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Are any legacy 50 1.4 sharp wide open?

Jefenator

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Good question. Some of my fast stuff like the Canon FL 55/1.2 actually is sharp in the middle wide open in the sense that it is rendering quite a bit of detail. It also just happens to have lower contrast and that dreamy haze in addition. It is certainly more prominent at the pixel level than when viewing the whole frame onscreen. I usually find it's not that objectionable and think of it as an alternate personality.

The only fast lens I have that doesn't haze out somewhat wide open is a Leica 35/2. (I don't own any of their 50mm and haven't read up on them much.)
 
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Are any legacy 50 1.4 sharp wide open? Short answer: not really.

Had to look at my test shots again to see how my Minolta 50/1.4 lenses perform wide-open; I always stop down to at least f/2 with them. All of them show adequate sharpness in terms of ability to resolve detail. However, all of them are also very soft and flary with pronounced glow around highlights. If pressed to pick a winner, I'd say that the MC Rokkor-PG (or MC Rokkor-X PG, same thing) is not as bad as the others; saying that it's the "best" isn't really appropriate here.

Maybe a Zeiss Planar 50/1.4 for Contax/Yashica or Rollei QBM mount will be adequate, depending on your requirements, but if you can use f/2 instead of f/1.4, most lenses improve a lot, like is the case with the Minolta MC Rokkor 50/1.4 (nianys will confirm this :)). Personally I wouldn't look for the holy f/1.4 grail, but just stop down a little. From what I've seen myself and from internet samples, f/1.2 lenses behave the same: detailed, but (very) soft wide-open and improving on stopping down to f/2 or further.
 

nianys

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I beg to disagree.. to a point. Though I don't have THIS specific lens, I can assume, based on the use of MANY other FD/FL lenses, that the 50/1.4 can probably trusted to be SHARP, even wide open. The 50 and 85 1.8 are certainly astonishing at their widest aperture, and I can totally trust my FL 1.2 just one millimeter past the 1.4 mark. At this setting it is (surprisingly !) TRULY sharp in the in focus zone, but take into account said zone is VERY thin.
Now if it's about background blur, for a reason unexplained to me (probably a matter of how many diaphragm blades, and how curved they are ??), my PK 55 tends to really blur backgrounds like crazy though it's "only" 1.8 fast. As far as light gathering goes (like if you plan to shoot in very, very dark environment), then the FL:fd 55/1.2 can't be beat.
 

kevistopheles

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Of the legacy lenses I have had the only one that was sharp wide open wa the Canon FD 50/1.4. I prefer my Rokkor 50/1.4 for various reasons but it's not particularly sharp wide open...stop it down to f2 and I'd becomes wicked sharp.
 

nianys

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Of the legacy lenses I have had the only one that was sharp wide open wa the Canon FD 50/1.4. I prefer my Rokkor 50/1.4 for various reasons but it's not particularly sharp wide open...stop it down to f2 and I'd becomes wicked sharp.
Exactly what I suspected... If I ever itch to get another nifty again, this one is on my list.
 

RT_Panther

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Based on this thread, one can *assume* that in the days before digital cameras, people never shot wide open for large prints....:)
 

kevistopheles

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Based on this thread, one can *assume* that in the days before digital cameras, people never shot wide open for large prints....:)
I read somewhere that the way legacy glass works on film and digital sensors are very different and a lens that worked well on film may or may not work as well on digital. Seems reasonable...besides I would think we all understand the subtext of the questions was "on the NEX".
 

kevistopheles

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Exactly what I suspected... If I ever itch to get another nifty again, this one is on my list.
I have had two of them and for whatever reasons I always end up selling them. I don't have any complaints about the lens (other than really not liking the FD mount...it's very fiddly) and when it comes time to decide what lenses to keep the FD 50/1.4 never makes the cut.
 

RT_Panther

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I read somewhere that the way legacy glass works on film and digital sensors are very different and a lens that worked well on film may or may not work as well on digital. Seems reasonable...besides I would think we all understand the subtext of the questions was "on the NEX".
Fair enough then...:D
 

Jefenator

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Based on this thread, one can *assume* that in the days before digital cameras, people never shot wide open for large prints....:)
I think the ballpark 6MP of resolution from an ISO100 35mm film frame may be somewhat less revealing of optical limitations - print much beyond 8x10" and film grain becomes quite prominent.
 

Grisu_HDH

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I love my Rokkor 50 1.4 and I'm happy with the results.
In my use the delivered sharpness is more than enough but of course this also depends on the status of a MF lens and mine looks and works nearly as new...
 

jimithing616

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I have pretty much all the 50 1.4 legacy lenses... at least the japanese ones... no german.
Out of the MD Rokkor 50 1.4, MC Rokkor 50 1.4, MC Rokkor 58 1.4, Canon FD 50 1.4 SSC, FDn 50 1.4, Nikon Ai's 50 1.4, Pentax-m 50 1.4, Super-Tak 50 1.4 (8 element) Olympus Zuiko 50 1.4

Out of all of those, my favorite would be either the Canon SSC, or the MC Rokkor 50 1.4 .... A LOT of that has to do with personal opinion though. And these were tested on my E-PM1. I have only been an NEX user for less than a month, and in that time I orignally had a 3N, which I then got rid of and bought the F3 which is a much better camera than the 3N. Anyway, I will be testing all of these soon on my F3, and I will be sure to post samples and a final report!

I agree, on film bodies lenses behave MUCH differently... for one the Film body is "full frame" and the NEX Aps-c... so less of the glass is being used. This will inherently make them behave much differently... then add in the fact that film is emulsion, a sensor is a computer... no matter how you slice it thats like comparing apples and oranges... if that.

BUT that being said, a great lens on film will in most circumstances be a great lens on the NEX, or any other Digital sensor.... I have never seen a stellar film performer show BAD results on digital... so there is give and take with that whole deal... but anyway. I will get that comparison posted soon!

PS: I am James, Im 24 and this is my first day on this site. So hey all!
 

Jaf-Photo

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In my experience the fast 50mm lenses tend to have very different properties wide open and stopped down. Wide open they (ideally) have short depths of field, swirly bokeh and a somewhat dreamy softness. Stopped down they tend to get super sharp and contrasty. As long as you can work with those differences and use them to your advantage, you should be be happy with most lenses in this category. I suppose you could find a 50mm that is tack sharp wide open but it would cost a fair bit more than I am willing to pay for that luxury.
 

jimithing616

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I agree with Jaf, another thing I came to realize, especially when I compared my results on film, to my results when adapting the same lens to mirrorless, is that without the big bright viewfinder and the spit prism of a SLR, hitting focus can be a lil harder on something like an NEX, or M4/3 or whatever you have... so ALOT of the time, wide open, with wafer thin DOF, people are just simply missing focus by the TINNIEST amount (which is so easy to do)... so tiny that you think you hit the focus and the lens is just soft, when in actuality that is not the case at all and had you actually hit focus it would have been razor sharp... this is of course not always the case.... but its something to check for using a tripod, good lighting, and a bright easy to focus on subject... and see if that "softness" goes away in your focus point.
 
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