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05-03-2013, 11:39 PM   #1
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Pentax SMC vs Tomioka Prime Lens Normals 50mm & 55mm

After some serious lens buying and testing aka LBA I have collected my fair share of classic fast fifty manual primes.
So far I have the following
Pentax SMC K50 1.4
Pentax SMC K55 1.8
Mamiya Sekor 55 1.4
Mamiya Sekor 55 1.8
Sears Auto 55 1.4
Chinon MC 50mm 1.4 (arriving in the mail soon)
Auto Takumar 55 1.8
Auto Rikenon 50m 1.7
Pentax M 50mm 1.7


I wanted to take a moment and share a few of my discoveries regarding bokeh and what not of the Pentax glass vs the Tomioka lenses, in this case specifically the 55mm 1.4 Tomioka lens.
First off, every lens listed is a fantastic piece of glass in my humble opinion. I happen to believe all the lenses listed above are either Pentax or Tomioka designs, although I have no proof other than my observations of the similarity in the design and build of the lenses as well as what I've read online. Reading and researching many "lens tests" across the Internet, comparing the Tomioka lenses against the Pentax counterparts, it seems the Pentax/Takumar lenses usually win the test reviews in sharpness and contrast.
I find this to be a very accurate representation.
Today I snapped a few shots in the yard with my Pentax k55 1.8, probably the best all around lens I have tried to date, and followed with the Auto Sears 55mm 1.4 ( A huge beautiful chunk of glass).
My feeling between the Pentax glass compared to Tomioka is that if one is judging by tests of Sharpness, Contrast, Creamy Bokeh, Low Aberrations, Corner Sharpness, and Lower CA then most often than not, Pentax lenses are as solid and technically sound as they come. However, the Tomioka lenses while in my eyes slightly and I do mean slightly seem lower in this regard, have something completely alluring about them.

Here is a picture of the rock solid picture quality from the K 55 1.8 @f2


the Sears 55mm 1.4 @ f2

the K 55 1.8 @f2

the Sears 55 1.4 @f2

the Pentax M 50mm 1.7 @ f1.7

the Sears 55 1.4 @f1.4


Again great lenses in their own regards and I'm glad I have choices to shoot with. When I grab a lens to mount, I feel its choice of unique artistic beauty of the Tomioka or the surgical precision of the Pentax.
I hope this will help anyone looking for a quick comparison of these two fine makers.
Feel free to chime in too.
Cheers...

05-04-2013, 01:21 AM   #2
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Loving the images from the Sears
05-04-2013, 02:01 AM   #3
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the Sears have a rounded bokeh like the helios 44, but less prononced.
05-04-2013, 03:38 AM   #4
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I notice the Sears 55 has a wider field of view than the K55 in each shot, were these taken hand held or are they tripod mounted examples? If handheld disregard, If tripod is the Sears maybe shooting at a smaller focal length than 55? I know the M50 shouldn't be tighter framed than the 55, and must have been reframed. I ask because I like to understand the parameters in play when looking at comparison shots like these.

05-04-2013, 08:07 AM   #5
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Hand Held

All Shots were taken hand held. It's not really a perfect test, but does give enough of an idea of what the differences one can expect from these lenses at wider apertures. Also I have noted the slightly swirly bokeh coming from all the Tomioka glass, probably most pronounced in the Rikenon 1.7 and least from the Mamiya Sekor 1.4 55.
05-04-2013, 11:29 AM   #6
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Thanks for the response to my question. One reason it could be a factor is when comparing different lenses trying to decide which is more pleasing it can help to keep the variables down as much as possible. In this case the framing or composition differences small as they may be may weigh into the process of determing ones preference. As this is a subjective comparison it is already hampered by personel biases. It is less a criticism as it is an observation. I know you are freely providing this data and I appreciate that, again it is me just trying to understand the process.
05-04-2013, 12:06 PM   #7
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I have several of the lenses on your list and like them all, though the Sears (Rikenon) 55/1.4 is not one of my favs. It is prone to hot spot reflection onto the sensor. In my opinion, the Auto Rikenon 50/1.8 is a much nicer optic, all round.

BTW...although you included the Mamiya/Sekor 55s on your list, Ron Herron (Mamiya guru) says that Mamiya made their own lenses. I have corroborated that statement with a local Mamiya tech who worked in the factory during he period when this stuff was being made. The M/S lenses have similar design and may even share some parts with the Tomioka stuff, but the Sekor designation (equivalent to Takumar) says it all. (Japanese makers dipped into the same parts bins for many parts.)


