This is a very different kind of roundup. There's only one lens here I'd expect people to come across "in the wild". The next most common is a C-mount so yes, lets get weird...
The lenses here (on my Olympus EP3) are:
- Panasonic (Leica) DG Summilux 25mm F1.4 ASPH.
- Pentax TV lens 25mm F1.4 (1" coverage)
- Wollensak Cine Raptor 25mm F1.5
- Nikon 35mm F2.0 AI Nippon Kogaku
Sarcasm aside, I like these names. It really helps set these aside from just being a mundane amalgam of specifications.
About the lenses:
Summilux is what Leica calls their current batch of lenses with an F1.4 aperture. Leica itself is a luxury brand in cameras. Leica's been at this for a while - their compact landscape camera dates back to 1913. They've got history, and a name that carries weight, so it makes sense that Panasonic would want to ride that name. The lens is Panasonic made but designed or approved by Leica. This is a current production lens for the high grade MFT market.
The most pedestrian of names is the Pentax TV lens. Quality is a bit better than the cheap 25mm c-mounts lenses on ebay that go for $25-$50, but it's not that great. It is quite comfortable to use with it's smooth ring though. This lens still exists, but is now branded Ricoh. This is a current low cost CCTV lens. Stepless aperture is good for video. While Pentax is also steeped in optical history starting with spectacle lenses, a mass production and cheaper lens like this probably inherits little of their mojo.
Wollensak was making camera lenses as far back as 1902,and shutters from 1899. They pushed high speed photography and video with their fastax brand, developing on a Bell Labs spinning prism implementation taking frame rates up to 18,000fps in the 1960s. For their film cameras, they have a line of cine lenses (c-mount)that were good value at the time. The company went under in 1972, so the lens here is at least as old as that.
Nikon has been around since 1917, but at the time was known as Nippon Kōgaku Kōgyō Kabushikigaisha (say that ten times fast...). It stayed that way for a long time, but in 1988, someone thought that it was too much of a mouthful, so the company was renamed to Nikon Corporation. "Nikon" dates back to 1946 and was formed from the words "Nippon" and "Ikon". Ikon was a Zeiss brand. In 1959, Nikon started pushing their Nikkor F line of SLR cameras. The 35mm F2.0 in use is an optical design introduced by Nikon in 1962. In 1975 Nikon updated the lens to stop down to F22, and since my lens doesn't have that option, the age is between 1962 and 1975 - possibly closer to 1975 since Nikon initially used chrome noses instead of all black on their lenses.
So that's 4 lenses - 3 different types that are 25mm F1.4. There's no MTF curves or going into technical details here and I'm only looking at them wide open - so this article's usefulness will be rather specific, but I think it's interesting to see them here. As evidenced, everything is a tradeoff. Size, cost, build quality, ease of focus, sharpness, vignetting, chromatic aberrations - even the high end Leica here loses to all 3 in ease of manual focus, and the 35mm easily has it beat for vignetting. Every lens here has something it's better than the others at - even the optically worst lens of the bunch has redeeming qualities. Photographic gear is an exercise in compromise.
I have a crapload (technical term for a lot) of lenses with overlap. But it doesn't mean I don't have a reason to use them. Sometimes I run with the Wollensak just for fun. Since I'm heavy into manual lenses, it's good to keep practicing focus. The results are different, and can be quite fun when done right - say, taking a photo of someone in front of a Christmas tree and seeing the swirly bokeh transform the background of image into a more atypical picture.
Everyone with an interchangeable lens camera should try a manual focus lens sometime. You may like it - and if you do, you suddenly open up decades of easily adaptable glass, often with wider apertures that you'd normally get as a result of cost - and with a focal reducer, that F-Stop can become even better, while supplying a wider angle of view.
|Wollensak 25mm F1.5 - "Some dude on a bike..."|
Sharp center makes the bike "pop". Less sharp edges don't matter here, and the distortion is somewhat masked by motion blur.