Fujinon 50mm f/1.4 M42 screwmount

As I venture further into the world of photography I have developed a defining fascination of old lenses. They have a character that has been long lost in the production of clinical-looking perfect rendering glass for the ultra-modern digital cameras of today. What is super fun about my Fujifilm X-mount system, is that you can adapt almost any lens mount via an adapter. So possibilities to use these old lenses are nearly endless.
DSCF0005 2

For the old Pentax M42 screw-mount you can get a LOT of great glass for a very reasonable price. Cream of the crop are the old Takumar lenses, but also many old DDR and USSR lenses like Praktika, and Zeiss Jena lenses are really cool.

I was fortunate enough to get a hold of a rare Fujinon 50mm f/1.4. It came attached to a Fujica ST705W, and I got it REALLY cheap. The lens was in excellent condition. No fungus or inter-elemental dust of any kind. Of course the white marking had been yellowed by wear and nicotine. I restored the outer elements of the lens using silkmatté spray car-finish and white+green acryllic paint for the markings. I now have a mint condition, 38 y.o. vintage lens for the bargain price of $50 (incl. the great Fujica ST705W, which I will make a little review of when I get some rolls of film developed and scanned)

I have bought a cheap adapter for the M42 to X mount on ebay, and the 50mm turns into a great 75mm FOV equivalent f/1.4 for my APS-C Fujifilm X-Pro1

DSCF1489

“They don’t build ‘em like they used to”

The build of this lens is FANTASTIC! It’s all metal and glass. It’s amazingly sturdy and the aperture ring clicks in great defined clicks. The focus ring is fluid in its turning and a joy to use.  I have handled alot of lenses, and the feel of these vintage lenses simply cannot be matched by todays production standards, except maybe for the Leica lenses, and to some extent the Zeiss lenses. The era of plastic certainly isn’t doing anyone any favours in terms of durability and look & feel!

I am simply amazed that I am using something from 1978 and it feels brand spanking new!

“Sharp is great, but so is softness and character”

So what makes this lens so great is its character. It seems that with the digital era came the pursuit and quest to get everything razor sharp, and noiseless. While great and practical, the results can often lack defining character. This is where I like the look and quirkyness of the old lenses. You get some unique looking shots, that you simply cannot achieve with modern day lenses.

The Fujinon 50mm f/1.4 is quite soft when shot wide open. But stop it down to f/2 and it is rather sharp. However that wideopen softness gives it a dreamy look and feel to portraits. There is some chromatic aberration visible when shot in harsh sunlight, but if you attach a 3-stop ND filter everything looks great.

The Bokeh is very pleasing. Soft and round out of focus specular highlights, and its not messy, but rather fluid and soft. For object separation this lens is fantastic.

The soft dreamy look at f/1.4 is really essential to the shots that can be achieved with this lens. When you stop it down a few steps to f/2.8 you can get very sharp results. I prefer the soft look approach, since I would use a more modern lens if I wanted that super corrected sharpness. However, the possibility to achieve sharpness is definitely there.

Color rendering is a pleasing warm colour. Colours are saturated and there is great blue/yellow separation. This must be due to great coating of the elements.

DSCF1485

“Unfortunately no-one can be told what the matrix is… you have to see it for yourself!”

Below are samples that I have shot with the lens attached to my X-Pro1. I have a long way to go before mastering manual focus, but the magnification aid in the X-Pro1 helps a lot. I have done various post-processing to the shots below, as I would normally do. But to me the soft character shines through in all images. The aperture value doesn’t get put through to the camera, but all shots where shot wide open at f/1.4. EXIF is embedded within the images for those who are interested.

DSCF1581 DSCF1591 DSCF1615 DSCF1634 DSCF1636 DSCF1640 DSCF1641 DSCF1650 DSCF1661 DSCF1665 DSCF1673 DSCF1674 DSCF1675 DSCF1678 DSCF1692 DSCF1707

29 replies »

  1. Excellent! The ability to use old lenses with the X bodies has doubled my joy with my X-E1; your shots are great examples of why this is so much fun. My latest is a Summicron-R E55 90/f2, it absolutely knocks my socks off. Thanks you for posting this article, it needed to be said loud and clear and btw, niiice lens :)

  2. Really great photos. You are a wonderful, thought filled photographer and I enjoy your work. I have on order a Zeiss 50mm f/1.5. While built today, the lens is based on a design from the 1930s and so I’m looking forward to some of the character from it that you mention in your Fuji 50. There is nothing like the build and character of older lenses.

