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The "look" of lenses. Your favourite?
Old 01-24-2017   #1
Arbitrarium
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The "look" of lenses. Your favourite?

Having tried a few SLR systems there's definitely a distinct "look" to each company's lenses.

My first camera was an AE-1p and I used a 50mm 1.8 and briefly a 1.4. Looking back on the results I miss the system (camera died on me)

My wife used to use an OM10 and I loved the look of the OM lenses. They seem to have SOMETHING special to them that I can't pinpoint.

I'm currently using an ME Super with the ridiculous K 50mm 1.2. I sometimes look at my prints from Pentax lenses and think they're maybe TOO good. Lacking in character sometimes.

I'm considering getting back into Canon. But what about everyone else? Which SLR lens system has the most pleasing "look" to you?
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Old 01-24-2017   #2
Jake Mongey
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It has to be pentax for me (never used the 1.2) the 50mm 1.4 was a personal favourite of mine - Reget selling the system

However if were talking non SLR the mamiya C series 135mm 4.5 is just wonderful
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Old 01-24-2017   #3
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I`d have to agree with Jake.
The Pentax system has some very nice lenses (including the 50/1.2).

I`ve also used Contax but although the Zeiss C/Y lenses are excellent the cameras can have issues .

I use my C/Y lenses on my Canon DSLR these days .
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Old 01-24-2017   #4
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My favorite "look" comes from the Minolta Rokkor 50mm/f1.4 MC/MD lenses. The M-Rokkor 90mm/f4 has magic as well.
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Old 01-24-2017   #5
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I really like the Canon FD stuff. I really like FD lenses for color. Pair a good FD lens with some Portra 160....
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Old 01-24-2017   #6
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Carl-Zeiss on the SLR Rolleiflex systems. Like how it renders b/w on the SL66 and SL35's system. 35mm cameras has a dubious reputation (well gained) but lenses make up for it.


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Old 01-24-2017   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radi(c)al_cam View Post
Generally, it's useful to know the criteria how the lens makers have designed their products; there are three main criteria:
— contrast vs. resolution
— optimum distance
— optimum aperture

See also: Bonus Section: The Great Leica/Zeiss and Nikon/Canon debate summarized!
Cheers for that. Canon's lean toward contrast may be what draws me to the look.
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Old 01-24-2017   #8
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One of my favorites is the Fujinon 2.2/55mm. The Fujinon lenses do all share some rendering traits, but the 2.2 is sort of special because of its peculiar boke' when used wide open (not visible in these shots).

JB27 by Berang Berang, on Flickr

jb24 by Berang Berang, on Flickr

Another favorite is the Yashinon 2/50

Untitled by Berang Berang, on Flickr

oval point by Berang Berang, on Flickr

Its subtle double-lining in out of focus rendering and its color rendering are attractive I think.
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Old 01-24-2017   #9
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I've got favorites from a bunch of different systems.
The thorium glass Pentax SMC Takumar 50mm f/1.4.
Leica DR Summicron.
Nikkor-O 2.1cm f/4
Nikkor-P 10.5cm f/2.5
Mamiya G 50mm f/4
Carl Zeiss Planar 7.5cm f/3.5 (Rolleiflex)
Nikkor 3.5cm f/1.8 (rangefinder)
Nikkor 5cm f/1.4 (rangefinder)

Some lenses have a special look simply because of their physical design:
Nikkor 85mm f/1.4
Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 AiS

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Old 01-24-2017   #10
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Have to agree with the Fujica M 42 EBC lenses and the Yashica lenses. But I guess a lot of that has to do with my using them so much, and to the exclusion of most others already mentioned. But I have used Pentax (M42 and bayonet), Canon, Minolta, Contax C/Y, and OM. Of those, I didn't dislike any of them, but I think I preferred the Pentax M42 mount. But to my eye, the Fujinon M42, Yashica, and the Contax 50mm f/1.4, just seemed to speak to me.
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Old 01-24-2017   #11
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Leica M lenses are my favourite (unfortunately for my purse).
I also love the old, manual Nikkor lenses and Voigtländer glass.
Olympus Zuiko OM lenses are great as well, as are Pentax/Takumar ones.
Fuji can also craft excellent lenses!
Leica R lenses are also pretty nice.
And Minolta Rokkor lenses can be found for good money.

From the non-OEM brand, I pretty much like Sigmas a lot and some Tamrons. And there is the odd good Tokina.
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Old 01-24-2017   #12
David Hughes
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Hi,

If you've the Pentax ME super than I'd suggest you stick with it. No point in messing around for some vague difference.

And if your money is really burning a hole in your pocket then a couple of lenses, like that nice Pentax 85mm f/2 lens or a wide angle or even lots of film might be a good idea.

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Old 01-24-2017   #13
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Nikon 50mm 1.8 Series E
Hasselblad 80mm
Rolleiflex — various
Contax G45/2
Canon 85/1.2L
Leica M 35mm/2 ASPH

I have the Pentax 50/1.4, but haven't shot anything with it yet....
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Old 01-25-2017   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Hi,

If you've the Pentax ME super than I'd suggest you stick with it. No point in messing around for some vague difference.

