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Start Galerien (2D) Kameras & Objektive Adorable 50s - The Portrait Primes Battle

Adorable 50s - The Portrait Primes Battle


Some weeks ago we announced a workshop titled "adorable 50s" that was intended to compare a rich set of bright 50mm primes. Due to the crop of APS-C and (Micro-)FourThirds sensors, these primes convert to typical portrait focal lengths and provide the option to take photos indoor at avalialable light without using a flash and to play with a thin sharpness area. The comparison should allow you to judge sharpness & contrast at open aperture as well as their characteristics how out-of-focus structures in the background are rendered.

Here you find the results of the workshop but first a few words about how it was managed: The workshop was held in Hamburg under the direction of Helge Hackbarth together with the lovely model Lara-Dias. It included both an indoor comparison shooting at "avialable light" as well as an outdoor comparison under daylight conditions. A reflector was used in order to establish a good light balance between model and background - no flash at all! The locations were chosen with a versatile background structure in order to be able to assess the rendering of the out-of-focus blur (creaminess, bokeh, etc.) as well as contrast and sharpness of the model in the foreground.

Unfortunately three participants dropped out shortly, so that also some exciting lenses that were most welcome alongside the participants were missing (e.g. a Leica Noctilux 50/0.95 ASPH, a Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.1, a Canon 50/1.2 LTM, a Minolta MD Rokkor 50/1.2 and a Jupiter 3 LTM 50/1.5). Nevertheless, also the remaining selection gives already a good overview in which such the rather cheap and popular Olympus OM / Minolta MC Rokkor can be compared with upper end priced lenses like the Leica Summilux and a prototype of the SLR Magic HyperPrime 50mm CINE T0.95.

The comparison candidates:

  • SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95 (F0.92) (one of the currently available prototypes, click here for details)
  • Leica Summilux 50mm F1.4 ASPH (M-Mount, E46)
  • Minolta MC Rokkor 50mm F1.4
  • Olympus OM 50mm F1.4 (OM-mount)
  • Olympus OM 50mm F1.8 (OM-mount)
  • Sony 50mm F1.8 OSS (SEL 50F18, E-Mount)
  • Olympus M-Zuiko 45mm F1.8 (MiroFourThirds Mount)
  • Leica Summicron 50mm F2.0 pre-ASPH (M-Mount, E39)

The lenses were attached to a Sony NEX-7, a NEX-5n, an Olympos OM-D (E-M5) and a PEN E-PL1. For the indoor shooting we created a meaningful setup in a nice bar:


But pictures speak louder than words. All images you see here, were taken with the Sony NEX-7 and processed from RAW with identical settings for contrast and sharpnes. Just some minor adjustments of white balance were applied. In order to see other sizes you may click on the images:


Sony 50mm 1.8 @ F1.8:


Olympus OM 50mm 1.8 @ F1.8:


Olympus OM 50mm 1.4 @ F1.4:


Minolta MC Rokkor 50mm 1.4 @ F1.4:


Leica Summilux 50mm 1.4 ASPH @ F1.4:


SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95 @ F1.4:


SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95 @ F0.92:


For the outdoor part we chosed the "Hamburger Rathaus-Markt" as background. Fortunately the wheather was good but not too sunny as too bright light had pushed the cameras over the 1/4000s limit at open aperture of these bright lenses. This time we start with the Leica Summicron-M 50mm (pre-ASPH E39 version) which already allows a nice out-of-focus blur rendering at F2.0 in this situation.

Leica Summicron 50mm 2.0 @ F2.0:

Sony 50m 1.8 OSS @ F1.8:

Olympus OM 50mm 1.8 @ F1.8:

Olympus OM 50mm 1.4 @ F1.4:

Minolta MC Rokkor 50mm 1.4 @ F1.4:

Leica Summilux 50mm 1.4 ASPH @ F1.4:

SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95 @ F1.4:

SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95 @ F0.92:

Conclusion so far:

  • The most potential for out-of-focus blur is provided by the SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95 which performs with a creamy bokeh and very good center sharpness/contrast even at open aperture. The objects in the foreground can be "popped out" from the background like with no other lens in this test. Precise focussing at T0.95/F0.92 is a challenge and feels similar to the Leica Noctilux 50/0.95 (which unfortunately missed in this comparison). The colors are "warmer" compared to most other candidates.
  • The Leica Summilux 50mm F1.4 ASPH provides best colors for my taste, has a perfect sharpness even in the edges (although this plays no role in the examples provided above) and renders a very beautyful and creamy bokeh as well which covers already most desires for nice out-of-focus blur in a very compact size. Focussing feels simply good and is quite easy compared to other lenses. For me it is still the 50/1.4 reference.
  • The Olympus OM 50/1.4 as well as the Minolta MC Rokkor-PG 50/1.4 are significantly "softer" at open aperture and may provide twitchy structures in the out-of-focus areas.
  • The Olympus OM 50/1.8 performs better regarding contrast and sharpness. The bokeh is fairly well but with less potential for out-of-focus blur than their F1.4 siblings.
  • The Sony SEL 50F18 OSS performs significantly better than the Olympus OM 50/1.8 regarding contrast/sharpness and persuades with a creamier bokeh but compared with the Leica Summilux or the HyperPrime CINE, it has visibly less potential to rip out the portrayed person from the background.

As several other potential participants expressed their interest in a workshop like this, it is planned to repeat that within the next months with an even larger selection of fast 50mm primes. If you are interested as well, please let me know by mail to info (at) 3D-Kraft.com .

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