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02-22-2009, 07:25 PM   #1
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New Arrivals: XR Rikenon 50/2 (Second of three)

As mentioned in the first post of this series, I recently became the proud new owner of four lenses:

* Auto Vivitar 135/2.8 (M42)
* XR Rikenon 50/2 (2 copies)
* Auto Mamiya/Sekor 55/1.8 (M42) (Review Here)

This posting is my first impressions of the XR Rikenon 50/2.

XR Rikenon 50/2
This lens was one of several offered as the normal "kit" lens for Ricoh SLRs during the late 70s and early 80s. This is a standard K-mount lens and lacks the "A" position on the aperture ring as well as the A contacts on the mount itself. As a result, metering on Pentax dSLRs is limited to M mode with stop-down metering or Av mode with at widest aperture (similar to Pentax-K and Pentax-M lenses from the same era). It features all-metal build and aperture click-stops at full stop intervals down to f/16. Unfortunately, unlike its faster multi-coated Rikenon brothers, the 50/2 has single-coated optics.

Note: This is not the same lens as the later Rikenon-P 50/2. All Rikenon-P lenses have the notorious Ricoh "pin" known to jam the mounts of Pentax AF cameras. XR Rikenons, on the other hand are "pin-free" standard K-mounts.

Here is what it looks like:


My interest in this lens was sparked by long-standing reports (rumors?) that the XR Rikenon 50/2 was one of the sharpest lenses ever tested by <put magazine name here> photography magazine. Some reports even state that it was THE sharpest lens ever tested by that magazine. That is a pretty interesting rumor, don't you think?

My first XR Rikenon 50/2 came attached to a camera body. I did a couple of test shots and the results were promising. I followed up the initial tests with a more comprehensive battery involving the Rikenon 50/2, the Pentax-M 50/1.7, the Pentax-A 50/1.7, and a target of food boxes. I won't share the results here (saving that for another post), but it is enough to say that the Rikenon was not shamed by either of the Pentax products. I want to repeat the tests with a better, more well-controlled setup and a second lens.

I picked up a second copy of this lens as a second test sample. The first one has a bit of of barrel wobble. As it turns out, my second one is also a little wobbly. The wobble is my only complaint build-wise. Other than that, the build quality of both Rikenons are a notch below my Pentax-M 50/1.7 and a notch above my Pentax-A 50/1.7. Basically, typical for non-pro glass of the time.

So, without further ado, here are a few pictures taken with my second copy of this lens:

At f/5.6


100% crop of above image


A few wide-open at f/2







The last image has bizarre, busy bokeh. It almost looks NERVOUS!

In summary:
  • Unable to confirm sharpness rumor, though it appears to be plenty sharp with good contrast, even wide open
  • Generally acceptable image quality and color rendition
  • Haven't seen any CA or PF (yet)
  • While the bokeh is generally pretty smooth, some backgrounds just go crazy busy. (This is my only complaint about the lens.)

Overall, it is a nice lens. Is it worth acquiring? If you see one in good shape and the price is low and you don't have a 50mm it is probably a good alternative to the Pentax-M 50/1.7. It might also be desirable if you have a Ricoh body and want a "type-correct" lens.

Steve

(As noted above...plenty sharp...but there is that matter of the crazy bokeh...I will have to see if my other copy does the same thing...)


Last edited by stevebrot; 04-06-2009 at 01:55 PM.
02-22-2009, 11:23 PM   #2
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Good summary, thanks! I love Rikenons. You're making me want to pull out my 50mm and go picture hunting!
02-23-2009, 09:50 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hapo Quote
Good summary, thanks! I love Rikenons. You're making me want to pull out my 50mm and go picture hunting!
Well, good luck Hapo! If the view outside your window today is anything like the view out mine, the pictures would all be a study in gray and wet! I have the Mamiya/Sekor 55/1.8 on the camera now and would love to have something to shoot, but it is just too dim outside.

