50mm prime lens comparison, shot on Sony a7R, first round

This first round of 50mm SLR camera lens testing will cover some of the fast f/1.4 glass. Four lenses total, all 50/1.4; Pentax Super Takumar, Canon FDn, Konica Hexanon AR, and SMC Pentax.

Here are the vignetting test results on the top three finishers, at f/1.4. They were all pretty close.
Super Takumar: -2.84(f-stops)
Canon FDn: -2.7(f-stops)
Konica Hexanon: -2.79(f-stops)

The Pentax Super Takumar had a slightly slower shutter speed, but all RAW files were adjusted to be at roughly the same exposure, before processing. Only four of the lenses in the photo below have been tested so far, the slow glass will be covered later.

50mm lens test: Super Takumar, Canon FDn, Konica Hexanon AR, Pentax SMC Takumar, on the Sony a7R

50mm lens test: Super Takumar, Canon FDn, Konica Hexanon AR, Pentax SMC Takumar, on the Sony a7R

50mm lens Vignetting test: Super Takumar, Canon FDn, Konica Hexanon AR, Pentax SMC Takumar, on the Sony a7R

50mm lens Vignetting test: Super Takumar, Canon FDn, Konica Hexanon AR, Pentax SMC Takumar, on the Sony a7R

Ease of focus at long distances: The 50mm focal length, at this subject distance, is close enough to be using the second stage of Sony a7R EVF magnification. The “5610″ street number on the back of the building is the focus point, as usual. All of these lenses worked fairly well for focusing, although the Super Takumar was probably better at focusing than the Canon FDn was.

Lens contrast: *Wide open* There was significant veiling haze over the Super Takumar, and to a slightly lesser extent, the Konica Hexanon AR, which made it hard to see much contrast at all. One point each for the Canon FDn and the SMC Takumar, but not by much. *f/8* It’s difficult to make a solid judgement here. There are different exposures and different lighting conditions; the SMC Takumar has this yellowish earthy tone to it, possibly due to a radioactive element, that is distracting. You’ll have to decide for yourself. More on the radioactive elements at this link; note that the Konica Hexanon AR 50/1.4 that was tested here has the f/16 max aperture/green AE markings that are on this list: http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Radioactive_lenses

Sides of the images: *Wide open* f/1.4 makes picking the winner a bit easier. The SMC Takumar and the Konica Hexanon both go down hard here, they appear to have field curvature issues on the sides, so they are out for full frame use. It looks like it might be a possible lens design issue, so you may not find relief in different copies of the same design. Of the two remaining lenses, the Canon FDn is the strongest of the four on the left side, but it is soft on the right side. Two points for the Super Takumar, and one point for the Canon FDn, on the hope that a different copy doesn’t have the same right-side defect.

Center of the images: *wide open* The Super Takumar 50/1.4 beats the Canon FDn 50/1.4, one point; see the “5617″ street number, on the front of the building, second street back from the camera, upper center of the image. The question here is whether or not the Canon lens is perfectly focused. *f/8* Things are a lot more competitive, you be the judge.

Summary: The Super Takumar moves forward, but with reservations about whether or not the left side is as good as that model of lens actually gets. The slightly soft right side of the Canon lens makes one wonder what a perfect copy of it would look like. It has less veiling glow than the Super Tak does wide open, so the potential is there.

**Here are the test images, they are 21-29mb in size, **be sure and view at 100% size**:



Dan Euritt

35mm prime lens comparison shootout, on the Sony a7R, first round

This is the first round of 35mm lens comparison testing, shot on the Sony a7R mirrorless camera. There are four 35mm SLR prime lenses here, and one 35-80mm zoom, tested at 35mm. Testing at the usual landscape distances was done at f/2.8-3.5, and at f/8. This is the longest focal length tested so far, and it comes with high hopes that the field curvature issues seen in previous rounds would be a thing of the past.

The vignetting results were as follows:
Pentax FA35, at f/2.0: 1/50th, -2.71(f-stops)
S-M-C Takumar, at f/3.5: 1/15th, -2.91(f-stops)
Canon FDn, at f/2.8: 1/30th, -2.99(f-stops)

It seemed like the FA35 corners should have been brighter than -2.71, but the test results were consistent even after re-testing.

35mm lens testing, CanonFDn, Promatic, Pentax FA35, Pentax S-M-C Takumar, and the 35-80 Tamron SP zoom lenses.

35mm lens testing, CanonFDn, Promatic, Pentax FA35, Pentax S-M-C Takumar, and the 35-80 Tamron SP zoom lenses.

35mm lens vignetting test, on the CanonFDn, Promatic, Pentax FA35, Pentax S-M-C Takumar, and the 35-80 Tamron SP zoom lenses.

35mm lens vignetting test, on the CanonFDn, Promatic, Pentax FA35, Pentax S-M-C Takumar, and the 35-80 Tamron SP zoom lenses.

