Test of Twelve 50mm Lenses

raid

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I finally managed to do the test of twelve of my 50mm lenses in Leica mount. The test is a comparison of my own lenses and it may not necessarily reflect results applicable to every lens of these types.

Set-up: I used what I had available for use. It is simple as that.
I had my daughter sit on a little stool inside her sister's room and I used the ceiling lights plus one extra source of halogen light with an aluminum foil mat for better illumination of her face. The shooting was done 30 minutes ago (in the evening) with ASA 125 B&W film and a Bessa T camera with cable release on a Gitzo tripod. I used a Pentax spotmeter to arrive at the exposure. A lens hood was used.

Replicate #1: F 2.0 (when possible) and 1/30
Replicate #2: F 4.0 and 1/8
Replicate #3: F 2.0 and 1/60 hand-held photos (added illumination)


Goal: To see whether/how each lens renders a human face for average photography done by every Joe Shmoe.


I have now listed the code for each image so you know which was lens was used. If you want to guess, do not look at the [red] code.

Lenses:

A. Japanese
Trial #
A.1. Canon 50mm/1.2 1
A.2. Canon 50mm/1.8 (Serenar) 3
A.3. Canon 50mm/2.8 5
A.4. Nikon 50mm/2 7

B. FSU

B.1. J-3 50mm/1.5 9
B.2. J-8 50mm/2.8 11
B.3. I61L 50mm/2.8 13
B.4. I61 50mm/2.8 15


C. German

C.1. Rigid Summicron 50mm/2 (first version) 17
C.2. Collapsible Summicron 50mm/2 19
C.3. Zeiss Sonnar (pre-war) 50mm/2 21
C.4. Elmar 50mm/3.5 (pre-war) 23
I hope to have the results very soon and posted here.
 
Last edited:
This sounds like an ultimate test.

You might consider posting the results "blind" for a short time. Let people pick their favorites before revealing lens info.
 
Thank you Raid for doing this. Looking forward to the results! Just for fun, it may be, as Vince suggested, interesting to let us guess at the lenses first. That way someone with a particualr bias for or against a lens model or brand can not use that information to choose, but must rely on the actual results. (Your first paragraph is salient though.)
 
Oooh this is gonna be good. I'm looking forward to seeing results for all those lenses.

Now that you know which ones arent performers maybe its time to start thinning that collection eh?

Nah never too many 50's, right?

-Mitch
 
So far, every lens has been a performer of some sort. This really is my opinion based on past epxerience with my lenses. The only newcomers are the FSU J-8, J-3, and I61 lenses. The rest have proven themselves to be excellent lenses overall. I will try to drop the roll of film by the local lab tomorrow.
 
I need your collective advice on how to set up a poll in this thread for having people guessing which lens was used. It may be too much to ask to consider all twelve lenses at one time. Maybe I could have each time four lenses (Japanese/German/FSU) or any other combination. Maybe I could have then grouped by design (if I can figure out the design for each lens).

Joe: I tried to be "good" during the month of March. The FSU lens (J-8) was purchased either during the last days in February or .....?
 
VinceC said:
This sounds like an ultimate test.

You might consider posting the results "blind" for a short time. Let people pick their favorites before revealing lens info.


I agree with VinceC ... a blind test would be fun. I hope I guess better than I did on my NCAA bracket.

Too bad the Canon 50/1.5 isn't on the list :(

Thanks Raid
 
raid amin said:
I need your collective advice on how to set up a poll in this thread for having people guessing which lens was used. It may be too much to ask to consider all twelve lenses at one time. Maybe I could have each time four lenses (Japanese/German/FSU) or any other combination. Maybe I could have then grouped by design (if I can figure out the design for each lens).

Like March Madness brackets? ;)
 
squeaky_clean said:
Isn't the J8 an f/2? Just curious... And I can't wait to see some of the results. Should be interesting. :)

Chris,
Yes, you are right about the J-8 being a 50/2 lens. I only recently became interested in FSU lenses after I read many positive comments on them and after getting a J-3 lens (50/1.5) that was adjusted by our Brian Sweeney. It performed quite well in the flare test for eight 50mm lenses that i did.
 
Raid, that's an ambitious test and, like everyone else, I'm anxious to see the results. As far as the poll goes, I'm not sure how that can be done other than numbering the pictures and asking which the viewer finds to be the preferred one.

This should be interesting. I'm certain there will be some surprises.

Walker
 
Flyfisher Tom said:
I agree with VinceC ... a blind test would be fun. I hope I guess better than I did on my NCAA bracket.

Too bad the Canon 50/1.5 isn't on the list :(

Thanks Raid

Tom: I don't have the 1.4 or 1.5 Canon lenses or I would have included them. maybe we could pool together a "global test" by having some of you do your own test of the 50mm lenses that i don't have and then we show all results together. This could imply that Joe (who has a Canon 50/1.5), for example, shoot a few shots similar to the one I took (i.e. under artificial light indoors with ASA 100-125 B&W film) and then maybe have someone with a Nikon 50/1.4 do the same. What do you think of this suggestion? We could put together a preliminary test data bank for daily use 50mm lenses.
 
raid amin said:
Tom: I don't have the 1.4 or 1.5 Canon lenses or I would have included them. maybe we could pool together a "global test" by having some of you do your own test of the 50mm lenses that i don't have and then we show all results together.

Raid, I didn't want to intrude on your test so I didn't say in my last post that I've been planning a test of my own with my 50's. I have two Summitars, three Summars and others that you don't list in your test. I also have a couple of duplicate lenses.

However, I plan on using B&W and I'm not sure I can duplicate your setup. I was looking at three shots with each lens; two for resolution/sharpness/contrast and one of a general scene. I've not determined the particulars which is why it remains in the planning stage. There's also the matter of my income tax preperation......... :bang:

Walker
 
Walker,
This is great! No need to duplicate things; I just thought it is easier for people to compare results when the film is B&W in all cases (or color in all) and when the light is either natural in all photos or artificial in all photos. I am worried that my own test may be flawed and the results not good, but hopefully the roll of film will come out well.
 
Great job Raid! I always look forward to your lens tests. I know part of it is the fun in discovering the limits that a lens runs into under extreme conditions. Thanks for all your hard work.
 
I will try to re-do the test with color film, but outdoors and with a twist to the test. Maybe I will take average lit photos at F8-11 and just see if it is possible to observe any differences at such small apertures outdoors. I typically use F8-11 anyways when outdoors with the Florida sun. Most likely, you won't be able to see any differences at all.
 
I just finished the color test with f stop 4.0 and shutter speed 1/1000 for the lenses. I will try to post tonight the color results.
 
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