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10-15-2018, 10:27 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Vintage (Revuenon 55mm f1.2) vs modern (DA* 55mm f1.4 SDM)

Hi everyone!

I shoot portrait, and I aim to gradually move myself from amateur (shooting only friends and family members) to semi-professional. I will not jump right into paid jobs, but I think it's a good time to arrange some shooting sessions with models.

Currently, my main portrait lens is Revuenon 55mm f1.2 (a lens without autofocus) and I am considering to buy DA* 55mm f1.4 SDM.

I am sure that the 55mm f1.4 is an excellent lens, but I am not sure that I should pay 700+ for the image quality alone, especially when the Revuenon is already quite good in term of IQ. So I guess the question is should I pay 700+ for an improvement in IQ plus autofocus?

Essentially I am asking:
  • Generally, do you use vintage manual lenses for professional work? If so, has that ever created problems for you?
  • Specifically, the Revuenon (already owned) vs the 55mm f1.4 (700+), how do you think?
Thanks in advance!

10-15-2018, 10:51 AM   #2
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Welcome to PF, BulletPointMaster.
I cannot comment on the decision but I can say that the DA*55 is a great lens and I am positive you should be able to find it for much less than 700 second hand.
10-15-2018, 11:11 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by sergysergy Quote
Welcome to PF, BulletPointMaster.
I cannot comment on the decision but I can say that the DA*55 is a great lens and I am positive you should be able to find it for much less than 700 second hand.
Hey sergysergy, thanks for your quick reply!

Do you think autofocus matters much in portrait?

Last edited by BulletPointMaster; 11-05-2018 at 04:07 PM.
10-15-2018, 11:39 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by BulletPointMaster Quote

Do you think autofocus matters much in portrait?
It all depends how good you are at manual focusing.

Like with most skills, the more you do it, the better and faster you get at it.

If you are new to manual focusing, then I expect auto focusing with be faster and more accurate than manual focusing.

If you have lots of manual focusing experience, then you may find (like me) that you prefer manual focus lenses.

I've shot manual focus lenses for many many decades. For many years, I photographed wildlife and birds in flight with manual focus lenses. Shooting such fast moving subjects with manual focus lenses are the best way to get really good at manual focusing.

After having shot thousands of photos using manual focus lenses on fast moving subjects, shooting relatively still subjects like portraits with a manual focus lens is easy.

You own and shoot the Revuenon lens. I expect that you are familiar with how to manually focus with it, and I also would bet that you are already pretty fast and accurate with it. I can't imagine any portrait subject would be put off by your taking an extra second or two while using a MF focus vs the time it would take with an AF lens.


Last edited by Fenwoodian; 10-15-2018 at 11:55 AM.
10-15-2018, 12:04 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fenwoodian Quote
You own and shoot the Revuenon lens. I expect that you are familiar with how to manually focus with it, and I also would bet that you are already pretty fast and accurate with it. I can't imagine any portrait subject would be put off by your taking an extra second or two while using a MF focus vs the time it would take with an AF lens.
When using the Revuenon, I use Live View + Focus Peaking.

I previously used K-S2 and its focus peaking was not very helpful.

Now I use KP and it has an additional option called "extract edge" which makes things a lot easier.

After shooting for a couple of days, I can say my hit rate is fairly reasonable. So I can focus accurately, but not fast (I see your point about practice though, so probably I will get faster if I shoot more).
10-15-2018, 01:03 PM   #6
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I like Revuenon 55/1.2. But I think it produses less contast pictures compared to modern (or less modern) Pentax lenses, let's say DA* 55/1.4. The sharpness is very good from f2,0-2,8. The focusing is smooth, so not difficult to focus.
10-15-2018, 07:22 PM   #7
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I have a Cosina 55mm f1.2 - I can never remember which other 55mm f1.2s are related to this. It looks kind of like the Revuenon. Anyway, it has some coma which I think makes it harder to manually focus. It also does not have any click stops on the aperture ring between wide open and f2. I sometimes want f1.4 or f1.7, and I just have to guess. For portraits, I prefer the DA* 55mm f1.4 by far, even if I manually focus the DA*. It is much easier to see the focus transition when I'm using the DA*. The Cosina is somewhat less bulky but they both use a 58mm filter. The Cosina minimum focus distance is a few mm more. The Cosina is usable, but I'd be following DA* prices really close to find a deal.
10-17-2018, 09:21 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
I have a Cosina 55mm f1.2 - I can never remember which other 55mm f1.2s are related to this. It looks kind of like the Revuenon.
I think Cosina 55mm f1.2 and Revuenon 55mm f1.2 are the same lens.

But Cosina 55mm Cosinon MC f/1.2 is a different lens and is the same as Porst 55mm f1.2.

QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
For portraits, I prefer the DA* 55mm f1.4 by far, even if I manually focus the DA*. It is much easier to see the focus transition when I'm using the DA*.
Having said that, do you sometimes use autofocus? If so, have you ever experienced a problem?

I am not actually talking about SDM motor failure (which is unlikely to happen to a DA* 55mm), I am talking about focus accuracy.

Quite a couple of reviews said that DA* 55mm is not accurate and needs a bit of AF adjustment, has that ever happened to you?

10-17-2018, 08:35 PM   #9
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My DA* takes a minute or so to wake up if it's been sitting for a while, so I manually focus when I'm waiting for it. When it does wake up, it is accurate. I use it on a K-5 IIs and just the center point. AF is slower than all my other lenses. I tried to take some photos from a moving car, and the AF was too slow for that. My low end DA 18-55 has faster AF times. For portrait, it should be fine, unless it's fast-moving children.
11-03-2018, 12:37 PM - 1 Like   #10
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The Revuenon 1.2/55mm is the same optic as the Yashinon, Rikenon, Cosina, Vivitar Series 1... but different from the Cosinon and Porst.
If you find a good example (I did) it's quite sharp stopped down and has a fantastic bokeh wide open.
I'd say that it makes sense to buy such kind of lens only if you shoot portraits or you care about out of focus rendering.
If you do, this lens is invaluable.
It's sharper than the Porst and is not plagued by LoCA (bokeh fringing), unlike the Pentax 1.2/50mm.
Maybe the Pentax is a tad sharper, but I can't stand the thick blue fringing that encircles strong out of focus highlights.
Sometimes it can be used creativity, most of the times it is plain annoying.

For general use the DA* is probably better, because it is more flexible and ergonomic.
Though, contrary to what some people believe, there actually is a distinct difference between the bokeh of a f/1.2 lens and that of a f/1.4, especially at close range.
There is more to it than a half stop difference. I found an interesting comparison online, maybe on mflenses.com: the different rendering of the background was clearly visible.
I guess that there is a difference in the optimization of the optic, not just a larger diameter of the entrance pupil.
Maybe f/1.2 lenses were intentionally designed with some more residual spherical aberration...

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