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View Full Version : Who made the best manual focus SLR lenses of each focal length?


rohankent
10-22-2012, 14:46
With film SLR bodies being so cheap, it occurred to me that buying lenses that are exceptional is the best place to start, and pairing bodies to those lenses could be a secondary consideration. Instead of having one brand of body with many lenses to suit that brand, why not go with a range of lenses paired with bodies that were the best of their kind? (I guess weight is the obvious consideration...but, anywho)

Who made the best of each focal length manual focus SLR lens in the 60's, 70's, 80's? 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 105mm etc etc

konicaman
10-22-2012, 15:04
Hmm..interesting, a couple of suggestions:

Konica T(something) with the pancake Hexanon 40/1.8
Spotmatic (or Zenit if you want to be consistent) with Zenitar 50/2.0

Roger Hicks
10-22-2012, 15:05
58/2 Biotar for portraits. 58/1.4 Nikkor is even nicer but harder to find & more expensive.

Cheers,

R.

filmfan
10-22-2012, 15:05
These are the best primes from each focal length IMO:

24mm: Canon FD 24mm f/1.4 L, Olympus OM Zuiko 24mm f/2.8

28mm: Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 AI-S, Olympus OM Zuiko 28mm f/2

35mm: Zeiss/Contax Distagon 35mm f/1.4, Canon FD 35mm f/2 SSC concave

50mm: Canon FD 55mm f/1.2 AL ASPH, FD 50mm f/1.2 L

85mm: Canon FD 85mm f1.2 L

...and I have heard the latest Leica R lenses are better than anything else

mretina
10-22-2012, 15:59
Below what I use / like

20mm Nikkor 20/4
28mm Elmarit 28/2.8; Nikkor 28/3.5
35mm Zeiss Distagon 35/1.4 Rollei; Flektogon 35/2.4
50mm Zeiss 50/1.8; Summicron 50/2; Planar 50/1.7; Canon 50/1.4 FD
85mm Takumar 85/1.8; Jupiter 85/2; Nikkor 85/2
105mm Nikon 105/2.5, Orestor 100/2.8

chrishayton
10-22-2012, 16:11
A few great lenses come to mind off the top of my head, Interesting and great optics
40mm F2 OM
28mm F2.8 Zeiss C/Y
21mm F2 OM
80mm F1.4 Summilux
105mm F2.5 Nikkor
24 1.4 L Canon FD

leicapixie
10-22-2012, 16:51
Nikon-F with the Nikkors, the 28mm,35mm,45mmGN,50mm,55mm-Micro,85mm,105mmf2,5"sonnar",135mm3,5.All with one small filter thread,52mm. I own all of the above except one!
The Pentax Takumars, esp. those with Multi coating are hard to beat.
The 28mm3,5,35mm2.0,50mm1.4,85mm1.9,135mm2.5. The yellowing a problem if one shoots color only.
My Canon 50mm1.8 a very satisfactory lens. i beleive there are few bad 50mm lenses.. The 58mmf2.o Biotar gave great effects. Sorry i traded it!
The original Leicaflex-R series for the 1st and 2nd Leica SLR were outstanding but in the case of the 1st Leica SLR, somebody there was a lunatic! A SLR that had no screen to focus on, or view depth of field.
I know the last one is a poor excuse. The reason i don't own a DSLR.. well one of many..

charjohncarter
10-22-2012, 16:52
I find that the split image screen is best for 20mm and 28mm lenses. Now, longer focal lengths I'm not sure I need it. So I have 20, 28, 35, 50, 200mm Pentax lenses in K mount, and I can use any body 35 and above. But I use AF or split screen bodies for the 28mm and below.

Bruin
10-22-2012, 17:04
I'd say Nikon for 28 and 105, Pentax for 50, Oly for 85, Minolta for 24.

nobbylon
10-22-2012, 17:17
from the ones I have or have had,

Nikon
28 2.8 AIS the best 28 there is.
35 2.0 'O'
85 1.8 K series
105 2.5 AI or AIS superb but not as good as the 90 elmarit.
all sold because I can't focus Nikon F, F2 and F3's any more.

Pentax
50 1.4 screwmount super tak' great bokeh sold due dim spotmatic viewfinders
50 1.4 K still have, very smooth bokeh and good sharpness. Better than the later M versions.

Leica R
35 Summicron E55 IMHO the best 35 there is.
50 Summicron 1st version and again the best f2 50 made
60 macro elmarit, simply stunning lens
90 Elmarit E55 sharper than the 90 summicron with equal bokeh and IMO better than the 105 Nikkors.

I still have all the R lenses for one reason, to my eyes they are better than anything else.

Austintatious
10-22-2012, 17:19
Many of the Minolta Rokkors are fantastic ! Some folks have discovered this fact as the prices on'em have doubled in the last couple years. Lots of bodies for them as well.

bugmenot
10-22-2012, 17:29
The notion of "best" is such a murky one. Each user will have his or her own opinions of good and great lenses.
On the other hand, the notion of "terrible" is an easy one. There are simply lenses that should not have been :D

However, just for the record, these are a handful of SLR lenses I consider to be amazing performers:

Pentax Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 (M42 Mount)
Revuenon (Cosina) 55mm f/1.2 (K-mount)
Canon FD 50mm f/3.5 S.S.C Macro lens (FD-mount)
Nikon 85mm f/1.4 AI-S (F-mount)
Nikon 105mm f/2 DC (F-mount)
Nikon 135mm f/2 DC (F-mount)

And just about any Zeiss lens in any mount you can get your hands on :)

I have personally never owned very expensive wide angle SLR lenses, and as such, given my limited exposure to the more "budget" wide and ultra wide angle lenses,
I have never found any of them to be very good. Most modern lenses outperform them greatly.

charjohncarter
10-22-2012, 17:45
Everyone knows Zeiss is the best. :)

I have a few (and they are excellent), but focusing the lens (no matter what make) is the most important (and a tripod).

Vickko
10-22-2012, 17:58
Interesting question, these come to mind:

50mm f1.4 Summilux (E60 last version) for Leica R
58mm f1.2 Noct-Nikkor for Nikon F
60mm f2.8 Macro for Leica R
80mm f1.4 Summilux for Leica R
100mm f2.8 APO Macro Elmarit R for Leica
100mm f3.5 Planar for Hasselblad
110mm f2 Planar for Hasselblad
180mm f3.4 APO-Telyt for Leica
250mm f5.6 Super Achromat for Hasselblad

tunalegs
10-22-2012, 18:17
Depends on what you consider "nice" - what qualities do you want? Build quality? Overall optical quality? Color rendition? etc. etc.

I personally think the Leitz reflex lenses are not worth the money. The Rollei Planar is a better lens in most major respects than the equivalent Summicron - and costs less than half as much. The Icarex Ultron is legendary... and I'd say it is better than the Summicron too - except that it has rather busy and distracting blur, it's also hard to find and too expensive these days. The CZJ Tessars are really nice (sharper than their West twins even) albeit slowish at f2.8, and shouldn't even be used that wide open IMO.

If you're going to pair the lenses with their original body though... the Nikon F range is probably the safest bet.

My favorite 50 right now is the Yashinon 2/50 because it sharp enough, and it gives nice soft blur which is uncommon in fast 50s. I like using the Oreston 1.8/50 when shooting slides because it renders colors to my liking...

sepiareverb
10-22-2012, 18:36
Optically speaking, the Nikkor AF 105/2 DC is without peer that I know in the 85-105 range. The Ai 28/2.0 was also always a favorite of mine.

charjohncarter
10-22-2012, 18:55
I seem to be off the OP's question. But I will say again: the Japanese really didn't make any bad lenses from 1975 on. So, focusing ability is (with tripod) the best way to maximizes your lenses. And I doubt if anyone could ever tell which is which (if properly used).

gilpen123
10-22-2012, 18:58
Same here 28 2.8, 105 2.5 and to add the 180 2.8 all AI-s. Never used other brands.

semi-ambivalent
10-22-2012, 19:00
I'd say Nikon for 28 and 105, Pentax for 50, Oly for 85, Minolta for 24.

The 50mm f/2 Nikkor-H gets pretty high marks. I don't have one but I do have the Ai, which is supposed to be the same formula as the H and with better coating. I did a bit of pixel peeping with my sons 5100 and that 50 was outstanding. That being said, my 50 mm f/1.8 long nose has a bit less veiling at 1.8-2 than does the f/2 and is ever so slightly better in the corners. The f/2 has a little more contrast richness in the colors that lends itself to the resolution. This is a 100% DX image that gimp tells me is 68.5 inches wide so the resolution differences are meaningless.

For me the f/2 wins because I like that veiling at f/2 and because it cost me thirty dollars. You're bang on about the 28 (AiS) and the 105.

cheers

ChrisN
10-22-2012, 19:45
I think Pentax made the best 77mm prime - the FA 77 1.8 Limited. :)

Phil_F_NM
10-22-2012, 20:19
I'm gonna throw the Canon FD 24mm f/1.4 L into the mix.

