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andrewlee

Best m42 50ish mm lens?

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Every lenses seem to have their own characters. I shot everything using M42-EOS adapter to EOS-Fuji X Lens Turbo II (focal reducer)!

 

Super-Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

 

Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 (Early Version/8 Elements)

 

Rikenon 55mm f/1.4

 

Helios 58mm f/2

 

 

Non-M42 lens:

Canon 50mm f/1.8 @ f/2.2 with the focal reducer adapter.

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As some people have said, the Helios 44 is amazing. I have two copies of the 44-2. It's a 58mm F2, I think. 

 

If you're willing to spend a little more, there are several very nice 5xmm F1.2 lenses available like the Pentax 50mm F1.2, Minolta 58mm F1.2, Olympus 55mm F1.2, etc.

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Not m42 but these 2 below was the best I have ever used,

Canon FD 50mm f1.4 (sharpest I have ever used even @f1.4)

Yashica ML 50mm f1.4 (Soft at f1.4 but razor sharp at f2)

I heard that Rollei is a good one too. But never used it.

Helios is cheap and fun lens. But dont expect much.

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I have nikkor 50mm f1,8D and it is a very good lens. I use it on my x-e1. It is not m42 lens wanted in this topic, but it is 50mm.

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Pretty sharp wide open, but sometimes shows CA at f1,8. Stopped down a bit and it goes off.

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I am currently testing a handful of M42 50's:

 

Super Multi Coated Takumar 1.4

Yashica DS-M 1.4

Yashica DS 1.9

Fuji EBC 1.4

2 copies of Helios 44-2

 

compared to what I already have:

Fuji XF 56mm 1.2

Leica summicron f2

Canon FD 1.4

Canon FD 1.8

 

I don't think there will be any doubt the XF 1.2 will be the "best performer".  Pretty much all M42 50's will perform about the same, only subtle differences you'd never be able to distinguish after f/4-ish.  My experience with vintage lenses is dependent on the individual copy regardless of model. For instance the Yashica DS-M 1.4 is a good choice, but my copy is a little soft more than expected at 1.4, which is perfect for portraits. Upon dismantling there is light haze in the glued elements that I'll never get rid of (something you can't tell from just pics).

 

Good thing about old lenses is that they are relatively easy to dismantle and clean.  Every lens mentioned here is a decent option.

 

I have a great copy of the Canon FD 50mm 1.4, which I very much recommend as an option.  

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50mm Meyer-Optic Goerlitz f/1.8. Construction feels better than my Helios.  Bokeh is good but does NOT give to soap bubble effect of the 100mm. In fact its best to avoid out of focus pin-lights, christmas lights etc -- the nice round disk you were hoping for seems to generate some odd artifacts. (side not:  the cinematographer that does the "iZombie" series may be using a video adapted version as the OOF disks have the same notch at 7-o'clock on the disks)

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There are many different versions of the Helios 58mm, some much better built than others. 

 

My first reflex camera was a Zenith E with a 44-2, with its almost circular aperture. Probably the most common of the Helios.

 

Later versions, featuring automatic and manual aperture ( which cannot have as many blades since that would make it impossible to open and close  quickly and precision) are generally better built and don’t show the generally oily blades of the earlier versions.

 

The 44M, the last one that I have bought, is generally much better built that its forebears. Feels very solid and focussing is very much more precise. The 50mm Meyer-Optic Goerlitz f/1.8 is a completely different lens and also very different from the trioplan. 

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A cheap option that is very decent if you get a good copy; the Pentacon 1.8/50. However, I have never used it on a Fuji camera, and I cannot remember if it produces neat bokeh. But I do remember that it was decently sharp. I liked that lens.

 

Sent from my SM-G920F using Tapatalk

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These lenses, including Pentacon-Pentacor, are now all experiencing a revival.

 

A couple of years ago you couldn’t give most of them away and now the secondhand market is full of them. Legends are being created  especially in the “ bokeh” department, a word that didn’t even exist when these lenses were around.

Even the looks are playing a role here.

 

If you have a lens made in the ’50 or ’60 some would show a pattern of black, silver, colour finishes. These lenses, often defined as “ zebra finish” are being sold at premium prices.

 

Among them you can find DDR lenses which came from Carl Zeiss Jena.

 

Of course now the sellers put the accent on the name Carl Zeiss while at the time they were especially known as the “ other “ Zeiss factory. The DDR poor relation of the factory in the West.

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The later version Fuji ebc 50mm 1.4 has a small aperture tab that when you screw into an adapter it prevents changing aperture and the lens doesn't fully screw down. It's different than say the smc takumar aperture tab, which is more internal and I resolved by modifying the flange inside an adapter.

 

Besides grinding down the little tab with dremel tool, anyone know of a less destructive solution?

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f2, 1.9, 1.8, 1.7 - all pretty much the same lens (marketing tags).

Konica Hexanon 50/1.7 - very sharp.
Meyer Oreston 50/1.8 - contrasty, nice blur. (pre-zebra. Avoid zebra DDR build quality)

Konia Hexanon 57/1.4 - beautiful blur.

KMZ 44-2, 58/2 - 00 serial (mid 1970s, gloss black barrel) very sharp and contrasty. 44-Ms better bokeh IMO.

Ricoh Rikenon 50/2 XR - very sharp, good colour.
CZJ Biotars (1960s, aluminium barrels - lubes getting old, haze problems common rear group).

Voightlander Septon, Schneider Xenon, V Ultron (50mm in that order of preference). DKL mounts.

Minolta 50/1.7 MD - inexpensive and good modern coated lenses.
I like the bokeh of SMC better than Super-Takumar 50s. The 55/1.8 is a great lens all round.
Tessars are good stopped down.

A bit wider, nice lenses: Hexanon 40/1.8, Yashica ML 35/2.8 (great lens).

You know the very fast apertures of these lenses were for accurate manual focussing not 'low light' as such.
It's distance to the subject/from subject to background that gives the separation as much as aperture.
Lenses that are over-corrected are giving the nervous back blur. Slower, simpler, old lenses can make beautiful portraits.

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I've tried several 50ish lenses on my Fujifilm cameras (and previously, on my Canon) ... my personal best overall adapted lens is the Pentax SMC Takumar 1.8/55mm ... maybe not the most "atmospheric", but very nice micro contrast, and I love how it draws the light.

 

Here's an example from today, shot at f/4 on my Fujifilm X-T1 (using a Kiwi adapter):

 

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