Who makes the best ~50mm?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by dav1dz, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    I'm hoping to get some answers from the knowledgeable legacy lens owners here on the forum.

    Everyone keeps telling me about the Konica Hexanon 50mm f1.7 (AR-mount), apparently it's the best 50mm ever made? Any truth to this?

    Lastly, this is actually an important point. Would the Kenko DG extension tubes work if I mount them after the mount adapter? Would it be cheaper to find extension tubes in their native mounts?
  2. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    Pentax Super Takumar 50 1.4 seems to be very highly regarded and pretty pricey. I don't have one. I like the Olympus OM 50/1.8 I have, though if I need more light I use Minolta 57/1.4.
  3. blue

    blue Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2010
    I have had several legacy lenses and ended up keeping the Minolta 50mm 1.4, Minolta 50mm 1.7 and Fuji 55mm 1.8. These are not necessarily "the best" but they work well for me.

    It is perhaps worth experimenting, buying and sell secondhand you will not lose out much and then you'll know which suits you more.

    Konica, Olympus, Pentax all good too - it's a case of finding a nice clean copy in your price range.
  4. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I have a Nikon 50mm 1.8 AIS which is rock solid.
  5. juangrande

    juangrande Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 2, 2012
    Probably the Zeiss Planar 50mm 1.4, but it's pricey. I've got the rokkorx 1.4 and I really like it. Apparently the 50mm is the easiest lens to design, so all of them are sharp. There bokeh and color rendition is the difference. The 40mm 1.8 hexanon is well regarded and cheap!
  6. digitalandfilm

    digitalandfilm Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 18, 2011
    I've heard the same.. go to Manual Focus Lenses and that will have all the answers.
  7. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    Thanks for the link, this answers my question for now. Going to do some more reading.
  8. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    Thats like asking who makes the best chocolate...it depends what you like. The Konica 50/1.7 is definitely sharp but then so is the OM 50/1.8, Minolta 50/1.7, Konica 50/1.4, Canon FD 50/1.4...you get the idea. Each lens has their own look you need to try them out and see what appeals to you. The Konica 50/1.7 is sharp and cheap but I don't particularly like the images it makes. Another person here may LOVE the Konica.

    With fast 50's you will find a lot of them are excellent and the cost is low so you need to experiment with them and see what suits your needs. Try looking at the adapted lens archive and see which images you prefer. That might ep narrow down the field a bit for you.

    Adapted Lens Sample Image Archive - Micro Four Thirds User Forum
  9. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Real Name:
    I won't attempt to tell you which lens is "best", but I will tell you that in my experience the difference between brands/models of manual 50mm primes (given similar apertures) are relatively small. I contend that you'll find more variance in image quality based upon condition than brand (which makes sense since many of these lenses are 40 or more years old).

    If you are looking for some objective data on these lenses, the best resource I have come across is a magazine comparison test of 32 lenses from eight manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Leica, Pentax, Minolta, Konica and Vivitar) from 1977 which is linked in this post. There's a treasure trove of test data there if you want to dig into it.
  10. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    I realized after asking this that I should probably have some defining criteria.

    I want a macro capable lens around 50mm that would do 1:1 with extension tubes that are relatively easy to find. That was the end goal anyway. The Hexanon AR 50/1.7 is just something that came across in Google search results when I looked up legacy 50s.

    So I think I've narrowed it down to these guys so far, let me know what you think?

    Olympus OM 50/3.5
    Olympus OM 50/2
    Canon FD 50/3.5
    Nikon AI 55/3.5
    Nikon AI-s 55/2.8
    Pentax SMC Takumar 50/4
    Minolta MD 50/3.5
    Yashica ML 55/4

    I also read a bit about the Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 50/2, boy is that one an expensive lens.

    This is going to be my first legacy lens so I kind of wanted to get into a mount that allows me to expand in the future. Seems like M42 is the mount back in the day? Seems like there are a lot of lenses available for it.
  11. stingx

    stingx Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 10, 2012
    Weird, NJ
    Real Name:
    Hugh Douche
    Super Takumar 50mm F/1.8 is just pure awesomeness.
  12. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Real Name:
    Oh you want a MACRO 50? That's something totally different then.

    I have the Minolta MD Macro 50/3.5, with the 1:1 adapter that goes with it. It is capable of good macros, but requires solid and steady technique. The only issue I have is that the working distance is a bit too short with the 50mm. I would recommend you find the 100mm version.

