Sonntag, 7. Januar 2018

SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4 - as sharp as a razor?


And continue the search for the ultimate normal focal length. This time I got stuck with Pentax again. Pentax is a brand name of Ricoh Imaging K.K., which mainly manufactures cameras and lenses. The name Pentax was derived from the names "Pentaprisma" and "Contax" and originally belonged to the East German VEB Zeiss Ikon, who sold it in 1957 to Asahi Optical. 
In 2008, the Pentax Corporation was taken over by the Japanese group Hoya and since then no longer exists as an independent, listed company. The development and production of optical products under the well-known brand name "Pentax" remained under the umbrella of Hoya K.K. but received. In 2011, the photo division with the Pentax brand was resold by the latter to the electronics and office engineering group Ricoh.
The photo brand (Asahi) Pentax had a heyday particularly in the 1960s to 1980s; later, especially in connection with the introduction and further development of autofocus technology, it lost market share to, for example, Minolta (now Sony) and Nikon and Canon, which currently dominate sales of compact cameras and digital SLRs.
The Pentax 50mm f/1.4 lens is also from this period. It was produced in this model variant in the years 1977 to 1984.
According to my previous experience, the Pentax lenses, especially in the "M" version, are of excellent optical and mechanical quality. Especially the 50mm lens with the opening of 1.4 is no exception. Much known and sold in large quantities was the Pentax 50mm with the initial aperture of f/1.7. I will take a closer look at this lens in one of my next reviews.  A lens with an aperture of f / 1.4 was normally reserved for professional photographers and therefore expensive.
Nowadays many of these once very expensive lenses are available for a fraction of the original price. For my copy, I paid less than 40, - Euro, especially because it has a clearly visible scratch on the front lens. However, this blemish is not apparent in the pictures, even though I very strongly stopped down. The second-hand prices are usually somewhere between 50,- and 130, - Euro today.  This obviously depends on the condition of the lens, but you can make a real bargain now and then.
Enough of the preliminary skirmish! Let's start with the technical data.

Optics: 7 elements in 6 groups
Aperture: f/1.4 to f/22
Diaphragm: automatically, 8 blades
Lens mount: Pentax K-Mount
Minimal focus: 45 cm (= 1,47 ft.)
Maximal Magnification: 0,15x
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.): APS-C: 32°/27°, Full frame: 47°/40°
Filter size: 49 mm
Coating: SMC
Diameter x Length: 63 x 37 mm
Weight: 235 gr. (= 8,3 oz)




Build quality is great as with all the M series lenses and handling is superb - this lens is a pleasure to use. Focus is very smooth and the aperture ring clicks nicely.
As with all lenses from this period, the open aperture as f/1.4 is sharp in the center of the image, but the overall image impression is rather soft and little bit milky. In low light conditions, this is hardly noticeable and the photo appears sharp and rich in contrast.  This is clear from this photo of my Danbo. Even with a wide aperture of f/1.4 the picture quality is excellent and the sharpness very good.  Easily stopped down to f/2.0 or f/2.8 improves the picture quality again, from f/4.0 the whole picture is sharp from corner to corner like a razor.

Sony a6000 with Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4 at f/1.4, 1/60s, ISO 100

The bokeh is very soft and pleasant, as you can see in this photo at open aperture very well:

Sony a6000 with Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4 at f/1.4, 1/250s, ISO 100

Although this lens contains only eight blades, the lights are round, even circles. Very nice sight.
If you take a closer look at photos with an open aperture in good light conditions, you will notice that there are slight purple fringes at the contrast edges. Here's an magnified (100 %) example:

Sony a6000 with Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4 at f/1.4, 1/1250s, ISO 100, 100% Magnification

Fortunately, in the days of Photoshop and Lightroom such ugly blue edges can be easily removed with a mouse click. 
The lens proves to be little sensitive to back light, but you can if necessary screw a lens hood into the filter thread. There are various platforms on the Internet (for example the "electronic bay") various 49mm rubber collapsible lens hood which also fit on the Pentax 50mm lens.
The distortion of the optics tends to zero, at least I could not recognize any. But that's actually typical for most 50mm lenses. 
When the aperture is wide open, there are slight vignetting in the corners. This is likely to occur more clearly in a full frame camera, such as the Sony a7. 
Overall, the Pentax M 50mm f / 1.4 is a very good performer - a lens that can be used as a walk-around lens. In particular, if there is little light to photograph, it can save the situation.
If you can buy the lens for a good price, then take it!
Here are a few pictures from the last weeks, which I shot with the lens:











Donnerstag, 21. Dezember 2017

Asahi SMC Pentax - M 28mm f/2.8 - do you have this lens, your camera dealer will cry.