Steve

(Hapo is in Portland. I am on the other side of the Columbia River in Vancouver. Different cities...same grim weather...)
02-23-2009, 10:35 AM   #4
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Yeah, pretty drab today. Last night I pulled out both my Rikenon 50/2's (I have two of them, one is the "L" version which is newer and made of lightweight plastic, the other being the original XR which is almost fully metal and pretty solid, like the best of the XR-series lenses). I still need to get around to posting reviews on all of my Rikenons; maybe this spring/summer, when the light is better and there's more color around. I have also read the wild rumors about the Rikenon 50/2, but a couple of things I read suggested it was actually the P-version that was the sharpest, whereas others said it was the XR. No idea which is true, if any, but your samples certainly look good.

02-23-2009, 02:52 PM   #5
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I hear that the P rikenon is as sharp as LEICA M 2/50 summicron (the best of the best 50 mm in the lenses history - for me and for some billions too).

And the P rikenon is more sharp and better bokeh than the pancolar 1,8/50 (almost unique lens that do it in SRL world).

True? Who know
02-23-2009, 04:11 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by estudleon Quote
I hear that the P rikenon is as sharp as LEICA M 2/50 summicron (the best of the best 50 mm in the lenses history - for me and for some billions too).

And the P rikenon is more sharp and better bokeh than the pancolar 1,8/50 (almost unique lens that do it in SRL world).

True? Who know
It would be nice to see some samples from the Rikenon P 50/2. I know that I won't be mounting one on my camera though! That is, unless someone has removed the evil Ricoh "pin"!

Steve
03-31-2009, 01:46 PM   #7
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I've just picked up one of the Rikenon XR 50/2s attached to a RICOH KR-10M on ebay for the princely sum of 30. Very very pleased, and this thread helped me make the choice, thanks for posting it

I'll post samples up soon after it arrives.
04-01-2009, 01:29 AM   #8
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A honest and good review here. Thanks for such comprehensive testing.

04-01-2009, 10:20 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by roentarre Quote
A honest and good review here. Thanks for such comprehensive testing.
My pleasure!

Steve
04-01-2009, 10:22 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by beardybrave Quote
I've just picked up one of the Rikenon XR 50/2s attached to a RICOH KR-10M on ebay for the princely sum of 30. Very very pleased, and this thread helped me make the choice, thanks for posting it

I'll post samples up soon after it arrives.
You are very welcome!

Steve
04-01-2009, 11:48 PM   #11
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QuoteQuote:
It would be nice to see some samples from the Rikenon P 50/2. I know that I won't be mounting one on my camera though! That is, unless someone has removed the evil Ricoh "pin"!

Some decent shots with this lens here:

Manual Focus Lenses :: View topic - Rikenon lens
04-01-2009, 11:57 PM   #12
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FWIW XR Rikenon lenses (like those I have FS in the classifieds here) DO NOT have the troublesome "Ricoh pin"...

Chris
04-02-2009, 09:48 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
FWIW XR Rikenon lenses (like those I have FS in the classifieds here) DO NOT have the troublesome "Ricoh pin"...

Chris
Chris,
I made note of this in the review and appreciate your additional comment. The XR Rikenons have gotten an unjustified bad reputation. The "pin" is generally never present on any Rikenon unless the aperture ring has the "P" setting.

Steve
04-06-2009, 11:27 AM   #14
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Well mine arrived today. Took me a while to figure out the whole green button process ( silly really - it's actually very simple ). It's quite shocking how modern AF systems have made me utterly cack handed with manual focussing, it all came back to me by the end of the day though.

It's quite an astonishing lens when you find it's sweet spot.



That's my daughter there. I did a 100% zoom of her eye and the detail down to eyelash level is just crazy. Obviously it's been compressed here for bandwidth purposes, the uncompressed raw file, though, is so impressive I can now happily say that I no longer miss 35mm film. That lens is the best 15 I've ever spent.

Last edited by beardybrave; 04-06-2009 at 12:34 PM. Reason: spelling
04-06-2009, 12:01 PM   #15
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Just to follow that up... this is a 100% crop of her eye.



If you see one of these - snap it up... for the price I can't imagine a better portrait lens.
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