    • Thank you Tom! Really glad you like them. There really IS something very special about these vintage lenses, Brings a lot of fun (and challenge) into photography. That Zeiss sound like ALOT of fun :D Please link me to some shots, once you get it :)

      • Will do… I don’t pick it up until I get back home to America from Tanzania in about a month’s time. Looking very forward to getting back to slowing down with a manual lens. Will definitely post the results. Best regards, Tom

  3. Hi Jonas. I, like you have recently become fascinated with old lenses on my X-E1 as well. The character is amazing and the cost of these old classics (with the exception of Leica) is often just too good to pass up. I have acquired now Pentacons (135mm), Carl Zeiss Jenas (135mm Sonnar and 50mm Pancolar), Contax Zeiss 85mm, Summicron 50mm Rigid and Pentax SMC-M 50mm f1.7 and I am loving every one of them.

    My original reason for exploring legacy lenses was due to the lack of good mid-range (75mm – 135mm equivalent) telephoto lenses for the X-Series cameras. Your post really hit the nail right on the head.

  4. Hi Jonas,

    Great pictures, really nice!

    I too got very interested in old lenses for my X-Pro 1. I got a couple of Takumars that needed some fixing. I could fix the optical part quite easily, but not get the exterior back in shape. The focus barrels show usage and the paint is coming off. Could you explain a bit more what you did? Is this a car paint in a can? Did you take the barrel off? Also, how to repaint the numbers?

    Thanks for any pointers!

    Daniel

  5. Hi Jonas!
    I’m reading all of your “adapted lenses” posts and I’m so glad you took the time to share these, I’m waiting for my M42 adapter for my fuji X-E1 and this is making my wait UNBEARABLE!
    Plus, I just LOVE your blog’s layout, The home page is great!

  6. Hi Jonas,
    Once again very interesting post!
    I have a similar lens and just received a similar adapter. Does your lens have that little pin on the back that “activates” the f stops? Mine does and the adapter unfortunately does not press it so I can only use it wide open :(
    (I know, I should have checked before :D )

  7. Thanks for your great suggestion, I managed to use this tip on my Helios 44 but unfortunately the Fuji is buil in a very different way: no screws on the back to remove the threaded mount :( I’m afraid I’l have to remove part of the barrel itself, not very confident on this. Besides I’m having an issue with a little metal tip used to “sync” the f stops of the lens with the lightmeter on the camera: its sticks out and prevents the lens to be properly screwd on the adapter (infinity focus is off) plus it wont let the f-stop ring to turn… :(
    I have some pics of the lens on this entry in my blog/page: http://www.riccardogabbana.com/2013/06/una-nuova-acquisizione-fujinon-50mm-1-4/

  8. Pentax K10 and Fujinon M42 lenses. Which adapter (which ebay brand) should I purchase? Thanks. Great pictures, by the way.

  9. Enjoy the images and thoughts about photography. I wonder if you might be able to share the process you used for renewing the exterior of the lenses — same question from Daniel Pfund attached here.

    Great pictures, really nice!
    I too got very interested in old lenses for my X-Pro 1. I got a couple of Takumars that needed some fixing. I could fix the optical part quite easily, but not get the exterior back in shape. The focus barrels show usage and the paint is coming off. Could you explain a bit more what you did? Is this a car paint in a can? Did you take the barrel off? Also, how to repaint the numbers?
    Thanks for any pointers!

    • Hi Bob.

      Thank you for visiting.

      I should do a small writeup on that actually. I took some pictures as I went along.
      I use tape for covering up the parts that needs covering up, and then heatresistant spray pain on an adhesive layer.
      Numbers are cleaned with a cuetip in ethanol, and then painted using a super thin paintbrush to fill the etchings with the desired color.

      /J

  10. That would be a fascinating how-to post. One step lower than using paint, have wondered whether a cleaning and then car wax on a cloth might restore shine to the exterior.

  11. Excellent article. Thinking about getting a Fuji and would probably use it for street and slow stuff so could maybe get along with a couple of old manual lenses and a xpro1 or xe1/2 body.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s