I have a new favorite thing: Zhongyi Lens Turbo II Adapter

I love a good deal. Even more I love a good deal that keeps it’s promises and performs better than I could have ever expected for the price paid.

<In the voice of Morpheus> What if I told you that there was an adapter that would make a vintage 35mm lens perform in all of it’s full frame glory while adding nearly a stop of light on your humble APS-C sensor camera?

Wait. Don’t click away. I’m serious. I have pictures.

How am I confident in making such claims? Glad you asked. I have used an M42 to K mount adapter on film 35mm Pentax cameras as well as the full frame Pentax K-1.

Lenses in question as previously shot on the full frame Pentax K-1:

  • Helio 44-2 58mm f/2
  • Takumar 50mm f/1.4

     

When I first decided to go all in on Fujifilm recently I was not concerned that these lenses would go unused because I have a couple of film Pentax bodies I use still and with a simpler adapter I could still use it on the new digital system, understanding I would lose the outer frame in the process. That did not bother me so much with the Takumar, but I knew some outer swirly bokeh would elude me  on digital now. Not so fast says the internets.

While skeptical I said why not? At $149 this is a potential great gain for little payout. I know there are pricier variants, but they are a bit rich for my blood costing near as much or more than a new lens by themselves. Enter Zhongyi once again. I am no stranger to Zhongyi Mitakon having owned and enjoyed a number of their lenses. Key selling points:

  • Quite the deal at $149.
  • Adds nearly a stop of light. And I am a witness. The Takumar 50mm f/1.4 was good at depth of field on full frame before, but this adapter raises it to levels of light gathering and depth of field I  have not seen since the Mitakon “Dark Night” 50mm f/0.95 on A7 combo I once had… On a crop sensor. With a 50mm native lens field of view. By some calculations I have read the adjusted resulting f stop due to light magnification optics (f/1.4 * 0.73) is 1.02
  • Brings back full frame field of view restoring the Helios 44-2 58mm f/2 back to all of it’s swirly bokeh on digital glory.

Added Sidebar: After writing this post I stopped through Southeastern Camera (In case you are wondering this is a blatant plug. If you are in the area check out Southeastern Camera in Carrboro and they have another store in Raleigh. Support your local camera shop. I get nothing from this, besides a place to talk about cameras with friendly, helpful folks.) and Chris

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No edit out of camera JPEG using Lens Turbo II w/ X-Pro1 and Takumar 50mm f/1.4

had a great idea to do a back to back field of view comparison between a regular lens adapter and the Lens Turbo II (same exact position) and here are the results.

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And we are back…

Note that this is not a full frame vs. crop sensor discussion that I beat to death recently. This is a simple expanding native lens field of view adaptation options discussion. Not about superiority of one over another, but adding fun options seeing through a lens as it was originally intended years ago, well before digital was a thing, with a bit of glass and ingenuity from these companies.

If you have a suitable Micro 4/3, Sony, or Fujifilm mirrorless crop sensor camera and old lenses that can be adapted already this is a no brainer. Order one. If you lack one or the other and are not afraid of manual focusing I say it is worth considering buying them all. Decent used crop sensor cameras are plentiful around $200 to $400 or so. My X-Pro1 cost $430 used, but let’s say $400. The adapter is $149. The Takumar seen here was about $100 and the Helios can be found all over ebay for less than $50, but let’s say $51 for ease of math. That is $700 all in. For your consideration a Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 will set you back $749 as of this writing on B&H alone and you still do not have an A7 to hang off of the back of it.

Enough talk. Here is a gallery of shots taken with both lenses (swirly and soft=Helios/sharp and contrasty=Takumar) day one including a group portrait of a youth group (w/ the Helios) I came across at Duke Gardens.

-ELW

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