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12-28-2018, 12:49 PM   #1
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Fast "standard" prime for MZ-3

Hi,

I am owning a MZ-3 and the 43mm and 77mm limited. On my trip to Japan I used the MZ-3 with a roll of CineStill 800T and fell in love with how this film renders the lights in Shimbashi. Unfortunately at ISO 800 the 77mm and 43mm are just one stop too slow for sharp, hand held shots. Therefore I am looking for a 1.4 or faster prime in between 35mm and 85mm.

Looking through the lens database I could find some interesting third party choices. Some of them more or less affordable. I can live with manual focus and even with a fixed, wide open aperture if there is a better more modern option (i.e. without aperture ring).

The most interesting ones...


...on the longer end:
Mitakon Speedmaster 85mm f1.2
Samyang 85mm f1.4
Carl Zeiss Planar 85mm f1.4


...in the 50mm standard area:
Voigtlaender Nokton 58mm f1.4
Samyang 50mm f1.4
Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f1.4


...on the wider end:
Samyang 35mm f1.4
Carl Zeiss Distagon 35mm f1.4


The Samyangs are mostly interesting to me as they are pretty cheap and should work just fine with aperture control and manual focus. I lean a bit towards the Nokton 58mm f1.4 as it would be right in between the 43 and 77 but it might be hard to get my hands on one. The Carl Zeiss might be an interesting choice to buy on my next trip to Japan as most of them are sold from there. Would love to hear your opinions on this.


Cheers,
Stefan

12-28-2018, 01:35 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I've owned neither of the following lenses, so, grain of salt with the following;

Ricoh 55mm f1.2 XR: said to be quite sharp wide open with a bit of 3D pop. Seems a little less soft or "dreamy" than other 55 1.2's (like the Porst 55 1.2) and a bit more interesting than Pentax 50 1.2's. This is manual focus, they are not extremely rare, and it seems like $350 US dollars would get you a decent one. I'm watching for one to replace my M 50 1.4.

Pentax FA 50 1.4: Can be purchased brand new right now and there's a lot of them out on the used market. Autofocus.
12-28-2018, 02:47 PM   #3
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The Pentax FA 50 1.4 would be a good choice. I have the M and K 50 1.4 and both are great lenses.

But given the 43 is 1.9, you really aren't gaining that much light until you reach the 1.2, and even then it's not a large jump.
12-28-2018, 02:49 PM   #4
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First, f/1.8 is only 2/3rds of one stop from f/1.4, so bear that in mind.

Second, at ISO 800 what are you shooting that's requiring an f-stop that wide open? Given most lenses sharpness is weaker wide open there are multiple factors competing. The FA 50 f1.4 mentioned is easily at half the resolution wide open that it has stopped down to f2.8. How slow is your steady shutter speed with these scenes? Your have at least 10 stops below sunny 16 if shooting f1.4 and 1/80s (an exposure at 1/80s should yield good handheld results with the fa 77). Plus print film is typically fairly forgiving.

---------- Post added 12-28-18 at 04:56 PM ----------

Might be worth looking for a 3rd party lens that is optically stabilized. Few exist, mostly zooms, all used only. The situation outside of Pentax might be different. Nikon and Canon have film era optically stabilized lenses...


Last edited by UncleVanya; 12-28-2018 at 03:13 PM.
12-28-2018, 03:06 PM   #5
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While I shoot digital, I have 3 lenses among those that you listed:
Carl Zeiss Planar 85mm f1.4
Voigtlaender Nokton 58mm f1.4
Carl Zeiss Distagon 35mm f1.4

All of these are really good lenses, but I found that my usage, from most used to least used, is:
1- Voigtlaender Nokton 58mm f1.4
2- Carl Zeiss Planar 85mm f1.4
3- Carl Zeiss Distagon 35mm f1.4


The VL Nokton 58mm is possibly my most used prime lens, with the FA31 mm Ltd and FA77mm Ltd. The lens is a tank, with an outstanding IQ. Importantly, the VL58mm outshines all lenses in poor lighting conditions, including smoke, fogg, smog, ... as well as low light. I wrote a short subjective comparison between the VL58mm and FA31 mm: FA31mm f1.8 vs VL Nokton 58mm f1.4 - PentaxForums.com.

