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04-19-2008, 06:09 AM   #1
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A quick and dirty 50-58mm lens test

Hi all,

James have borrowed me the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f/1.4 made by Cosina and I decided to compare this lens with my other 50-58mm lenses.

The lenses I own and are included in this non scientific test are as follows:

Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro (by Komine)
Helios-44M-4 58mm f/2
Mamiya Sekor 50mm f/2
SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7
Helios-77M-4 50mm f/1.8

The scene setup looks like this:



Following are the crops at various aperture settings:


To see the 100% crops click here: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2121/2424454327_00e422b3be_o.jpg






To see the 100% crops click here: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3231/2425262590_dbfce25d7c_o.jpg





The Nokton lens has a beautiful bokeh. It looks like it is designed for portrait lens.

I am suprised by Helios-44M-4 wide open compared to Nokton. The Helios is one of the cheapest M42 lenses available today.
The Vivitar 55mm macro is very sharp even from wide open, I just love it.


Anyway I would love to see your comments.

Cheers,

Voe

04-19-2008, 07:08 AM   #2
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holy cow... you've done some very extensive tests ... they look very similar
which is your favourite? ... are you gonna get a Nokton for yourself now ?
04-19-2008, 07:29 AM   #3
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Thank you for the time that you put into the test, very thorough. However, I think you should post a corner test as well, since this is where lens distinguishes itself from each other. Bokeh evaluation would be better if you include some round subject (like the set up from Photozone), and reflective subject (to produce highlight bokeh). Just my thought .
04-19-2008, 04:40 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
holy cow... you've done some very extensive tests ... they look very similar
which is your favourite? ... are you gonna get a Nokton for yourself now ?
Hi,

My favorite is the Vivitar 55mm, not bad sharpness wide open and it is a 1:1 macro.

Bokeh wise the Nokton is arguably the best very close followed by the Pentax lens.

Sharpness wise from wide open the Pentax wins. When stopped down all lenses are more or less the same or very similar.

As for PF or CA wide open (whatever you want to call it) the USSR lenses are the best.

I think overall the Pentax wins.

04-19-2008, 04:54 PM   #5
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Hi all,
I started this test at around 3pm and the sun position was shifting during the whole test this is why you might notice the harsh highlights in the background of the Nokton test.
The test was done on a tripod using two seconds delay and using a remote cable shutter to get rid of any camera shake. I managed to obtain the most exact focus with any lens so I will not do injustice to a lens being out of focus.
To my understanding everything except the sun light was in a controlled environment.
After the test I did not have enough time to inspect each and every crop to see wich one is better but I noticed that in the wide open shots the Nokton did not do better that the Helios, this was the biggest surprise for me. I knew from shooting various subjects that the Nokton has lots of PF/CA (whatever you want to call it) when the lens is wide open. Only when it is well above f/2.8 and further the PF or CA dissapears. Unless the lens is faulty (which I doubt) for me there is no reason to put the Nokton wide open sharpness quality on a level much higher than the rest of the el cheapo lenses.
Bokeh wise it is a different story. Arguably the Nokton has the best bokeh (maybe Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 is as good, but it is a matter of personal taste) among my tested lenses.
Sharpness for the Nokton from f/2.8 and on is getting to a very good level but nothing the other lenses cannot do.

From a quick inspection I can say that even at wide open the USSR lenses do not show any PF or CA but are sharp enough. Not so for the Nokton until f/2.8. The Pentax shows some at f/1.7 but is completely gone by f/2.
At f/1.7 (for the Pentax) and f/1.8 (for Nokton and Helios-77M-4) the Pentax lens has the best sharpness according my eyes and price for this is very little PF. In regards to PF at wide open the Helios wins hands down.
The way I see it stopped down from f/2.8 most of the lenses perform very well, the difference sharpness wise is negligible to the naked eye. The next level which I am not going to go is to run a MTF resolution tests. The result from a MTF test will show the hardly noticeable differences between the lenses which in real world photo shooting is not as important as other factor in photography like light, composition, decisive moment, etc..

Last edited by Voe; 04-19-2008 at 05:01 PM.
04-19-2008, 05:34 PM   #6
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according to Photozone, the Nokton has ridiculous resolution when stopped down
04-19-2008, 10:51 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
according to Photozone, the Nokton has ridiculous resolution when stopped down
Yeah, I noticed this, but really I cannot tell there is much difference between the Nokton and the rest when stopped down from f/2.8.
04-20-2008, 02:57 AM   #8
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Wow, Voe. That was an impressive comparison of various 50mm. Nokton in deed has a nice bokeh for sure. I just felt that nokton's manual focus was somewhat having a long travel that makes spot on focus difficult wide open.

04-20-2008, 04:44 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by roentarre Quote
Wow, Voe. That was an impressive comparison of various 50mm. Nokton in deed has a nice bokeh for sure. I just felt that nokton's manual focus was somewhat having a long travel that makes spot on focus difficult wide open.
Thanks James,

My opinion from having this lens for about a week is that for what it was designed (AFAIK portrait lens) it performs excellent with exceptional bokeh which is different than the FA 77 Limited in a way that the Pentax has a dreamy/alcoholic and very specific in a good way bokeh, while the Nokton has the kind that by the standarts of most bokeh connoisseurs what is expected in theory to be the perfect bokeh is actually put into practice.

Cheers,

Voe
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