This is a lens that I've only had the opportunity to use a little bit on loan but that short period of time has filled me with the urge to own and shoot one of these stellar gems. There is nothing wrong with it whatsoever. Perfect.

Phil Forrest

f16sunshine
10-22-2012, 20:29
If by best you mean high contrast sharp lenses with good build quality I would recommend the Zeiss Contax system lenses.
Pretty consistent overall. I especially like the f2.8/85, f1.4/85, f2/100, and f2.8/180mm.
The wides are also excellent but, they are not cheap. I use the distagon f2.8/21mm and f1.4/35. both are now hard to find at reasonable prices.
The f2.8/85 is just a peach and super cheap for what it will do for you in terms of output.
If you own a 5D(ii,iii) make sure and get a couple chipped adapters for this mount. These lenses perform great on the 5D models.

Rob-F
10-22-2012, 20:29
Not an exhaustive list, but a few favorites I won't part with:

90mm f/2.8 Elmarit (can be adapted to Nikon mount)
135mm f/2.8 Elmarit (can be adapted to Nikon mount)
180mm f/3.4 APO-Telyt (can be adapted to Nikon mount)
28mm PC-Nikkor
35mm PC-Nikkor (latest)
55mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor (f/2.8 version almost as good)
15mm f/3.5 Nikkor

Dirk
10-22-2012, 20:32
Who made the best of each focal length manual focus SLR lens in the 60's, 70's, 80's? 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 105mm etc etc

20mm (OK, 19mm here): Leica Elmarit 19mm 2.8, version II
24mm: Nikkor AI-S 24mm 2.8
28mm: Leica Elmarit 28mm 2.8, version II
35mm: Zeiss Distagon 35mm 1.4 MMJ
50mm (55mm here): Canon FD 55mm 1.2 Aspherical
50mm Macro: Pentax SMC Macro Takumar 4.0
85mm: Canon FD 85mm 1.2
105mm: Nikkor 105mm 1.8 AI-S

I'll leave stuff above that range to others, as I don't have much experience with telephoto lenses above 105mm.

Vickko
10-22-2012, 20:43
Oh, yeah, I agree with these two too !!! Fantastic lenses from Canon.

...

50mm (55mm here): Canon FD 55mm 1.2 Aspherical

85mm: Canon FD 85mm 1.2
...

Harry Lime
10-22-2012, 22:05
Leica R
To this day a lot of this glass is hard to beat. My Summilux-R 1.4/50 still is the best fast 50 I have used for an SLR and I've owned many from Zeiss, Nikon, Canon etc. The 50 Lux and Summicron-R 2/50 are the two reasons why I still shot with R bodies.

Other notables include the Summicron-R 2/50, Macro 2.8/60, Summilux-R 1.4/80, Summicron-R ASPH 2/90, APO 2.8/100mm. These are really, really good lenses and just like with the M glass, I do see a noticeable difference in scans and wet prints, between the R glass and the Zeiss and Nikkors I shoot.

The Summilux-R 1.4/35 is underrated, as is the last version of the Summicron-R 2/35. The ultra wides get very good reviews (19mm ? etc). A lot of the long Leica R glass is truly outstanding, as are the 2.8/35-70, 4/35-70, 28-90, 4/80-200, 2.8/80-200.

But as with everything Leica, their pricing placed them totally out of the mainstream. I think the 2.8/80-200 went for $6000 in the early 2000's.


Zeiss Contax
I never owned a Contax, but two of my friends did and the results were impressive. But I now have the 2/35 Distagon, Planar 1.4/50 and 1.4/85 in Nikon F mount and as expected these are really good lenses.

Canon FD
Canon made some very impressive glass in the old FD mount. Erwin Puts speaks very highly of this line up. Lot's of impressive high speed 50's and I think Canon was one of the first companies to start to use ASPH surfaces.


Nikon
I'm also a Nikon guy, but I always felt that their lens lineup was somewhat uneven. You have real standouts like the 2/28, 2/50, 1.4/50 AIS, Micro-Nikkor 3.5 (2.8) /55, 1.4/85mm, 2.5/105. But then there are lenses like the 2/35, which to be polite, is really weak. The 1.4/35 also never impressed me. Really soft at 1.4. There are some really cool f1.2 fifties. Not the sharpest, but they render really beautifully.

I always thought that Nikon made the best SLR bodies around, but for some reason they would keep a lens in their line up for 20 years and never update it, while the rest of the industry did.


Early on I also shot a little Pentax and really liked their fast 50's. Maybe not the sharpest lenses, but my god did they draw beautifully in b/w. Mike Johnston waxes about this lens on occasion. It's like the SLR version of the Leica M Summicron-DR 2/50.

mfogiel
10-22-2012, 22:37
Beyond what has been said, I have now and enjoy a lot the Minolta Rokkor 58/1,2 PG

windraider
10-22-2012, 23:31
Out of the Nikon, Minoltas, Olympus and 3rd party brands that I have tried, I usually find Nikkors to have the slight edge, particularly the 24/2.8 and 35/2 AIS.

Minolta teles give surprising bang for the buck as I have good experiences with the 135/3.5 MC and 200/3.5 MC.

johannielscom
10-22-2012, 23:33
Low contrast shots on a sharp digital sensor are my game.

On the D3100 I shoot:

Nikkor-S 1.4/58mm
Nikkor-P 2.5/105mm (1st version, Sonnar)
Tamron BBAR 2.8-3.5/35-80mm Adaptall
Tamron BBAR 3.5/24-48mm Adaptall


Haven't shot the 24-48mm yet (it's arriving next week) but if it's anything like the other BBAR lens, I'll be happy with it!

Extra perk is the Nikkors fitting onto any AF-S body (3100, 5100, 3200), Nikkormats, the F2, F3? and F4, while the Adaptalls... well they fit onto anything when you switch mounts! And they were cheap too!

Mablo
10-23-2012, 02:09
A skunk at the picnic here. In my opinion most Hexanon AR prime lenses wipe the floor with Nikkor lenses of the same FL.

Nettar
10-23-2012, 03:20
A skunk at the picnic, eh? Well, I'll be the hippopotamus at the picnic. I saw Vickko above suggesting 'Blad lenses, so the medium format foot is already in the door. There has been mention of 55mm lenses, so let me suggest the SMC Pentax 67 55mm f/4, last version (I think from the mid 1980s). Very good! Nettar

Aristophanes
10-23-2012, 03:30
31, 43, 77mm = Pentax Limited.


My Minolta Rokkor MD 100/2.8 is a fantastic piece of optical engineering.

Benjamin Marks
10-23-2012, 03:43
It is hard to add to the list above -- hard because so many good lenses have been mentioned, and hard too because I own a lot of the lenses mentioned, but have not made a comparison that would allow a categorical testing like "best." Some favorites:

35/2, 50/1.4 Pentax screw-mount lenses
57/1.2, 50/1.7 Konica Hexar AR
35/2, 105/2.5 Nikon

[Edit: of course these are just the SLR lenses] The Leica 50/1.4 Asph, 35/2 Asph, 24/2.8 Apsh, 90/2 Apo Asph, 75/2 Asph are really, really good. I mean for my photography they are class-by-themselves hard to beat. And also -- that super-sharp modern look is not always what is wanted. But the question always comes down to whether the "advantages" are worth the expense for a particular photographer. And as much as I like those lenses, on my most recent job I used all Zeiss M-mount lenses: principally the 25/2.8 and 35/2.

I have never tried the Carl Zeiss/Yashica SLR lenses -- always wanted to, though.

nobbylon
10-23-2012, 04:45
As others have mentioned it's what you as an individual like in a lens. Some have mentioned the Planar 50 1.7 which is no doubt a great lens but one which I really disliked the bokeh of so sold it after a few rolls.
The other problem is having too many different bodies to match your lenses. I've slimmed down my manual gear to a Pentax and a Leicaflex but at one time had Olympus, Nikon and Contax going at the same time just to be able to use the lenses. Nightmare. If I had to pick only one system to use it would be my cheapy Leicaflex with the R lenses. I have a feeling that R lenses are climbing steadily in value though and are no longer the cheap option s/h.

kanzlr
10-23-2012, 05:11
I tried a lot of systems over time and found that most first party lenses are superb. I really like so far:

OM 24/2.8
C/Y Distagon 28/2.8
Minolta MD 200/4 and 85/2 (both unbelievably good)

Roger Hicks
10-23-2012, 05:14
As others have mentioned it's what you as an individual like in a lens. Some have mentioned the Planar 50 1.7 which is no doubt a great lens but one which I really disliked the bokeh of so sold it after a few rolls.
The other problem is having too many different bodies to match your lenses. I've slimmed down my manual gear to a Pentax and a Leicaflex but at one time had Olympus, Nikon and Contax going at the same time just to be able to use the lenses. Nightmare. If I had to pick only one system to use it would be my cheapy Leicaflex with the R lenses. I have a feeling that R lenses are climbing steadily in value though and are no longer the cheap option s/h.
YES!

