Four Lens Buckhead Bounce - shorterimage

One day this past week I went for a photo walk in Buckhead, mid to late afternoon. Four old manual lenses and me .. and my A7RII of course. Lenses that I thought would present an interesting mix of use and imagery for shooting some cityscape type shots. 


Well, I think this gaggle of four lenses showed pretty well for themselves!

So who are the protagonists (see pic below)?

Left most is the Canon FL 50mm 1:1.4. It was made from 1965 through 1967 and has six optical elements. It's very well built physically and mechanically. All metal. A bit on the heavy side of course for a 50mm these days. But if you drop it there's a good chance it will hurt what it hits more than itself. This lens was the successor to one of my favorite lenses, the Canon 50mm 1:1.4 L39 LTM which I did an article on that was published by SteveHuffPhoto here .. http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2017/06/07/the-japanese-summilux-thoughts-on-thecanon-50-1-4-ltm-lens/. In my use so far I've found the newer FL version to be sharper wide open but with not as compelling Bokeh. I also prefer the overall colorimetry of the older LTM lens as well although the FL lens does have good and maybe even a little closer to neutral color than the LTM. It's an artistic choice here.


The lens in the back middle is the excellent Carl Zeiss Distagon 2,8/28. 28mm focal length with a maximum f number of 2.8. It's exceedingly sharp for a wide angle lens, or just about any lens for that matter. It renders high contrast and delivers beautiful almost neutral color. It's superbly built and all metal save for rubber focus and aperture grips. It's often quoted as being one of the best wide angle lenses ever made. The Distagon 2,8/28 was designed specifically for Contax/Yashica mount. Per slrlensreview.com, "the Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 28mm f/2.8 is a classical manual focus Zeiss lens for the now defunct Contax/Yashica mount systems. Optical construction is 7 elements in 7 groups. The Contax line of cameras and lenses was discontinued in 2005 after Kyocera, which jointly owned the development rights for this brand, has decided to shutter its camera business. As of mid-2008, Carl Zeiss has not yet announced any official plans for the Contax brand name, although the company hinted that they will eventually bring this great brand name back to the market." Zeiss now sell new, updated versions of this Distagon in several popular mounts, however these sell for over $1200. The older and all manual Contax/Yashica version can be had on ebay for $300 to $400 in very good to excellent condition.


In the front middle is the budget Kobalux Super Wide 21mm f2.8. This is an odd duck lens marketed under the many brand names of Kobalux, Avenar, Bower, Pasoptik and others. It's a budget OEM lens manufactured by YK optical, Yokohama, Japan. The odd duck part is its an L39 Leica screw mount 21mm wide angle and I don't know of any other similarly wide for Leica screw mount. It's designed for rangefinder cameras so its a steal when compared to M mount Leica 21's which will run you between $3000 and $8000 new. So is this a gimmick dog of a lens? Not hardly. Stopped down its actually surprisingly good considering what it is and its cost. I've only included one pic here from the Kobalux and in it you'll see some fall off at the outer edge of the lens. A small amount of that is actually lens fall off itself. However the larger part seen is due to field curvature issues as mated onto my Sony A7RII. The A7RII has a particularly thick image sensor filter which exacerbates focal point issues associated with lens field curvature. Still, its made a pretty nice image here I think.


And finally, far right in its silver 1950's splendor is the much sought after and ballyhooed Meyer-Optik-Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f2.8 V(red). The red 'V' indicates its a coated lens. Actually there were 'T' coated lenses and 'V' coated lenses. The 'V' indicated a superior level of coating. Its designed in a classic Cooke triplet arrangement. The ballyhoo mentioned earlier being the 'soap bubble' bokeh its renowned for. Its thought of as the most bubbly of the bubble bokeh lenses and as such has sky rocketed in cost in recent years. Soap bubbles or not, its still a pretty nice mid telephoto lens in its own right so when I was looking for a mild telephoto to take on my photo walk and spied the gleaming silver of the Trioplan, I thought why not. I hadn't shot much with it outside of the obligatory bokeh testing that goes along with this lens. So in the bag it went. In the last couple of years the once defunct Meyer-Optik-Görlitz name has been revived and they are now making new updated lenses of several of their classic and sought after products, the Trioplan 100 being one of them. Here's there page for their new Trioplan. It will set you back a cool $1,599 .. https://www.meyer-optik-goerlitz.com/en-us/trioplan-100-f2.8. If you can find an original 1950's vintage silver Trioplan 100 in good nik it will set you back between $700 and $1,200 depending upon condition and mount type. So as you can see, with a cost nearing their new product price, it's a highly valued old piece. My Trioplan copy is in very good external and mechanical condition with excellent optics. This is a very light lens for a 100mm making it quite pleasant to have on your camera for long periods of time.


