Which 50mm f1.4?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by tjdean01, May 20, 2013.

  1. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    I'm trying to save some money by buying a legacy lens. Here are my requirements:

    1. Around $100
    2. Smallish (it will be on my portable PM2)
    3. At least f1.8, would pay more for 1.4 or 1.2
    4. SHARP!

    I've done some reading and have found a few 50mm f1.4s that I like: Olympus, Minolta, & Pentax. Any idea which of these would be sharpest? I've heard the Pentax but the Min & Oly seem easier to find. Any of the focus closer?

    Also, for the Pentax I'd use an M42-m4/3s converter. OM-Mount converter for the Olympus. Any links to a high quality converter that isn't going to damage the mount on my beloved PM2 would be appreciated. Thank you! :)
  2. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Mike Aubrey
    Another option would be:

    Konica Hexanon AR 50mm f/1.7 or f/1.4
    Canon FD 50mm f/1.4

    I've heard that Canon FD is sharper than the Canon EF 50mm, but I've never actually seen a comparison, so I can't say. The two Konica 50's are also well-known for being very good. I have the f/1.7 and really like it.

    Some fast fifties image threads:
  3. Dan Lopez

    Dan Lopez Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 12, 2011
    Have you considered the canon fd 5Omm f1.4? It's really sharp when stopped down to f2 and at 1.4 the bokeh is really nice. I have one for sale and it's within your price range so I thought I'd mention it. For adapters try fotga and rainbow both can be found on eBay, I've used them on my gf1 for a couple of years and haven't had any issues.
  4. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    You can get 1.7s for pretty cheap, twice as much for 1.4s. I would go for the 1.4, you get an extra stop at f2, which will sharpen your image considerably compared to wide open, but still give you good light/dof. A 1.7 stops down to f2.8, which isn't bad.

    Edit: I shoot Minoltas.
  5. RichardB

    RichardB Snapshooter Subscribing Member

    Nov 19, 2012
    Maryland, US
    There's a fair amount of sample variation in these lenses, not just from the manufacturer but also from the way each lens has been maintained over the years and decades, so it's hard to recommend a particular make and model. I suggest you buy two fast fifties, then sell the lesser and buy another, and repeat until you have one lens that makes you happy.
  6. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    I'll start by saying that you really can't go wrong with any of the major brands of 50/1.4 "nifty fifties" - they're all really capable lenses (depending on condition).

    For size, the Olympus OM is probably your best bet although the Konica will have the shortest adapter, so it may be the shortest combo.

    My personal fave (among the ones I've tried) is the Canon FD.

    sent from my phone using the Mu-43 app
  7. juangrande

    juangrande Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 2, 2012
    I just bought a pentax SMC 50 1.7, very clean for $50. I've had the minolta rokkor pg 1.4, and the nikkor 1.4. There a little big and heavy and don't really get fully sharp until 2.8. I've read the 1.7 is the same as far as stopping down but it's about 1/2 the size, like a pancake. We'll see. I had an Olympus 3.5 macro that was tack sharp from the get go. Not as fast but 2 birds/one stone kinda thing.
  8. edmsnap

    edmsnap Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 20, 2011
    Edmonton, Alberta
    I'll join in the chorus... the Canon nFD 50mm f/1.4 is a gem amongst the "all of them are good" vintage 50mm crowd. Incredibly sharp, great colour, smooth bokeh, good construction, great handling, good coatings.
  9. barbosas

    barbosas Mu-43 Veteran

    May 7, 2013
    Any Pentax 50/1.4. They will cost you between 50$ and 100$ depending on version and condition.

    I myself have a K 50/1.4 (the first one) after that you have an M (probably the cheapest) and after that you have the A (it allows aperture to be set from the camera, not really useful on m4/3)

    You can read about them here: Pentax Normal Prime Lenses
  10. Chris5107

    Chris5107 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    My 2 cents

    I will also join the chorus. I bought around 10 or so old 50mm lenses when I first bought my E-PL1 (the 45/1.8 was not out yet). This is not an adequate sample to state any definitive facts but I did gain some perspective by taking them out and comparing them in groups of two or three.

    Here is my slightly informed opinion.

    OM lenses. I had several 1.4 and 1.8 variations. The 1.4s are of higher quality than the 1.8s in general. The 1.4s, however, have variations. The older ones are very soft wide open and even soft at f2.0. Age can be generalized from the serial numbers. Something in the 100,000 range is very old. The newest and best lenses have serial numbers greater than 1,000,000. My favorite 50mm lens was a 50mm f1.4 with a serial number over 1 Million. Something about the warmth of color and sharpness.

