Sonntag, 4. Februar 2018

MIR-1 with 37mm f/2.8 "Grand Prix" Brussels 1958 - uncommon in many ways

I admit, this is my first Russian lens, which does not have the normal focal length of 50mm or approaching 50mm (for example 55 or 56mm). If you look at EBay or other platforms on the Internet, then there are offered almost only 50mm lenses from the former USSR. 
The Mir-1 37mm f2.8 is essentially the standard USSR moderate wide angle lens. The optical formula is a copy from the Zeiss Flektogon. It is available primarily in M42 mount (MIR-1B), also M39 mount (MIR-1), t-mount (Mir-1A) and Russian bayonets like the Kiev-10 or Kiev-15.
At the World Exhibition in Brussels in 1958, a set of lenses, which included Mir-1, was awarded the highest award - the Grand Prix . That's why the engraving "Grand Prix Bruessel 1985" can be found in the upper part of the lens body.
My copy is from one of the oldest silver-colored series of the lens produced in Krasnogorsk mechanical workshop "S.A. Sverev" in Krasnogorsk near Moscow in the late 1950's. 
After 1960, production of the silver-bodied M39-mount lens was transferred to ZOMZ in Zagorsk. The engraving in Latin letters indicates that this lens was made for export to Western Europe. These older soviet lenses are relatively cheap to buy. My copy has cost well under 50 euros. At EBay, these old lenses are sometimes sold close to 100 euros, which is really - despite good condition - far too much. But many traders believe (usually quite rightly): every day an idiot gets up and buys me this shi..  Alright, this lens is not that bad.
What irritated me a bit at the beginning:
With a M39-NEX-adapter, however, it is impossible to focus. You also need a M39-M42 adapter ring, only then does the lens work with a Sony E-mount camera. The new versions MIR-1B have an M42-mount and can be easily adapted to a Sony NEX.
The lens has a second peculiarity, which I have not seen in this form: The aperture itself is adjustable without stopping, but you have to adjust beforehand on an additional aperture ring the maximum aperture. How does it look in action? I put on the pre-ring aperture 8 and then I can on the actual aperture ring all the aperture up to the aperture 8 use, beyond that it does not work.

Let's start with the statistical data as usual:

Optics: 6 elements in 4 groups
Aperture: f/2.8 to f/16
Diaphragm: preset-aperture ring, 10 blades
Lens mount: M39-Mount
Minimal focus: 70 cm (= 2,29 ft.)
Filter size: 49 mm
Coating: SMC
Diameter x Length: 59 x 62 mm
Weight: 200 gr. (= 7,05 oz)

In principle, the feel and mechanics of this old lens are excellent. Nothing sleeps or jams, everything works smoothly. It is made of metal and shows no visible plastic elements. This was to be expected for the 50s and 60s of the 20th century. 
Focusing on a subject is easy with a very long focus path. With the help of focus-peaking on the modern DSLM cameras from Olympus, Fuji and Sony, the focus is easy. The initial aperture of f/2.8 is not exactly the burner, but stand out of the motifs from its background is possible.
What about the picture quality and the behavior of the lens in different lighting situations?
As with many old lenses, the images are slightly milky and low in contrast with the aperture completely open. The sharpness in the center of the image is fine, but it drops sharply towards the edges of the image. 
Here are two shots at f/2.8 that prove this well. The lower image is a one hundred percent enlargement from the center of the image.

It's enough to make the picture sharp even up to the edges, when you stopped down to f/4.0 to f/5.6. On the enlarged picture the bokeh is good to look at - it is calm and very creamy.
In the backlight, the MIR-1 lens shows incredible flares. I have not seen anything like that before. Look at these  pictures:

The glass used must have a strange coating. Unfortunately, the sources on the Internet do not reveal any information about it.
Significant vignetting I have not noticed in my photos. Even image bulges or distortions are weak. Well, 37mm is also a very moderate wide-angle lens. In addition, I have tried the lens only on an APS-C camera. For a full frame camera like Sony a7(x), it could well show some flaws.
I noticed very positively that there is hardly any purple fringing. Neither strong contrast edges nor open aperture can be seen any conspicuous color fringes. This may be due to the simple optical structure and good calculations of the Zeiss Flektogon.
Let's summarize: despite its age, the lens is still a very good performer. The photos are a bit stopped down, very rich in contrast and sharp. The focal length is ideally suited as a walk-around lens on a full frame. On an APS-C camera, we are already slightly beyond the normal focal length of 50mm (37 mm in full format correspond to about 55mm on an APS-C camera). For portraits, the focal length of 37mm is too short, for landscape too long. Maybe she could be used in street photography when the Motifs are far away.
Finally, here are a few photos that I have shot in recent weeks with this lens:

Sonntag, 7. Januar 2018

SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4 - as sharp as a razor?

