Say Hello to my Little Lens (4mm-300mm in 7 tiny lenses)

Joined
Oct 3, 2020
Messages
23
I have experimented with some of the less expensive but tiny m4/3 lenses over the years, and found I never really used them. Recently I realized they didn't fit my "lens paradigm," in other words I would take three great lenses and one tiny cheapy, and Surprise! I would never use the cheapy. Then I thought "what if I had a collection of cheapy lenses? They would all match, and thus all get used." I set out to develop a collection of tiny and relatively inexpensive lenses (all <$200, average about $120), along the theme of 35mm /2 , 35mm x2 with a little leeway on either side.

From left to right:
Laowa 4mm f/2.8 210 Degree Circular Fisheye
Olympus 9mm f/8 Bodycap
Olympus 17mm f/2.8 Pancake
7Artisans 35mm f/1.2
Schneider Robot Royal 75mm f/3.8 (adapted)
Spectra 140mm f/4.5 Duo-Focus (adapted)
Tokina 300mm f/6.3 Mirror

If any one has a suggestions on tinier alternatives I am all ears! I am especially interested in a smaller ~140mm, or a ~150mm of the same size. Perhaps the most obvious is a Pentax 110 70mm f/2.8, but for whatever reason decided I wanted a variable aperture with the Robot, and the sizes are similar. The Robot lens might be too high quality to fit the theme though.
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OK, so only 5/7 are native, pretty close.

And for reference, here are my Laowa 7.5mm f/2, Panny 15mm f/1.7, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, and Sigma 56mm f/1.4 so you can see just how big regular m4/3 lenses are :laugh:. Thanks to a small amount of perspective distortion they are even bigger than they look!
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Joined
Oct 3, 2020
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23
Right Samples :D I will try to do a short write up on each, with samples if possible, starting with 300, because it is chipped so the camera knows which one it is, which is very useful for setting IS as well as EXIF. I was honestly planning on saying more than my first write up but ran short on time. BTW the Tokina 300 mirror has a sample image thread on this site, I think. I may end up triple posting some of these!

The Tokina 300mm mirror has been around for a pretty long time now, and is tiny because it was designed around the m4/3 sensor. AFAIK it is only sold in the Japanese market now, and is not the same design the Samyang going around now; it is slightly smaller and has more elements (but that is all I know). Surprisingly it has been my most used lens of the 7, when I get bored I enjoy picking of little scenes in the distance. I guess I have been telephoto deprived recently :p.

I have been often shooting my fun lens collection in square format because, well it is fun, and many of the lenses come off the better for it. The 300 gained a lot from my switch to Em1.3 from Em5.1, much easier manual focus with the better viewfinder, and better IS. It can be a frustrating lens to diagnose blur: is it lens shake, atmospheric distortion, missed focus, just an unsharp lens, or often some combination or all of the above? Focus is surprisingly finicky considering how many hand twists it takes to get anywhere. At its best I doubt it has much advantage over a telephoto 40-150 or 45-200 kit lens using in-camera electronic teleconverter. I have low expectation for the results, so I am free to shoot without care! But it is optically the least impressive of the 7, I would guess.

Unimpressive samples resized by site. Others need to wait...
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jimr.pdx

Mu-43 Top Veteran
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Jim R
The Pentax M 135/3.5 is pretty small, definitely thicker, and a bit faster. Doesn't look like a spaceship though :)
Also I can say the Zonlai 50/1.4 would fit your team if you 'need' a 50!
My 20/1.7 just departed, but next month I hope a taller TTArtisan 17 will sit to the far left.

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Here's my baby kit with less range, and 45-150 at right for scale: TTartisan 35, Zonlai 50, Opteka 85 (NikF), Pentax 135.
Front row is BCL9 and my 10mm extension tube for quick close-ups.


EDIT - for $250± used it would be hard to outpoint the Pentax DA 70/2.4, nearly a pancake & exquisite construction!
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Last edited:
Joined
Oct 3, 2020
Messages
23
The Pentax M 135/3.5 is pretty small, definitely thicker, and a bit faster. Doesn't look like a spaceship though :)
Also I can say the Zonlai 50/1.4 would fit your team if you 'need' a 50!
My 20/1.7 just departed, but next month I hope a taller TTArtisan 17 will sit to the far left.

View attachment 884216
Here's my baby kit with less range, and 45-150 at right for scale: TTartisan 35, Zonlai 50, Opteka 85 (NikF), Pentax 135.
Front row is BCL9 and my 10mm extension tube for quick close-ups.


EDIT - for $250± used it would be hard to outpoint the Pentax DA 70/2.4, nearly a pancake & exquisite construction!
View attachment 884217
It is pretty astonishing I did not end up with a Pentax lens, the 110 18mm and 70mm are the most obvious contenders, as is the DA 70 f/2.4. All of those are very strong contenders in fact. For the 70mm DA, I can say that the Pentax flange distance is very, very large and a m4/3 adapter doubles the size of the lens or more. Also, when I was looking it the price was a little high, my adapted Robot was about $100 less, because the Pentax is a fully functional lens with a current mount. For some reason I also did not go for the 110 70mm, partly a result of wanting an adjustable aperture, and partly low availability when I was looking. For the 110 18mm, no good reason really, I had never yet adapted a lens and went with the native Oly pancake, though it is profoundly uninteresting. The 110 18mm in particular may still get a day in the sun!