Ease of focus at long distances: Pentax FA35/2.0 all the way, for 2 points. It’s hard to imagine that an autofocus lens used in manual mode could top all of the competition, but it did. At the first stage of a7R magnification, the area of focus peaking was narrow and specific, and the focus ring was adequate. The Canon FDn just didn’t cut it here; the focus peaking area was too wide. The Tamron SP zoom felt like it was nearly a stop darker. Both it and the classic Pentax SMC Takumar 35/3.5 were tough to use wide open. Unfortunately the standard “5610″ street number on the back of the building was in shadow during the test period, so it wasn’t clearly visible at full magnification, on any lens. Hence the need for focus peaking and partial magnification. The old Promatic 35/2.8 lens had radically different focus points at f/2.8 and f/8; wide open it was barely in focus, at it’s focus stop on the ring, but at f/8, it had plenty of room.

Lens contrast: The Pentax FA35/2.0 and the Canon FDn 35/2.8 both look good, 1 point each, but the superiority of the FA35 with focus peaking could work in its favor. The diminutive Pentax Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 35/3.5 looked flat, but it appeared to be shot at a slightly higher exposure, which could have been a factor.

Sides of the images: *Wide open*: The Promatic 35/2.8 failed miserably, it’s gone. The Takumar 35/3.5 was weak on the outer extremes, so it barely failed as well. The Tamron SP 35-80mm lens had out of focus areas on the far left, and in a wide vertical swath on the right side as well, so it’s out due to defects. That left the Pentax FA35/2.0, which was outstanding on the right side at f/2.8, but weak on the left side, and the Canon FDn 35/2.8; you judge. *f/8*: Everything recovered to some extent, with the exception of the left side on the Canon Fdn 35/2.8, which doesn’t look much better than it did at f/2.8. The Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 35/3.5 is usable, but generally softer on the sides than it’s FA35/2.0 brethren.

Center of the images: Pentax FA35/2.0 squeaks by the best of the competition, the Canon FDn 35/2.8; 1 point.

Summary: If one of these lenses wasn’t weak on the side(s), it either couldn’t be focused well, or it had field curvature issues. Overall, it’s a weak field. However, since previous tests were judged only at F/8, that’s what will be used here; the Pentax FA35/2.0 moves forward into the next round.

Here are the test images, they are 21-24mb in size, **be sure and view at 100% size**:


Dan Euritt

24mm SLR prime lens test, fourth round, shot on the Sony a7R

This fourth round of the 24mm legacy prime lens shootout features the cheapest 24mm lens that’s been tested so far; it’s a Vivitar(Tokina, 37xxxxxx serial number) that cost $37. It’s up against the Canon FDn 24/2.8, and a recently acquired Olympus H.Zuiko 24/2.8($117 shipped). If you recall from previous rounds of this shootout, the first Olympus 24/2.8 lens that was tested was soft on one side.

Unfortunately this Olympus H.Zuiko 24/2.8 lens is also slightly soft on one side, but it’s not nearly as bad as the other Oly 24mm lens. That softness shouldn’t affect the vignetting, so all three SLR camera lenses were run through the Imatest.com lens testing software. Check the test results photo for full details, but at f/2.8, here are average numbers for light falloff in the corners:

Vivitar(Tokina) 24/2.8: -4.51 (f-stops)

Canon FDn 24/2.8: -4.99 (f-stops)

Olympus H.Zuiko 24/2.8: -5.48 (f-stops)

Those vignetting test results are valid only for this website, because they use calibrated exposures to standardize the testing. The numbers are useful for comparing light falloff between these lenses, and any other lenses this website tests.

Photo of 24mm camera lenses: Vivitar Tokina Olympus H.Zuiko Canon FDn

Picture of 24mm camera lenses: Vivitar Tokina Olympus H.Zuiko Canon FDn

24mm SLR prime lens test: Vivitar Tokina Olympus H.Zuiko Canon FDn Vignetting Comparison

24mm SLR prime lens test: Vivitar Tokina Olympus H.Zuiko Canon FDn Vignetting Comparison

Ease of focus at long distances: The “5610″ street number on the back of the building was the focus point, but it was in shadow, so one level of magnification and focus peaking both had to be used. If half-points could be awarded, that’s what would be used here, because focusing at long distances is weak on all of them. Vivitar 24/2.8 two points, Canon FDn 24/2.8 one point, Olympus H.Zuiko 24/2.8 one point.

Lens contrast: Another case of needing half-points, and not having them. Olympus 24/2.8 one point, zero points for the other two camera lenses, but with different exposures and such, it’s difficult to tell for sure.

Sides of the images: Olympus 24/2.8 gets disqualified due to very slight softness on the left side, but the right side is as strong as the other two lenses. The Vivitar 24/2.8 looks slightly cleaner at the “5610″ mark, but maybe just barely softer than the Canon FDn, at the critical mid-field “5620″ street number, on the left side. Two points for each.

