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07-23-2016, 01:58 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Interesting lens statistics from the late 70's

Found some interesting sales percentage by focal length in a photo magazine from 1979. This is from japanese manufacturers.


Shorter than 25mm: 0.9% (I'll bet 90% of those are 24mm)
28mm: 8.5%
30-35mm: 3.6%
50-55mm: 67% (!)
80-105mm: 1.7%
120-135mm: 5.6%
Longer than 150mm: 5.6%
Tele zoom: 5.5%
Wide-angle zoom: 3.7%


Of course nowadays people have most of this covered by zooms. Zooms have probably more than 90% of the marked. Anyway, I think this can tell us what focal length people actually use; also today.

Vintage super wide angles are very rare cause there weren't many sold. Short telephotos is also not that common. It also explain the vast numbers of vintage 50mm lenses out there

07-23-2016, 02:04 PM   #2
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I have a page from a 1980's Pentax magazine ad that states that only 37 copies of the A-series 15mm F3.5 would be sold each year. So yup, rare

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07-23-2016, 04:25 PM   #3
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Good stuff!

Stats would support the traditional film kit of 28mm/50-55mm/135mm.

Phil.
07-23-2016, 11:05 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pål Jensen Quote
Found some interesting sales percentage by focal length in a photo magazine from 1979. This is from japanese manufacturers.


Shorter than 25mm: 0.9% (I'll bet 90% of those are 24mm)
28mm: 8.5%
30-35mm: 3.6%
50-55mm: 67% (!)
80-105mm: 1.7%
120-135mm: 5.6%
Longer than 150mm: 5.6%
Tele zoom: 5.5%
Wide-angle zoom: 3.7%


Of course nowadays people have most of this covered by zooms. Zooms have probably more than 90% of the marked. Anyway, I think this can tell us what focal length people actually use; also today.

Vintage super wide angles are very rare cause there weren't many sold. Short telephotos is also not that common. It also explain the vast numbers of vintage 50mm lenses out there
The stats show people actually used at time but one must understand why:
- 50mm lenses where bundled in the kit... And I think that back in time as of today a good share of people never buy a lens outside a kit. i read somewhere that it is more than 50% of DSLR buyers today.
- 50mm lenses are the cheapest offering with a wide apperture.
- wide angle larger than 28mm where very expensive for the few available.

You got that 50mm bundled in the kit anyway for a very low price. If you addonly 1-2 prime(s), each one adding a steady sum, you'd want them to give quite different field of view. You'd take 28-50-135 rather than 35-50-85.

My father had exactly that in fact: M28 f/2.8, M50 f/1.7 and M135 f/2.5... And he got some 2X TC so he could do 100mm and 270mm...


Last edited by Nicolas06; 07-23-2016 at 11:11 PM.
07-24-2016, 03:23 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pål Jensen Quote
sales percentage by focal length in a photo magazine from 1979.
Bear in mind that this was a time when virtually all ILC had a film format with a diagonal of 43mm ("normal") before you read too much into it.

Considering FL without reference to format doesn't say that much.

APS-C with a "norm" of 28mm was far in the future.

Last edited by wildman; 07-24-2016 at 03:36 AM.
07-24-2016, 03:42 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
Bear in mind that this was a time when virtually all ILC had a film format with a diagonal of 43mm ("normal") before you read too much into it.

Considering FL without reference to format doesn't say that much.

APS-C with a "norm" of 28mm was far in the future.
And there still likely more 50mm primes sold than 28mm primes regardless of the format
07-24-2016, 04:00 AM   #7
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In the manual focus film SLR era if you only had one lens it was a "normal" lens - 50-58mm. f/1.7-2.0 were the budget models, f/1.4 if you had pretensions of being "serious". f/1.2 if you had deep pockets.

The well rounded kit included:
a normal lens (50-58mm) see above
a wide angle prime (35mm 28mm or 24mm) depending on your budget. The 28mm being the most common and usually in two or three tiers in speed offerings from f/2.0 to 3.5 depending on how much you wanted to spend.
A short telephoto in the 100-150mm range - 100 and 135mm being the most common. 85mm was considered a specialist portrait lens and was often more expensive than a 100mm or 135mm lens.

So Nicholas06's father had a typical well rounded kit, no doubt with UV or Skylight filters and a small 2 or 4 cell auto-flash.

The first SLR that I bought was a Minolta XG-M with 28mm f/2.8 and 50mm f/1.4 lenses. I soon upgraded the body to a X-700 and added a Minolta 280px flash, Kiron 80-200mm f/4 zoom with a 2x teleconverter. I still have the X-700 and lenses.
07-24-2016, 07:12 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
I have a page from a 1980's Pentax magazine ad that states that only 37 copies of the A-series 15mm F3.5 would be sold each year. So yup, rare
No surprise that Pentax's 15mm was a slow seller: for the time (and to some extent now) it was both expensive and a BIG BEAST compared to almost all 24mm, 21mm, and 17~18mm (offered by Tokina & Tamron) wide angles. Many potential buyers would think long and hard about how often they would use such an extreme optic, and whether the cost and size were justified. I had a 17mm Tokina MF, non "A" lens that I used on an ME Super and LX, that I found very satisfactory, but I balked at the size & price of the 15mm Pentax.

