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Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Bokeh - Battle of the 50's (Bonus)

After posting about my last blog on my flickr stream, (inspired by Wolfgang Schmitt aka "Spiegelwelten" - check out his amazing images here) I also set out to compare the bokeh of these lenses. Given that this might be a good argument to use a less sharp vintage lens instead of a more modern one, I thought it was a great idea and therefore, to complement my last post, here is a comparison to how the reviewed 50mm lenses render bokeh (the light balls you are used to see in unsharp parts of an image, especially highlights).

So let's jump right into it, shall we? I found an alternate use for some christmas lights to serve as bokeh-generators. In all cases I tried to keep the distance to the subject approximately the same and the focus about off by the same amount (close focus). This is especially important for the volna 9 which is a macro lens and therefore can focus much closer than all the other contestants (which would result in huge out of focus balls).





As you can see the Volna 9 and the Helios both have very interesting bokeh. The volna delivers buttery smooth bokeh at f 2.8 and very jagged hexagonal bokeh at f4.0. The Helios, next to the Fujinon lens have the hardest edged bokeh wide open. The Fujinon lens becomes almost geometrically hexagonal at f4.0 while the Helios, on the other side or the extremes, has incredibly smooth and round bokeh even at f4.0.

Here are some more realistic examples of all three lenses in action. (Nikon D610 with M42 adapter)


Nikkor 50 1.8G @ f1.8

full size crop


Fujinon 55 1.8 @ 1.8

full size crop
(NOTE: this photo is actually focused correctly but the white light reflected from the snow causes this lightwrap-effect blurring the edges of the head/cap)

Helios 44-2 @ f2.0

full size crop

Volna 9 @ f2.8

full size crop


And finally, here are a couple of fully edited shots taken on a sunny winter day with each of these lenses. Kind of the real-world test if you will. Surprisingly, some of the lenses that you would probably dismiss based on purely technical performance (in terms of sharpness) yielded very interesting images with a lot of character.

Nikkor @ f1.8
(click to enlarge)



Fujinon @ f1.8
(click to enlarge)




Helios @ f2.0
(click to enlarge)



Volna 9 @ f2.8
(click to enlarge)



.. and given that the volna9 is actually a macro:
(click to enlarge)

Well I hope you enjoyed this little journey back in time to the world of M42 50mm lenses and if you are out on the market to get one of these, I hope this helped you in your decision making.

Enjoy the winter days! Good light and good luck!




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