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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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Old 07-21-2018   #81
Sumarongi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pentode View Post
For the very small amount of portrait shooting I've done, I also found 58mm to work pretty well. In my case a Minolta Rokkor 58mm f/1.4. It holds its own nicely as a portrait lens and also does well in the street. But that's a good/good lens; we can't have that here!!
What is the actual reason that SLR camera makers before say 1965 chose a focal length longer than 50mm for their very fast *standard* lens?

One can read, uhm, a fast 50mm would have collided with the mirror, and so on. That might be true, but to me it sounds a bit like a post-factum-rationalisation (aka: FAKE NEWS! SAD!).

Isn't it much more plausible that they -- then in the days when RF and TLR were much more common -- intentionally chose such a length of say 57mm or 58mm because with such a length the 35mm-format-SLR-photographer can perfectly work -- having both their eyes open?
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Old 07-21-2018   #82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumarongi View Post
What is the actual reason that SLR camera makers before say 1965 chose a focal length longer than 50mm for their very fast *standard* lens?

One can read, uhm, a fast 50mm would have collided with the mirror, and so on. That might be true, but to me it sounds a bit like a post-factum-rationalisation (aka: FAKE NEWS! SAD!).

Isn't it much more plausible that they -- then in the days when RF and TLR were much more common -- intentionally chose such a length of say 57mm or 58mm because with such a length the 35mm-format-SLR-photographer can perfectly work -- having both their eyes open?
They were discussing this back in 2008.

https://www.photo.net/discuss/thread...lenses.335789/
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Old 07-21-2018   #83
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58mm for portraits, a pretty good choice!

Here, 1.4/58mm Voigtlander Nokton SL at f/3.5 on a (full frame) Pentax K-1
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Old 07-21-2018   #84
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumarongi View Post
What is the actual reason that SLR camera makers before say 1965 chose a focal length longer than 50mm for their very fast *standard* lens?

One can read, uhm, a fast 50mm would have collided with the mirror, and so on. That might be true, but to me it sounds a bit like a post-factum-rationalisation (aka: FAKE NEWS! SAD!).

Isn't it much more plausible that they -- then in the days when RF and TLR were much more common -- intentionally chose such a length of say 57mm or 58mm because with such a length the 35mm-format-SLR-photographer can perfectly work -- having both their eyes open?
To be honest, that argument sound even more like an ex post facto generalization. If it were the case, why (a) were there not more 58mm lenses and (b) did most of them go down to 55mm and then 50mm as soon as possible?

Alpa started out with 50mm lenses (f/1.8 Macro Switar). Pentax went from 55 to 50. Nikon went from 58 to 55 to 50. And so on. Leaf-shutter Contaflexes went for a 45/2.8, because Tessars are nice and simple (and thin); In fact, there've been few if any 58mm f/2.8 lenses for reflexes.

A friend found that a 50/2 Summar, properly mounted, allowed 1mm clearance with one of the more popular reflexes (sorry, I forget which one -- I'm dredging this up from 30+ years ago) but faster lenses didn't. A degree of retrofocus design is all but essential for seriously fast 50mm lenses, and retrofocus by definition does nothing to improve definition.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-21-2018   #85
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a few, older lenses that come to my mind

e.g. a Komura LTM f3.5/105mm
first sample I had reduced "clarity" in Lightroom:

Untitled
by andreas, on Flickr


even without PPing which pushes the result in a certain way as above, not only softness caused of simple coating makes results unique but specially also amazing colors


Untitled
by andreas, on Flickr

camera used also plays a certain role, for both Ricoh GXR M module
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Old 07-21-2018   #86
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a better known lens, Sonnar Canon LTM f1.5/50mm. My copy possibly is not a best performing one due to little haze or even coating damage, though this is not certain.


on Sony NEX5n

Untitled
by andreas, on Flickr

on Ricoh GXR M

malu ( shy )
by andreas, on Flickr
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Old 07-21-2018   #87
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often it is the weker coating of older lenses that imo makes them a bit "bad" lenses but actually, if one has the taste for it, very good lenses.
Here a Topcor-S f2/50mm

on Sony A7 against the light, already added contrast in PP:

Untitled
by andreas, on Flickr

on Ricoh GXR M

Untitled
by andreas, on Flickr


again, colors and flares that give extra character, on Sony A7

Huc Bridge
by andreas, on Flickr
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Old 07-21-2018   #88
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and sometimes it is faults that have developped that makes a lens special. Many Canon LTM lenses have a haze problem, sometimes one that cannot be cleaned or cured. The resulting low contrast sometimes looks good though, e.g.


a hazy Canon LTM f1.8/50mm on Ricoh GXR M


Canon LTM f1.8/50mm by andreas, on Flickr


a somewhat hazy Pen-F Zuiko f3.5/20mm on Sony NEX5n:


Untitled
by andreas, on Flickr
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Old 07-21-2018   #89
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My vote would go to the Vivitar 19mm f3.8 C/Y mount. I've used this on/off for thirty years. It's small, smooth focus and crisp aperture ring. A joy to handle , not too much flare but distortion and edge softness which never improves from bad when stopped down. It's gone relatively unused since I started into using RF kit.