A street tale of four lenses!


I started out with the Canon FL 50mm 1:1.4 on my Sony A7RII

f8, 1/400th sec, ISO 100


Canon FL 50mm 1:1.4

f8, 1/400th sec, ISO 100


Kobalux Super Wide 21mm f2.8 .. this is the one I mentioned you can see some field curvature out of focus out to the edges

f8, 1/400th sec, ISO 100


Carl Zeiss Distagon 2,8/28

f8, 1/250th sec, ISO 100


Carl Zeiss Distagon 2,8/28

f8, 1/320th sec, ISO 100


Meyer-Optik-Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f2.8

f11, 1/250th sec, ISO 160


Meyer-Optik-Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f2.8

f11, 1/160th sec, ISO 160


Meyer-Optik-Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f2.8

f11, 1/160th sec, ISO 160


Meyer-Optik-Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f2.8

f11, 1/500th sec, ISO 160


Meyer-Optik-Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f2.8

f11, 1/500th sec, ISO 160


Carl Zeiss Distagon 2,8/28

f8, 1/500th sec, ISO 160


Carl Zeiss Distagon 2,8/28

f8, 1/320th sec, ISO 160


Carl Zeiss Distagon 2,8/28

f8, 1/250th sec, ISO 160


Carl Zeiss Distagon 2,8/28

f8, 1/160th sec, ISO 160


Carl Zeiss Distagon 2,8/28

f8, 1/160th sec, ISO 160


Carl Zeiss Distagon 2,8/28

f8, 1/160th sec, ISO 160


These shots are all in chronological order as the day went on ranging from around 3:30pm until just after 6pm. As you can see, the weather got a bit more dramatic as the afternoon wore on. That's one reason why the last shots are all with the same lens. I was hesitant to change lenses again with the wind whipping around blowing stuff all over the place. Of course the other reason for not changing might be the fact that the Carl Zeiss Distagon 2,8/28 clearly is the optical champion here from a technical standpoint. It just pops!


That said I like all of these lenses quit a lot. They all have their own certain character and hallmarks. I mentioned the Zeiss was the technical champion but even in being that, one might call it out for being a bit clinical. That's comes along some time with technical perfection.

There's something almost a bit too perfect sometimes and its easy to start longing for some of the traits of the other lenses. I mean, the 21mm Super Wide has its funkyness to it. Its produced a nice image here that's certainly sharp enough in its central image area. Its color is pretty nice too once you get past the green cast on the near outer edges. That really messed me up a bit in working this image in post until after a few minutes I realized there were green translucent awnings that were casting strong green light on both sides of the street.

The Trioplan surprised me that it was as sharp as its rendered here. It's known for its soft focus and bubbles when wide open. That's one reason why I thought it would be interesting to see it shot stopped down at subjects that could reveal its abilities .. or disabilities. I was quite pleasantly surprised to find it as sharp as these images bear out. And the Trioplan has always been known for nice color. So as it turns out, its definitely not a one dimensional soft or bubble bokeh lens. It actually proved to be quite versatile since it has those other artistic qualities in its bag as well.

I didn't shoot quite as much with the Canon FL 50mm 1.4. Not that I lacked any preference for it but more so because the scenes posed just called me towards the 28mm wide angle to take in the breadth of the buildings. Or the 100mm to then isolate on parts of the grand scape. The FL 50mm did turn out to be nice and sharp. Fun to use and I'll be taking lots more shots with it. I think in shooting it this day I've discovered it has a slightly cool color balance to it. That took me a little time to get used to in post as I kept thinking I needed to warm it up a bit. But like most color signatures, you generally need to keep their look in tact. When you try to push them to a color profile they are not, things can start looking a bit out of sorts. Fortunately the FL's look is quite nice as displayed here (I hope).

As for the day and time, it was quite enjoyable. The time flew by. Later on I thought I might get blown away or soaked. And I was sure hoping not the later with all my gear. I kept looking for places I could duck into if I needed to spare the equipment. Fortunately it held off just long enough for me to get plenty of shots and not get wet in the deal either.

Now I look forward to my next photo excursion!


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