Comparing Standard Lenses

Since I found myself with quite a few lenses with focal lengths around 50mm, I thought it would be fun to compare them at different apertures, in wholly unscientific way. This blog post is the result.

Since the maximum apertures range from 1.2 to 2.8, this is going to be a bit of a mess presentation-wise.

Grouped by lens

Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50/2.8

The smallest and oldest of the bunch. According to the serial number, it was built between 1951 and 1958. The aperture mechanism is a bit unusual, as it is a preset aperture design. But the aperture is de-clicked and sports a whopping 12 blades.

Sony 50/1.8

This is the only autofocus lens in this test, it’s Sony’s version of the “nifty fifty”. Of all the lenses, this is probably the most boring one.

Minolta Rokkor 55/1.7

The first vintage lens I ever used on the Sony A7III, which made me fall in love with the concept and started the whole lens collecting obsession :-D.

Canon FD 50/1.4

This has come to be my favourite walk-around lens. The haptics are great, and the aperture has half stops, so it doesn’t straight from 1.4 to 2.0.

Yashinon 50/1.4

Bought at the same time as the Canon 50/1.4, this lens has unfortunately been overshadowed by its Canon sibling and not seen as much use.

Konica Hexanon 57/1.2

The current highlight of my collection, it’s a big hunk of glass and metal, and even at 1.2 it’s reasonably sharp…if you manage to hit your focus point, which is not the easiest thing when shooting wide open.

Grouped by aperture

1.4

2.8

5.6

Conclusion

I’m not really an expert, so take this conclusion with a grain if salt. But to me, none of theses lenses come off as really “bad”, I’ll happily shoot with any one of these. With the possible exception of the Sony, which I’d only use if I absolutely have to have autofocus capabilites.

Otherwise, I have found that taking the time to focus manually has a somewhat calming and meditative effect on me.

So, in the end, if you manage to get a good copy of either one of those lenses, I think you’ll enjoy it.

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