And if your money is really burning a hole in your pocket then a couple of lenses, like that nice Pentax 85mm f/2 lens or a wide angle or even lots of film might be a good idea.

Regards, David
The opposite in fact! Trading off my 50mm 1.2 will get me a serviced AE-1p with a 50mm 1.4 leaving me with cash to spare.

I'm the sort of arty git who'll be swayed by subtleties in 'look' and 'user experience', but a more tangible reason to move away from Pentax is the desire for exposure lock.
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Old 01-25-2017   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arbitrarium View Post
The opposite in fact! Trading off my 50mm 1.2 will get me a serviced AE-1p with a 50mm 1.4 leaving me with cash to spare.

I'm the sort of arty git who'll be swayed by subtleties in 'look' and 'user experience', but a more tangible reason to move away from Pentax is the desire for exposure lock.
Hi,

On the Pentax ME super it is called manual mode and can be done without taking your eyes away from the viewfinder. And you can meter this way as well.

It's a bit odd that so many cameras from that period look like auto-only cameras but are usually manual and auto; it's almost as if they were ashamed...

Regards, David

Last edited by David Hughes : 01-25-2017 at 01:47. Reason: Locked out halfway through...
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Old 01-25-2017   #16
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I am not partial to the 28mm focal length but the Summicron 28 Asph sometimes knocks me for six; it's that good. The Macro Elmarit-R 60 is an exhilarating lens. Of older lenses I really like the Summarit 50/1.5. There's a phrase used by Erwin Puts in his Leica lens compendium - he says "the lens draws in a way that invites sympathy", or something like that. In a way it sounds like a put-down but to me it describes accurately the way the resulting photos are very appealing despite the lens' flaws (and they are not a few).

EDIT: Apologies, I just realised the thread is about SLR lenses. Other than R lenses, I've tried a few Canon and Nikon (AIS) primes. Generally speaking I prefer Canon lenses but my favourite of the bunch is the old Nippon Kogaku 50/2 H for Nikon F cameras. I don't think there's any other lens that comes that close to the classic Summicron 50. (Or is it the other way round?)
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Old 01-25-2017   #17
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Old 58mm zeiss biotar, nikkor 5.8cm f1.4 lens are full of characters.
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Old 01-25-2017   #18
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for me, it's hard to beat either the 50mm f1.8 Prakticar (Pentacon) or the Jupiter 9 (85mm f2) on the Fuji Xt1.
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Old 01-25-2017   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post

... it's almost as if they were ashamed...

Regards, David
Thanks for the laugh. But I agree manual mode can be used. To me with the Yashica TL Super, that was the only way to travel. So doing that with the Fujica ST901 was an easy short step if I thought the meter was being fooled by something (actually a somewhat rare happenstance).

I rarely find AE lock necessary, but I do find it easier to shift the lever one more place on my Contax 167mt, than fiddling with the manual setting on the Pentax ME Super, or on the Fujica.
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Old 01-25-2017   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radi(c)al_cam View Post
… also I confess a weakness for Rokkor glass. It's no wonder that Leitz asked Minolta to form a partnership, and not only some Leica cameras, but also quite a number of Leica-R lenses are in fact Minolta designs.
Quite a number? I know about the 24mm f/2.8, and the 35-70mm f/3.5. Which others were Minolta designs?
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Old 01-25-2017   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob-F View Post
Quite a number? I know about the 24mm f/2.8, and the 35-70mm f/3.5. Which others were Minolta designs?
16mm, 500mm and most of the zooms. I think there was only one zoom that was Leitz engineered and made in Germany?
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Old 01-25-2017   #22
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Auto-Yashinon 5cm F2 (from the J series cameras).
Zeiss Jena Tessar 50/2.8 preset M42
Minolta ML Rokkor PG 50/1.4

Three magical lenses.
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Old 01-25-2017   #23
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Zeiss 35 1.4 distagon for contax yashica - first time I had a portrait with it... Wow
Zeiss spent lots of time and money trying to get a body made for their awesome lenses, dodging patents, coming up with ridiculously complex cameras like the contarex, partnering with Rollei, then yashica...