07-24-2016, 07:33 AM   #9
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My first camera when I was really young, maybe 7 or 8 years old, was some sort of a Kodak that my grandmother used pre 1920. I remember it was smallish when folded, and the lens extended out about 3 inches with a bellows of some sort. The viewfinder was two pieces of metal that unfolded on top with two different sized rectangles cut in them that you looked through. But you had to go into a closet and shut the door to fumble around to load the thing. My second was a hand me down Brownie that I didn't like very well. Then I had one of the instant developing Polaroid's of some sort, don't even remember where that came from. I remember that the photos it took looked "soft" to me but wow, not having to wait to get your photos back was awesome I thought. Then the 110 cartridge cameras came next. Easy to load, easy to use. Wow, 4 flash bulbs in a little cube you popped on top, that brings back memories. Had a few different ones of those and eventually settled on a 126 cartridge camera of some sort.


About 1980 I decided we needed a better camera, so I wondered into a real camera store and was simply overwhelmed. I had no idea that they made all this stuff just for taking pictures and had NO IDEA that people actually spent this kind of money just to take pictures. Left that store with a ME Super SE and a 50mm lens. Why Pentax? I don't really remember, but I'd wager that for whatever reason I thought I was getting more bang for my buck compared to the others they had there...which were probably the Canon AE1, the Olympus OM10, and the Nikon FG I suppose. Later I purchased a K1000 body since I already HAD the "50"...and the only other lens I ever felt I needed back then was a Vivitar Series 1 70-210 macro. Never really even thought about a wide angle anything.


A decade later I stumbled on someone locally selling a SMC M28 2.8, M135 3.5, and a M50 4 macro. First impressions were, gosh, I can get a lot more in a photo with this 28...didn't find a whole lot of difference in quality between the 50 macro and the 70-210 in macro mode but the 50 was way handier to use...and I had no clue what to use the 135 for, seemed redundant at the time actually.


The point being that back then, unless you were really a "photographer" rather than just being someone who just liked taking pictures, you never really thought about needing or buying different lenses. They cost a lot and you never knew you even had a need for it.
07-24-2016, 08:01 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by oscaletrains Quote
The point being that back then, unless you were really a "photographer" rather than just being someone who just liked taking pictures, you never really thought about needing or buying different lenses. They cost a lot and you never knew you even had a need for it.
This the case again for most people. Now they have their smartphone that is typically a prime arround 30-35mm FF framing. And it doesn't look that annoying to many. They just want photos, the photo don't have to look good, framed on the wall or whatever.

They see the difference with a great camera but for them it isn't worth the trouble.
07-24-2016, 10:27 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nicolas06 Quote
The stats show people actually used at time but one must understand why:
- 50mm lenses where bundled in the kit... And I think that back in time as of today a good share of people never buy a lens outside a kit. i read somewhere that it is more than 50% of DSLR buyers today.
- 50mm lenses are the cheapest offering with a wide apperture.
- wide angle larger than 28mm where very expensive for the few available.

You got that 50mm bundled in the kit anyway for a very low price. If you addonly 1-2 prime(s), each one adding a steady sum, you'd want them to give quite different field of view. You'd take 28-50-135 rather than 35-50-85.

My father had exactly that in fact: M28 f/2.8, M50 f/1.7 and M135 f/2.5... And he got some 2X TC so he could do 100mm and 270mm...
When I bought my first 35mm kit in 1975 (K28/3.5, K55/1.8, K135/3.5 & KX), Pentax did not offer a 50mm/55mm lens pre-bundled with a body. Some stores may have done their own kits, but Pentax ones came later when the K1000 was released the following year.

You choose your camera then picked your lenses, each was individually priced. The higher priced K50/1.4 was actually more expensive or the same price as many short telephoto lenses. The K50/1.2 was one of the higher priced Pentax lenses.

Phil.
07-24-2016, 10:31 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by gofour3 Quote
The K50/1.2 was one of the higher priced Pentax lenses.
And still is
07-24-2016, 11:34 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
And still is
If you look up the old prices, and then adjust for inflation, the 50/1.2s sell for more now than when they were new.

In 1990 Adorama was selling the A 50/1.2 for $243.95. In 2016 dollars that is $449.89. I've seen it selling for $700 and up on evilBay.
07-24-2016, 11:37 AM   #14
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In 1977 I was given a KX, K50/1.4 and honking big Vivitar flash (283?) that broke fairly quickly.

In 1984 in a work contest I won an OEM-boxed Pentax kit of MESuper, M50/1.4 and AF200 flash and cases. I fairly quickly added an M28/2.8 and M135/3.5 on clearance.

I used that MESuper kit for 20 years, but the 135 got the least use. It always seemed to be either too short or too long.

My wife actually did much better with a Minolta zoom point & shoot that we got at some box store in around 1986. It lasted into the mid 2000's..

Last edited by monochrome; 07-24-2016 at 11:42 AM.
07-24-2016, 03:55 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
If you look up the old prices, and then adjust for inflation, the 50/1.2s sell for more now than when they were new.

In 1990 Adorama was selling the A 50/1.2 for $243.95. In 2016 dollars that is $449.89. I've seen it selling for $700 and up on evilBay.
That doesn't look that expensive... This is an f/1.2 lenses most people got the f/1.7 or f/2 version.
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