Review MS Optics Sonnetar 73mm f/1.5 (Leica M Mount)

serhan

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This lens is a small masterpiece that came from Mr. Miyazaki's shop. It is smaller then Sony 55mm 1.8 lens and it works perfectly with Techart M mount af adapter (TAP) due to its size/weight. TAP shortens its mfd of 1 meter to make it semi macro lens esp on A6500.

size 56.7 x Φ 50 mm
weight 197 g
No of diaphragm blades 16 rounded

Shots on A7R II that shows its Sonnar character.

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f8
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f1.5
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f8
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f1.5
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f4
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f5.6 or 8
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f1.5
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There is a coma selection that you can change behind the lens that moves the lens elements. However it is very hard to do in the field without getting dust in the camera/lens. So these are shot at coma optimized at 3 (meter I am guessing). For my use it is sharp enough stopped down.
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There is blue fringing with extreme contrast shots that goes away stopped down, but it also shows up in some shots when you push the image eg highlights/shadows. Again that is harder to see without 100% crops.

The other issue is the turning of aperture when you change the distance scale as they are very close. So it is not mechanically smooth as Voigtlander lenses with Aperture in the front.

So far this lens earned a permanent spot in my pocket:)
 
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serhan

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Shots on A6500, all at f1.5 except one shot at f2.8:
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f2.8
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Blue fringing on the left edge, 100% crop:
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Amin Sabet

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Very interesting lens. I had never heard of it. Definitely has that Sonnar character. Love the light and the way the lens renders in this one especially:

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serhan

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The lens is just released, so it might be one of the few released since all are hand made. I saw the only review samples in Japanese websites that were selling the lens. There is not much available online for his shop or reviews of his lenses. Below link some old info on his previous lenses including his famous lens, the MS Optics Sonnetar 50mm 1.1 lens, which has similar coma adjustment:

ms optical | japan exposures

"The Sonnar type is a photographic lens originally designed by Dr. Ludwig Bertele in 1924 and patented by Zeiss Ikon. It was notable for its relatively light weight, simple design and fast aperture. The name “Sonnar” is derived from the German word “Sonne”, meaning sun. It was given this name because its large aperture was much greater than many other lenses available at the time. Compared to Planar designs the Sonnars had more aberrations, but with fewer glass-to-air surfaces it had better contrast and less flare. Though compared to the earlier Tessar design, its faster aperture and lower chromatic aberration was a significant improvement.
Source: Wikipedia

Here are 50mm 1.1 Sonnerar's key features:
  • 5 elements in 4 groups Sonnar formula lens
  • Compact design, weight 190g, 220g with hood (36mm long, 55mm diameter filter thread)
  • Premium quality Tantalum glass, superior to Trium and Lanthanum glass with best refractive qualities
  • 14 blade aperture for smooth and pleasing bokeh (Made in Germany by Otto Niemann Feinmechanik GmbH, Berlin)
  • Minimum focus distance 0.8m
  • ALL six glass surfaces multicoated, 97% light transmission
  • Initial lot of 300 lenses, designed, manufactured and hand-assembled in Japan by Mr Sadayasu Miyazaki
  • Native Leica M mount
Mr Miyazaki of MS Optical, a small independent manufacturer of lenses and camera accessories, has also added a world first: positioned with the rear element of the lens is a “coma adjustment ring”. Coma (aka comatic aberration) in an optical system refers to aberration inherent to certain optical designs or due to imperfection in the lens or other components which results in off-axis point sources such as stars appearing distorted, appearing to have a tail (coma) like a comet (Wikipedia). The coma control has the distance settings infinity, 4m, 2m and 1m (up to 1m setting should only be used with mirror less cameras or cameras with live view). As it is well known, early Sonnar lenses encountered issues with aberration when used wide open. The coma adjustment control allows to select the subject distance and slightly repositions the rear element to compensate for the selected focus distance by reducing spherical aberration. This also changes the focal length very slightly (only by fractions of a millimetre). Alternatively one can set it into the opposite of optimum direction for a soft focus look that makes Sonnar portraits so attractive.

Spherical aberration is also often dubbed as a “friend of bokeh” as the very soft rendering will pronounce out of focus areas even more. The famous Voigtländer Universal-Heliar, introduced in 1926, incorporated the ability of the central lens element to be adjusted by the photographer, thereby introducing varying amount of spherical aberrations. Its images are legendary.

This is what Carl Zeiss say themselves about their C-Sonnar T* 1,5/50 ZM, similar can be expected for the Sonnetar 50/1.1:

This lens design helps to achieve pictures with a special artistic touch. This lens ‘draws’ your subject in a fine, flattering manner and is therefore ideally suited for portraiture. It renders a sharpness that is slightly rounded, being less aggressive than in contemporary lens designs, but at the same time not soft in its rendition.

Many famous portraits of glamorous and prominent people during the 1930s used this technique to great effect. These images are characterized by portraying the person in a shining, nearly celestial way. This effect is very well balanced and not exaggerated; therefore many viewers see it in a subconscious way. The trained observer, however, understands the underlining technique and enjoys the results.

This lens design exhibits some additional effects, which should be understood to achieve the maximum benefit from the C-Sonnar T* 1.5/50 ZM:

Because of the above mentioned classical characteristic of the lens the best focus position in the object space can not be kept exactly constant for all f-stop settings. The passionate photographer might notice a slightly closer best focus in his pictures than expected. When stopping down the lens to f/2.8 or smaller this effect is minimized, so the focus position will be as expected. In order to balance the performance at full speed and other f-stop settings the lens is adjusted with above described characteristic.

Another link from the shop I got the lens:
MS Optical Japan - Japan Camera Hunter
Very interesting lens. I had never heard of it. Definitely has that Sonnar character. Love the light and the way the lens renders in this one especially:
 
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