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Katarina Souto Mera

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50ties shoot out on film

ReviewsPosted by Katarina Souto Mera Mon, April 18, 2011 12:06:05

Comparison shots on film from 6 prime lenses ranging from 43-58mm.

Pentax 43/1.9 Ltd,
Pentax M 50/1,7
Pentacon 50/1.8,
CZ Jena Flektogon 50/4,
Cosina 55/1.2,
Helios 44M 58/2

I owe a couple of lenses in the 50mm range and I was curious to see the differences between them. Each lens has its own characteristic which translate into unique rendering of out-of-focus areas know as bokeh.

Lenses in the test

SMC Pentax FA 43/1.9 Limited - Pentax limited autofocus lens, great IQ, very sharp even wide open, 3D subject rendering, slightly wider angle than the rest of the lenses in the test,
SMC Pentax M 50/1.7 - manual focus lens, also very sharp with pleasant bokeh, however this is the least used lens from the whole lot (that's why I forgot about including it in the first and second test shoots)
Pentacon auto 50/1.8 MC - M42 screw lens, smooth manual focus, very sharp wide open (the rest of the apertures I could not test as the lens is broken), focuses to very close distances (30 cm)
CZ Jena Flektogon 50/4 MC - medium format lens, smooth manual focus, not very fast (f4) but sharp, I normally use it with Pentacon6-PentaxK tilt adapter so I can place focus where I want
Cosina 55/1.2 MC - manual focus lens, very very fast (f1.2) with a special bokeh rendering - not very smooth, rather on the busy side but very interesting and surprising
Helios 44M 58/2 - Russian M42 manual focus lens, the longest one of the lot, creates swirly bokeh, (cons of my copy - very stiff focusing ring, and no MC coating even that on the front it says 44M-7 MC, it is not, I got fooled, but that’s another story..)

First shoot (purple flower from above)

Shot on Fuji Superia 200 with Pentax MZ-S, all the lenses wide open.
Shooting from above at the closest possible focus of the lens. Of course foreground/in-focus/background ratio changes, so the comparison of the bokeh in this shoot is not that much comparable. However we can see, what we can do with each lens and what the result will be.

SMC Pentax FA 43/1.9 Limited - as already said, very sharp and wider than the rest, bokeh more on the busy side, 45 cm the closest focus distance

Pentacon auto 50/1.8 MC - very sharp as well, but as this lens is able to focus very close up to 30cm, the in-focus plane is drastically reduced, bokeh more interesting

CZ Jena Flektogon 50/4 MC - very sharp, closest focus 50cm, nice pleasing bokeh

Cosina 55/1.2 MC - as this lens is really fast, the focus plane is very thin which makes focusing a real challenge, but this lens has very interesting bokeh which sometimes looks more like a painting than a photograph

Helios 44M 58/2 - quite sharp in the centre but not very much at corners which I don’t mind at all, very prone to flare due to missing MC coating (the lens is from 1976, so no wonder J) but can be creatively used, and this lens, as its bigger brother Helios 40, creates beautiful swirly bokeh

Second shoot (purple flower from side)

As well shot on Fuji Superia 200 with Pentax MZ-S, all the lenses wide open.
Shooting from the side at the closest possible focus of the lens. Background is about 1,5m behind the flowers. That means that the foreground/in-focus/background ratio does not change that much, so this example better demonstrates the differences in bokeh rendering of each lens.

SMC Pentax FA 43/1.9 Limited

Pentacon auto 50/1.8 MC

CZ Jena Flektogon 50/4 MC

Cosina 55/1.2 MC

Helios 44M 58/2

Third shoot (stroll in the wood)

Fuji Superia 200 with Pentax MZ-S, all the lenses wide open.
Shooting with each lens from the same distance about 2-3m which demonstrates the different scope of each lens and differences in bokeh rendering.
I added a “new” lens in the test SMC Pentax M 50/1.7

SMC Pentax FA 43/1.9 Limited

SMC Pentax M 50/1.7

Pentacon auto 50/1.8 MC

CZ Jena Flektogon 50/4 MC

Cosina 55/1.2 MC

Helios 44M 58/2

Fourth shoot (portrait)

Fuji Superia 200 with Pentax MZ-S, all the lenses wide open.
Shooting with each lens from the same distance about 1-2m which demonstrates the different scope of each lens and differences in bokeh rendering. Shooting into sun reveal the flare resistance. Thanks to my sister for being a patient model.

SMC Pentax FA 43/1.9 Limited

SMC Pentax M 50/1.7

Pentacon auto 50/1.8 MC

CZ Jena Flektogon 50/4 MC

Cosina 55/1.2 MC

Helios 44M 58/2

Katarina Souto Mera

PS: to view bigger images, please visit my facebook page "50ties shoot out on film" album

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Posted by Katarina Souto Mera Tue, April 26, 2011 10:26:12

great thing about Pentax is that you can use all the old lenses on new cameras. I use all these lenses also on my digital body and all of them are performing very well :)) Katarina

Posted by Hans ter Horst Sun, April 24, 2011 18:10:56

Very interesting read; I have an old Pentax ME with an SMC Pentax M 50/1.7 lens that I occasionally still use on my newer Pentax cameras: http://monochrome.me.uk/blog/browse/tag/50mm/1