhere on MFlenses. Until one gets Japanese industrial historians to delve into the details of locations and cross-links, it will remain a field for speculation and opinions from whom Chinon received their lens components if they did not design and manufacture the glass in-house.

As far as Kern Aarau is concerned, it was created in 1819, cooperated with mr. Wild from the late 1930es , was taken over by Leitz- Wild Heerbrugg in 1988 and the factory in Aarau was closed in 1991. Lists of product numbers exist in the Kern museum. The relevant weblink is


PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tomioka didn't ally with Yashica, Tomioka was wholly owned by Yashica, it was their glass foundry.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 6:04 am    Post subject: Allied v\s owned Reply with quote

Not certain of the proper choice of words here. Did they not only melt glass but also make the Yashica lenses? Or was the relationship rather more like Wild-Leitz where Wild Heerbrugg first got 25% then in 1974 51% of Leitz.?