A "VERY RARE" macro lens?

Started Feb 17, 2013 | Discussions thread
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igoriginal
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A "VERY RARE" macro lens?
Feb 17, 2013

Given that some mirror-less interchangeable-lens cameras these days - especially the micro-4/3 and NEX / E-mount systems on the market - are capable of "universal" lens adaptability of many non-native / exotic lens from just about almost any other mount (WITHOUT requiring image-degrading corrective-glass adapters, given their short flange distances between the sensor and the mount plane), I have been on a sort of legacy lens "binge" over the past year, buying up various old primes (and some zooms) from the bygone film era ... giving them a resurrected life. If nothing more, to gain an insight into the strengths and weaknesses of each, by evaluating them, and selling back any of the "dogs" that aren't worth keeping / shooting with.
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Just recently, while pouring through the Ebay auctions, I stumbled across something that REALLY caught my eye: A 55mm 1:1 macro (true-to-life reproduction) prime lens, with a maximum aperture of F/2!
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Once again, for those who's missed the stand-out spec, let me emphasize: A maximum aperture of "F/2."
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I knew right away that this was a strange anomaly, amid the sea of 1:1 macro primes from the film era, since many legacy lens with 1:1 macro capabilities start with a maximum, wide-open aperture of F/3.5 ... while less common 1:1 macro primes (which fetched a heftier price at the time) were endowed with an F/2.8 at the widest end.
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Thus, I have never seen a 50mm or 55mm 1:1 macro prime with an F/2 aperture. And just to make sure that the Ebay listing was not posted in error (this happens more often that many of us are aware, especially people selling photographic equipment, but whom otherwise have little to no experience with the subject), I decided to inspect the auction item in question with greater attention, including scrutinizing the accompanying photos.
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The auction title read: "Super rare & fast Quantaray / Sigma 55mm F/2, 1:1 Macro, in M42 Screw Mount. Mint condition!"
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Sure enough, based on the included photos, this specimen really DID have an F/2 aperture at the wide end!
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The detailed listing read as follows:
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"Quantaray did not generally manufacture lenses of their own. They rebadged Sigma lenses.
This Sigma-made, 55mm 1:1 (true to life) Macro lens was designed with an F/2 aperture at the widest end, which is almost UNHEARD of among 1:1-reproduction lens in this focal length!
Most 1:1 reproduction macro lens from the film era usually started at F/3.5 (some at F/2.8), which makes this F/2 1:1 macro lens very unique and extremely rare.
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Very hard to find, either well-used or mint. This copy that I am selling is in mint condition! Don't let this one slip away. 14-day return policy if not fully satisfied, no questions asked."
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I was exceedingly tempted to cast my bid, especially seeing that the seller had a 100% rating. But, in spite of all the right signals I was getting here, I nevertheless decided first to scour the internet for any relevant information / reviews concerning this lens.
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NOT. ONE. SINGLE. THING. ANYWHERE.
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Nada.
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I could not find even a SHRED of information on these specs. Sure, there was plenty of information to be had on a Quantaray / Sigma 50mm 1:1 macro with an F/2.8 aperture ... but, obviously, these were FAR from the same lens.
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So, as the auction time ticked down, I could feel the pressure building: Should I, or shouldn't I take the plunge? Was this an extremely rare GEM ... or an extremely rare DOG?
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(I have learned from painful, financial experience ... that just because something is very rare, doesn't necessarily make it very good)
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And how could there be ABSOLUTELY NO INFORMATION WHATSOEVER on this specific lens? Was I missing something?
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With a "BUY IT NOW" price of $249.950 USD, I wasn't dealing with a mere song, here.
Ultimately, I decided to roll the dice, because I HAVE been a collector of obsolete, unusual, curious (and even rare) lenses. After all, the listing DID list a 14-day return policy. So, in the end, what did I really have to lose, besides inspecting the item for myself?
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Now I sit here, and impatiently wait, for this "very rare" 1:1 macro to arrive in the mail, in order to give it a test run and see just EXACTLY what we have here.
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Meanwhile, I am posting a collage of the photos from the original Ebay auction. I would greatly appreciate, however, if someone can shed light on this seemingly "UNKNOWN" specimen, which seems oddly missing from any info database on the net.

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Another very unusual (though seemingly useful feature), is that this lens COLLAPSES to nearly 1/3 its size, when locking it in "STANDARD" shooting mode (instead of 1:1 macro mode). See the top-right and bottom-right frames in the accompanying photo collage, for this comparison.
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Quantaray (Sigma) 55mm F/2 Standard + Macro 1:1

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