And continue the search for the ultimate normal focal length. This time I got stuck with Pentax again. Pentax is a brand name of Ricoh Imaging K.K., which mainly manufactures cameras and lenses. The name Pentax was derived from the names "Pentaprisma" and "Contax" and originally belonged to the East German VEB Zeiss Ikon, who sold it in 1957 to Asahi Optical. 
In 2008, the Pentax Corporation was taken over by the Japanese group Hoya and since then no longer exists as an independent, listed company. The development and production of optical products under the well-known brand name "Pentax" remained under the umbrella of Hoya K.K. but received. In 2011, the photo division with the Pentax brand was resold by the latter to the electronics and office engineering group Ricoh.
The photo brand (Asahi) Pentax had a heyday particularly in the 1960s to 1980s; later, especially in connection with the introduction and further development of autofocus technology, it lost market share to, for example, Minolta (now Sony) and Nikon and Canon, which currently dominate sales of compact cameras and digital SLRs.
The Pentax 50mm f/1.4 lens is also from this period. It was produced in this model variant in the years 1977 to 1984.
According to my previous experience, the Pentax lenses, especially in the "M" version, are of excellent optical and mechanical quality. Especially the 50mm lens with the opening of 1.4 is no exception. Much known and sold in large quantities was the Pentax 50mm with the initial aperture of f/1.7. I will take a closer look at this lens in one of my next reviews.  A lens with an aperture of f / 1.4 was normally reserved for professional photographers and therefore expensive.
Nowadays many of these once very expensive lenses are available for a fraction of the original price. For my copy, I paid less than 40, - Euro, especially because it has a clearly visible scratch on the front lens. However, this blemish is not apparent in the pictures, even though I very strongly stopped down. The second-hand prices are usually somewhere between 50,- and 130, - Euro today.  This obviously depends on the condition of the lens, but you can make a real bargain now and then.
Enough of the preliminary skirmish! Let's start with the technical data.

Optics: 7 elements in 6 groups
Aperture: f/1.4 to f/22
Diaphragm: automatically, 8 blades
Lens mount: Pentax K-Mount
Minimal focus: 45 cm (= 1,47 ft.)
Maximal Magnification: 0,15x
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.): APS-C: 32°/27°, Full frame: 47°/40°
Filter size: 49 mm
Coating: SMC
Diameter x Length: 63 x 37 mm
Weight: 235 gr. (= 8,3 oz)

Build quality is great as with all the M series lenses and handling is superb - this lens is a pleasure to use. Focus is very smooth and the aperture ring clicks nicely.
As with all lenses from this period, the open aperture as f/1.4 is sharp in the center of the image, but the overall image impression is rather soft and little bit milky. In low light conditions, this is hardly noticeable and the photo appears sharp and rich in contrast.  This is clear from this photo of my Danbo. Even with a wide aperture of f/1.4 the picture quality is excellent and the sharpness very good.  Easily stopped down to f/2.0 or f/2.8 improves the picture quality again, from f/4.0 the whole picture is sharp from corner to corner like a razor.

Sony a6000 with Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4 at f/1.4, 1/60s, ISO 100

The bokeh is very soft and pleasant, as you can see in this photo at open aperture very well:

Sony a6000 with Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4 at f/1.4, 1/250s, ISO 100

Although this lens contains only eight blades, the lights are round, even circles. Very nice sight.
If you take a closer look at photos with an open aperture in good light conditions, you will notice that there are slight purple fringes at the contrast edges. Here's an magnified (100 %) example:

Sony a6000 with Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4 at f/1.4, 1/1250s, ISO 100, 100% Magnification

Fortunately, in the days of Photoshop and Lightroom such ugly blue edges can be easily removed with a mouse click. 
The lens proves to be little sensitive to back light, but you can if necessary screw a lens hood into the filter thread. There are various platforms on the Internet (for example the "electronic bay") various 49mm rubber collapsible lens hood which also fit on the Pentax 50mm lens.
The distortion of the optics tends to zero, at least I could not recognize any. But that's actually typical for most 50mm lenses. 
When the aperture is wide open, there are slight vignetting in the corners. This is likely to occur more clearly in a full frame camera, such as the Sony a7. 
Overall, the Pentax M 50mm f / 1.4 is a very good performer - a lens that can be used as a walk-around lens. In particular, if there is little light to photograph, it can save the situation.
If you can buy the lens for a good price, then take it!
Here are a few pictures from the last weeks, which I shot with the lens: