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06-19-2009, 02:40 PM   #1
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"Off-brand" 50mm's?

I see some "off-brand" 50mm's on fleabay, craigslist, local consignment shops. Brands are Kalimar, Sears, Vivitar, Yashica, etc. Does anyone know if these particular lenses any good?


Last edited by flippedgazelle; 06-19-2009 at 04:05 PM.
06-19-2009, 02:58 PM   #2
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I always have a great time with my little Chinon 50 f1.9, its probably worth maybe $10 or something but it still can produce a nice picture to me at least and thats all that counts.



ps I expect some of the better shooters in here to come and blow you away with the stuff they have achieved with their 'non brand' 50s

Last edited by robbiec; 06-19-2009 at 03:03 PM.
06-19-2009, 04:03 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply, robbiec!
06-19-2009, 04:16 PM   #4
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I have a Vivitar 50, and it has its charm. With 50mm it really was difficult to produce a bad lens; the best ones do have something extra but that's fairly marginal.

One of these days I'll post a series of lens tests Pop Photo did in the 70s, where looking at the results I wouldn't swear which ones were or were not Vivitar.

06-19-2009, 04:27 PM   #5
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There's heaps of Off Brand 50mm lenses in this thread, the choices are mind boggling.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/31353-off-brand-club.html
06-19-2009, 06:19 PM   #6
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As xjjohnno says, the Off-Brand thread has lots of examples. Many of the off-brand lenses are quite good and a few are the equal of the major brand offerings of the day. My Mamiya/Sekor and Rikenons are very nice lenses and are only a small notch below similarly spec'd Takumars and SMC Pentax lenses. (I have not had the nerve to do the test yet, but I suspect that my XR Rikenon 50/2 may be sharper than my Pentax-M 50/1.7.)

Some of these off-brand lenses also have interesting "character". My Rikenon 50/1.7, for example, has a certain "richness" in its rendering that is hard to define. It was reputed to have been made by Tomioka who also was supposed to have made the various Sears, Yashinon, and other Japanese lenses of the 60s and 70s. Here are a few shots with the Rikenon as examples:


Kodak Gold 200 Film


K10D
Edit: This second picture may actually have been taken with my Jupiter-9 85/2. At least the exif has a note to that affect.

Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 06-19-2009 at 07:49 PM.
06-19-2009, 06:40 PM   #7
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Wow. I don't have a spiffy new word to describe your K10D shot so I will just use an old one....stunning. After all the flower shots we get to see this time of year this one by far beats any I have come across. Very nice.

Would you share a secret? Studio or did you set this up outside or is it the PP?
06-19-2009, 07:23 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by imtheguy Quote
Wow. I don't have a spiffy new word to describe your K10D shot so I will just use an old one....stunning. After all the flower shots we get to see this time of year this one by far beats any I have come across. Very nice.

Would you share a secret? Studio or did you set this up outside or is it the PP?
Table top at the kitchen table in a vase with a dark brown board as back drop and white boards as reflectors to fill in the sides and undersides. The main light was the hanging light fixture from above. The setup is crude but effective!

Steve

P.S. Post-processing on the image was minimal, but on reviewing the exif, I have a note indicating that the taking lens with the Jupiter-9, even though I had set the focal length to 50mm. I was shooting with both lenses that evening and can't remember exactly. In any case, here is one that I know was taken with the Rikenon during the same session using the same lighting setup...




Last edited by stevebrot; 06-19-2009 at 07:31 PM.
06-19-2009, 07:28 PM   #9
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When you know what you are doing, any equipment is effective. Congratulations on a beautiful shot.
06-19-2009, 07:32 PM   #10
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Yes, well done Steve.
Clever light manipulation.
Goes to show you can create gorgeous images with simple gear, including cheap fifties!
06-19-2009, 08:01 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Yes, well done Steve.
Clever light manipulation.
Goes to show you can create gorgeous images with simple gear, including cheap fifties!
Thanks for the compliment. The Rikenon is really a great performer for this type of shot. I keep thinking that I should upgrade my rating of this lens in the Third-Party Lens Database from 7 to 8.

You can do so much to enhance a shot with a few sheets of white and/or colored board. I am also totally sold on the idea of bringing the flowers in from the garden. You have so much more control over the light and background. You are also free from those troublesome breezes that set the blooms to swaying!

Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 06-19-2009 at 08:11 PM.
06-20-2009, 11:00 AM   #12
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If I could create photos like the last 2 Steve posted, I'd call myself a photographer.
06-20-2009, 11:25 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by flippedgazelle Quote
If I could create photos like the last 2 Steve posted, I'd call myself a photographer.
Thank you for the kind comment. I took made those shots last year about this time and usually don't get results that good. In regards to your original inquiry, I think you can see that inexpensive glass can help produce great results.

Not all cheap lenses are good. I shot a little with a Chinon 50 a while back and the lens was a dog with low contrast and poor resolution at all apertures. Of the cheap 50s, these are the ones that I am aware of that have good reputations:
  • Sears
  • Rikenon (non-"P" series, M42 and XR series are preferred)
  • Mamiya/Sekor
  • Yashinon
  • Fujinon
  • Helios 44K-4 (44M-4 too)
  • Cosinon/Tomioka

In general, you want the f/1.4, f/1.7, or f/1.8 versions(and sometimes the f/2). The f/2.8 versions are generally optically inferior. There are several reviews of these and other cheap 50s under Miscellaneous Lenses ╗ Fixed Focal Lengths in the Third Party Lens Review Database.

Steve
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