So buy a Type 240 (or an Alpa, if you like film) and solve the problem...

Cheers,

R.

Dralowid
10-23-2012, 05:29
60mm Macro Elmarit for Leica R is a big favourite
560 Telyt 6.8 for Leica R is specialist and simply stunning (could probably be adapted to fit anything)

I was going to put the 21 4.0 Super Angulon but I am not so sure...maybe others would like to comment.

Sorry, but I am a Leicaflex SL nut.

Michael

Godfrey
10-23-2012, 06:00
Micro-Nikkor 55/3.5
Nikkor-H 85/1.8
Nikkor 20/3.5 AI-S
Nikon 105/2.8 AF-D Micro
Nikkor 28/2 AI
Nikkor 180/2.8 ED AI-S
Micro-Nikkor 200/4 ED-IF AI-S
Nikkor 50/1.2 AI

SMC Pentax FA 43/1.9 Limited
SMC Pentax FA 77/1.8 Limited

These are what I've used and remain memorable to me.

Photo_Smith
10-23-2012, 06:25
Too many to list really. All I can do is give a few of my favourites.

50mm ƒ2 H Nikkor

28mm ƒ2,8 AIS (one of the best wides ever)

85mm ƒ1,8 Canon FD or even the 100mm ƒ2,8

Contax Planar 50mm ƒ1,7

Canon FD 24mm ƒ1,4L

Roger Hicks
10-23-2012, 08:04
Lots and lots of good SLR glass. In fact, there are far more winners than losers.

Leica R glass I have enjoyed shooting, but not carrying. Too heavy. Over-engineered, super smooth, but overkill mechanically for the most part.
Try Zeiss lenses for the Contarex Cyclops/Bullseye! A bit slippery, too, some of them...

Cheers,

R.

zuiko85
10-23-2012, 08:11
People!
The best is what you have at hand. You will make do, even if your sample is not the "best". If it is a good concept or fortuitous capture no one will notice if the lens used was not the best what could be.

rodt16s
10-23-2012, 08:37
Always rated my OM 100/2 and 250/2
and the Takumar 50/1.4 M42, never disappoints.

dogberryjr
10-23-2012, 08:59
50mm (55mm here): Canon FD 55mm 1.2 Aspherical

85mm: Canon FD 85mm 1.2


Yes! But I'm going to have to add a tripod to the 85mm; too many photos with perfect focus of the subject's nose.

tunalegs
10-23-2012, 10:34
The most under-rated lens I ever came across was the 50mm f1.2 (yes two!) Rikenon in M42 mount. It's the one with a bit of the rear element cut away to accomodate the aperture linkage.

At f8, my specimen was close enough to my Nikkor f1.4 to make the difference irrelevant. It was good enough wide open as well.

:D


I think you mean the 1.2/55, and I don't think I'd call it underrated. It (and its twins, made for various brands by Tomioka) is one of the most sought after M42 lenses out there.

rulnacco
10-24-2012, 00:43
I've tried to pare down my camera systems, and in the process, some time back I got rid of my Minolta stuff. Shame, because the lenses I had were pretty darned nice. I settled on Nikon for the best combination of quality and compatibility with my AF/digital stuff.

My favorite MF Nikkors are the 24/2.8 AIS (that is still a little gem on my D300, I was surprised how sharp it was when I tested it out before purchasing it), the 28/2.0 AIS (I like it better on MF bodies) and the 105/2.5 AIS (which I use more often on MF bodies--or the F4--as, while it's quite good on DSLRs, it's not as easy to focus accurately with their comparatively inferior viewfinders).

While it's technically outside the OP's remit, I would also highly recommend the 180/2.8 AF(D). I've got the last version, and while it does have autofocus, it's just as much at home on an MF body. It's got a wide, conveniently located focusing ring (the autofocus is so slow, it doesn't really gain anything from its ability to do that), and it's wonderful on an FE or--focused manually--on an F4. I used to use it frequently as my butterfly/dragonfly lens--coupled with the PN-11 extension tube, it made a brilliant package for chasing insects and other small creatures.

Nokton48
10-24-2012, 01:42
Who made the best of each focal length manual focus SLR lens in the 60's, 70's, 80's? 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 105mm etc etc

My Minolta MC Rokkors do not lack anything as far as I am concerned. They are exceptional! Specifically the 21mm MC F2.8 , the 24mm MC F2.8, the 28mm MC F3.5 (very underrated), the 35mm MC F2.8, the 58mm MC F1.2, the 85mm MC F1.7, and the particularly good 100mm MC F2.5

Minolta manufactured their own optical glass.

sparrow6224
10-24-2012, 02:20
Sticking to 35mm SLRs. The Leica R lenses are in general spectacular because their size allowed the Leitz engineers to solve many problems they'd long been working on for the smaller-diameter M lines. It would be repetitive to put Leica R for each focal length but one might well do it. The Summicron R 50/2 certainly deserves standout mention, as do a slew of others. In the long lenses, from 180 up to 400, you are, according to the famed Erwin Puts, dealing with near flawless lens design, simply the best glass there is. This is most especially true of the APO 280/4 apparently. Now, on to other lenses, only ones I have known (I haven't owned all these, but I've been fortunate enough to use almost all of them):

Minolta MC Rokkor 21mm f/2.8, OM 21/2, Nikkor 20/3.5

Minolta MD Rokkor X 24/2.8; Contax 25/2.8; OM 24/2 (which I just got and developed first rolls and oh sweet!) I'm shocked how many people love the Nikkor here, I have had three and none was particularly good.

Nikon 28/2 OR 28/2.8(Ai-s only); Contax 28/2.8; OM 28/2; Canon FD 28/2

OM 35/2 and Canon FD concave 35/2 (I haven't used the Contax, alas)

Pentax SMC Tak 50/1.4; Contax Zeiss 50/1.4 Planar; Canon FD 50/1.4 SSC; OM Macro 50/2 (!!); OM Macro 50/3.5; Nikkor Ai 50/2; Nikkor AiS 50/1.2; Micro-Nikkor 55/3.5 F (pre-Ai); MD Rokkor 50/1.4 and MC Rokkor 58/1.4 (I haven't used the famed 58/1.2 but is, you know, famed.)

Rokkor MD 85/2; Contax/Zeiss 85/2.8; M42 Pentax SMC Tak 85/1.8 (!!)

MD Rokkor 100/2.5, Canon 100/2, OM 100/2, Nikkor 105/2.5 (!!)

Canon FD 135/2 (!!) (I'd love to get the Minolta 135/2 but it sells for $900-1000 these days, when it is available at all; the Canon is spectacular and can be had for $300 or a shade less.)

Nikkor AIS ED 180/2.8 (!!)

MD Rokkor 200/2 , Micro-Nikkor 200/2

Canon FD 300/2.8

You would think for the basic focal lengths you'd be best with Minolta or Pentax perhaps but the problem is their cameras. Some people love the Spotmatics and K's and the SRT's but I find them uncomfortable and un-smooth. The best of them are the Pentax MX and ME's and the Minolta XD's. But the Minolta's are not reliable. Whereas Nikons, fabulous. The OM2n and OM's in general, also fantastic. The OM lenses though are getting pricier by the minute and they were never cheap.

sparrow6224
10-24-2012, 02:31
PS I'd add that these discussions are always dotted with comments about how the equipment doesn't matter, the photographer's eye and technique are what matter, and sure, that's largely true; but this is a discussion about equipment. If we were discussing, as travelers, which airlines we like, we wouldn't want to hear that it's not the airline that matters, it's the landing of the plane. Duh.

Roger Hicks
10-24-2012, 02:42
People!
The best is what you have at hand. You will make do, even if your sample is not the "best". If it is a good concept or fortuitous capture no one will notice if the lens used was not the best what could be.
Person!

That doesn't mean we have no preferences.

Or, indeed, that we can't get better pictures -- ones we are more satisfied with, even if only one other person in a hundred or a thousand might see any difference -- by using the equipment we like.

Otherwise, after all, why would I use Leica instead of Lomo?

In other words, it's a good idea to 'have at hand' whatever your happiest using for that application. Contrariwise, it may also mean cutting down the range of cameras you use so that what you 'have at hand' is versatile and adequate for most purposes.

Cheers,

R.

denizg7
10-24-2012, 02:53
Zeiss aka cosina , Leica

furcafe
10-24-2012, 05:49
Yeah, haven't seen much mention of the CZ lenses for the Contarex.

Whether or not they were "the best" optically on an f/stop-to-f/stop/MTF basis for their time period (I can only compare them w/a few manual focus Nikkors), they were certainly superbly-made & had some neat features (almost-macro close-focus capability on the 25, 35s, & most of the 50s, for example). As Erwin Puts has noted, they also were designed to have a very consistent look across the various focal lengths (though this meant less uniformity on accessory sizes, etc.).

Everyone knows Zeiss is the best. :)

nobbylon
10-24-2012, 06:24
Person!

That doesn't mean we have no preferences.

Or, indeed, that we can't get better pictures -- ones we are more satisfied with, even if only one other person in a hundred or a thousand might see any difference -- by using the equipment we like.

