Eric L. Woods

Three paths to a 50mm-ish normal lens.

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<Cut and paste intro from the 70mm-ish post.>

If you are looking for a hobby that makes sense photography is not it. Sure, I pretend to make the odd allegedly logical choice here or there. But a logical decision housed within an illogical artificial relevancy construct holds little merit. But heck. That is half the fun. The senselessness of such an endeavor as capturing light with dedicated hardware utilizing varying analog and digital mediums when most are content with the camera in their pocket attached to their social media consumption device…

Hold up, where was I? (Scans title.) Right. 50mm-ish lenses.

Having three lenses with very similar focal lengths does not seem to make sense. And it does not. That is if you are driven by logic. As stated earlier logic is not a prerequisite for photography. But while logic fails to justify the endeavor there are other reasons.

As I have warned before fix your gaze firmly so as not to trigger an extraocular muscle sprain due to an involuntary eye roll.

Joy.

I am serious unfortunately. Here is where I try to explain myself once again.

  • Process.
  • Image.
  • Sentiment.
  • Versatility.

Each of these lenses excels in each of these areas but for different reasons… I told you this was illogical. Will go in the order of most sensible to least.

Rokinon/Samyang AF 45mm f/1.8 FE

50-ishmm

Process.

  • Bone simple. All the latest and greatest AF and other image capturing aids that one could want. Point, frame, shoot and there you are.
  • Mirrorless technology means that what you see is what you get.
  • Perfect for when you just want the shot with no muss of fuss.
A7c/Rokinon-Samyang 45mm f/1.8

Image.

  • Can nuevo vintage look be a thing? Sure. Yes. Right?
  • This is one of the only modern lenses that exhibits that certain glow I like from older film glass while retaining the best attributes of modern glass.
  • Very important for this focal length it makes for a great every day lens and a portrait lens in a pinch.
  • Great colors. Great background blur. Nice fall off. Well done Rokinon/Samyang.
Samyang/Rokinon FE AF 45mm f/1.8

Sentiment.

  • Full frame mirrorless is a relatively recent thing all things considered. That is not the source of the setiment.
  • Rokinon/Samyang has been around for a minute. I only became aware of them a few years ago when I picked up a Rokinon/Samyang/Bower (Why so many brand names guys?) manual focus MFT fisheye for my first interchangeable lens digital camera… <checks notes> 8 years ago. Have used many of their lenses since so I have bit of modern day sentiment for the brand.
  • No different here.
Rokinon/Samyang 45mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens

Versatility.

  • This is a versatile lens in that it is as good for stills as it is for video. This is something legacy glass is not typically good for unless you enjoy manual focusing for video which I do not. Not all modern lenses are good for this also.

So we are done. A bit of vintage look. Modern features. We are all good then. Not so fast.

Pentax SMC F 50mm f/1.7 (AF)

50-ishmm

Process.

  • All plastic and not as sound as the Pentax 77mm Limited I compared last time, but still dense enough to stun if caught across the brow in the event of a zombie Apocalypse.
  • Direct mechanical manual focus control rather than fly by wire mirrorless. But this lens snaps into focus so quickly you will rarely bother with MF.
  • My copy even has a crack in the clear plastic and sounds like a distant coffee grinder when focusing. But I do not care. It cost around $50 or less if memory serves. It delivers and I would not trade it for another K mount 50mm regardless of spec.
Pentax SMC F 50mm f/1.7 (AF)

Image.

  • I love the images this lens produces. Film era SLR and even DSLR lenses are often known for great image quality and this one delivers.
  • I recently went out to run errands with my wife on my birthday and without hesitation this is the lens I reached for.
  • And as usual this lens did not disappoint. In fact there is a faster Pentax 50mm f/1.4 but I have read that it is a bit soft wide open and needs to be stopped down to f/1.8 or so. This lens? Sharp enough for me wide open at f/1.7.
K-1

Sentiment.

  • My Father taught me how to use his Pentax ME Super many, many years ago.
  • The Pentax K-1 manages to be the one digital camera that provides that throw back feeling. for me. Add this 50mm and you have yourself a full blown vintage experience with your digital experience.
  • This lens and the K-1 also took one of my favorite photos ever of my dearly departed Father.
Dad

Versatility.