    FD lenses. I had several 1.4, 1.8, and even a 1.2 variation. I found these to be very good lenses, especially for the money. These were typically cheaper than the OM lenses and a little bulkier. I tested my FD 1.4 compared to the best OM 50 1.4 and found them to be basically the same by my eye. The OM just looked better on the camera.

    Others. I had Pentax, and others. I found the limited samples I had to be of lower quality than the FD and best OM lenses.

    In summary, my personal favorite is the OM 50/1.4 with serial number > 1 million (maybe I am just an Olympus ****** but I did love the look of that lens). To save some money but retain quality, get a new FD 50/1.4. These seem to be more plentiful.
  11. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    took a little time this morning and shot all the 50's I could find around the house.

    Leica M Summilux
    Leica R Summicron
    OM 50 Macro
    OM 50/1.4 (700000 serial)
    OM 50/1.8
    Contax 50/1.7
    Pentax M42 50/1.4
    Nikkor 50/1.2
    and finally the 45/1.8

    The raw files are posted here


    I shot each lens on the OMD wide open and at 2, 2.8 and 4.0 on a tripod and some off camera flash

    Conclusions?... well all the sub 2.0 lenses ( apart from the very expensive Leica M lens) go dreamy wide open, but quickly sharpen up.

    The Contax and the pentax are my favourites


  12. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    Wow, great guys, thanks for all the suggestions. And KevinParis, please keep your site up. It's very, very helpful! In your samples I find the Olympus the sharpest, but that's just me :)

    I think the pentax SMC 50mm 1.7 is on the top of my list. Maybe I'll buy a few and sell them on if I have one I prefer over the others. One question: Ken Rockwell says this lens is VERY sharp at f2. However, does it click into place at f2? It looks like it jumps from f1.7 to f2.8? Thanks.
  13. juangrande

    juangrande Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 2, 2012
    I'll let you know when mine arrives if someone else doesn't.
  14. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    I've only got my f1.4 handy so I can't check, but I'm fairly sure there are clicks between the aperture marks at half stop intervals.

    With the 1.4 there are half stop clicks for all except the extreme ends of the aperture range f1.4 goes straight to f2 & F16 straight to f22.

    I've never had any complaints about the sharpness of any of my Pentax 50mm lenses - I've got 3 M50/1.7s, a M50/1.4 & an (autofocus) F50/1.7
  15. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    You can safely ignore anything Ken Rockwell says. He may say something useful or accurate by accident once and awhile, but it isn't worth trying to separate those rare cases from the more typical quality of his writing and opinions. Keep in mind, he also actively and intentionally posts things that are wrong just to generate site traffic from all the indignation.

    I have the FDn 50/1.4. It is certainly a nice lens. Bokeh nice and quite sharp stopped down a bit. Like all the legacy 50s it goes a bit "dreamy" (that is, spherical aberration) wide open. I shot it against the 45/1.8 awhile back, you can find full resolution in a DPR album:

    Oly45vsFD50: kenw: Galleries: Digital Photography Review

    In general, if you can afford the 45/1.8 by all means go for that. It definitely does better wide open than all the reasonably priced legacies. On the other hand, you don't have to stop down very much for a legacy 50 to look as good as the 45/1.8.

    And if someone hasn't mentioned it already, E-bay tends to be a horrible place to buy legacy lenses. Condition "inflation" is rampant. I've occasionally gotten a good deal by finding improperly listed items from clueless sellers, but usually it is not worth the effort. Use KEH instead is my advice.

  16. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Ken, thanks for sharing the samples, but I'm not seeing anything in that gallery that indicates which images are shot with which lens. Am I missing something?
  17. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    The EXIF info is properly populated with focal length and aperture. DPR displays that at the bottom of each image page.
  18. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Got it! I did see that data, but I was looking for something that would indicate Olympus or Canon...didn't think of the fact that the focal lengths were different. :redface:
  19. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
    For me it's the Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 (SN 1,108,444) that I picked up for $97 a couple of years ago.
  20. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    This is also one of my all-time favorites. The OP mentioned "smallish" and you will find this lens to be quite light and compact. It also produces really rich colors and contrast, with quite decent sharpness.


    Another one I am very fond of is the Konica Hexanon 50mm f/1.4. A lot cooler in color than the Zuiko (which can be good or bad, depending on what you're after), but noticeably sharper.


    Between these two lenses, I have never found a solid preference. It changes depending on what I'm trying to capture. If I'm going for rich warm colors, I want the Zuiko. If I need that critical sharpness or a cooler clinical look, the Konica. Build on both lenses are great, with buttery smooth action.
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