Low-cost lens cavalcade #5

Are you tired of reading mediocre reviews of mediocre lenses? Well I’m tired of writing them too! Fortunately there is hope for us all as this time I check out the Pentacon Electric 50mm f1.8.

The normal lens for the Praktica LLC.

It is my understanding that this lens is based on the Meyer Oreston. Meyer made many great lenses, and also a few mediocre ones. The Oreston was one of the greats, and this copy is no slouch either.

The Nissan before it got buried under the recent snowstorm.

The colours are not over-saturated and the contrast is also good, rendering realistic reproduction. Chromatic aberration is not in evidence anywhere and sharpness is top-notch. No doubt this is due to it having been constructed in communist East Germany where the quality control manager had the authority to send any slacking workers straight to the gulag.

Good detail in the branches.

If it seems as though I’m obsessed with sharpness, there’s good reason: not only that 100+ years of optical endeavor has gone into making lenses as sharp as possible and any example which falls short of being the best it can be is a betrayal to all who worked so hard, but my own actual eyes are lacking in such quality so trying to see a fuzzy image with fuzzy eyesight is doubly annoying, as well as irritating mentally and physically.

Small but sharp.

Just how good can it do? Take a look at this tree:

A tree with something extra.

Now look at a 640 x 427 segment cropped out of the full size image:

Almost hidden downy woodpecker.

Yes indeed, this lens can make good use of the Sony’s 20MP for some close-up imaging. It can turn out some very nice artistic images too:

Before the deep snow came.

What does the future hold for this lens? It will be staying with the camera it came on, the Praktica LLC. Why? For three reasons: 1). it is the Electric model, made specifically to work with the camera’s metering system (and does not work with my Canon’s adaptor); 2). I don’t use 50mm lenses often, and when I do; 3). I already have the excellent Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 which is still a better lens than this.

Despite that fact the Pentacon earns a ‘very good’ rating. There’s little to complain about in its performance, only slightly less competent than the Takumar but a bit more difficult to use owing to smaller control rings.

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