View Full Version : Zeroing In on Lenses (50s and 35s)

Benjamin Marks
05-15-2005, 07:55
Hello all:

I have been using the RD-1 for about two months now and have tried a large number of 50s on it and a couple of 35s. The 50s include:

Summicron, Summilux, Notilux, Elmar Collaps., Summarit, Summitar, Zeiss-Ikon, Hexanon-M, Nockton, Canon f1.5, Jupiter-8

I have also tried it with the following 35s: Summicron Asph, Nockton (f/1.2), Summiron and an Ultron.

First off, I'd like to echo something that Sean Reid noted in his excellent and informative fast lens test on Luminous Landscape: What I seem to be choosing is the "flavor" of the starting points for the digital process. In the 50's I find that I gravitate towards the Summicron, Zeiss-Ikon and Hexanon-M lenses. I find them uniformly excellent at all apertures and have had no problems focussing them. I've apended a picture below to try to illustrate what I'm talking about with a Summicron. In the converted Raw file on my computer screen, I can count my daughter's individual eye-brow hairs. I have liked the 50 Nockton, but find that I go to the Summicron first.

I have had difficulty focussing the Canon 1.5, the Jupiter-8 and the Summitar. I know that the Canon lenses have their fans, I just have not been able to get this one (a spendy, clean version from Kevin Cameras) to perform. The Summitar is one I bought recently from Sherry Krauter . . . I think it needs to be tested on a film camera first. I know that others have had issues with the thickness of the sm adapters. My adapters come from Cameraquest . . .I have not done any comparison testing. The Noctilux has its own challenges wide open, but this is true even on an M6, partially because of the situations in which I tend to use the lens.

With the 35s, the Summicron-APSH just blows me away. There is a "wow" factor there that I just have not been able to get used to. The Summiron has a very different look (as you might expect of a 50 year old lens) -- I'd characterize this as much more pastel.

Below is a 50 Summicron shot and a 100% crop. I would note that the noise in these pics (shot at ISO 400) is not objectionable at working size.

05-15-2005, 09:03
Ben, do you think the speed of the 50/1.5 is the issue with your inability to focus it or do you think your sample is off in some way?

Benjamin Marks
05-15-2005, 10:20
Don't have enough data yet. Once upon a time, I'd get a "new" (well, new to me) lens and run some film past it to get a sense of what it could do. But I've been having so much damn fun with the RD-1 that I haven't developed film since mid-february. My exposed film is collecting at the bottom of camera bags. It mocks me. Because of the good results I've gotten on the RD-1 with the Noctilux, Nockton and Summilux, I'm inclined to think the Canon 1.5 is the culprit or that the screw-mount adapter is off. The Jupiter-8 is not really a good control because of (what I assume are) close-focus roller-cam issues.

What I really need to do is shoot a roll of B&W film and develop the damn stuff.

Jim Watts
05-15-2005, 10:55
It could be the adapter or it might be the way the cam itself engages with the cam follower on the R-D1. If its the latter it may be O.K. on a film camera. My 35mm Cron thats off on the R-D1 is fine on my M4. Have you checked to see if the focus is off by a consistant amount of front or back focus?


Benjamin Marks
05-16-2005, 08:07

I have not yet checked on that issue. With my first RD-1, there was a focus accuracy problem with all of my lenses. With this one, there seems to be an issue with only a few. My difficulty is that I don't yet have a good set of controls in place (acquired too many 50's in a short span of time . . . it's a good problem to have ;-) but I haven't been systematic about testing). More on this as it . . . er . . develops.

best regards,

Ben Marks

05-18-2005, 09:30
Jupiter-3 50/1.5 produces peachy results for next to nothing. No focussing issues. I also had a J-8 but gave up messing with the aperture and focussing rings which were far to loose on both versions I had. The J-9 has some serious focus shift problems and won't work on my RD-1.

05-18-2005, 09:32
Found the hexanon a very good performer but lacking a little bite for my taste.