Portrait Primes for Micro 4/3rds

Portrait Primes

Key: R20111118-205322-levels

Left to Right:
40mm Konica Hexanon f1.8
45mm Pana Leica f2.8 Elmarit
50mm Konica Hexanon f1.4

Portrait Primes

Key: R20111118-210152-levels

Just look at the craftsmanship. Solidly-built. Real aperture ring. Distance scale. Hyperfocal marks. Heavy.

Portrait Primes

Key: R20111118-205502-levels

One of the interesting aspects of mirrorless cameras, due to their short flange back, is the ability (through the use of adapters) to mount almost any legacy 35mm glass on the camera. I had been intrigued by the idea of getting some legacy lenses, but I wasn’t really sure what I should get. My own legacy glass, from the old film days, was Pentax, and it is in none too good condition. In particular, it has a lot of fungus inside. I hadn’t used the film equipment in a long time and although I had stored it carefully with dessicant packets, I hadn’t stored it in a dehumidified room. I live in a rain forest, basically, so you can probably guess what happened. But, for a couple of years now I have been maintaining a proper dry room that is humidity and temperature controlled. It’s really done wonders for a lot of items, from slides and negatives, to guitars, to … breakfast cereal (nice having crunchy breakfast cereal in the morning!).

I digress. The relevant point (I think!) is that I finally felt that maybe if I bought some new (old) lenses that I might be able to take a little better care of them this time around. And for a long time I wondered what kind of lenses I should pick up, since almost anything can be mounted on u4/3 with the right adapter. In the last few months I began noticing images made with Konica Hexanon lenses on u4/3. I liked what I was seeing about the way these lenses rendered images on a micro four thirds body. I began to pay more and more attention to which lenses. Finally, as I recently reported here last week I parted with a little cash on EBay for a couple of used legacy prime lenses. As you are no doubt aware, these can be had for pennies on the dollar these days, here near the end of the mass transition to digital photography. And there is some very, very nice glass to be had to put on the front of your camera if you don’t mind turning a little wheel to focus instead of pushing a button. Me, I don’t mind turning a wheel now and then.

The lenses have arrived, but I am still waiting for the $20 adapter from Amazon. Can’t wait to give these bad boys a whirl. These are all moderate normals on 35mm, moderate telephoto (2X factor) on u4/3, so I now have a 40 (80mm) joining the current Pana Leica 45 (90mm) and rounding it out a 50 (100mm). I’m especially interested in comparing the 50 with the 45 for portraits.

These old manual focus primes scream quality in a way that the new plastic AF lenses do not. You can see that size-wise, they stack up quite well with the native u4/3 lens, although they are nowhere near as light. I do appreciate the plastic Pana lenses for their light weight, and to be fair, for their image quality (they are very nice after all), but there is something about an old MF lens, made of glass and metal, with an actual aperture ring, a smooth, damped focusing ring, and proper markings for distance, depth of field and hyperfocal length, that gives sheer pleasure in the tactile handling of the lens. Takes me back to those film days, it does.

Obviously, more to come when the adapter shows up.

2 thoughts on “Portrait Primes for Micro 4/3rds

  1. Chris, I don’t think they are Leica mount. If so, I think the prices would be higher in the aftermarket. This is a proprietary Konica “AR” mount, although it is basically a standard variation on the bayonet mount of the era. Whether this went on to become the standard Minolta mount (before the switch to electronic lenses) I don’t know. The lens is from the Konica era, before Konica-Minolta came to be, I believe.

    The 40mm I picked up for $65 with $8 shipping. And this copy was in excellent condition! If these work out well I am going to be scouring ebay for more gems.

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