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View Poll Results: Help me to make a decision...
Just keep the Heliar Classic 50/2 62 31.96%
Just keep the Nokton 50/1.5 87 44.85%
Both of them are necessary 45 23.20%
Voters: 194. You may not vote on this poll

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Heliar Classic 50/2 and Nokton 50/1.5
Old 03-24-2008   #1
mdspace
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Heliar Classic 50/2 and Nokton 50/1.5

I have been using the Heliar Classic 50/2 for a year and after read many good reviews about the Nokton 50/1.5, I finally decided to buy one.

The Heliar Classic 50/2 is a beautiful and compact lens M-mount ever, using it in my Bessa R2 and my R-D1s I found that is very high contrast and less flare and the B&W pictures that produce in my opinion are very unique.
The disadvantages of this lens can be that is very annoying to collapse and uncollapse, is very easy to forget to extend it and lose good pictures. Other disadvantage for me is the 39 filter size that is uncommon now making difficult to find easily any new filters of this size.
I just have one year with this lens and I don't have any problems with the lens barrel mechanism by now, but I'm not sure if it's a hard-use lens.

I wish to know any opinion comparing with the Nokton 50/1.5 and any characteristics, advantages and disadvantages about this lens.

Should I sell the Heliar Classic 50/2 because I will not miss it having the Nokton???

Moderator Edit: There are TWO versions of the 50/2 Heliar. The 1st version was a collapsible M mount lens, available in either chrome or black paint. It was sold in the 250th Anniversary Voigtlander kits. The 2nd version is the Nickel 50/2 Heliar which is SCREW mount and NOT collapsible. Both versions have the same optics.
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Old 03-25-2008   #2
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I was in the same boat as you - the Heliar went.

Disagree with you on the 39mm filter size, sure you won't find it in the local photo Nikon/Canon shop but look around it's a common RF lens size.
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Old 03-25-2008   #3
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This is something luketrash wrote in the thread about the different VC 50mm lenses. It´s the best describtion I read so far about the Heliar Classic:

"I just got the Heliar Classic f2 and it's right up my alley: It's weird, and produces noticibly different images from most other 50mm lenses. It's got that rangefinder lens feeling.

The Nokton f1.5 is obviously a great lens, but looks like something that fell off of a 1970s SLR camera. With this goofy gear aquisition habit of mine, I like the interesting stuff rather than the technically perfect stuff. I have modern SLRs and a digital camera if I want to make cutting sharp photos.

I jumped on the Heliar 50mm f2 when I found it used because I can see the 3d aspect of many photos I've seen made with it. It's definitely sharp enough to use in the day to day world to the degree if you're making blurry photos with it, it's probably your fault, not the lens'. I like the funky aspect of it's almost useless collapse. I mean you gain ~1/4" of space by pushing it in.

I like that many people hate it and compare it to Leica gear always. My goal is to try and make photos that are more interesting than the people that bash the lens make with their 'better' equipment.

So far, my opinion is that the lens has goofy ergonomics for focusing and aperture adjustments. It has a tiny 39mm filter thread size. It has the propensity to sit collapsed while you happily take out of focus images, forgetting to have extended it. It has the ability to make everyone you meet scratch their heads and wonder why you'd ever purchase that over their cheap canon or nikon 50mm f1.8 lenses they have mounted to their digital cameras.

In other words, it's pretty much made for someone like me."


Personally I do like the Heliar Classic very much. The size of the filter thread doesn´t bother me as other rangefinder lenses use this size.

If I were you I would keep this lens.

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Old 03-25-2008   #4
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I went the opposite direction to you - starting with a Nokton before adding the Heliar. I'm surprised you find the 39mm filter size an issue as, here in Europe at least, they're still common and easy to find. Most of the lenses I own use E39 filters, so I viewed that as a bonus for the Heliar.

You'll find that the two lenses have very different finger prints. The Nokton is a modern lens with a very modern look to it. It gets a lot of praise for its sharpness (although I can't say I found it very special in that department, and certainly nothing like as sharp as the 40mm Nokton).

