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09-13-2013, 07:22 AM   #1
DonThomaso's Avatar

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Shoot-out: FA31 vs Maikar 38mm F1.9 (D-mount)

I picked up an old CINE lens a couple of week back. It is called the "Maikar Telephoto 38mm F1.9" and it comes in a D-mount. Since I have the FA31 which is kind of the same speed and focal length I thought that it would be a fun comparison. I couldn't find much info on the Maikar, but like all cine lenses it is very small and fits nicely on the Q, though they do look a bit weird with their small diameter. It has a sort of semi-step-less aperture, where it will "click" slightly on the marked apertures (like F1.9, F2.8, F4 and so on) but it will stop at any distance in between as well. It is an internal focus design, so it won't change size when focusing. Lets start of with some pictures of the lenses tested.

FA31 on the Q

Maikar 38mm F1.9 on the Q

Here are a few sample shots comparing the two lenses. There are more posted on flickr, I won't post every aperture of each lens in this post. Thy are shot from the same spot, so the FA31 will have a slightly wider field of view. You can click on the images and full-size are available on flickr if you want to compare more closely. I tried to focus on the nail, but it was rather difficult and there might be front/back focusing errors. I think that it is still possible to tell how things like sharpness, contrast, bokeh and color compare between the two lenses.

FA31 wide open at F1.8

Maikar 38mm F1.9 wide open

I honestly thought that there would be more of a difference. Wide open the FA31 shows much more longitudinal CA, but the contrast and sharpness is rather close (both will benefit from being stopped down).

FA31 at F2.8

Maikar 38mm F1.8 at F2.8

Already at F2.8 there are a significant increase in contrast and sharpness for both lenses, but the FA31 still has much more longitudinal CA. On APS-C it never bothered me that much, and I tend to like when lenses has somewhat of a personality. But on the Q sensor the longitudinal CA becomes a bit much IMHO. The FA31 still shows respectable sharpness, a lot of lenses designed for larger sensors that I've tested on the Q can't reach sufficient sharpness at all.

The lenses is surprisingly similar in therms of image performance, but I think that the less longitudinal CA of the Maikar is a significant difference. Sharpness, rendering and contrast is pretty close. Size and handling is much better with the Maikar. When it comes to value it is easy to declare a winner for me, as I paid US$15 for the Maikar and US$1100 for the FA31. However, I don't think that anyone would buy a FA31 to only use it with the Q, but in my experience you are much better of with lenses designed for small sensors then adapting APS-C or Full-frame lenses. Some might work, but it will require super-sharp centers and virtually no CA to work well on the Q.


Maikar 38mm F1.9 wide open

Maikar 38mm F1.9 at F2.8

Last edited by DonThomaso; 09-15-2013 at 09:26 AM.
09-13-2013, 07:29 AM   #2
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Weirdly, the Maikar looks better to me. Much less CA. The FA31 is a little sharper, but overall I'd much prefer the Maikar. Interesting! I may have to look for some D mount lenses.
09-13-2013, 08:31 AM   #3
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Nice comparison. Looks like the both nailed the apple!
09-13-2013, 10:04 AM   #4
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The FA31 is dramatically sharper, but that's not everything. I love the dreamy bokeh of the Maikar. Maybe Pentax should buy the formula to make a ~200mm EQ prime for the Q.

09-13-2013, 07:03 PM   #5

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The Q is really punishing on lenses.
Good find and comparison of the Maikar.

Would you have human sized subjects to show as samples?
The less pixel dense Q7 interests me for D/C mount lens use.
09-14-2013, 02:23 AM   #6
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@pinholecam: I have not had the chance to shoot any humans (or sized) subjects, but I'll see what I can do
09-15-2013, 09:30 AM   #7
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I have updated my initial post with two real-world samples with the Maikar 38/1.9.
09-15-2013, 10:01 AM   #8
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maybe it's just me, but to me the Maiker images seem to be coke bottle like on the edges. The bokeh is creamier, that is nice, but it's because the whole image is a lot softer... that's usually not the way we like to achieve creamy bokeh. but, it could be a great old school portrait lens, and I'm guessing pretty good for film work, where sharpness was never an issue, but smoothness was.


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