Several years later, I stand by my summary then:
- the VL58mm is extra-ordinary (IMHO) in poor lighting conditions: e.g., fog, smoke, smog. In these conditions, I prefer the VL58mm (over the FA31mm).
- the VL58mm is superior in very-very-low light when the AF does not lock. The MF ring of the VL58mm is very smooth and easy to use, superior to the MF ring of the FA31mm.
- both lenses are truly exceptional and their IQ is outstanding. The FA31mm is possibly my favourite all-around prime lens, but the VL58mm is not far behind, sometimes superior to the FA31mm.

I strongly recommend the VL58mm. Dare to be different...
12-28-2018, 04:28 PM   #6
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Good luck finding a Pentax mount VL58. Looks like the last one went for $980 on Ebay and there are none currently available although you could Leitax a Nikon F version. If you were Leitaxing there are Contax and Leica R lenses at 1.4. Maybe there is a leitaxed Summilux 50 1.4 in your future.
12-28-2018, 04:34 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by kernos Quote
Good luck finding a Pentax mount VL58. Looks like the last one went for $980 on Ebay and there are none currently available although you could Leitax a Nikon F version. If you were Leitaxing there are Contax and Leica R lenses at 1.4. Maybe there is a leitaxed Summilux 50 1.4 in your future.
The Summilux leitaxed would be a great lens, but likely would cost more than the VL58 (although easier to find).
12-29-2018, 02:13 AM   #8
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The FA 50mm F1.4 is the obvious (although not exotic) option IMHO.

If you want something faster then the Porst 55mm F1.2 isn't that expensive if you can find one. I quite like mine, although it doesn't get used all that much.

12-29-2018, 02:49 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
I've owned neither of the following lenses, so, grain of salt with the following;

Ricoh 55mm f1.2 XR: said to be quite sharp wide open with a bit of 3D pop. Seems a little less soft or "dreamy" than other 55 1.2's (like the Porst 55 1.2) and a bit more interesting than Pentax 50 1.2's. This is manual focus, they are not extremely rare, and it seems like $350 US dollars would get you a decent one. I'm watching for one to replace my M 50 1.4.

Pentax FA 50 1.4: Can be purchased brand new right now and there's a lot of them out on the used market. Autofocus.
The Rikenon is an excellent recommendation, thanks for pointing it out. There is a review by Jonas Rask whom I trust very much regarding lens reviews and he is praising it a lot. It isn't too expensive either and might be a good snatch on my next trip to Japan. Regarding the Pentax FA 50mm f1.4 I kinda preferred the Samyang as I have read mixed reviews of the Pentax one. But like UncleVanya and twilhelm said, there is not much of a difference in between a f1.8/f1.9 and a f1.4. I am now pretty sure it has to be a f1.2.



QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
First, f/1.8 is only 2/3rds of one stop from f/1.4, so bear that in mind.

Second, at ISO 800 what are you shooting that's requiring an f-stop that wide open? Given most lenses sharpness is weaker wide open there are multiple factors competing. The FA 50 f1.4 mentioned is easily at half the resolution wide open that it has stopped down to f2.8. How slow is your steady shutter speed with these scenes? Your have at least 10 stops below sunny 16 if shooting f1.4 and 1/80s (an exposure at 1/80s should yield good handheld results with the fa 77). Plus print film is typically fairly forgiving.

---------- Post added 12-28-18 at 04:56 PM ----------

Might be worth looking for a 3rd party lens that is optically stabilized. Few exist, mostly zooms, all used only. The situation outside of Pentax might be different. Nikon and Canon have film era optically stabilized lenses...
This lens will be for very specific use at night time. My main lenses are still going to be the limiteds. I mostly shot photos in the alleys of Shimbashi barely lit by the neon signs. Even at 1/60s which is the lowest handheld shutter I trust myself to handle most of my photos were too much underexposed. I could recover some detail with my scanner, but it doesn't look too pretty. With one stop more light it will be a bit easier for me. Here is an example with the 77mm fully open and at 1/60s:



Would the image stabilisation of those lenses work on a MZ-3 body?


QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
[...]
I strongly recommend the VL58mm. Dare to be different...
Thanks for the insight. The Nokton looks pretty good IMHO. If I can't find the Rikenon on my trip to Japan I might look for the Nokton as my second choice.


