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GH1 - 50mm shoot-out


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A hacked GH1 with various mounts..

This is just a quick comparison.. really to just try some Pentax ½ frame lenses.

All pictures at 1920x1080 f2.8 - at this resolution lens sharpness is pretty much irrelevant, though the Pentax are at thier poorest sharpness wide open,
eg Pentax 110, 24mm lens: f2.8/f4/f5.6 CENTRE: 64/72/72 EDGE: 56/64/72 lpm

Again unable to source a decent M4/3 adapter, the e-bay ones are rubbish, light leaks and wrong register distance! This one is a combination of an L35 to m43 adapter and a (now dead) Pentax 110 body...



GH1 Pentax 110 18mm lens

GH1 Pentax 110 18mm lens example

GH1 Pentax 24mm lens

GH1 Pentax 24mm lens example
GH1 Pentax 50mm lens
GH1 Pentax 50mm lens example


Nikon 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8 Nikon 50mm f1.4 & follow focus
This would be the benchmark 50mm, probably the one (manual lens) people use most on DSLRs. Aperture looks similar to the Pentax above, but with (better) less ringing of out of focus areas, and considerably sharper when in focus!.


GH1 50mm shootout Nikon

Nikkor 50mm f1.2 @ f2.8
(picture taken on different day). Out of focus area is softer, pity about the British weather.. what you can't see is the slightly lower contrast
GH1-Nikkor f1.2 test
Hexanon 50mm f1.7 @ f2.8
probably the sharpest lens of the bunch, but in this test seemed darker in the viewfinder for same aperture. Also the out-of-focus areas are sharper at f2.8, suggesting it is really stopping down more than the marking on the lens say it is.
Despite this cheating(!) it really is the sharpest 50mm in a f1.8 or so aperture.

GH1 50mm shootout Hexanon

Hexanon 57mm f1.2 @ f2.8

Somewhat lower contrast than the other lenses -not a bad thing if you are shooting video: see also video test footage (ACHD) GH1
Also a much "warmer" picture, but this varies with each lens copy, it's a side effect (and aging effect) of using heavy metals in the glass.

GH1 shootout Hexanon 50mm f1.2 @ f2.8

Meyer / Pentacon 50mm @ f2.8
the "cheapest" lens and design in the f1.8 range, and the only one with a significantly different out-of-focus look (the generally despised edges to circle highlights* -to be fair, most "better corrected" lenses exibit this if the highlights are bright enough, see the artist shots, Dawn Penn, in City Life video...
This was a 50mm Nikon f1.4 AI lens, wide open).

actually the meyer didn't look so bad at full aperture: GH1 Pentacon 50mm lens @ f1.8

GH1 shootout, Pentacon 50mm @ f2.8
Cooke Series II 50mm @ f2.8 , bokeh winner?..
Dispite the change in daylight, this picture looks warmer than the other lenses: the glass appears clear (this could be an aging effect of heavy metals in the glass similar to the Hexanon above, or just an effect of an older type of lens coating).
Despite being 70yrs old, being a movie lens, it is optimally designed for ½ frame 35mm, closer to the 7D or APSC size sensors, this gives it a head start over the full frame lenses when it comes to speed, sharpness and contrast. The simpler design gives a nicer out-of-focus rendition.
GH1 50mm shootout, Cooke Series II lens


Apart form the obvious, ie you should conduct these sort of tests with consistent lighting! I think it shows that one 50mm stills lens is much like another, at least as far as video resolution is concerned and 90% of what one might shoot. On an artistic level, there are differences even on these similarly designed (apart from the Cooke) lenses. Missing from the test was a 50mm Sonnar (either Zeiss Sonnar or Jupiter/Helios Biotar) which I'll include later, and might tend to look more like the Cooke, ie sharp in the middle, soft to the edges with softer out-of focus bokeh.

Although it could be graded out, it's more important to get a set of lenses with consistent colour rendition. than to look for things like sharpness and contrast in individual lenses. Ease of use is also more important, focusing should neither be slack or too tight. The heliciod throw should not be too short (good for stills maybe but difficult to manually follow focus), generally older 1960-70s lenses are better for this.
Also, usually forgotten is the fact Nikon lenses pull focus in the oposite direction to other manufacturers! this can lead to confusion in mixed lens sets.

Not tested here, but some lenses exibit light fall off towards the edge of frame, particularly wide angle lenses and wide open. Not such an issue on 50mm primes, but does affect wide angle lenses in particular.

Zeiss 85mm Planar f1.4 @ f1.4

see also: GH1 page , lenses with personality page , SR2 Hire

last updated:23 May 2011