The Heliar though, rather like the ZM C-Sonnar, is really more of a vintage lens, just made with modern materials. It has a unique look which is somewhere between vintage and modern - it really seems to polarize opinion but I really like it, especially in b&w. My only criticism of the Heliar is that the maximum aperture of the lens (like a lot of the faster CV optics) is really a bit of a stretch. View it as an f2.8 with an extra stop for emergency use. And it's a bit heavy - a rigid version would've been lighter and really no more bulky.

Ultimately I moved the Nokton on and kept the Heliar. The former was just too big and bulky for me and felt too much like an SLR lens bolted to the front of a rangefinder. I was never really grabbed by the look it gave my images either, finding it a bit bland and unremarkable.

Like so much in life though, it'll come down to personal taste. Just give them both a good try and see which one works best for you.
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Old 03-25-2008   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kalokeri View Post
"I just got the Heliar Classic f2 and it's right up my alley: It's weird, and produces noticibly different images from most other 50mm lenses. It's got that rangefinder lens feeling.

The Nokton f1.5 is obviously a great lens, but looks like something that fell off of a 1970s SLR camera. With this goofy gear aquisition habit of mine, I like the interesting stuff rather than the technically perfect stuff. I have modern SLRs and a digital camera if I want to make cutting sharp photos.

I jumped on the Heliar 50mm f2 when I found it used because I can see the 3d aspect of many photos I've seen made with it. It's definitely sharp enough to use in the day to day world to the degree if you're making blurry photos with it, it's probably your fault, not the lens'. I like the funky aspect of it's almost useless collapse. I mean you gain ~1/4" of space by pushing it in.

I like that many people hate it and compare it to Leica gear always. My goal is to try and make photos that are more interesting than the people that bash the lens make with their 'better' equipment.

So far, my opinion is that the lens has goofy ergonomics for focusing and aperture adjustments. It has a tiny 39mm filter thread size. It has the propensity to sit collapsed while you happily take out of focus images, forgetting to have extended it. It has the ability to make everyone you meet scratch their heads and wonder why you'd ever purchase that over their cheap canon or nikon 50mm f1.8 lenses they have mounted to their digital cameras.

In other words, it's pretty much made for someone like me."
You're right, I think Luke's called it spot-on. The only thing I'd add is that, even though my main 50mm is a current Summicron (an awesome optic), the Heliar finds a place in my life precisely because it's so different.
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Old 03-25-2008   #6
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Concerning the Heliar, I was constantly goofed by the collapse thing, so I sold it and got a ZM C Sonnar 50/1.5. it has its own signature. Very different from my CV 40mm/1.4. I use the Sonnar a lot.
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Old 03-25-2008   #7
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The Heliar produces such gorgeous images, I can't imagine ever selling one. Here's my pix taken with it. It's my favorite lens these days.

You know, if you can't be arsed to check if the lens is extended (or are too busy shooting fast), just leave the wee bugger in its extended and locked position; it's not much bigger and the thing is built like a Panzer.

39mm is one of Leica's standard filter sizes. All but one of my lenses (the 35/1.4 Nokton) are 39mm.
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Old 03-25-2008   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maggieo View Post
The Heliar produces such gorgeous images, I can't imagine ever selling one. Here's my pix taken with it. It's my favorite lens these days.

You know, if you can't be arsed to check if the lens is extended (or are too busy shooting fast), just leave the wee bugger in its extended and locked position; it's not much bigger and the thing is built like a Panzer.