Otherwise, after all, why would I use Leica instead of Lomo?

In other words, it's a good idea to 'have at hand' whatever your happiest using for that application. Contrariwise, it may also mean cutting down the range of cameras you use so that what you 'have at hand' is versatile and adequate for most purposes.

Cheers,

R.

Well said and one of the main reasons I've tried a lot of different gear and eventually ended up with the equipment I have.

oftheherd
10-25-2012, 07:35
I haven't owned nor tried most of what has been mentioned above.

But for me, the M42 mount Fujinon lenses took a back seat to no others. Their later bayonet line just didn't seem as good to me, optically or build. I only have one Contax lens, the 50mm f/1.4. It has taken some really great photos for me. I have several Yashinon M42 mount lenses, which I really thought were fine lenses. I guess since they were made by Tomioka, that should not be a surprise.

Greyscale
10-25-2012, 13:50
+1 on the Yashinon lenses, particularly the DX 50/1.7, which is superb. I really haven't tried near enough lenses other than 50mm to form an opinion on them, but other favorite 50's include the Pentacon 50/1.8, the Nikon "E" 50/1.8, and the very common and dime a dozen Canon FD 50/1.8, there is a reason that they sold millions of them. A real sleeper is the Yashica ML 50/2, it is a little gem.

Plainer Tesser
05-05-2013, 07:59
Nikkor 28/2.8(0.2), 105/2.5 "Gauss", 45/2.8 GN Nikkor-C, 20/3.5 UD
Contax G 45/2.0
VC 15/4.5 Heliar
Contax RF CZ 45/3.5 rigid tessar
CZ jena (all black) 50/4.0 T* Flektogon - hassy mount
Leits Leica R 3-cam 50/2.0 Summicron
Contarex 85/2.0 Sonnar

Vince Lupo
05-05-2013, 08:24
For 50mm lenses, I'd probably say either the Kern Macro Switar 50/1.9 or any of the Kinoptik 50's. The Contarex Zeiss lenses from Oberkochen were also considered to be tops in almost any of their focal lengths.

MaxElmar
05-05-2013, 08:26
My favorites that I've owned and used:

35/2 "O" Nikkor
105/2.5 P*C Nikkor
55/3.5 Ai Micro-Nikkor
60/3.5 Distagon Hasselblad V mount
150/4 Sonnar Hasselblad V mount
28/2.8 SMC A Pentax

redisburning
05-05-2013, 08:45
I just made a huge list of only ~50mm lenses with 4 tiers with nearly 30 lenses and that didn't even get into a lot of popular lenses. FWIW tier 1 had only 3 lenses and tier 2 only 6; 2 slr lenses made it, both in tier 2. They were the CZ 50mm f2.0 Makro-Planar and the Leica Summilux-R E60.

anyway here would be my greatest hits of SLR lenses:

15 : Zeiss 15mm f2.8
18 : Olympus 18mm f3.5
19 : Leica 19mm Elmarit
21 : Zeiss 21mm f2.8 Distagon
24 : Olympus 24mm f2.0
25 : Zeiss 25mm f2.0 Distagon
28 : Contax 28mm f2.0 Hollywood
35 : Zeiss 35mm f2.0 Distagon (exceptionally high large structure contrast, in general I find 35mm to be the weakest lenses in the 35mm slr repetoire, very disappointing compared to excellent RF lenses such as Biogon 35/2, 35/1.4 ASPH, etc, 8 element cron, etc)
40 : Voigtlander SL II
50 : tie - Zeiss 50mm f2.0 Makro-Planar or Summilux-R E60
55 : Canon 55m f1.2 FL
58 : Minolta 58mm f1.2
60 : Coastal Optics 60mm f4.0
80 : Leica 80mm Summilux
85 : Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Planar
90 : Leica 90 Summicron-R ASPH
100 : Zeiss 100mm f2.0 Makro-Planar
125 : Voigtlander 125mm APO
135 : Zeiss 135mm f2.0 Sonnar
Above 135 : Pick the best Leica-R or Canon L
Zoom : Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS II

In my opinion 2 SLR lenses stand out above the rest, both of which are currently made by Carl Zeiss. They are the 21mm f2.8 Distagon and the 100mm f2.0 Makro-Planar.

ampguy
05-05-2013, 08:58
Have never owned one, but from images and reviews, for 125mm, the Cosina 125/2.5 would be something I'd like to try someday.

Have had great images from old Vivitar 35/2 Japanese M42 lens, as well as an M42 18mm 3.4, and hard to find a bad old Japanese 50mm lens, but not sure which one is "best"

Gary Sandhu
05-05-2013, 09:57
In 35mm I've had/have some minolta rokkor, leica M, leica R (60 and 35 elmarit), and nikkors. My favourite primes for SLR : nikkor 20/3.5, 28/2.8 AIS, 45/2.8, 105/2.5; 180/2.8 AF-d
35 elmarit-r, 45 rokkor.

BUT, I have to say the camera body makes a significant difference in terms if getting the picture : reliabilit and ergonomics.

Ronald M
05-05-2013, 12:54
Leica with Nikon a close second. Unless you get into the latest versions of the R glass and the APO lenses which are not exceeded even today.

Zeiss made good glass in the 1980`s also. Although my preference was Leica.

1joel1
05-06-2013, 14:04
Tamron made a 180/2.5 SP that was spectacular in its day! Also, you could mount it on nearly any SLR.

Joel

raid
05-06-2013, 14:35
Among my SLR lenses, I like the Pentax SMC 85/1.8 a lot, and the 50/1.4
The Vivitar 90-180 was the best flat field zoom around. On the M8 or M9, it can do (digital) wonders.
I like also the Nikkor 105/2.5. I have the early version, a Sonnar.
Nikkor micro 55mm/3.5 is very sharp.
Canon 85mm/1.2L is amazing. The 50/1.2L is no slouch either.
Rollei mount Carl Zeiss 35/1.4, 50/1.4, 85/1.4. This trio is amazing.
Zeiss 50/1.4 for the Contarex.
Angenieux 70-210

gavinlg
05-06-2013, 14:55
Optically speaking, the Nikkor AF 105/2 DC is without peer that I know in the 85-105 range. The Ai 28/2.0 was also always a favorite of mine.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2593/4179334161_a5a84280aa.jpg

Ahem...
fd 85mm 1.2L is the lens Id consider to be without peer in that range of focal lengths.

fd 24mm f1.4L for 24mm, Leica and contax for 50mm, contax for ultrawides.

matt_mcg2
05-06-2013, 15:35
Second time trying to post this, must have messed up first time.

Of the lenses I've owned, two stand out:

Zeiss C/Y 50mm Planar f1.7
Pentax M42 Super Multi Coated Takumar 50mm f1.4

I've probably owned 15 or more 50s in the past 12 years. Possibly more. Those two stood out. I did have an R-mount 50mm Summicron, which I liked fine, but I still preferred the images from the Zeiss and the Pentax.

A less celebrated lens I liked a lot was an M42 Rikenon 50mm f1.7, which was an excellent reliable standard 50, and had good bokeh and contrast wide-open. I've had a few decent f1.7 or f2 50s in M42, and most of the Japanese ones were decent, but the Rikenon was the best.

Matt

grapejohnson
05-06-2013, 16:11
the Canon FD 28/2 SSC is a masterpiece, and rarely leaves my New-F1

furbs
05-06-2013, 20:40
Have only used Nikon for 35mm SLRs, but I really like for MF:

-20 f/4 AI
-24 f/2.8 AIS
-105 f/2 DC

The 20 is a sleeper and immensely fun to shoot with.

Pioneer
05-06-2013, 22:09
This is a loaded question, no doubt about it, but these are a few of my favorite things;
1. Vivitar Series One 28/1.9
2. Minolta MC Rokkor 28/2.8
3. Pentax FA 31/1.8 Limited
4. Carl Zeiss Distagon 35/4 for the Contarex.
5. Minolta MC Rokkor 58/1.2 (a wonderful portrait lens)
6. Pentax 50/1.4 in M42 guise through K-mount, at least through the M version. (The best walk around 50 ever built for an SLR.)
7. Pentax FA 77/1.8 Limited
8. Canon EF 85/1.2L (Uffda, what a lens!!)
9. Minolta MD Rokkor 135/2
10. Vivitar Series One 90-180/4.5 Macro Flat Field Zoom (the single best zoom I have every used, and a magnificent macro to boot.)
11. Carl Zeiss Olympia Sonnar 250/4. (Not the easiest lens to use but the pictures are wonderful.)

Of course, this is my list. Yours will almost certainly be different. At least I hope so.

Chris101
05-06-2013, 22:49
21mm: gotta be the f/2 Olympus for the OM series.

Ok, it's not that sharp in the corners, and it's certainly not that bright at the edges, yet it costs a thousand dollars. And if you put any kind of filter on it's 55mm (what an odd size!) front end, it'll show in the picture. ... :confused:

None-the-less, it is pure magic from corner to corner. I can't explain it, but it is. Best wide angle ... ever!