    Some examples from the MD Macro 50mm:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vftsai/6889875904/" title="white butterfly by Vincent-F-Tsai, on Flickr">[​IMG]"800" height="600" alt="white butterfly"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vftsai/6812747195/" title="Seeing is believing by Vincent-F-Tsai, on Flickr">[​IMG]"640" height="480" alt="Seeing is believing"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vftsai/7670798562/" title="P1350994-1 by Vincent-F-Tsai, on Flickr">[​IMG]"600" height="800" alt="P1350994-1"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vftsai/7987208229/" title="Bee by Vincent-F-Tsai, on Flickr">[​IMG]"800" height="600" alt="Bee"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vftsai/8021894027/" title="Painted Lady by Vincent-F-Tsai, on Flickr">[​IMG]"800" height="600" alt="Painted Lady"></a>
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  13. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I just sold a Nikon 55 3.5 AI which was tack sharp wide open. One of the the sharpest and cheapest lens that I've used.
  14. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Real Name:
    +1 the Super Multicoated Takumar 50mm f1.4 is the best of all the 50mm lenses I've tried. It is incredible and feels incredible to use as well. Its a relatively inexpensive way of getting similar feel and build quality to one of the m43 Voigtlanders. That said, I always stop it down to f2 rather than shooting at f1.4 so there may certainly be better options for shooting wide open.
  15. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    It looks like most (or all) of these are macros. The same thing applies to these as what i said about the fast 50's...it really depends on what you like. There are going to be differences in price, size, the way these lenses render an image, how they feel in the hand etc. but all are capable of superb results.

    Of that list my favorites (and this is purely subjective but it seems you are looking for recommendations) would be the Super Takumar 50/4 and the Minolta 50/3.5.
  16. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    I asked for a 50mm, but the real use is to get some macro photography out of it. So initially I was looking at a 50mm sub f/2 + extension tubes. Now I'm thinking perhaps a dedicated macro would serve me better.

    Those samples of Minolta MD 50/3.5 are real good.
  17. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Real Name:
    First lens I would consider among 50mm macros is the Canon 50/3.5. It's relatively cheap and easy to find. You should be able to find a very good example including a set of extension tubes which it originally sold with for well under $100. If you want to take it a step further, you can pick up a bellows for probably $20 more.

    The faster macro 50s (e.g. the Oly 50/2 and Nikon 55/2.8) will give you some more flexibility as far as light goes, but they are also going to be heavier and much more expensive. You can figure on spending north of $150 for the Nikon and $300 or more for the Olympus.

    The M42 mount was used primarily by Pentax (prior to their K-mount) as well as by many USSR manufacturers.
  18. Bockeroo

    Bockeroo New to Mu-43

    Jan 8, 2013
    Would highly recommend both the Nikon 55mm 2.8 and Minolta 50 3.5. Both are excellent lenses, with the Nikon probably being my favorite.

    If you are looking for cheaper 50ish the Auto Sears 55mm 1.4 screwmount costs much less relative to other 1.4s and will produce stellar images. It is one of my favorite lenses to walk around with.
  19. JJJPhoto

    JJJPhoto Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    Cincinnati, OH
    Real Name:
    Jerry Jackson Jr
    Well, if you're looking for an analytical way to judge 50mm lenses you can check out the "tested" reviews over at SLRgear.com:

    All Products - SLRgear.com!

    If you go by their blur index charts then you'll probably find the Olympus 50mm f/2 Zuiko Digital Macro for the 4/3 mount (and m4/3 via adapter) is the sharpest of the 50mm lenses they've reviewed.

    By that measurement, you'll also find that the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 ED M.Zuiko Digital is pretty darn sharp ... but that shouldn't be a surprise based on how many of us rave about that lens and post razor-sharp images.

    Still, I've shot a wide range of MF and AF 50mm lenses in the f/1.4-f/2.0 range for various cameras and unless you're pixel peeping they all look pretty darn sharp between f/2.8 and f/4 ... so unless you plan to always shoot wide open it shouldn't be an issue.
  20. veereshai

    veereshai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 12, 2011
    Arlington, VA
    Get the Nikon 55mm f2.8 if you cna. Extremely sharp and pleasing colors. You might have to get an ET as well in case you'd like to get 1:1 mag. One from that lens:

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