39mm is one of Leica's standard filter sizes. All but one of my lenses (the 35/1.4 Nokton) are 39mm.
You have a valid point. BTW, what is arsed?
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Old 03-25-2008   #9
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Arsed=bothered. Slang, you know.
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Old 03-25-2008   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kshapero View Post
Concerning the Heliar, I was constantly goofed by the collapse thing, so I sold it and got a ZM C Sonnar 50/1.5. it has its own signature. Very different from my CV 40mm/1.4. I use the Sonnar a lot.
I own a Sonnar too. What differences did you notice between both lenses?
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Old 03-25-2008   #11
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Quote:
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I own a Sonnar too. What differences did you notice between both lenses?
The Sonnar is more creamy wide open. Color is softer.
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Old 03-25-2008   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kshapero View Post
The Sonnar is more creamy wide open. Color is softer.
Ok, thank you. So they could complement well each other, if I understand.
Any shift issue with the Sonnar?
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Old 03-25-2008   #13
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Quote:
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Other disadvantage for me is the 39 filter size that is uncommon now making difficult to find easily any new filters of this size.
39mm an uncommon filter size? I can't agree. 39mm and 43mm are, beside 46mm, 40.5mm (Contax/russian lenses) and 40mm (some LTM Canon's) the most frequent rangefinder lens filter sizes.

B&W, Heliopan, Leica, Hoya and many other manufacturers offer a wide range of filters in those sizes.

Concerning the comparison Nokton 1.5/50 and Heliar 2/50, the speed might speak for the first, the size and compactness for the second lens. The Heliar also has a nicer bokeh than the Nokton.

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Old 03-25-2008   #14
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Quote:
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Ok, thank you. So they could complement well each other, if I understand.
Any shift issue with the Sonnar?
None that I am aware of.
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Old 03-25-2008   #15
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the 50s are some of the best all-around lenses. Problem is I prefer the 35mm. just makes it easier shooting indoors or scenic types.

good luck.
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Old 03-25-2008   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 35mmdelux View Post
the 50s are some of the best all-around lenses. Problem is I prefer the 35mm. just makes it easier shooting indoors or scenic types.

good luck.
Why is it easier shooting a 35 indoors in relation to a 50? Speed being equal.
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Old 03-25-2008   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kshapero View Post
Why is it easier shooting a 35 indoors in relation to a 50? Speed being equal.
Field of view. You can't always take that extra step backwards to get the shot, what with walls and furniture and whatnot.
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Old 03-26-2008   #18
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Quote:
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Why is it easier shooting a 35 indoors in relation to a 50? Speed being equal.
Because you can usually get away with a shutter speed that is twice as long, and often, light is at a premium indoors.

Also the point made above about room to step back, of course.

A 35/1.4 has been my 'standard' lens for a quarter of a century or more.

Cheers,

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Old 03-26-2008   #19
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Quote:
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Because you can usually get away with a shutter speed that is twice as long, and often, light is at a premium indoors.

Also the point made above about room to step back, of course.

A 35/1.4 has been my 'standard' lens for a quarter of a century or more.

Cheers,

R.
Then my Ultron 35/1.7 will be my new indoor lens.
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Old 03-29-2008   #20
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I would sell both lenses and get instead a Canon 50mm/1.5 in very clean condition.
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Old 04-17-2008   #21
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GAS attack. Picked up a CV 50/2. Going on a 12 day trip to Virginia with the Heliar only. A bit risky but then risk is my middle name (Along with coward).
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Old 04-17-2008   #22
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I often feel with the CV 50/2 that it's not a real lens somehow and that I need something else but the results are very pleasing and distinctive, perhaps less in certain landscapes where it lacks a bit of bite.

Be interested to know how you get on Akiva.
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Old 04-17-2008   #23
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It's been three weeks now since you originally posted the question; have you had a chance to really try the two lenses out side-by-side? What have you decided?


And just in case you're still looking for opinions, I would keep them both. It might not be necessary to have two but it might be more fun that way.
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Old 04-17-2008   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kshapero View Post
GAS attack. Picked up a CV 50/2. Going on a 12 day trip to Virginia with the Heliar only. A bit risky but then risk is my middle name (Along with coward).
Good luck. As long as you don't expect really sharp results shooting wide open I think you'll be happy with it.

I've been considering getting a Nokton 50 just for shooting in low light, so please let us know how you think they compare.