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 05-04-2013 at 12:13 PM.
05-04-2013, 12:32 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
BTW...although you included the Mamiya/Sekor 55s on your list, Ron Herron (Mamiya guru) says that Mamiya made their own lenses. I have corroborated that statement with a local Mamiya tech who worked in the factory during he period when this stuff was being made. The M/S lenses have similar design and may even share some parts with the Tomioka stuff, but the Sekor designation (equivalent to Takumar) says it all.
I've had a few of these lenses, there are even at least two different optical formulas. One with a flat rear element and one with a convex rear element. No doubt Mamiya was making some of their lenses but there are identical lenses sold under different names. I doubt Mamiya was making all of them. The Sekor designation doesn't mean production wasn't farmed out.

Tomioka, Zeiss, Mamiya and 55/1.4 design.

Mamiya Auto Sekor 55mm f1.4

05-04-2013, 05:54 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mattco26 Quote
I've had a few of these lenses, there are even at least two different optical formulas. One with a flat rear element and one with a convex rear element. No doubt Mamiya was making some of their lenses but there are identical lenses sold under different names. I doubt Mamiya was making all of them. The Sekor designation doesn't mean production wasn't farmed out.

Tomioka, Zeiss, Mamiya and 55/1.4 design.

Mamiya Auto Sekor 55mm f1.4
Mamiya had their own lens factory and is one of the oldest and most respected camera makers in Japan. By the mid-1960s they had been making their own lenses for 20 years and it was well-know at the time that the Sekor lenses were an in-house product. Why farm out a core product when you own a farm?

I am familiar with the linked threads. As noted by the participants, most of the comments are speculation. What is well known about Japanese lens (and camera) production through most of the 1960s and into the 1970s is that many parts including lens barrels, focus rings and such, were sourced from common suppliers. What is also well know is that very few of the optical designs were considered proprietary and that most fast 50s shared common design. Things like concave vs. flat vs. convex rear element were variations on a theme and hardly unique to a particular maker.

I have a couple of Tomioka lenses (Rikenon) and one Mamiya/Sekor of the same vintage and the Mamiya/Sekor is a distinct step up in build quality and is a premium product. It it possible that Mamiya sourced their lenses from Tomioka? Anything is possible, I guess, though it is my belief that this particular conjecture falls into the realm of Internet "truth" with a small "t". At this point in history, I am pretty much in the camp with the people in the second thread, that being that a good lens is a good lens, regardless of the label.


Steve


P.S. I notice you are from Portland. The tech at Camera Solutions on Macadam is Mamiya-trained (he CLA'd my 1000 DTL) and worked in the factory. Perhaps you could ask him?

P.P.S. It might be worth mentioning that the concept of patent was somewhat "fluid" in Japan in the late 1960s.

Last edited by stevebrot; 05-04-2013 at 06:06 PM.
05-05-2013, 01:43 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Mamiya had their own lens factory and is one of the oldest and most respected camera makers in Japan. By the mid-1960s they had been making their own lenses for 20 years and it was well-know at the time that the Sekor lenses were an in-house product. Why farm out a core product when you own a farm?

I am familiar with the linked threads. As noted by the participants, most of the comments are speculation. What is well known about Japanese lens (and camera) production through most of the 1960s and into the 1970s is that many parts including lens barrels, focus rings and such, were sourced from common suppliers. What is also well know is that very few of the optical designs were considered proprietary and that most fast 50s shared common design. Things like concave vs. flat vs. convex rear element were variations on a theme and hardly unique to a particular maker.

I have a couple of Tomioka lenses (Rikenon) and one Mamiya/Sekor of the same vintage and the Mamiya/Sekor is a distinct step up in build quality and is a premium product. It it possible that Mamiya sourced their lenses from Tomioka? Anything is possible, I guess, though it is my belief that this particular conjecture falls into the realm of Internet "truth" with a small "t". At this point in history, I am pretty much in the camp with the people in the second thread, that being that a good lens is a good lens, regardless of the label.


Steve


P.S. I notice you are from Portland. The tech at Camera Solutions on Macadam is Mamiya-trained (he CLA'd my 1000 DTL) and worked in the factory. Perhaps you could ask him?

P.P.S. It might be worth mentioning that the concept of patent was somewhat "fluid" in Japan in the late 1960s.
QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I am pretty much in the camp with the people in the second thread, that being that a good lens is a good lens, regardless of the label.
I'm with you there. I just wish there were some sort of production records so we could put all of this to rest at some point. The reason I say that some lenses marked "Sekor" could have been farmed out is that there are some fairly crappy 28mm lenses that seem to be identical to other brands and don't share any components with other Mamiya lenses. I would think that the Mamiya branded 55mm 1.4 was made by Mamiya, but the versions branded differently could have been license built by someone else, like Tomioka.
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