First of all, there are two versions of this lens. Both are completely identical in their optical design, but the first version has a narrow silver ring over the focus tire.  In addition, the older version, which was manufactured from 1977 to 1982 is a little bit lighter (4 grams) than the successor. Otherwise, the two versions are like twins. 
I'm not usually euphoric, but this lens is really fantastic. Such a small, light part, so sharp and with incredible colors - that is not very common with the old cheaper lenses. Especially not if you have to turn down so little money. Usually you get this piece of jewelry for about 50, - Euro and less, depending on the condition.
But, as always, we'll go in order. So let's start with the statistical data.

Lens Mount: Pentax K (logical)
Aperture: max. f/2.8 to min. f/22
Diaphragm: automatically with 5 Blades
Optics: 7 elements in 7 groups
Minimum focus distance: 0,3 m (0,98 feet or 11,8 inch)
Max. magnification: 0,12 x
Field of View (diag./horiz.): APS-C (55°/46°), Full-Frame (75°/65°)
Filter Size: 49 mm
Lens cape: plastic clip-on
Coating: smc
Diameter and Length: 63 x 31 mm
Weight: 156 g





The feel is excellent, as with all Pentax M lenses. Nothing squeaks or wobbles, the mechanics are processed for eternity. The focus ring has the usual waffle pattern and can be easily and conveniently rotated, the focus path is pleasantly long and precise. The aperture ring engages well audible and can be set well without visual contact after some practice. It should be so.
The lens is very small and looks inconspicuous even with the Pentax-Sony adapter. 
Now the most important thing, the picture quality. I have often read on the Internet that the Pentax-M 28mm at open aperture should be a little bit dreamy.
What is meant is that, except for the sharpness in the center of the image, the result should be a bit soft. I can not confirm this. But it would be possible that there are some quality differences in the lens production in the years 1977 to 1984.
Here for clarification a photo at open aperture and not perfect lighting conditions.


You can see that the sharpness at f/2.8 is excellent from corner to corner, not even in the middle of the picture. Qualitatively this is of course no comparison with Zeiss or Leica. But such lenses cost  hundredfold of the tiny Pentax-M.
In the photo above, you can easily see which beautiful rich colors this lens produces. Vignetting is not recognizable. But that's not surprising with a camera with an APS-C sensor. The bokeh is creamy and calm.  Despite the wide angle, you can set free the motif pretty well. But it is a bit too wide for portraits.
The Pentax-M 28mm should be used as an all-around lens, whether on the full-frame or on an APS-C camera. It is not only suitable for landscapes, but also for street photography or (limited) for avaiable light photography. 
Stopped down to f/11, the lens even produces asterisks at point-shaped light sources. Look here:


Open aperture creates beautiful bubbles, as in the good old German lenses, like Meyer-Görlitz's Trioplan.  On strong contrast edges, however, there are also slight purple fringing. You can see that well from the photo below with the bell. I have not edited this photo separately. However, these discolorations are rather weak and can be removed in Photoshop or Lightroom with just a few clicks.


Let's summarize: the Pentax-M 28mm f / 2.8 is a cheap, very sharp lens with an interesting bokeh and beautiful warm colors. From my side so an absolute recommendation. If you can get it below or close to 50, - Euro, you should definitely buy it. Anyone who can handle adjusting the sharpness manually will not need another 28mm lens. Unless he needs more light intensity. Then you should save and buy, for example, a sigma 30mm f / 1.4.
Here are a few more photos that I shot during the year:


 





Samstag, 7. Oktober 2017

The KamLan 50mm f/1.1 - is the lens worth its money?


In May 2017 the Chinese astonished the hobby photographers with a sensational message: a lens with an impressive initial aperture of f/1.1 was published. For the APS-C sensor and for under 200,- Euro to buy.  On the Internet and on Youtube the reviews fell. There were many passionate advocates and at least very good opponents.  When I heard of the lens and especially the price, I could not resist synonymous and had to buy this great lens.
After I have photographed about three months, I would like to share my experiences with you.