When I break out my Contax kit its always a favourite along with my Yashica ML 28mm f2.8 which doesn't have the finest reputation either. Both lenses have given great images over the years.
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Old 07-21-2018   #90
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I have an awesome 40/4 triplet lens from Smena-8M which was transplanted to an LTM mount by some ukrainian craftsman. The only drawback is the absence of rangefinder coupling, but after all it was designed to be scale-focus lens. I like the quirkiness of this lens, the color rendition and the bokeh.
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Old 07-21-2018   #91
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One of my toys is a LOMO T-43 (Triplet) 40mm f/4 from a Smena mounted in a bit of tube, then fitted to an elderly (M39) Zenit's focussing scale and mount. Add an adapter and it works in the M9 but you have to guess focus and keep a careful note of the scale reading and true distance. Anyway, it was cheap and does nice portraits of things like flowers.

This is a one to one crop at 1024 by 768 pixels.



Regards, David

PS The M9 took it best as the 35mm f/2 11 310 lens.
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Old 07-21-2018   #92
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Quote:
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My vote would go to the Vivitar 19mm f3.8 C/Y mount. . . .
Wow! Someone's got to love it, I suppose, but you're the first I've encountered. My very strong suspicion is that you found what it could do, and built on that, instead of focusing (as most people do) on what it can't do.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-21-2018   #93
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often it is the weker coating of older lenses that imo makes them a bit "bad" lenses but actually, if one has the taste for it, very good lenses.
I agree. I sometimes prefer my older Rokkor MC lenses, with their lower contrast and softer look at the edges, to my more modern Rokkor MD versions.
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Old 07-21-2018   #94
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Does anyone like or use any of the Lentar lenses?

When I was young(er) these had the reputation of being about the worst el-cheapo M42 lenses around. LOL, "sub-Spiratone." The only one I ever remember was one a friend got (135 IIRC) which was soft in performance and had terrible vignetting.
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Old 07-21-2018   #95
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Picked up a Russian 1950s 50mm Jupiter 8 not long ago. It is in surprisingly good shape. Took it out just a little while ago one my M-E to test it out. All were shot wide open at f/2. There was heavy overcast with a slight drizzle so the park down the street was empty.

















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Old 07-21-2018   #96
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmr View Post
Does anyone like or use any of the Lentar lenses?

When I was young(er) these had the reputation of being about the worst el-cheapo M42 lenses around. LOL, "sub-Spiratone." The only one I ever remember was one a friend got (135 IIRC) which was soft in performance and had terrible vignetting.
Gosh! I'd even forgotten the name! I think I've sen 'em but have no experience of them. Wonder how any are still around?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-21-2018   #97
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug View Post
58mm for portraits, a pretty good choice!

Here, 1.4/58mm Voigtlander Nokton SL at f/3.5 on a (full frame) Pentax K-1
Agreed, but that's an awesome lens, not a good-bad one...

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Old 07-21-2018   #98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmr View Post
Does anyone like or use any of the Lentar lenses?

When I was young(er) these had the reputation of being about the worst el-cheapo M42 lenses around. LOL, "sub-Spiratone." The only one I ever remember was one a friend got (135 IIRC) which was soft in performance and had terrible vignetting.
I found a Tele-Lentar 135/3.5 at Goodwill in 2010, and I was actually pretty impressed with it. The build quality wasn't up to Takumar standards, but it was decent.
This photo was taken at f/3.5, using a Pentax K10D.

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Old 07-21-2018   #99
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A very cheap movie camera lens 25/1.4 om E-P2

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Old 07-22-2018   #100
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I found a Tele-Lentar 135/3.5 at Goodwill in 2010, and I was actually pretty impressed with it. The build quality wasn't up to Takumar standards, but it was decent.
This photo was taken at f/3.5, using a Pentax K10D. . . .
Lovely shot! But then, ultra-sharpness is seldom a requisite in shots of pretty little girls.

It would probably have been a great shot even with a good lens.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-22-2018   #101
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I found a Tele-Lentar 135/3.5 at Goodwill in 2010, and I was actually pretty impressed with it. The build quality wasn't up to Takumar standards, but it was decent.
This was possibly the same lens I remember.

Does yours vignette, particularly at wide apertures?