If only they made ZF lenses for Nikon mount earlier...
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Old 01-25-2017   #24
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My favorite lens look was from simple Voigtlander Nokton 35/1.4 MC
I was stupid enough to sell it.
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Old 01-25-2017   #25
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— Here I found an interesting text regarding MINOLTA lenses:

Historical perspective on Minolta lens design philosophy

by David Kilpatrick ©2007

Really interesting read on Minolta lenses. Thanks for sharing it.
I recently picked up an Auto Rokkor 58mm f1.4 PF lens on an SR7 body. This is the earliest f1.4. Tests, so far, on the Fuji XT1 show it to have some great out of focus highights.
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Old 01-25-2017   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arbitrarium View Post
Which SLR lens system has the most pleasing "look" to you?
Nikon and Pentax for small format SLR (examples: Nikon 180mm f/2.8, Nikon 55mm f/3.5 macro, 8-element Pentax 50mm f/1.4, Pentax 105mm f/2.8)

Zeiss for medium and small format SLR (examples: Zeiss 28mm f/2 ZF.2, Zeiss 135mm f/2 ZF.2)

Fuji for large format, medium format, and small format (examples: Fujinon 135mm f/4, Fujinon 90mm f/3.5, Fujinon 16mm f/1.4, Fujinon 50mm f/1.4)
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Old 01-25-2017   #27
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Some of my favorites are also others favorites.
For example, Tunalegs Yashica 50mm f2. The ML version was my first lens in 1983 for my Yashica FR.

I'm going deep into Autofocus in the last few years. The Low priced and cheaply made Eos 50mm f1.8 is definitely a Fav. Canon re-introduced the lens with a quieter stepper motor and metal mount. It's still under $150 new.

Eos (Old) 50mm f1.8 metal mount
FF Digital


On film


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Old 01-25-2017   #28
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I liked my old Pentax Tak 50mm 1.4 with the radioactive stuff going on, particularly with colour.
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Old 01-25-2017   #29
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I like the vintage Sonnar 5cm 1.5 and 2.0 lenses by Zeiss, in addition to the look I get with the vintage Nokton 50 1.5 by Voigtlaender (for the Prominent). Other winners in my book are some lenses made for the Rollei QBM SLR system, such as 35 1.4 Distagon, 50 1.4 Planar, and 85 1.4 Planar.

Awesome lenses.
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Old 01-25-2017   #30
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Noct F1/75mm Summilux/2.8 Elmar-m
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Old 01-25-2017   #31
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The Rokkor lenses never disappoint me in their pleasant drawing ability and they come closest to the classic German lenses of all the Japanese made lenses.

I agree with a commentator on the Zuiko OM lenses, they bring something special to photos that is hard to define.

For pleasant colour reproduction the Canon FD lenses are hard to beat and most produce very good bokeh too.

My favourite budget lenses are the J3 and the Helios 103 and 44-2 and the Meyer 30mm Lydith lens in its Meyer or Pentacon form plus their legendary fully manual 135mm, also labelled under both names and this comes from a person that is not a fan of that focal length lens.
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Old 01-25-2017   #32
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After thinking about my Pentax lenses I went and purchased a KM as the main problem with my k1000 was the lack of DOF preview and cant wait to put my Ricoh 50mm 1.4 into service (must repair the aperture first)
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Old 01-25-2017   #33
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I am starting to find the 50 focal length a bit too narrow but two stand out for me: the Nikkor non-AI 50/2 (I have 3) and the early M42 Super Takumar 50/1.4 (which I sold and still miss).

I'd like to revisit the 35/1.4 Nikkor AIS - it had a special look.
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Old 01-25-2017   #34
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Is there a noticeable difference between the 8 and 7 element Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 ?
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Old 01-25-2017   #35
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Quote:
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Is there a noticeable difference between the 8 and 7 element Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 ?
If you asked me, I would say only really in price and demand.
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Old 01-25-2017   #36
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I generally like the micro contrast typically exhibited by Zeiss ZF (or ZE) lenses. Then again, sometimes I like the rendering (different from the Zeiss rendering) of Sigma ART lenses.
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Old 01-25-2017   #37
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While I prefer RF glass to SLR glass in 35mm film format, the 1.4/58mm MC Rokkor PF brought me back to photography due to its interesting draw. The 4/100 Rokkor is excellent too and if coupled with a short extension tube renders closer images beautifully.
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Old 01-25-2017   #38
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We all have our favorites for one reason or another. I like my Super-Takumar 50mm f.1.4 and the Super-Takumar 28mm f.3.5. The 1.4 is under the lamp right now curing a small amount of thorium element discoloration. The Spotmatic that goes with these lenses is the easiest SLR for me to focus. Though not an SLR lens I like very much my 50mm f.3.5 Elmar.
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Old 01-25-2017   #39
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In rangefinder-land, I'm partial to the Sonnar designs. The Zeiss ZM 50mm C-Sonnar 1.5 is almost always in use.

I just discovered the Nikkor 50mm 1.4 SC, which is a modified copy of the Zeiss Sonnar 1.5. It has such lovely glow and dreaminess wide open. Stopped down, it is quite sharp.

Then there's Lomography's reintroduced J3+, which is distinctive in its own way. Sort of in between the Nikkor and the C-Sonnar in its rendition.

For SLR, I'm partial to the Canon FD 50mm 1.2 L and the 85mm 1.2 L, both sold to me by Timmyjoe here on RFF. They go on my FTb.
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Old 01-25-2017   #40
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Nippon Kogaku 10.5cm f2.5 P Sonnar lens, the 135 f2 AIS Nikkor, 55 1.2 S Nikkor, the 180 2.8 P Nikkor and the 85 1.4 AIS Nikkor.
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