Chris101
05-06-2013, 22:56
35mm: f/1.7 Ultron Leica Thread Mount from Cosina-Voigtländer's recently cancelled series of a few years ago.

The latest 35mm CV lenses don't seem to do it, but the 35mm Ultron would lose contrast fast, for anything that was not in the focal plane, as long as that was within 10 meters. It made an ideal street, and full figure portrait lens, because the subject would be rendered sharp and contrasty, yet the foreground, and especially background would melt into a gray blur - at any aperture! Even at f/16, the background would flatten out, and disappear. ... Wow!

Chris101
05-06-2013, 23:00
80mm: Mamiya's f/1.9 for the original M645. It was a natural 'beautifier'. I made rent throughout the 1980's and I credit this lens. Pretty much responsible for my crazed-80's style early adulthood as well. Now if only I could remember ...

It is that good of a lens!

Chris101
05-06-2013, 23:07
43-86mm f.3.5, AI'd Nikkor. Now this lens has nothing to recommend it except that it's the perfect fun lens. When you don't give a rat's ass about anything except for entertaining yourself by shooting pictures, this is the lens to use. It is reasonably fast, small, and kinda ugly. But it works like a charm. What you get is what you wish you saw!

1joel1
05-07-2013, 08:56
43-86mm f.3.5, AI'd Nikkor. Now this lens has nothing to recommend it except that it's the perfect fun lens. When you don't give a rat's ass about anything except for entertaining yourself by shooting pictures, this is the lens to use. It is reasonably fast, small, and kinda ugly. But it works like a charm. What you get is what you wish you saw!

That is all true. It is the first lens I ever actually used as a door stop.

Joel

1joel1
05-07-2013, 08:58
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2593/4179334161_a5a84280aa.jpg

Ahem...
fd 85mm 1.2L is the lens Id consider to be without peer in that range of focal lengths.

fd 24mm f1.4L for 24mm, Leica and contax for 50mm, contax for ultrawides.

The 85/1.2 has terrible coma, but it is a fun lens and the center of the image is very nice.

Joel

oftheherd
05-07-2013, 10:41
Interesting to read back over this thread. I am the only one with any love for Fujinon lenses, and only one other with any love for the Yashinons, in particular the 50mm f/1.7.

Of course, neither were accepted as pro-level camera gear, and I don't recall either being marketed as such. Maybe the Fuji ST901, but not agressively nor successfully. In the 1970s, screw mount M42 lenses, including finally the Pentax, were not touted by the magazines as professional gear. All had to make a change to bayonet mount lenses. The Y/C bayonet mounted Contax lenses and cameras, and the Pentax bayonet mounted lenses and high end cameras, made a stab at being accepted by the Pros. I think by then, Canon and Nikon were some firmly entrenched they couldn't be caught. Even Minolta couldn't keep up with them, despite making great strides in auto-focus camera bodies.

The sad thing is/was that the Contax and Fujica lenses didn't decline much in value. The Yashinons, except for the 50mm f/1.4 and very rare f/1.2, of course did not so much, but ebay being what it was, some of them did slip through at reasonable, although rather high prices.

I don't know if it was primarily due to poor marketing, failure to pay sufficiently high advertising, or simple preference for bayonet lenses as 'pro' lenses, by both magazine writers and actual professional camera users.

Myself, as a person who started SLRs with an M42 mount lens, I grew to prefer them. Both for personal use and as a professional in crime scene photography, I preferred that for low light work.

I quickly learned how to set the lens on the camera, turn it the wrong way until I felt it seat, then reverse and tighten it down. I didn't need light for that. Bayonet mount lenses with their nice little red dots, usually made the red dots too hard to see in low light. Even when what I wanted to photograph wasn't always a black cat in a coal bin, where I was sittin often was that dim.

Anyone else with thoughts on M42 lenses as good lenses (some have already mentioned Pentax lenses) that didn't get the reputation they may have deserved, or that you thought they did.

Frontman
05-08-2013, 18:57
I have tried many cameras and lenses, Japan is a great place for anything photography-related, and if you can't find a particular lens here, you probably won't find it anywhere.

Among the 20/21mm lenses I have (Nikon, Canon, Olympus), the OM Zuiko 21/3.5 is the best performer. It is also the smallest, and the lightest, particulary when compared to the Canon FD20/2.8 (which is a good performer).

For 35mm lenses, I have a few different Nikon, Olympus, Canon, Pentax, and Minolta types. The best is the Canon 35/2 concave. It holds it's own against good 35mm RF glass like my Summaron/Summicron. The only reason I own an FD camera is to be able to shoot with this lens.

Among the 50's, I have more than I can keep track of. Oddities include the Nikon 58/1.4, and the Pentax 58/2. I also have a variety of faster lenses, like the Canon/Nikon/Olympus 50/1.2 lenses. I usually shoot with the cheap Olympus 50/1.8. The Nikon 50/1.2 is my second choice, it is decently sharp at f/1.4, sharper than regular 1.4 lenses shot wide open.

My favorite short tele is the OM 90/2 macro. I have used the Nikon 85/1.4, and the Canon 85/1.2, but the OM 90 is simply a phenomenal lens, great for general shooting, and great for getting really close.

Pablito
05-08-2013, 19:57
Instead of having one brand of body with many lenses to suit that brand, why not go with a range of lenses paired with bodies that were the best of their kind?

That's fine if you're just playing around, but to work effectively you need to feel like the camera body is an extension of your body - you need to be able to operate it on instinct and intuition without thinking. Very hard to do that with different bodies from different camera companies, with the controls all being in different places, etc.

ampguy
05-10-2013, 06:45
A couple of years ago, I shot a parade with just this lens, and have many great images from it.

The distortion at the extremes is bad, but around ~60, it is fairly straight, and the low contrast works great with film and digital. A lot of these were made, as they were one of the first mass produced zooms, perhaps you got a bad copy?

43-86mm f.3.5, AI'd Nikkor. Now this lens has nothing to recommend it except that it's the perfect fun lens. When you don't give a rat's ass about anything except for entertaining yourself by shooting pictures, this is the lens to use. It is reasonably fast, small, and kinda ugly. But it works like a charm. What you get is what you wish you saw!

stompyq
05-10-2013, 08:40
A couple of years ago, I shot a parade with just this lens, and have many great images from it.

The distortion at the extremes is bad, but around ~60, it is fairly straight, and the low contrast works great with film and digital. A lot of these were made, as they were one of the first mass produced zooms, perhaps you got a bad copy?

More like you got the only good copy they ever made.

semi-ambivalent
05-21-2013, 21:28
43-86mm f.3.5, AI'd Nikkor. Now this lens has nothing to recommend it except that it's the perfect fun lens. When you don't give a rat's ass about anything except for entertaining yourself by shooting pictures, this is the lens to use. It is reasonably fast, small, and kinda ugly. But it works like a charm. What you get is what you wish you saw!

I know that at least one person who summited Mt. Everest did so with an Ftn and a 43-86 (and Kodachrome).

Cheers

asiafish
06-03-2013, 16:08
I shot Minolta in the 1970s and 80s, switched to Nikon in the 90s, now am back to Minolta and Leica R. I find that Leica and Minolta share a certain character in the way they render, which is perhaps either why or because the two companies shared a few designs.

I take my Leica outfit (R6 and R3 MOT) if I only want 50 or 90mm, but usually use my Minolta as 35mm is my favorite focal length and the cheap and humble 35/2.8 Rokkor is much better than my heavy, expensive and not any better 35 Elmarit-R.

24mm wide:
Minolta MD W.Rokkor 24mm f2.8 and Leica 24mm Elmarit-R f2.8
These are both outstanding and not coincidentally are actually the same lens, at least optically. The Leica is built much better and the Minolta is 1/4 the price. I sold my Elmarit and kept my Rokkor.

28mm wide:
Minolta MC W.Rokkor 28mm f2.5
This one has a radioactive element not unlike most of the f1.2 or faster standard lenses of the 1960s and 1970s (can yellow, but clears if left uncapped in the sun). VERY sharp at all apertures, but prone to flare.

35mm Moderate wide:
Minolta MD Rokkor X 35mm f2.8
A very humble lens and new or used was always MUCH cheaper than the more famous 35/1.8. Cheaper, but better. This lens is sharper than my 35mm Elmarit-R up to f5.6 where the Leica is equal, with the Elmarit looking a bit better at f8, but the Rokkor still VERy close. Best $30 I ever spent.

50ish Standard:
Leica 50mm f2 Summicron-R
Perfection. Enough said.

Runner Up: Minolta MC Rokkor PF 58mm f1.4.
Very prone to flare, but SHARP from f2 and with incredible bokeh wide open. A fantastic portrait lens when adapted to Sony NEX.

80-105ish Portrait:
Lieca 90mm f2.8 Elmarit-R
This is an outstanding portrait lens, perhaps the best available except for its modest f2.8 maximum aperture

Runner Up: Minolta MD Tele-Rokkor 100mm f2.5
The slightly longer focal length and slightly wider aperture give a noticeable reduction in depth of field, with bokeh ALMOST as nice as the 90 Elmarit-R. A very nice portrait lens for 1/6 the price of the Leica.

