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Once I was asked to make a comparison between Helios 44-3 58mm f2.0 MC and Industar-61 A / Z 50mm f/2.8. Since it was an interesting idea, I decided not to limit this comparison by only two lenses, but tried to compare all the lenses available to me at present. Of course in a certain range of focal lengths.
To start with, I chose the 50mm range. At this moment I have eight of these:
Olympus OM-System Zuiko Auto-S 50 mm f/1.4 (silver nose)
Minolta MD Rokkor 50 mm f/1.4
Minolta MC Rokkor-PG 50mm f/1.4
Minolta MD 50mm f1.7
Asahi Pentax Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8
Helios 44-3 58mm f2.0 MC
Industar-61 A / W 50mm f/2.8
Olympus Zuiko ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6
Since compare all parameters for such a large number of lenses is somewhat difficult, I decided to narrow down the issue a little bit and start with simple test. So:
Sharpness in the center of the frame at different apertures up to f4.0 from the short distance (portrait version) and the Chromatic Aberrations.
Conditions: indirect sunlight, ISO100, fixed white balance (the sun), Olympus E-PL1, a tripod.
As the test object was used at an angled A4 sheet of paper with kind of calibration image. I call it the depth of field test.
Further, for ease of comparison, all images were compiled into a 100% crop image. Click for Full size.
So, since I’m comparing very different lenses, I will, so to speak, layer by layer section.
A layer of f1.4:
There are three fast prime lenses: Olympus OM-System Zuiko Auto-S 50 mm f/1.4, Minolta MC Rokkor-PG 50mm f/1.4, Minolta MD Rokkor 50 mm f/1.4. In terms of sharpness they showed almost identical results. However, if you look closely, the picture of the Minolta MD Rokkor 50 mm f/1.4 looks somewhat better: a little more contrast, perhaps due to more modern antireflection coating.
Next section: f2.0 (f1.7 for Minolta MD 50mm f1.7 and f1.8 for the Asahi Pentax Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8)
So, in order. Leaders: Minolta MC Rokkor-PG 50mm f/1.4, Minolta MD Rokkor 50 mm f/1.4 and Olympus OM-System Zuiko Auto-S 50 mm f/1.4. The picture of these lenses has become much sharper than it was at f1.4. Minolta MD 50mm f1.7 and the Asahi Pentax Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8 shows soft image at the open wide aperture. Helios 44-3 58mm f2.0 MC does not show outstanding result either.
The incision f2.8.
Without exception, all lenses improve their performance, and it become very difficult to choose a leader. Perhaps Minolta MC Rokkor-PG 50mm f/1.4 and the Minolta MD 50mm f1.7 may lead… Although all lenses have shown excellent result. Except for one... Eagle Eye ... Great sharpness ... Apparently, people who have written well about the Industar-61 L / Z 50mm f2.8, never photographed with a rally good lens. The result - a complete disappointment. Of course, I could tell that it was soft open wide - but no, this problem continues to f4.0 and f5.6.
Additional player joins us - Olympus Zuiko ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6. And I would say that at f4.0 aperture this lens is the undisputable leader. Excellent sharpness, amazing contrast. In general, why to wonder - the most modern lens shows the best result. If this lens could be opened up to f2.0 or even f2.8 – it would be great lens. Of course the price would have been just different as well. And so - good lens for certain shooting conditions.
All other lenses again show very good results (except Industar-61 L / S 50 mm f/2.8). Leaders (after Olympus Zuiko ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6), again are three Minolta lenses, albeit with minor gap.
The overall conclusion:
I cannot choose a clear winner – first of all lenses are very different. But the portraits of the last time I take by Minolta MD Rokkor 50 mm f/1.4 open wide. If I need to duplicate the picture I do it with the Olympus Zuiko ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6.
This is pretty easy. If we take into account the open wide aperture (the most sensitive to CA), the chromatic aberration mostly well corrected for Minolta MC Rokkor-PG 50mm f/1.4 and Helios 44-3 MC 58mm f2.0. The worst result - Asahi Pentax Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8 (Olympus Zuiko ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 was not counted because of f4.0 aperture). Others – good enough.
An additional observation.
Through this comparison, I discovered an issue of which has long been suspected, but now know for sure - manufacturers adjust the white balance of the cameras (example: the sun), coupled with their original lenses. Notice the white color produced by Olympus Zuiko ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 - it really is pure white. Not yellowish (as Olympus OM-System Zuiko Auto-S 50 mm f/1.4), not blue (as Minolta MD Rokkor 50 mm f/1.4 and the Asahi Pentax Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8), not a little purple (as Helios 44 58mm f2.0 MC -3), and it was pure white. That means you can use pre-sets the camera - but up to a certain point. As I understand there is no automatic correct option. White balance should be manually adjustment each time you change the lens or light conditions changed. It became much more difficult if you are trying to use filters...
And yet .... As a result of this test I wanted to test something modern, fast and attractive. But, unfortunately, the choice for the MFT is very short - the closest - Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 (even not 1.4!). But it is worth $400. It is five times more expensive than the Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 and ten times (!) than the Minolta MD 50mm f1.7. And I’m not sure that performance of this lens will be ten times better...