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Cheap lenses that wowed you...
Old 01-26-2015   #1
jamin-b
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Cheap lenses that wowed you...

My approach is anyone can buy a great bottle of expensive wine, the art is finding the modestly priced gem...

In that vein, I thought it would be interesting to hear what vintage / cheap lens (let's say <$400) you acquired that unexpectedly wowed you with its results...

My list would include:

Summicron-C 40mm
Summitar 50mm
EBC Fujinon 55mm F1.8 (M42)
Fujinon-Z 43-75mm zoom (M42)
Canon 100mm F3.5 (LTM)
Konica Pearl I (120 Folder)
Minilux (p/s) - alas, it's dead...

Wasn't sure where to post this one, so feel free to move to a more suitable section...
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Old 01-26-2015   #2
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The Novar lenses on Zeiss folders and Ikoflexes.
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Old 01-26-2015   #3
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My J12 is the best 35mm lens in my cabinet. And thats saying something as I have some expensive glass in my gear. I doubt all J12's are that good but mine is!
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Old 01-26-2015   #4
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$400 is very expensive lens for me. Even $200 isn't easy to afford.

So, few $50 most recent lenses which I was astonished with results.

I picked up Vivitar 28mm FD mount in 2014 November.
It is very sharp wide open and has nice rendering for wide lens.

Earlier I had and sold OM-10 with Zuiko 50 1.8 and this is $50 nothing wrong and nice in the rendering lens. With more aperture blades it might give a run for much more expensive ones.

And at the end of 2014, beginning of this year I had "experimental" J-8 (50$) which I shimmed for M4-2. Not only it was very sharp, it was contrasty and very first lens which I have seen as something special in darkroom prints. Sold it because I'm collecting money for expensive 50/2...

Vivitar and Zuiko are built very well. J-8 while optic elements are in better condition comparing to more expensive ones from Leitz I have now and in the past, the build is cheap.
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Old 01-26-2015   #5
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Old 01-26-2015   #6
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Good thread.

C/Y Zeiss Panar 1.4, I think they can be had for around $250 in ex condition, total bargain and my favourite lens.

Minolta MD 50mm 1.7 and 50mm macro 3.5 MC, each for under $50.

Amazingly I found the lens on the Oly 35-70 stylus zoom really sharp (much much better than the mju i) but unfortunately suffered from frequent circular flare.
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Old 01-26-2015   #7
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Very happy with the SMC Takumar 55/1.8. Not sure how cheap these are as I got mine for free.

Also cheap as chips: SMC Pentax 50/2. Lightweight and nice. I think I paid $18.

But nothing knocked my socks off like the Skopar 7.5cm/4.5 on my Voigtländer Brillant V6. Wide open it is soft (or I'm crap at focusing it critically). Stopped down it surprised the heck out of me. That camera was $10 I think.
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Old 01-26-2015   #8
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Under $400, there are quite a few, depending on when you bought the lens.

Example: while the CV 28/3.5 is going for over $400 these days, they were priced at under $300 when they first came out.

When I first saw the word "cheap," I assumed <$100, so I'm responding with that in mind. Under $100, I would say the Industar 61LD as well as other Industar lenses are excellent. Properly shimmed/adjusted Jupiters would also fall into that category.
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Old 01-26-2015   #9
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Any Yashinon screw mount.
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Old 01-26-2015   #10
David Hughes
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Tokina AT-X 28 to 85mm f/3.5 zoom and it stays permanently on my Minolta SLR. Brilliants lens; I'd heard a lot that was nice about them but it was even better than I expected.

The Summitar was cheap too, by today's standards but is my favourite Leica lens and I've Summicrons and Summarons etc..

I've some P&S's with lenses I'd happily have on the Leicas, too.

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Old 01-26-2015   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greyscale View Post
Any Yashinon screw mount.
was just going to post any Yashica ML series lens !!

The 24 2.8 and the 50 1.4 are just great lenses !!
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Old 01-26-2015   #12
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My bargain 'real' lens is a Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5 Pre-AI that I acquired for $85 including the M extension tube. Very sharp, works perfectly, a little rough looking—good enough that I've spent an added $25 to have it AI-modified for use with later bodies.

The bargain 'toy' lens I acquired is a Holga 25mm f8 in mFT mount. It came with my used E-PL1 body ($90 total price). You can get this lens in various mounts for $16 new. It's a remarkably good performer, both as is and if you remove the rear diffusion plate, and produces a lovely soft look with good sharpness in it.

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Old 01-26-2015   #13
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Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5 Pre-AI as well for SLR. Got mine for $10 at a thrift shop.
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Old 01-26-2015   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KoNickon View Post
The Novar lenses on Zeiss folders and Ikoflexes.
There was a time when everyone would jump on the bandwagon to agree with the novars. I know the Novar on the 6x9 I have is really great, but not interchangeable which I think the OP was sort of alluding to.