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Old 04-19-2008   #25
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Finally I have both lenses, but still thinking about sell one.
I don't like completely the ergonomics and the feels of the 50 Heliar Classic, but I'm sure that the results of this lens are unique.
I'm very happy with my 50 Nokton, it's very sharp and fast and simply feels stronger.
I understand using both in some days that the Nokton will last more than the Heliar in terms of durability.
This is my opinion in some days of performance.
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Old 06-30-2008   #26
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Heliar is a very good lens. I prefer rigid lenses, - handling wise, but optically this lens has a very cool signature
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Old 06-30-2008   #27
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I like the Heliar Classic quite a lot. I collapse it to put it away, but while it's on the camera I leave it extended. I'm not used to collapsible lenses, so I'm likely to forget to extend it... I think it's very well constructed, very solid. I also have the 50 C-Sonnar and 2.5/50 Skopar, so my three 50s offer different "looks".
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Old 07-02-2008   #28
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This photo exhibits perfectly the cool 3D feel of the VC heliar classic f2. I have this lens and love it - makes a cute little friend for my 85mm f2 serenar
The lens cannot give a 3-D effect. This is from the lighting. Backlit still life's look more three dimensional than front lit scenes.
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Old 07-06-2008   #29
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Since you have both, keep both.

That said, if it comes to it, keep the Heliar. Much more interesting lens than yet another fast planar clone, but I'm known as a Tessar nutcase so what do I know? The Heliar is another glorious asymetric lens design and gives much more interesting optics, to my eyes, than do symetric lenses like the Planar.

I'll also simply say that a ERC that allows the top half to be taken off and a shade are the two things that make using a collapsible lens easy. Flip it open and taking off the top will remind you to extend the lens. Taking off the shade will remind you to collapse it. Personally I like them but then, as above, I'm a nutcase

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Old 07-07-2008   #30
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I be an ignoramus

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
The lens cannot give a 3-D effect. This is from the lighting. Backlit still life's look more three dimensional than front lit scenes.
I'm stupid - sorry - maybe i'll get smarter - eat more wheaties - I said "feel" not "effect" - thanks.
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Old 07-11-2008   #31
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Hmmm, the Heliar Classic looks a bit like the Leica pre-asph Summilux 50 at f2.0, and that's not too shabby.
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Old 10-25-2009   #32
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Here's the Heliar Classic at f/2.4... I've never used a 50 Nokton.


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Old 10-26-2009   #33
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Moonlight Vapor
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Old 10-26-2009   #34
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Nokton 1.5 @5.6
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Old 10-27-2009   #35
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Gorgeous pair of shots, Helen!
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Old 10-27-2009   #36
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The OOF areas can look very nice with the Heliar, I think...
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Old 10-27-2009   #37
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The OOF areas can look very nice with the Heliar, I think...
Agreed, and your two shots show that well. I think the far-bokeh softness is aided by (suspected) under-corrected spherical aberration. (see http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/bokeh.shtml) This is my preference but it tends to make the near-bokeh less soft as a tradeoff, while it seems with most modern lenses it's the other way around.

So with the Heliar Classic (and also the C-Sonnar), OOF dewdrops for instance beyond the plane of focus have brighter centers than edges, leading to that soft smooth look, while OOF dewdrops nearer than the plane of focus are brighter around the edge for a less smooth look, and lines tend toward doubling. But it seems to me near-bokeh is usually less important visually than far.

at f/2
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Old 10-27-2009   #38
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Moonlight Vapor by Helen Hill, on Flickr

I love both images, Helen. Well done indeed.
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Old 11-06-2009   #39
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Very kind MAGGIE & RAID...Tres Cooool of You to say...Thank You !!
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Old 02-06-2010   #40
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I have owned both before and personally preferred the IQ of the Heliar. The ergonomics of the Nokton were better but I will put up with a bit of fuss with a aperture ring or slower focusing for a better photo. In actuality the fuss makes me slow down so my photos are usually better for that too. I have a 50/3.5 Heliar in the mail, I am hoping it produces similar to the 50/2 Heliar.
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