Light/small/sharp/wide manual legacy prime lens for $50

Started Apr 12, 2013 | Discussions thread
Joachim Wulfers
Joachim Wulfers Senior Member • Posts: 2,969
Re: Light/small/sharp/wide manual legacy prime lens for $50

forpetessake wrote:

John Knuhtsen wrote:

For $50 one might have to go russian:

They are all M42. Jupiter3 50 F/1.5 (the Sonnar clone) is not mentioned since it is M39. It might be quite expensive now (especially in black). Helios lenses (58 F/2) also are not mentioned (M42). M39 are for rangefinders (Zorki, Fed, Lecia lll) so the adapter is very thin. Elmar 50 F/3.5 is funny but might destroy the sensor if collapsed. It is also a rather soft lens (designed around 1920). The cheapest could be to buy a complete Zorki. There are plenty of them on ebay.

Then another option is Minolta MD 45 F/2. It is also very small built and light. I think I got one last week for $50.

I wouldn't recommend Jupiter/Helios lenses as they are soft with lots of aberrations, poor coatings. But Minolta MD 45/2 is a good one and quite underrated too. Because of the latter it can be found very cheaply. I got mine on ebay for around $15. I also tested a number of normal Minoltas and Konicas -- they were all soft with low contrast and excessive halation wide open. Surprisingly, the MD 45/2 showed better results at f/2 than more expensive f/1.4 and f/1.7 versions. I didn't encounter any inexpensive manual lenses with very good performance at large apertures. The best normal manual lens I tested was PenF 40/1.4, but frankly it's expensive, it makes sense to pay a little bit more and get better quality SEL 50/1.8 or 35/1.8.

The Konica 40/1.8 (also shown in the group of lenses above) is one of the better ones in this category, sharp, with great contrast and you can probably find it for $ 80, including the adapter. Below is a shot I took in the Fall.

f8, 1/160, ISO100, -0.7EV

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