The Kamlan 50mm f/1.1 for APS-C sensors is produced by Sainsonic. The company writes on its website about itself:
"Founded in 2011, SainSonic is a reputable brand and place specialized in 3D glasses, Camera Lens, Cable Connectivity, Home Audio by providing unparalleled selection of products at the very unbeatable price to online shoppers. We are trying to provide a place for people to connect, discuss, buy, and learn about the things that are important to them."
Behind the name Sainsonic hides the Dongguan Sainstore e-commerce Ltd. Company respectively the Dungguan Huazheng Intellectual based in Shanghai.
Chinese and Korean companies have brought many excellent manual lenses to the European market over the past few years and have been able to successfully compete against the expensive Japanese competition. Good examples are the lenses under the company name Samyang, Meike, HandeVision, Neewer or 7artisans. Not always is the quality offered outstanding, but the price-performance ratio is unbeatable.
Originally, China was only an extended workbench for Japanese camera makers. Meanwhile they have grown up and are pushing their own good products onto the world market.
In recent years, Japanese camera manufacturers have been relocating production and administration to Thailand and Malaysia. Only a few products still originate from China or Japan itself.

But let's consider this interesting lens more precisely and start with the statistical data, as always.

Optical construction: 5 elements in 5 groups (multi-coated optical glass)
Blades: 11 circular aperture blades
Dimensions: 4.13 x 3.35 x 3.35 inches (60 x 60 mm)
Apertures: f/1.1 to f/16 (adjustable without stops)
Visual angle range: 31 degree (APS-C)
Minimum focus distance: 0,5 m
Filter thread: 52 mm
Weight: 0.55 pounds (248 grams)
Produced for: Sony E-Mount, Canon EOS m-Mount, Micro Four Third, Fujifilm X-Mount
Package contents: Lens, Lens Hood, Front and rear cap, Cleaning cloth
Corpus and bayonet: metal
Average price: approximately 170,- Euro/ 170 USD




The lens feels very good, even if it is very light and compact. All movable parts are built to high quality and can be operated smoothly.  The clickless aperture ring is a bit of unusual, but certainly a good thing for video.
Anything on the lens is manual, with no electric contact with the camera. However, the timekeeping system (A-Mode) works without problems on modern Sony E-Mount cameras, since the camera measures the light incident through the glasses independently of the lens. The aperture ring is a little bit sluggishly, but this is a habit. The focus path is pleasantly long and you can adjust the sharpness very precisely. Particularly helpful is the good focus peaking from the Sony cameras.
When the aperture is wide (f1.1 to 1.4), the sharpening setting is a bit tricky. Even the smallest movements bring the motif from the sharpness level. Ideally you should work with a tripod or support yourself on a firm foundation.
Let's get to the picture quality.
The most important thing first: Can the large aperture of f / 1.1 really be used?  My answer is yes and no. When the aperture is open, the center of the image or the object of the interest is somewhat sharp.
Here are two examples on f/1.1 that you can enlarge. The first photo is a crop of about 50%, the second picture is 100% from the original cut out. Where the sharpness is, can be seen clearly.



If I want to take a motive off the background, the rest of the picture is naturally out of focus. If I want to have everything sharp, I just have stopped down to f/8. In general the edges of the image are always blurred, even with aperture f/11.
As a rule, you are doing nothing wrong, if you stopped down to f/2 or f/2.8. Then the focus peaking is more comfortable and not every small movement leaves the subject blurred.
Thanks to the supplied lens hood made of plastic, pictures in the backlight are not problematic. The lensflares are weakly pronounced, which can be seen quite well on the photo against the sun.


When the aperture is open, there are clear chromatic aberrations on strong contrast edges, here a photo at f/1.4. Even lightly stopped down on f/2.8 makes these unsightly blue edges disappear as you can see photo below.