Center of the images: Vivitar 24/2.8 two points, one point each for the other two lenses, but there could be mitigating factors. The focal lengths of these lenses are all slightly different, which can be seen in the big comparison image picture. That might have made the “5610″ mark slightly taller on the Vivitar, so it’s slightly easier to read.

Summary: Your author is now zero-for-three on wide angle Olympus lenses, but if a good one ever comes across the test bench, it might do well. Readers of this column would be advised to stick with the Canon FDn lenses, because they are cheaper and built better. The Vivitar(Tokina) 24/2.8 cost $37 shipped. It was a complete surprise performance-wise, and also because the aperture leaves were stuck together, due to oil on the blades. Whatever sharpness differences it may have had with the Canon could have been focus-related, and/or focal-length related. The Olympus H.Zuiko 24/2.8 was the widest of the three, which can be a slight handicap on the Sony a7R, when it comes to legacy glass. Both the Vivitar and the Canon FDn lens move forward into the final round.

Here is the test image, it’s 13mb in size, **be sure and view it at 100% size**:


Dan Euritt

24mm camera lens shootout, on the Sony a7R: first round

24mm camera lens shootout, on the Sony a7R: second round

24mm camera lens shootout on the Sony a7R: third round, Konica 24mm

28mm prime lens comparison, shot on Sony a7R: second round

In this second round of legacy 28mm prime lens testing, we continue to evaluate the impact of field curvature, at the optimal aperture for landscape shooting. Since two of the lenses being tested are slow 28mm f/3.5 lenses, we’ll also measure light falloff in the corners, using Imatest. The source files for those measurements were set to equal exposures in Photoshop, which made the numbers relevant across both lenses. Here are the corner measurements:

SMC Pentax-M 28mm f/3.5 at f/3.5: -3.34 (f-stops)

Vivitar(Kiron) 28mm f/2.0 at f/4: -2.69 (f-stops)

At ~f/10, both lenses were nearly equal, at -1.99 (f-stops) and -1.86 (f-stops), respectively. To sum it up, you do pay a corner darkness penalty with slow glass on a full-frame sensor, but it’s largely gone after the lens is stopped down hard.

The other SLR lenses that were also evaluated for flat fields on the Sony a7R were the Olympus G-Zuiko Auto-W 28mm f/3.5, the Minolta MD Celtic 28mm f/2.8, and the Canon FDn 28mm f/2.8 lens.

Ease of focus at long distances: The center focus point was on the “5610″ street address, on the back of the building. The worst of the bunch for focusing was probably the Canon FDn 28mm lens; it always seemed like either one side or the other was slightly blurry. The Olympus 28mm lens doesn’t have a half-stop mark between f/8 and f/11, which isn’t really focus-related, but it makes the lens feel cheap. The Pentax 28mm lens probably gets the nod here, 1 point.

Lens contrast: Center contrast appears adequate on all of these lenses; this is a subjective call, and it’s influenced by things like changing light conditions, and unequal exposures.

Sides of the images: The Pentax 28mm lens(2 points) takes a narrow win over the Vivitar 28mm lens(1 point). Look at the “5620″ street number, towards the left side of the picture, is it readable? The Olympus 28mm lens has a problem with the left side, which seems to be par for the course for that brand. The Minolta MD Celtic 28mm lens is weak on both sides, with the left side being slightly worse. Don’t look at Minolta for a clean 28mm legacy prime, for full-frame sensor use.

Center of the images: The 36mp Sony a7R seems to favor the centers of every lens that it sees. Would there be more substantial differences between the lens center areas of these photos, if a higher density crop sensor camera was used for this testing? The biggest center failure was with the Oly, but it’s not by much, possibly even in the realm of a slight mis-focus. You have to look hard to see it.

Summary: SMC Pentax-M 28mm f/3.5, all the way. In addition to everything else, it could have the smallest amount of CA. The Vivitar 28mm f/2.0 lens is the winner of the consolation round, at least so far. Both copies of that lens showed very slight out-of-focus areas at wider apertures, at the same spots. We’ll take a look at more apertures than just f/10, with both of those lenses, at a later date. Brands to avoid in the legacy 28mm focal length are the losers here; Canon FDn 28mm f/2.8, Olympus due to unreliability(3 out of 3 build quality failures for this author), and all of the legacy Minolta 28mm prime lenses, except possibly the f/2.5 version, which has a problem with yellow glass. That radioactive yellow tint should be fixable with UV light, similar to what you would do with the old Pentax 50mm Takumars.

What is the next step? Locate and test a Pentax 28mm f/2.8 lens; they are reputed to be slightly better than the slower f/3.5 Pentax lens that was tested here. The unfortunate problem with some of these legacy 28mm lenses is the fact that multiple brands only offered five aperture blades in their camera lenses, which can make for some funky bokeh at certain times. In general, though, 28mm is a big step up over 24mm lenses, on the Sony a7R.

Here is the test image, it’s about 21mb in size, **be sure and view it at 100% size**:


Dan Euritt