QuoteOriginally posted by kernos Quote
Good luck finding a Pentax mount VL58. Looks like the last one went for $980 on Ebay and there are none currently available although you could Leitax a Nikon F version. If you were Leitaxing there are Contax and Leica R lenses at 1.4. Maybe there is a leitaxed Summilux 50 1.4 in your future.
A leitaxed Summilux might be interesting indeed. But for those prices I will probably rather look for other alternatives that might now be as excellent.
12-29-2018, 06:40 AM   #10
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Re: stabilization, as far as I understand, in lens stabilization will work on film bodies as it doesn't depend on anything unique to digital. But autofocus may not work as many of the ois lenses are hsm which only was added to pentax digital bodies. Also after looking more carefully, the ois lenses I see for pentax are too slow.

Looking at your shot, the movement of people likely is a limiting factor. Even with rock steady technique you can't go much lower on shutter speed so I see your problem more clearly now. I'd honestly suggest pushing the budget for the fastest lens you can fit if you can't increase the exposure any other way. At some point depth of field issues will however possibly be a limiting factor as well. Have you considered push processing to get more sensitivity?
12-29-2018, 06:56 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
Looking at your shot, the movement of people likely is a limiting factor. Even with rock steady technique you can't go much lower on shutter speed so I see your problem more clearly now.
This is one area I find digital hugely better than film, especially with newer cameras like the K1 which get good results at high ISO's. Combined with the in-camera stabilisation it certainly makes handheld low-light shooting a lot easier.
12-29-2018, 09:19 AM   #12
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The Porst 55 1.2 is really very soft wide open and becomes psychedelic in bright light. The Revuenon 55mm1.2 is alleged to be better. While it is an extreme conversion (lens barrel grinding, remount to K, plus a lens mechanic like Brian Gohacki) the Canon FL 55mm 1.2 has very good center sharpness wide open and lovely bokeh. This site has some night shot samples Canon FL 55/1.2, I really wasnt expecting this - Legacy Lenses - Sony Alpha Forum Have you looked at the Pentax A 50mm 1.2?
12-29-2018, 11:25 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by HibikiTaisuna Quote
I am owning a MZ-3 and the 43mm and 77mm limited. On my trip to Japan I used the MZ-3 with a roll of CineStill 800T and fell in love with how this film renders the lights in Shimbashi. Unfortunately at ISO 800 the 77mm and 43mm are just one stop too slow for sharp, hand held shots. Therefore I am looking for a 1.4 or faster prime in between 35mm and 85mm.
QuoteOriginally posted by HibikiTaisuna Quote
This lens will be for very specific use at night time. My main lenses are still going to be the limiteds. I mostly shot photos in the alleys of Shimbashi barely lit by the neon signs. Even at 1/60s which is the lowest handheld shutter I trust myself to handle most of my photos were too much underexposed. I could recover some detail with my scanner, but it doesn't look too pretty. With one stop more light it will be a bit easier for me. Here is an example with the 77mm fully open and at 1/60s:

You can push CineStill 800T up to 3200 ISO, so I would try that first before you spend money on a new lens. Just remember to tell your processing Lab that you pushed the roll of film. Note there will be an extra cost for "pushing" the film.

Try one roll at 1600 ISO and another at 3200 ISO and see if this helps your shutter speeds. Way cheaper than spending hundreds of dollars on a new lens.

Phil.
12-29-2018, 02:04 PM   #14
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I used to push a certain tungsten balanced film I used for stage events on a regular basis. This did give me a much better shutter speed range. Also, if you are then able to shoot less than wide open you gain some DOF as well.
12-29-2018, 02:26 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by kernos Quote
The Porst 55 1.2 is really very soft wide open and becomes psychedelic in bright light. The Revuenon 55mm1.2 is alleged to be better. While it is an extreme conversion (lens barrel grinding, remount to K, plus a lens mechanic like Brian Gohacki) the Canon FL 55mm 1.2 has very good center sharpness wide open and lovely bokeh. This site has some night shot samples Canon FL 55/1.2, I really wasnt expecting this - Legacy Lenses - Sony Alpha Forum Have you looked at the Pentax A 50mm 1.2?
Iím surprised no one has mentioned the A50/1.2 before now. You can often find one at a reasonable price (if somewhat higher than other old 50s), though I canít help wondering whether or not the appearance of the DFA*50/1.4 will have taken some of the shine off it, including prices.
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