I thought about adding a 50. A few thoughts I had:
+My lenses are all in multiples of 2x, to within 10%, to limit the amount of thinking I had to do. Also to limit the number of lenses :love:. Much as I love small lenses of all types for their own sake, there is only so many I need to store or lock up money in!
+It would be fun to also add multiples of 25mm, alongside my multiples of 35mm, I could have one-stop framing from 4mm to 400mm!!!
+But, tiny 12mm and 6mm lenses are hard to find, for 12mm I probably would nee a pinhole lens and there isn't much in 6mm. Also 100mm, 200mm, and 400mm seem disproportionately large across all mounts (there are some tiny 90s though, but to close to 75)
+There are a few choices for tiny 50mm's! There were even some collapsible 50mm rangefinder lenses, though not so tiny mounted to m4/3.

Pentax 135/3.5 comments in next post.
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2020
Messages
23
Review of Spectra Duo-Focus 140mm:
This lens was sold under many names, and was mostly marketed as a 135mm! My research showed it was actually the same lens as https://www.mu-43.com/threads/tamron-duo-tamron-135mm-f4-5.87730/ It even came with the attachable teleconverter! This is the lens which put Tamron on the map.

I think the biggest reason I selected it is vanity over calling it a 140mm, and hoping that it might give slightly tighter framing than most 135mm's. I have a helicoid focusing adapter attached, which is why it looks so huge in the photo. But the helicoid gives it much more powerful close-ups than the native design did.

Mine is a very uncontrasty lens, it does not play well with my standard processing. However it makes perfectly fine images otherwise, a clear step up from the mirror lens and maybe not far off most telephoto kit lenses in this range.

It is unfortunately seldom used, I almost always prefer the much longer 300mm mirror, or the much better 75mm Robot. In my research I found alternatives:
1. Braun Paxette 135mm f/5.6: smallest 135mm ever made (when adapted to m4/3), & second lightest, image quality fairly ok
2. Fujita 135mm f/4.5: lightest 135mm ever made, second smallest, image quality meh
3. Tamron Twin Tele, the lens I have, third smallest and lightest, image quality better than Fujita, who knows about Paxette
4. Pentax 135mm, fourth place, common and quality, small for a 135mm but not extremely small
5. A rangefinder 150mm, which are often slender but are much longer

I think it will eventually get replaced by 1. or 5. above, as I currently get little use from it. I struggled to find worthwhile samples, which is ok because I posted in the native lens forum.
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Oct 3, 2020
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Schneider Robot 75mm Review:
Yes it is a famous lens brand, but it was marketed as a traffic camera lens. It has 4, yes four, aperture blades. It is tiny. The aperture is f/3.8 at most. It was like $110 plus shipping. I quickly realized this is one of the best lenses I own, maybe the best, ahead of the Oly 12-100 at 75mm f/4, and maybe even better than the Sigma 56mm. It has resolution that very obviously exceeds my 20MP sensor, it is contrasty, but it is smooth, but it makes textures pop! The 4 blade aperture is not at all detrimental to the out-of-focus quality, which also seems to be among my better lenses. I can generally pick it out from my other lenses on screen in thumbnail images, which is a point to my observation "you need to pixel peep to tell the difference between a "meh" lens and a good lens, but you can tell the difference between a good lens and a great lens from the thumbnail image." I think it runs a little warm.

It is the only of the 7 lenses I have reached for instead of my "main" lenses when I wanted to really get a good photo (first image).
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I though it would be fun to make 4-point stars, but it isn't that fun, and they aren't very impressive until f/16 or ideally f/22.
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Oct 3, 2020
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On to the 7Artisans 35mm f/1.2:
I haven't used this lens much, and it is hard to figure out which photos were taken by it without EXIF; both because it overlaps strongly with other options including my Sigma's. So I didn't come up with many samples. It is a tiny lens, and very fun to use.

This lens is comically bad in the edges at f/1.2 when focused near infinity. It stays bad at the edges even at f/5.6 and infinity focus, though a lot less bad.
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It is much better at close focus, and I would not hesitate to use it then
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Oct 3, 2020
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All very nice, but what if you'd want AF lenses? 🙂
Olympus 9-18mm
Olympus 75-300mm
Somebody's tiny kit zoom
Panasonic 20mm f/1.7
Maybe Olympus 45mm f/1.8?
Laowa 4mm fisheye still, even though it is manual focus it is very hard to miss
More convenient, with similar image quality!

It would be nice if there were a few more autofocus primes though, almost all we have are between 12mm and 45mm, which is not even two multiples of two. A 10mm pancake, or any 10mm, would be great. 4-10-20-45-75orsoon100-200+2xTC would be a big range, though larger and more expensive.
 

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