For me, any <$400 lens would include most Fujinon lenses, at least based on the six that I have; 28 f/3.5, 35 f/3.5, 50 f/1.4, 135 f/3.5, and the 43-75 zoom. I don't consider the zoom so great, but it isn't bad.

Also the M42 Yashinon lenses, but the Yashikor lenses require an appreciation of the artistry of flare.

My only Contax lens, the 50mm f/1.4 is superb. The real surprise to me was a 28-35 Phoenix zoom I got in Y/C mount. That was the real low-priced gem for me, at about $100. A surprisingly good lens.
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Old 01-26-2015   #15
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The Pen-F 38/1.8. It beat the Canon LTM 35/2 in my tests.
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Old 01-26-2015   #16
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Konica Hexanon AR 28/3.5 and 40/1.8. I used both on my Fuji X-Pro1 with excellent results (color).
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Old 01-26-2015   #17
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Black Industar 61. Great for B&W on my Pany G2.
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Old 01-26-2015   #18
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Canon 50mm f/1.8 LTM (chrome)....got it as BGN grade from KEH for $99.

I was surprised at how smooth the bokeh is on this one.
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Old 01-26-2015   #19
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Helios 44-2,
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Old 01-26-2015   #20
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The Yashinons and Yashica ML's for sure.
There is something about those DX coated Yashinon lenses that make them perfect for B+W photography.

The Zuiko 50mm f1.8 and 100mm f2.8. Brilliant lenses. I would put those against summicrons any day.
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Old 01-26-2015   #21
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M42 Super Takumar 55mm f1.8

A lens I will never get rid of.
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Old 01-26-2015   #22
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I've been impressed with the Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM. Cost between $200 - $450 depending on the condition. Great piece of glass.
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Old 01-26-2015   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goamules View Post
The Pen-F 38/1.8. It beat the Canon LTM 35/2 in my tests.
You're right, forgot about the Pen F lenses. I have gotten a bunch of bargains, all of them great performers and tiny - 40/1.4, 25/4, 20/3.5 (which focuses to 0.2m!) and the 100/3.5. All stellar.
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Old 01-26-2015   #24
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Yes, I do like my Canon 50/1.4 LTM -- its on my M2 right now.

*Any* OM lens you're lucky enough to find for cheap will be a "great value".

I also used to love the lens on my old Minolta Hi-Matic E before it stopped working reliably. Absolutely blown away by the results from that "lowly" little camera.

I have and like many of the others metioned here (Industars, Jupiters, Tamron). I guess I'm a happy cheapskate
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Old 01-26-2015   #25
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Early screwmount VC 35MM
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Old 01-26-2015   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wakingmist View Post
I've been impressed with the Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM. Cost between $200 - $450 depending on the condition. Great piece of glass.
Agreed, the 50/1.4 LTM is one of my favourite lenses and I bought my copy for just over $300.

I'd add all of my OM lenses as well (50/1.8 MIJ, 50/1.4 "silver nose", 35/2.8, 28/2.8). All cost under $75 and provide excellent results!
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Old 01-26-2015   #27
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For Film/Adapted to Fuji X...

Nikon 24mm f/2.8 Ais (Paid under $70 because it needed a Mount Claw repair)
... I'd say -1% distortion, and really great sharpness.

Old Soligar 105mm f/2.8 T mount. 15 blade Iris.. (RFF Xmas Gift thread)
made by Tokina, which also offered it under their own label, Great Bokeh, good sharpness, good colors.

Jupiter 9 -Kiev RF- I bought it for $60, and spent $75 on a total overhaul. Sharp, and Zeiss like in the Bokeh... wonderful colors.
(85mm f/2 1953, 3rd version, low number. so, may have some Zeiss Glass in it. 2nd version had both Zeiss and FSU glass)
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Old 01-26-2015   #28
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A lot of great bargains around

One lens that should be on any such list is the Sigma Ultrawide II 24/2.8 - I own one in Minolta SR (MD) mount and in Sony/Minolta A-mount and both are great. The lens is just as good as any Minolta/Canon/Nikon from the same vintage but cheaper.
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Old 01-26-2015   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oftheherd View Post
There was a time when everyone would jump on the bandwagon to agree with the novars. I know the Novar on the 6x9 I have is really great, but not interchangeable which I think the OP was sort of alluding to.

For me, any <$400 lens would include most Fujinon lenses, at least based on the six that I have; 28 f/3.5, 35 f/3.5, 50 f/1.4, 135 f/3.5, and the 43-75 zoom. I don't consider the zoom so great, but it isn't bad.

Also the M42 Yashinon lenses, but the Yashikor lenses require an appreciation of the artistry of flare.