135mm long portrait:
Minolta MC Tele-Rokkor 135mm f2.8 (4 element last MC version and 6 element "PF")
There are 3 basic optical formulas for Minoltas 135mm lenses and all are good for different reasons. The early 6 element "PF" models are softest unless stopped down to f5.6, but have the best bokeh. The late MD 5 element models are the smallest, lightest and are very sharp. The 4 element middle model is the sharpest and makes the Leica Elmarit-R 135mm look soft.

The 4 element model is expensive, but worth it. The PF models can be had for $40 and is the best for portraits, with bokeh to die for.

mfogiel
09-07-2013, 06:21
Coming back to this thread, after I've had a chance to test out the R Summicron 50/2 1st ver. for some portraiture. Given, that my version is a 2 cam, I use it on the R4s2 wide open only. What I have seen, is one of the most charming renderings at this f stop, for a 50mm lens. I am pushing the best lens for each fl paradigm a step further, and am looking for the best lens in each fl and at each working aperture, that I use habitually. One should also add the film and developer, to complete the picture, you know...
Obviously, all this regards the B&W film photography only, as anything else, is not even meritable of comment :D

Summicron R 50/2 1st ver @f2.0, APX 100, Rodinal 1+50.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7458/9671135381_2ff118ca8a_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9671135381/)
20134820 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9671135381/) by mfogiel (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

csxcnj
09-07-2013, 07:06
Coming back to this thread, after I've had a chance to test out the R Summicron 50/2 1st ver. for some portraiture. Given, that my version is a 2 cam, I use it on the R4s2 wide open only. What I have seen, is one of the most charming renderings at this f stop, for a 50mm lens. I am pushing the best lens for each f stop paradigm a step further, and am looking for the best lens in each fl and at each working aperture, that I use habitually. One should also add the film and developer, to complete the picture, you know...
Obviously, all this regards the B&W film photography only, as anything else, is not even meritable of comment :D

Summicron R 50/2 1st ver @f2.0, APX 100, Rodinal 1+50.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7458/9671135381_2ff118ca8a_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9671135381/)
20134820 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9671135381/) by mfogiel (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

Why is she so angry? :D

Godfrey
09-07-2013, 07:08
With film SLR bodies being so cheap, it occurred to me that buying lenses that are exceptional is the best place to start, and pairing bodies to those lenses could be a secondary consideration. Instead of having one brand of body with many lenses to suit that brand, why not go with a range of lenses paired with bodies that were the best of their kind? (I guess weight is the obvious consideration...but, anywho)

Who made the best of each focal length manual focus SLR lens in the 60's, 70's, 80's? 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 105mm etc etc

You could make this real easy and just say Nikon, Leica, or Olympus. That's why I have both Nikon and Leica now, and had Olympus too. ;-)

G

Vickko
09-07-2013, 07:18
Olympus killed my wallet / bank account this summer.

;-)

x-ray
09-07-2013, 07:19
Micro-Nikkor 55/3.5
Nikkor-H 85/1.8
Nikon 105/2.8 AF-D Micro
Nikkor 28/2 AI
Nikkor 180/2.8 ED AI-S




I would agree with this list and add the following:

Nikkor 105 2.5 all versions
Nikkor 400 3.5
Nikkor 8mm 2.8
Nikkor 300 f2
Nikkor 24 2.8 last version
Nikkor 50 1.2 Noct
Nikkor 85 1.4

Canon 85L 1.2
Leica R 90 f2
Leica R 180 f3.4 apo
Zeiss 60 macro planar
Zeiss 25 f2.8 Distagon

Texsport
09-07-2013, 07:58
My favorites to recommend:

Canon FD L 24/1.4

Canon FD L 50/1.2 (100/1.2 on OMD)

Canon FD L 85/1.2

Vivitar Series 1 Flat Field 90-180/4.5 Macro (180-360/4.5 Macro zoom on OMD-my walkin' around macro-super with OMD IS system)

Vivitar Series 1 90/2.5 Macro "Bokina" ( 180/2.5 Macro on OMD)

Vivitar Series 1 200/3.0 (Compact 400/3.0 tele on OMD)

Nikon DC 135/2.0 Auto ( MF 270/2.0 on OMD)

Olympus OM 350/2.8 ( 700/2.8 and 980/2.8 with 1.4X extender on OMD)



Texsport

raid
09-07-2013, 08:31
[QUOTE=filmfan;1993077]These are the best primes from each focal length:



35mm: Zeiss/Contax Distagon 35mm f/1.4,
50mm: Canon FD 50mm f/1.2 L

85mm: Canon FD 85mm f1.2 L

...QUOTE]

I have these three lenses. Oh well. This is not bad then. You defined for us all what the best lenses are!

raid
09-07-2013, 08:33
My favorites to recommend:


Canon FD L 50/1.2
Canon FD L 85/1.2
Vivitar Series 1 Flat Field 90-180/4.5 Macro (180-360/4.5 zoom on OMD)



Texsport

OK. I have these. The more people define their view of best lenses, the more I have! This is good. :D

raid
09-07-2013, 08:35
Micro-Nikkor 55/3.5
SMC Pentax FA 43/1.9 Limited



This is what I like too.

Jack Conrad
09-07-2013, 08:37
Recently, I acquired a Minolta MC Rokkor 58/1.2 with a bent filter ring and lots of internal dust. After straightening it up a bit and sticking it on my old Oly e-520 DSLR, I am Extremely impressed.

After having several copies of the Rokkor 50-58/1.4's, which I found to be comparable to most 50's, perhaps about equal to the Takumars, I have to report that this lens is head and shoulders above any other 50 I've tried.

And I'm not talking about bokeh or close focus.

This particular copy of the MC 58/1.2 is absolutely superb at capturing tonal gradations and detail resolution at medium distances between say, 10 ft. and infinity.

It seems to capture more detail, and more beautifully at those distances than my Nikkor AF 105/2.8 micro on a Nex-5N after pixel peeping at 100% magnification.

Admittedly, I don't have any experience with Leica lenses, but
I suspect this lens would compare very favorably.

I just wonder how intimate the collaboration between Leica and Minolta really was back in the 70's.

raid
09-07-2013, 08:38
I have none of your chosen best lenses. What should I now do?

I just made a huge list of only ~50mm lenses with 4 tiers with nearly 30 lenses and that didn't even get into a lot of popular lenses. FWIW tier 1 had only 3 lenses and tier 2 only 6; 2 slr lenses made it, both in tier 2. They were the CZ 50mm f2.0 Makro-Planar and the Leica Summilux-R E60.

anyway here would be my greatest hits of SLR lenses:

15 : Zeiss 15mm f2.8
18 : Olympus 18mm f3.5
19 : Leica 19mm Elmarit
21 : Zeiss 21mm f2.8 Distagon
24 : Olympus 24mm f2.0
25 : Zeiss 25mm f2.0 Distagon
28 : Contax 28mm f2.0 Hollywood
35 : Zeiss 35mm f2.0 Distagon (exceptionally high large structure contrast, in general I find 35mm to be the weakest lenses in the 35mm slr repetoire, very disappointing compared to excellent RF lenses such as Biogon 35/2, 35/1.4 ASPH, etc, 8 element cron, etc)
40 : Voigtlander SL II
50 : tie - Zeiss 50mm f2.0 Makro-Planar or Summilux-R E60
55 : Canon 55m f1.2 FL
58 : Minolta 58mm f1.2
60 : Coastal Optics 60mm f4.0
80 : Leica 80mm Summilux
85 : Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Planar
90 : Leica 90 Summicron-R ASPH
100 : Zeiss 100mm f2.0 Makro-Planar
125 : Voigtlander 125mm APO
135 : Zeiss 135mm f2.0 Sonnar
Above 135 : Pick the best Leica-R or Canon L
Zoom : Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS II

In my opinion 2 SLR lenses stand out above the rest, both of which are currently made by Carl Zeiss. They are the 21mm f2.8 Distagon and the 100mm f2.0 Makro-Planar.

Timmyjoe
09-07-2013, 08:47
My favorites to recommend:

Canon FD L 50/1.2

Canon FD L 85/1.2


Texsport

I second these two. Love them both and am constantly trying to find ways to adapt them to whatever camera I am shooting.

Also heard the Leica 80mm Summilux R is a fantastic lens.

Still looking for wides to fall in love with.

Best,
-Tim

redisburning
09-07-2013, 08:51
I have none of your chosen best lenses. What should I now do?

well, that depends.

if you measure your self-worth in objects I suggest you buy a Patek Phillipe watch.

if you don't then I wouldn't worry about it.