I can not find any distortions on any photo. Vignetting even with a wide aperture is not important. This is really a good result for such a cheap lens.
Usually you say: what you pay, you get. Here we actually have one exception to this rule. For relatively little money you get a really good and very fast lens, for which you would normally pay a high three-digit or even four-digit sum.
In summary, I can only recommend this exceptional lens. I have not regretted his purchase yet and would buy it again at any time.
Here are some photos from the last time I have taken with this lens:

Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/1.4 
Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/5.6


Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/8

Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/1.1

Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/5.6

Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/1.4

Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/1.1

Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/1.4 

Sony A6000 with KamLan 50mm at f/2.0

Montag, 7. August 2017

7artisans / Zonlai / Discover HD.MC 25mm f/1.8


The "7artisans" 25mm f/1.8 is a APS-C wide-angel lens for MFT, Fuji-X and Sony E-Mount. Behind the sales name "7artisans" is hidden the Shenzhen Qigongjiang Photoelectric Technology Co. Ltd. based in Shenzhen and founded 2001. As of october 31, 2014 the Shenzhen Photoelectric Technology Co. Ltd. operates as a subsidiary of China Aviation Optical-Electrical Technology Co. Ltd.. Shenzhen is the fastest-growing Chinese city in the delta of the Pearl River, geographically opposite to Hong Kong. Here, the headquarters of many international companies such as Huawei or Hasee. Foxconn also has a great dependency here. The 25mm lens is offered identically under different brands, such as Zonlai, Discover, Kunro or Hengyijja. The 7artisans 25mm f/1.8 for example look exactly like the Zonlai 25mm f/1.8 with a tiny chrome bezel ring added. 
The lens feels very good and can be used excellently. The clickless aperture ring is unusual, especially for pure photographers. However, anyone who wants to make videos with his camera will consider the aperture ring as advantageous. However, the best feature of this bright lens is the unrivaled low price. of 69,99 Euro. At such a price, the buyer really does not expect miracles. We will see in the course of this review whether our fears are right or not.
Let's start with the static data as always:

Optical design: 7 elements in 5 groups
Aperture range: f/1.8 - f/16
Diaphragm blades: 12
Construction of the lens body: aluminium body and copper core
Minimum focus distance: 0,6 ft. / 0,18 m
Weight: 0,31 oz / 143 gr.
Filter size: 46 mm
Equivalent focal length full frame: 37,5 mm




Let's look at what the lens can do. When the aperture is completely open, we find a sweet spot in the center of the image with a sharpness that is surprisingly good. The contrast and the colors are very good, as you can not complain.

Sony a6000 with 7artisans 25mm f/1.8, wide open at f/1.8
Sony a6000 with 7artisans 25mm f/1.8 at f/2.8

Stopping down to aperture 2,0 to 2,8 improves the sharpness and optimal it is then from aperture 5.6 to 8.0. The lens shows at open aperture slight vignetting, but not disturbing. Stopping down to f/2.8 will cause the vignetting to disappear.
The distortions are very small for a wide-angle lens and only interfere slightly with pure architectural images. Here is an example of a Berlin backyard: Note the slight distortion of the vertical lines. In Lightroom I use the profile correction of the Voigtländer 25mm f/4 color skopar.


In the opposite light is this objective very sensitive. There are strong and disturbing flares, the colors fade and the contrast becomes flat. The manufacturer regrettably does not provide a lens hood. The objective itself also has no device to attach a lens hood. So you have only the possibility to screw a lens hood into the 46mm filter thread.


The bokeh is quiet and creamy thanks to the 12 diaphragm blades.
Due to the low minimum focus distance, this lens can also be used to make handsome pseudo-macrofotografies. See input image of this review.
We conclude a final conclusion: The price-performance ratio is excellent. For a price well under 100 $ or 100 Euro you get a lens with high construction quality. Light stopping down ensures good sharpness, contrast and rich colors. When the aperture is wide open, it is possible to release the subject easily. However, because of the purple fringing a post-processing in Photoshop or Lightroom is necessary. At edges with strong contrast, blue or violet lines form. Photoshop and Lightroom, however, offer simple procedures to eliminate purple finging in the new versions of this software. A click and you're gone.
Because of the focal length (equivalent to 37.5 mm full-frame cameras), this lens is a real walk-around lens for everyday use. However, the photographer must be prepared to refrain from an autofocus. Fortunately, the modern system cameras from Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm and Sony have various tools to control the manual focus, for example focus magnifying or focus peaking.
I can only recommend this cheap lens.
Note, however, that imports may be subject to additional costs, such as customs duties and import sales tax, which will ultimately increase by between 20 and 30%.
Here are some photos taken in the past weeks with this lens:

Sony a6000 with 7artisans 25mm f/1.8 at f/1.8