My only Contax lens, the 50mm f/1.4 is superb. The real surprise to me was a 28-35 Phoenix zoom I got in Y/C mount. That was the real low-priced gem for me, at about $100. A surprisingly good lens.
Well, given that he listed the Konica Pearl
I and Leica Minilux, I didn't think we were limiting this to interchangeable lenses only. But if we are, though still not really along those lines, I'll mention the older "silver" Mamiya Sekor TLR lenses, which are really quite good, even if supposedly improved upon by later versions.

I'll also emphatically second the Micro-Nikkor 55/3.5, and endorse any of the AR Hexanon lenses. And I would also nominate the MC-Rokkor line of lenses, which have superb overall optical qualities, are beautifully made, and seem to be really inexpensive these days.
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Old 01-26-2015   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by f16sunshine View Post
The Yashinons and Yashica ML's for sure.
There is something about those DX coated Yashinon lenses that make them perfect for B+W photography...
Yes, and no need for a yellow filter, I think that it is that lovely golden coating.

And the deeply recessed front element makes lens shades largely unnecessary. The Yashica lens shade for the DX lenses is barely larger than a step-up ring.

But my favorite Yashinon M42 lens is the pre-DX Auto Yashinon 50/2 with the semi-automatic diaphragm, introduced around 1960 with the Penta J camera, which is outstanding.

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5499/...68aa13d6_c.jpg
Pentax Spotmatic SPII, Sunny 16, Kodak Portra 160, Auto Yashinon 50/2 by Greyscale3, on Flickr

https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2887/...0d4e1872_c.jpg
Yashica Penta J, Auto Yashinon 50/2, Kodak BW400CN, Sunny 16 by Greyscale3, on Flickr
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Old 01-26-2015   #31
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Rough, thin Tele-Elmarit 90mm - £90 from a dealer! - works superbly if not as smooth as it could be but still delivers excellent images. Not pretty though.
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Old 01-26-2015   #32
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The 40mm f/2.8 lenses on the Olympus 35 RC, EC, and similar can all be had -- with camera for <$100 and super nice.

I like the Rokkor X 45mm f/2 - bought for $25 and use it on a Minolta X700.
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Old 01-26-2015   #33
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The Helios 58 f/2 is my favourite M42 lens. Although I sold all my screwmount cameras, I have kept this lens.

The other lens i love is the silvernose Olympus 50 f/1.4. With a lens hood, it gives fantastic results.
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Old 01-26-2015   #34
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I have to say my best bargain lens is the Pentax 135MM F/2.5 SMC that I picked up for under $230 shipped. And I kick myself for ever selling the CV 40mm f/1.4 in M mount...
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Old 01-26-2015   #35
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People love Olympus OM glass, and for good reason, but the one OM lens that truly and consistently wows me, even compared to my Zeiss and Leica glass, is the humble 50/3.5 macro. Very small size, flare free, distortion free, SHARP, great local and overall contrast, with a smooth transition from in focus to out of focus areas. Plus it does 1:2 macro without extension tubes, making it an extremely versatile walkaround lens. Only drawback is that it is f3.5.

The best thing about it is that it is readily available for <$100, which is not really true for a lot of the best OM Zuikos (e.g. the f2 lenses).
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Old 01-26-2015   #36
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Would love an M Mount Holga lens. Tried to make one once following instructions on DIY site but I don't think I ever finished. Would be fun to throw one on an M9 and play.

I got a Pentax 50/1.4 for free at some point. That lens rocks it. Pretty much the only reason I keep my MX body around but seldom use it since getting into rangefinders. My old K1000 came with a 50/2 that I dragged all over Mexico and took great shots then the camera and lens got stolen. I think the camera with the 50/2 cost me $125 in the early 90s.

Also the CV 28/3.5 bought new was a great value. Still have it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
The bargain 'toy' lens I acquired is a Holga 25mm f8 in mFT mount. It came with my used E-PL1 body ($90 total price). You can get this lens in various mounts for $16 new. It's a remarkably good performer, both as is and if you remove the rear diffusion plate, and produces a lovely soft look with good sharpness in it.

G
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Old 01-26-2015   #37
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58mm f2.0 Biotar on my Exacta and Praktina. Wonderful lens, less than wonderful cameras. Joe
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Old 01-26-2015   #38
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I didn't and don't consider it cheap, but I got my Canon 50/1.5 for less than $400 and am consistently impressed by it.

As far as fixed lenses, I spent far less on my Olympus 35SP (it was missing the button for the spot meter) and the 42/1.7 lens is spectacular. But by far the best price/performance ratio has to be the uncoated 75/3.8 Zeiss Tessar on my $30 Rolleiflex Old Standard.
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Old 01-26-2015   #39
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Industar-22 and Jupiter-8 export, nice 50mm, good builds.
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Old 01-26-2015   #40
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How about a great lens on an inexpensive medium format body?

I nominate the nikkor 75f2.8 on my bronica S2a camera.
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