FWIW I own only one lens on that list, though I have owned one other. Anything that's not in the 40-60mm range is largely irrelevant to me which is why I haven't sold all of my stuff to buy the Zeiss 135/2 APO-Sonnar which as far as I can personally tell the current best lens in existence. I'd rather own the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc. best ~50mm macro lens down until there aren't any good ones left and I'm working on it:

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3803/9532068848_7a35265c91_c.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmcmanis/9532068848/)
macro family portrait (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmcmanis/9532068848/) by redisburning (http://www.flickr.com/people/pmcmanis/), on Flickr

btw my education was extremely statistics heavy so I have a way of looking at things that exaggerates the importance of small but measurable differences. take for example the two middle lenses in this shot. they are pretty much the sharpest 50mm lenses at f2 that exist (well, 50AA excluded, and maybe the 50LuxASPH although I havent seen any imatest results on a shared platform) and both are 1:2 macros with extreme sharpness stopped down. I guarantee that optically, any human being would be thrilled with either. Even an owner of the latest Leica 50s. but the Zeiss is significantly better, even if the magnitude of that difference is relatively small. It has higher global contrast at f2, a better shaped aperture (and one I think is more accurate with it's f stops), vignettes less and has a bit better field flatness. Which is why I own both even though the Zeiss cost me literally twice as much as the Zuiko and is really only marginally better.

shadowfox
09-07-2013, 09:20
Never seen this old thread, a good one though.

My completely and absolutely subjective list:

300mm f/4 --> Pentax Takumar
200mm f/3.5 --> Mamiya Sekor CS
200mm f/4 --> Pentax Super Takumar
135mm f/2 --> Canon FD
135mm f/2.8 --> Nikkor-Q
85mm f/2 --> Zuiko
50mm f/1.4 --> Konica Hexanon AR
50mm f/2 --> Leica R
35mm f/1.7 --> CV Ultron
35mm f/1.8 --> Minolta Rokkor-HG
35mm f/2 --> Canon FD, Zuiko, Konica Hexanon AR, Minolta Maxxum AF <--- different look, all good.
35mm f/2.8 --> CY Zeiss Distagon ties with Nikkor-S
28mm f/2 --> Zuiko
28mm f/2.8 --> Ricoh GR1
28mm f/3.5 --> Pentax Takumar ties with Zuiko
24mm f/2 --> Zuiko
24mm f/2.8 --> Nikkor (any version) ties with Tamron SP2
21mm f/2.8 --> Mamiya Sekor CS
20mm f/2.8 --> Nikkor

squareshooter
09-07-2013, 09:34
You are asking people for a value judgement. There's plenty of fine lenses out there. It is easy enough to buy a variety of bodies to accommodate a p articular lens or two. Those old bodies do go haywire from time to time, as well. What may be best for one person is a coke bottle bottom for the next.

Addy101
09-07-2013, 09:49
You could make this real easy and just say Nikon, Leica, or Olympus. That's why I have both Nikon and Leica now, and had Olympus too. ;-)

G

:confused: because you used Nikon, Leica and Olympus those makes made the best lenses? Weird.

I don't have enough experience with different makes to say anything conclusive, however, I really, really like my Minolta MC 50/1.4 Rokkor-PG. And I'm sure the best 24mm if you consider price, is the Sigma 24/2.8 Super-Wide II.

L Collins
09-07-2013, 09:51
"Best glass" is a bourgeois concept that I tired of long ago.

Frankly, after owning almost every Leitz R and MF Nikkor prime along the way, I ultimately bought both a Leicaflex and Nikon T4 adaptor and some Vivitar T4 lenses (24 3.8, 28. 2.8, 35 2.8, 105 2.8), all for less than one Nikkor 50mm 1.4 prime. I'll be darned if I can tell much of a difference, but then again discussing "resolution" and "pixel peeping" and "bokeh" is enough to put me to sleep.

Godfrey
09-07-2013, 12:22
:confused: because you used Nikon, Leica and Olympus those makes made the best lenses? Weird.


No, you read the logic backwards.
They were the best overall that I found in the past, that's why I re-acquired them to use them now.

G

Texsport
09-07-2013, 12:42
I like the older MF lenses for another reason also.

My hands aren't compatible with tiny, plastic, light weight lenses.

The older, big heavy metal stuff is more comfortable for me.

I like hefty cameras also!

Texsport

Sid836
09-08-2013, 00:27
I love the Micro Nikkor 40mm f2.8 DX. I use it as an all around lens and it gives me the freedom of focus from 3.5cm and on. It is small and sharp all over leaving me a few to worry with and focus in composition.
I will really miss it when I go FF.
On my analogues, the best among those I have managed to own and try so far is the Canon FD L 85/1.2.

dc5
09-08-2013, 07:51
The Canon FL 100 3.5 is the best short tele around, if you don't mind the slow speed. I have had one for over 40 years and still use it on a nex.

Timmyjoe
09-08-2013, 08:07
:confused: because you used Nikon, Leica and Olympus those makes made the best lenses? Weird.

Well Yeah, this thread is TOTALLY SUBJECTIVE.

Been shooting "seriously" since 1975, and over those thirty eight years I've handled alot of different equipment and alot of different lenses. IMHO there were certain of those lenses that I love their look on film/sensor, loved their handling on the camera (weight/feel/focus) and were just the "BEST" at what I was trying to do with them at the time. TOTALLY SUBJECTIVE. Couldn't care less about MDF (sp) charts or online reviews or whatever.

And I think much of it has to do with what images you made with particular lenses. And where you were in your life when you were using that equipment. The Leica 50 Lux I used exclusively in Paris when I was younger is subjectively an outstanding lens IMHO because of the images I was able to make with it, and it's a lens that I hope to never part with. But I know it's not the best 50mm out there by a long shot, and I probably could have made similar images with another lens.

But it's fun to read what lenses other photographers have liked.

Best,
-Tim

Kent
09-08-2013, 08:35
I
anyway here would be my greatest hits of SLR lenses:

15 : Zeiss 15mm f2.8
18 : Olympus 18mm f3.5
19 : Leica 19mm Elmarit
21 : Zeiss 21mm f2.8 Distagon
24 : Olympus 24mm f2.0
25 : Zeiss 25mm f2.0 Distagon
28 : Contax 28mm f2.0 Hollywood
35 : Zeiss 35mm f2.0 Distagon (exceptionally high large structure contrast, in general I find 35mm to be the weakest lenses in the 35mm slr repetoire, very disappointing compared to excellent RF lenses such as Biogon 35/2, 35/1.4 ASPH, etc, 8 element cron, etc)
40 : Voigtlander SL II
50 : tie - Zeiss 50mm f2.0 Makro-Planar or Summilux-R E60
55 : Canon 55m f1.2 FL
58 : Minolta 58mm f1.2
60 : Coastal Optics 60mm f4.0
80 : Leica 80mm Summilux
85 : Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Planar
90 : Leica 90 Summicron-R ASPH
100 : Zeiss 100mm f2.0 Makro-Planar
125 : Voigtlander 125mm APO
135 : Zeiss 135mm f2.0 Sonnar
Above 135 : Pick the best Leica-R or Canon L
Zoom : Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS II


THAT is a very good list which I could easily agree to.

Generally, I think the best lenses were built by Leica (Leitz), followed by Zeiss. Then Nikon (Nikkor) and Olympus (Zuiko). After that Canon (FD), Minolta (Rokkor), Konica (Hexanon) and Tamron (Adaptall-2).

If Leica and Zeiss lenses (which also can be adapted to EOS and Nikon cams) are too expensive (because they are!), you can't go wrong with a set of Nikkors or Zuikos. Nikon and Olympus cams are also avialable and not too expensive nowadays.

Here is the list of my personal favourite lenses:

<20mm: Vivitar (Tokina) 3.5/17 - sold it and regret it!
20mm: Nikkor-UD 3.5/20 - sold it and sometimes regret it
24mm: Tamron 2.5/24 and Nikkor-N.C 2.8/24 (still have both)
28mm: Minolta Rokkor 2/28 - my copy was rebuilt to fit the EOS system
35mm: Nikkor-O 2.0/35 and Leica Elmarit-R 2.8/35 - sold both and regret it
40mm: Konica Hexanon 1.8/40 - love it on my NEX cams
50mm: Leica Summicron-R 2/50 and Olympus Zuiko 1.4/50 - two times WOW!
55mm: Nikkor-S.C 1.2/55 and Mamiya Sekor 1.8/55
57mm: Konica Hexanon AR 1.4/57 - love it on my NEX cams
58mm: Helios-44-2 2/58 - a very special lens
85mm: Nikkor-H 1.8/85 and Jupiter-9 2/85 - still have and love both
100/105mm: Zuiko 2.8/100 and Asahi Takumar 2.8/105 - sold them and regret it!
135mm: Tamron 2.5/135 and Jupiter-37 3.5/135 - pretty good
180mm: Leica Elmar-R 4/180 - very compact for a 180mm and still great
200mm: Vivitar 3.3/200 - gave it to a very good friend for his 40th birthday
>200mm: Tamron SP 8/500 - love and hate relationship ;)

sparrow6224
09-08-2013, 13:57
There are some surprising trends here... particularly in terms of kudos paid to the 24mm Nikkors. I've had five of them now and they are simply not that special. The best SLR 24mm I've used is the Rokkor f/2.8. It was adapted to become the Leica R 24mm f/2.8 as well. Even better (slightly -- flatter field certainly): Zeiss Contax 25mm f/2.8 -- a miraculous lens.