  • This is not a matter of stills and video flexibility. Technically you could use it for video by using manual focus, but there are better tools for that task.
  • Versatility here is format. Courtesy TECHART and Sony AF can be on the table. A great lens on digital. A great lens with film Pentax cameras courtesy the venerable K mount. And like any SLR lens you can adapt to mirrorless. Here it is on my free to me SF10 and a sample photo taken with this combination.
Pentax SMC F 50mm f/1.7 (AF)
Pentax SF10

So what else could you want? How about a third option.

7artisans Photoelectric 50mm f/1.1

50-ishmm

Process.

  • Manual focus is the draw here (even if TECHART does make AF available).
  • MF works well enough with mirrorless cameras and focus peaking. Of course a bit more Zen is available for a bit more spend if you go the native rangefinder route. It is definitely more rewarding when you get it right and occasionally you appreciate the surprises that come when you get it wrong.
  • While having an all metal build, etched and painted markings this early 7Artisans M lens is not quite as stout as the 28mm and 75mm that came later. But it also costs a heck of a lot less so that seems fair.
  • There is something special about having to manual focus. You think differently. You think more. When time allows I find it to be a more enjoyable way to shoot.
7artisans 50mm f/1.1

Image.

  • f/1.1. Nuts. Not f/0.95 but close enough for me, especially at this price.
  • While not sharp wide open it sure is a lot of fun. Flares a plenty. Glow and whatnot and I am here for it.
  • And if I manage to stop it down to just f/1.4 it actually starts to behave itself. But why the heck would I do that? f/1.1 all day.
7artisans 50mm f/1.1 at f/1.1
f/1.1
7artisans 50mm f/1.1 at f/2
f/1.4
  • I like the colors also.
  • A fun lens. Here is one of my favorite photos of my son taken with this lens wide open at night.
AF 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1

Sentiment.

  • This is a call back lens. 7Artisans has not been around that long, so this lens has not been around that long. But it is built to emulate older, rangefinder glass. And while not hitting as close to the mark and 28mm and 75mm after it this lens is built fine enough. Have owned one for years with no quality issues to speak of.
  • I cannot put my finger on why precisely, but I tend to have a sentimental attachment to images created with rangefinder glass. And this lens is no different as evidenced by this image I took of my wife.
Knockofftilux

Versatility.

  • I touched upon versatility above when I pointed out the ability to close focus this M mount lens when using a helicoid adapter and a mirrorless camera.
  • Contradicting the manual focus draw to this lens AF is available when using the M to FE TECHART AF adapter. Unlike the 75mm I actually use AF with this lens fairly often for some reason.
  • Not only can you shoot this lens with mirrorless cameras and M mount cameras… which are the original mirrorless cameras, but this also means that you can use this lens with older M mount film cameras as well. The shot below was taken using a Leica CL. Unlike the 75mm this 50mm is well balanced with the tiny CL. Have since sold on the CL, but the 50mm is not going anywhere. Below is this lens on the CL and a photo taken with that combination. Lomography 400 this time around.
#leicacl50jahre #leicacl @kehcamera @7artisansofficial #7artisans50mmf11 #ishootfilm #filmphotography
Leica CL 50 JAHRE

<More copy and past from the last post.>

So… If you were expecting me to pick a winner I have bad news. This is not one of those posts. My goal was to share my thoughts about the virtues of all three. Hopefully I succeeded. Does that mean all three are necessary? Nope. Not at all. I might not keep them all.

A lot of virtual ink is spilt declaring one lens above another. One system above another. One manufacturer above another. And on and on. Different sensor sizes. Different film types. Black and white vs. color film…

But none of that matters. I am in this for another reason and it is not to argue about gear. Prepare for eye rolls.

Joy.

For different reasons each of these lenses produces images to my liking. Each lens brings a smile to my face. Provides a distraction from the insanity of the world. Each helps me focus on and appreciate the beauty all around us hiding in plain sight. And I will take all the distractions I can get my mitts on.

-ELW

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