I got curious and googled a bit. It seems that at least some Lentar lenses were rebranded Tokina, which I've always heard good things about.

Back in the day, it seemed like Lentar, Cambron, and Spiratone were the Rodney Dangerfields of third-party lenses.

Cambron was the house brand of Cambridge Camera, which at the time had the reputation of being shysters.

Spiratone was the house brand of, well, Spiratone which was more noted for accessories and gadgets and such. I had a number of Spiratone filters and whatzits, particularly back when I was shooting tungsten Ektachrome in daylight.

Speaking of BAD lenses and Spiratone, my brother had this incredibly cheap Spiratone 400mm (I think) lens for his old Pentax HV. This was what he called his "beach lens" and he used it for, well, LOL! It had an incredibly funky two-ring aperture thing, for focusing wide open and then stopping down for taking. I use this a couple of times on my Spotmatic and found it very awkward to use. I really don't remember much about the quality of the lens or images.
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Old 07-22-2018   #102
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmr View Post
This was possibly the same lens I remember.

Does yours vignette, particularly at wide apertures?

I got curious and googled a bit. It seems that at least some Lentar lenses were rebranded Tokina, which I've always heard good things about.
My Lentar was made by Tokina AFAIK. In my use, it didn't have noticeable vignetting even wide open.
Here's a photo of my lens,
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Old 07-23-2018   #103
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Originally Posted by dmr View Post
Does anyone like or use any of the Lentar lenses?

When I was young(er) these had the reputation of being about the worst el-cheapo M42 lenses around. LOL, "sub-Spiratone." The only one I ever remember was one a friend got (135 IIRC) which was soft in performance and had terrible vignetting.
See #38 in this thread
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Old 07-23-2018   #104
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Got a Lentar 250mm 5.6 mirror with a large amount of fall-off and not sure it has high resolving power, but transparencies of flowers taken with it have them standing out beautifully. Sure it does not rank with the Minolta 250 reflex in terms of stats. The results I like are due completely to its technical deficiencies. Thanks for starting this thread, Roger -- except, of course, for the effect it will have on cheap good bad lens prices.
I musta missed this one.

I guess some of the Lentars are fairly good, and others not so good. Consistently inconsistent.

Same with Takumars, actually. They have a reputation for being consistently good, but the one I posted on earlier is known to have some obvious issues.
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Old 07-23-2018   #105
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...
Same with Takumars, actually. They have a reputation for being consistently good, but the one I posted on earlier is known to have some obvious issues.
The Takumar 28-80 f3.5-4.5 zoom that you had mentioned is a budget line, single coated Pentax K Bajonett lens.
These budget K mount lenses are distinct and very different to all the earlier M42 lenses made by Pentax known as Takumars.
The screwmount M42 Takumars have great build and, for their time, superior coatings and rightfully can be considered consistently good.

It is unfortunate and confusing that Pentax called later non-MC budget K mount zooms also Takumars, actually A-Takumars ( your lens, right? ) and F-Takumars. To avoid confusion between the earlier M42 Takumars, about 50 prime lenses and 4 zooms, and these later Pentax K single coated budget zooms, for better classification e.g. the Pentax lens database doesn't call these Takumars but instead "non-MC Pentax zoom lenses": https://www.pentaxforums.com/lensrev...Zoom-Lens.html
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Old 07-23-2018   #106
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The Takumar 28-80 f3.5-4.5 zoom that you had mentioned is a budget line, single coated Pentax K Bajonett lens. These budget K mount lenses are distinct and very different to all the earlier M42 lenses made by Pentax known as Takumars. The screwmount M42 Takumars have great build and, for their time, superior coatings and rightfully can be considered consistently good.
Mine is indeed the Takumar-A.

That review you cited is typical, the "it sucks but I love it" opinion.

Mine was a local Camera Show Special some years back. I offered him a ridiculous low-ball offer and he went for it. This was on the last day of the show as everyone was starting to pack up.

I know it's notoriously bad, but for some reason it's often the one I grab when I go out shooting film.
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Old 07-24-2018   #107
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....my fave was a Vivitar 100mm f2.8 in MC - instant soft focus, alternating between flair and flare !
The Mr Kipling moment 'making surprisingly good lenses ... ' for the M8 [ Contax adapter ] £20 new Helios , Brian Sweeney J3 Contaxed , Fed 50 f3.5 39mm collapsible which should not be compatible , various Contax J8 .
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Old 07-24-2018   #108
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....my fave was a Vivitar 100mm f2.8 in MC - instant soft focus, alternating between flair and flare !
The Mr Kipling moment 'making surprisingly good lenses ... ' for the M8 [ Contax adapter ] £20 new Helios , Brian Sweeney J3 Contaxed , Fed 50 f3.5 39mm collapsible which should not be compatible , various Contax J8 .
Dear Dee,

Beautifully phrased!

