Low-cost lens calvacade #2

A little preamble: many of the lenses I’m trying out here are “pre-set” types where there is one ring to set the minimum aperture stop and a second ring to change between wide open and closed down to the selected number. Using them with ‘Aperture Priority’ mode on the Sony is easy and works well; I often just set the ‘stop’ ring to its limit (f16 or f22 for these lenses) and then just dial it in to where I get the depth of field or shutter speed I want. However with each lens I have tried to take at least one shot wide open so I can see how sharp it is at maximum aperture. This doesn’t always work in bright sunlight even with ISO set at 100 as the Sony’s top shutter speed is 4000. In some cases I’ve shot under lower light conditions just to have a look, but I don’t always include those shots.

The next lens in the line-up is the Cunor 200mm f4.5:

Cunor 200mm

Once again we have a lens without any significant information about its manufacture. No worries, because results are what matter! Ah, shame about that. I wanted to like this lens because a 200mm prime could be useful. Not this one.  I took pictures and then I took them over again. I checked the glass three times. Nothing helped. Particularly not the f4.5 maximum aperture. It takes a lot of glass and brass to make a ‘fast’ lens and this one hasn’t got it and isn’t. Herein I’ve tried to find the best shots it did in the equivalent of a whole roll of film.

Lilac in winter. Full frame shrunk down.

Doesn’t look too bad, right? Now look at a 640×427 segment from the full size image:

Lilac in winter segment.

It’s like that in every shot at any distance or aperture; soft to the point of blurriness. Combined with the ‘slow’ maximum aperture, slightly low contrast, and a somewhat stiff focusing ring and you have a lens I must rate as only ‘fair’. I am not surprised by this however, as I wasn’t expecting great results from a “no-name” brand lens. Colour rendition is okay if a bit muted and no sign of significant chromatic aberration.

With some effort you can get ‘artistic’ results:

Dreamy images are possible.
Okay for full-frame, just don’t look close at the details.
When all else fails, take a picture of the dog.

(The last three shots were post-processed in many ways; the lens does not perform on its own.)

Oh well. Another ‘fair’ lens. We’re 0 for 2 so far.

We came to an agreement

It’s a bad idea for me to get bored. You know that camera stuff I was boasting about not buying? Well …

The deal.

Anyway it worked out okay. With a Praktica LLC SLR (not a great camera) I figured I’d have some mediocre M42 lenses to play with, right? And yes as I looked at them they were mediocre: a Sun f2.8 28-80mm, an Opticon f2.8 135mmm, a Cunor f4.5 200mm, a Tokina f4.5 80-200mm (which appears to be Canon FD mount but is damaged on both ends), and of course the ‘standard’ Pentacon f1.8 50mm “electric” for the Praktica. Beyond that there are some miscellaneous items like three old flashes, some cheap M42 extension tubes and extenders, plus cases and caps not necessarily matching or fitting anything. In terms of cases the big, blue fibreglass and aluminium Hewlett-Packard one he gave me as a bonus is quite the nicest of them. The black leather one is trash but the brown one can be used with some fixing up.

As it was I didn’t look at everything before I bought it. I figured I was ahead anyway. The seller kept going on about the Canon VHS-C camcorder, which is frankly junk and headed for recycling. But once I had it home and pawed through everything I found the solid gold at the bottom of the brown case: a Pentax Super Takumar f3.5 135mm! Oh some people may say the gold was the Helios 44-2 f2 58mm that was hiding in the same case. The Vivitar f5.6 300mm is probably a pretty nice lens too. Likewise the Vivitar f2.8 24mm. Maybe even the Prakticar f4.5 70-210mm zoom, although likely not as it feels like the cheapest lens ever made. I’m sure the best is not the Meyer Domiplan f2.8 50mm because I’ve had one with my Exacta equipment and they aren’t impressive.

There’s also an old Sekonic meter, but that appears to not be working. Likewise the flashes probably aren’t worth bothering about, not even the Braun 340 SCA.

The likely best lenses.

Anyway that’s ten new-to-me M42 lenses to play with, which should keep me from being bored for a while. If we ever get any sunshine around here again.

Feel free to try and guess the price. You wouldn’t believe it.