My highly subjective, of course, personal list:

20mm Nikkor 20mm f/3.5 AIS -- I've heard the Oly is possibly superior but haven't had one. Same with the 19mm Leica. Or the Zeiss.

24mm: Rokkor 24/2.8; Zeiss 25/2.8; Oly 24/2.0. The Oly 2.8 is not a special lens in my experience.

28mm A lot of surprising picks here. The Nikkor 28/2.0 is, in my view, better than its f/2.8 counterpart which does have a great look and which is really quite stunning in close. Any distance over a meter and a half, the f/2.0 kills it. Add here what might be best of all, the Minolta Rokkor 28/2.0. Finally, on a par with the other two, the OM Zuiko 28/2.0. The Zeiss C/Y is supposed to be great but I haven't had one.

35mm -- Canon FD 35mm f/2 concave. (Stunning. I sold mine as I wasn't using the Canon FD system much. As I grow more experienced the difference between a very good lens and an amazing one like this means less and less to me. The other reason to own the Canon FD system is the 80-200mm f/4 L which produces the most beautiful IQ of any manual zoom I've ever encountered. One hears about the 24/1.4 and the 85/1.2 but I ain't had my hands on none.) Other great 35s I've had or still have: the Nikkor 35/2 AIS; the latest model OM Zuiko 35/2.

50s: So many great ones. I suspect the two best among those I've owned are the SMC Takumar 50/1.4 screwmount and the Zeiss 50/1.4 for C/Y. Also the MD Rokkor X 50/1.4 in 55mm filter size, which I love; and the OM Zuiko 50/2 macro, which I only used once. I've never had any of the Leica R's. Finally the Nikkor 50mm f/2 is an undersung hero. Really beautiful. The Canon FD SSC 50/1.4 I had was beautiful also, at f/2.8 and above.

Special word for the Leica Elmarit-R 60mm f/2.8 macro. An amazing lens.

85mm: I love 85mm. I think my favorite for look -- not necessarily sharpness and contrast and all that -- is my uncoated Nikkor-H 85/1.8. I have the AF-D version as well: a totally different albeit very good lens. I've never used the Canon or the Leica or the Zeiss. I did have, and sold for very good money to Japan, the SMC Takumar 85/1.8 screwmount and it was very, very good, but not such as I'd put up with shooting the Spotmatic cameras.

I know that technically and empirically Nikon has made better 105's, but the 105/2.5 AIS is... I don't know. Saintly. It produces such beautiful, rich images.

135: Rokkor 135/2. and Canon FD 135/2. I know there are others.

180: I've only had the Nikkor ED 180/2.8 AIS and boy is it beautiful.

200: Best I've had and still have is the Rokkor 200/2.8. It's a wowzer.

In the end, of course (we all say it but it doesn't slake our gear-mania) any decent lens in the hands of a world class photographer can produce world class images. But one thing great photographers know is that better is, you know, better.

Wadidiz
07-23-2017, 03:32
After enjoying and learning from this site for a couple of years I now join. This thread has helped me a lot with my buying decisions for putting together a lens system.

For whatever it's worth, I've compiled all the listings according to the brand names and number of times each brand name is mentioned just to get a feeling for what folks here think:

Nikon F 62
Canon FD 28
Leica R 25
Minolta MC, MD 25
Zeiss-various 24
Olympus 17
Asahi M42 17

Wadidiz
07-23-2017, 03:57
Here is a list of my favorites in my collection:

24mm/2.8 Canon FD (looking for the FDn 24/1.4 L)
28mm/2 Soligor, FD-mount (surprised by performance)
35mm/1.8 Minolta MD f:1.8
40mm/1.8 Konica AR Hexanon (looks as sharp as the AR 50/1.7 to me)
45mm/2 Minolta MD
50mm/1.4 Canon FDn (best-performing normal FL 1.4 IMO)
50mm/1.7 Yashica Auto Yashinon DX - M42 - or...
50mm/1.7 Konica AR Hexanon (early with CF to 0.45m)
50mm/1.9 Schneider Xenon, DKL-mount (close-focus beats the Heligon)
55mm/1.7 Minolta MC
58mm/2 Helios 44-2 (character lens)
85mm/1.8 Canon FD (got hooked on this FL, looking for the 1.4 L)
100mm/2.8 Canon FD SSC
135mm/2.8 Expert, MC-mount (amazed; identical to Chinon; made by Tomioka?)
200mm/2.8 Canon FD SSC
400mm/5.6 Tokina RMC, FD-mount
500mm/8 Canon FDn reflex

johannielscom
07-23-2017, 04:55
I like low-contrast lenses, with an occasional high-contrast lens for perceived instant sharpness.

SLR lenses, used on Sony A7:
Tamron Adaptall 17mm 3.5 in various mounts
Chinon 24mm 2.5 in M42
MIR-24N 35mm 2.0 in Nikon mount
Canon FD 50mm 1.2L in Canon FD mount
Canon FD 85mm 1.2L in Canon FD mount
Canon FD 135mm 2.0 in Canon FD mount


RF lenses, shot on film:
Leitz Super Angulon 21mm 3.4 in Leica M mount
W-Komura 35mm 3.5 in LTM mount
Jupiter-8 50mm 2.0 in LTM mount
Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 early 1950s (Carl Zeiss Sonnar in disguise) in LTM mount


Bodies, I don't care so much. I use what I have and like. If its Canon FD it goes on the Sony A7, if it's M42 it can also double on the Chinon Memotron CE-II which is a very underrated camera. Some day I might like a Leica M again, for several years it's been a much-loved Leica II.

narsuitus
07-23-2017, 06:11
Who made the best manual focus SLR lenses of each focal length?

Nikon F mount:
180mm f/2.8
105mm f/2.8 macro
55mm f/3.5 macro

Pentax m42 screw mount:
50mm f/1.4 8-element

Zeiss ZF 2 mount:
135mm f2 APO Sonnar

Canyongazer
07-23-2017, 09:31
55 3.5 Nikkor
105 2.5 Nikkor

raid
07-23-2017, 10:28
If we are discussing our own favorite lenses:

Zeiss 35/1.4 50/1.4 85/1.4 for Rollei SL series: these lenses are amazingly good in my opinion.
Canon FD 50/1.2L 85/1.2L 80-200/4L: Canon's finest. The zoom is a very special zoom indeed.
Nikon 55/3.5 micro 105/2.5 Sonnar: I don't have many Nikon lenses, and these two rock.
Angenieux 70-210/3.5 (in FD mount): WOW. A masterpiece.
Pentax 50/1.4 85/1.8: Never underestimate Pentax lenses.
Tamron 90/2.5 macro: A great macro lens.

Canyongazer
07-23-2017, 11:07
Wow Raid!
I have not seen the word "Angenieux" for many years.
Way back when in my 16mm days the 12-120 was the lens to have on your Beaulieu camera.
Unless you put it on your Arriflex...:-)

raid
07-23-2017, 11:15
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffgallery/gallery/3565/U3565I1156880334.SEQ.0.jpg
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffgallery/gallery/3565/med_U3565I1149806930.SEQ.0.jpg

Angenieux 70-210. A costly lens, but it is a wonderful lens.

dof
07-23-2017, 12:41
To add my purely subjective thoughts to the list, I've shot a number of the manual focus Nikon and Leica lenses over the years. A few of them stand out from the pack:

Nikon:
24mm f2.8 AIS - This is simply a fine lens.

Leica:
50mm Summicron - A great "all-rounder".
80mm Summilux - Its unique rendering is a treasure. Using it on the SLR is far more enjoyable than its 75mm M counterpart.

tunalegs
07-23-2017, 12:54
In exakta mount:

50mm: Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 2/50
The Schneider Xenon is a tad bit sharper if you're pixel peeping, but the general effect and rendering of the Pancolar is more natural than that of the Xenon (and you can find a good Pancolar for half as much as the Xenon).

35mm: Schacht Travegon 3.5/35
And odd design of wide angle lens (consisting of three cemented doublets) it is particularly sharp, although quite hard to find in good condition these days.

30mm: Meyer/Pentacon 3.5/30
A very compact, very sharp wide angle, with excellent rendering. I'm always impressed by the results this simple lens gives.

50mm character lens: The Ludwig Meritar is a triplet that was supplied on tons of Exas and other east German cameras in the 50's and 60's. It's not very sharp, but it gives that difficult to describe "vintage" look to images. Unlike the Domiplan the Meritar renders OOF areas in a pleasant way.

santino
07-23-2017, 14:53
50mm: 50 1.4 ML Yashinon
85mm: 85 1.4 CY Zeiss Planar
35mm: 35 2.8 CY Zeiss Distagon
180mm: 180 2.8 P6 Zeiss Sonnar