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-24-2018   #109
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I'm not sure it qualifies since it's a fixed lens (on a box camera, no less), but I love the cemented doublet on my Ilford Craftsman. It's got a unique look that I've never found in another camera, box or otherwise.


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Old 07-25-2018   #110
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Fair enough, but this stands outside budget to some extent. The 35 pre-aspheric Summilux, for example, is silly-expensive but has a unique look. The Porst, on the other hand, is silly-cheap but has a unique look. I'm talking about lenses that are objectively inferior but which we like not despite their faults, but because of them.

Cheers,

R.
Roger, mine would have to be the little pre-aspheric Summilux 35mm too. I bought it because you said in a 1980s' or 1990s' book that night-time street pictures should be taken with discretion, preferably in conjunction with an M-series Leica and a 35/1.4 Summilux. I soon found it perfect for virtually all the photography that I do and It's still my favourite lens. If objectively worse than its successors it's subjectively better because the faults help draw my attention to the focused, usually human, subject. At full aperture that focused subject looks quite dreamy and the lack of contrast is flattering to skin. When looking at a face, who cares whether a peripheral out of focus street light looks correct or like a bleached banana?

I have yet to try out my Noctilux f/1, unused simply because I've been too busy. With use that might turn out to vye with the old Summilux 35 for my very best lens with faults. Do you think lenses are like human faces: more beautiful in effect for having a distinctive imperfection?

All the best,

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Old 07-25-2018   #111
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The pre-asph Lux 35mm is not a cheap lens. It is my top choice for travel gear when I pick my photography gear for a trip.
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Old 07-25-2018   #112
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No thread featuring good, bad lenses would be complete w/o a few shots from the plastic fantastic cheap cameras. Here's mine from an old Diana Stellar Holga like camera. I have no idea what focal length the lens was, nor what aperture settings it had. All I know is it was a plastic lens that was far better than it should have been. Tri-X in D76 full strength.





Pretty good, right? Unfortunately, consistency is the hobgoblin of plastic lenses on plastic cameras, as more often than not you got shots like this



My Dacora 1 folder was also capable of frustratingly erratic shots. From this



To this

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Old 12-02-2018   #113
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Quote:
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Ah, yes, though I think it was spelled Portragon with an R. I used to have one but I much prefer the 90/4 Dreamagon with its weird "radiation symbol" diaphragm. Then there's the Subjektiv with its choice of glass lens, plastic lens, pinhole and zone plate, in about a 65mm mount, and of course the dear old Lensbaby.

In all fairness I think that the Portragon was easily the worst of that crew, even to the extent that I'd call it a bad, bad lens -- albeit deliberately bad.

Cheers,

R.
It's a deliberately bad lens, as you said. I like the badness of it, to be honest.



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Old 12-02-2018   #114
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a few, older lenses that come to my mind

e.g. a Komura LTM f3.5/105mm
first sample I had reduced "clarity" in Lightroom:

Untitled
by andreas, on Flickr


even without PPing which pushes the result in a certain way as above, not only softness caused of simple coating makes results unique but specially also amazing colors

Love this shot.
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Old 12-02-2018   #115
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Old 12-02-2018   #116
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Picked up a Russian 1950s 50mm Jupiter 8 not long ago.
Thanks for posting! Now I know which lens to avoid in the future
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Old 12-02-2018   #117
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a better known lens, Sonnar Canon LTM f1.5/50mm. My copy possibly is not a best performing one due to little haze ...


malu ( shy )
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A little haze, ya think? LOL
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Old 12-02-2018   #118
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I really like my Canon 50 1.2 LTM. In fact, I bought it because of its characteristics rather than in spite of them.
Black and White Weekend by Nick Chase, on Flickr
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RF Cameras: Leica M2, Leica M3, Leica M5, Leica M6, Mamiya 7II,
RF Lenses:
75mm Summilux, 50mm DR Summicron, 50mm "Millennium" Nikkor, 35mm Zeiss Distagon 1.4, 35mm 2.8 Summaron, Mamiya 43mm, Mamiya 80mm, Mamiya 150mm


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Old 12-02-2018   #119
peterm1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NaChase View Post
I really like my Canon 50 1.2 LTM. In fact, I bought it because of its characteristics rather than in spite of them.
Black and White Weekend by Nick Chase, on Flickr
Mine works well in some situations as in the image below (in my view) but is terrible in some situations such as when there is backlighting (though this is admittedly aggravated by roached coatings on the front element).
Those Eyes - Color by Life in Shadows, on Flickr
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