Which Medium Format Lenses Are Giving You Your Most Satisfying Images?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by steve salmons, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. I ask this question because I am curious to know from the experience of others whether it is your most expensive or most recent acquisitions which are giving you your happiest results. Given that lighting and exposure, familiarity and ease of use also play a large part in determining our most pleasing outcomes, what lenses are consistently giving you that extra "je ne sais quoi"?
    My own list from recent experience is as follows:
    1. The 80mm f2.8 Biometar on my Rolleiflex 2.8 B: [​IMG]
    2. My (fairly recently acquired) 120mm f5.6 Planar T* C for my Hasselblad CM: [​IMG]
    3. A 50mm f6.3 Sekor used on a Mamiya Press that I keep just to use this lens with: [​IMG]
    Interested to hear (and see) just what makes your favourite lens, your favourite lens.
  2. Lens Examples:
    80mm Biometar from Rolleiflex:
  3. 120mm f5.6 Planar:
    50mm f6.3 Sekor
  4. Unquestionably my 150mm f/4 Sonnar C T*. The negative and prints are so sharp, you need to wear heavy gloves when you handle them to avoid cutting yourself!
  5. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I'm beginning to see why people like the classic 80mm on Hasselblads, but I think the classic three lens combination (50mm, 80mm, and 150mm) is sweet. However, I am tempted by a used macro 120mm sitting in my local camera store.
  6. My favorite is the 80mm Planar on the Rolleiflex 2.8FX. I not only love the incredible sharpness but I love the quality of the almost sharp parts of an image. The image seems to breath with this lens.
  7. I love the 180mm on my Mamiya RB67.
  8. I like the Mamyia 140mm f/4.5 Macro on the RZ67. I also like the Zenzanon PS 80mm F/2.8 on the Bronica SQ-A
  9. Hbl Super Wide 905 makes exellent results time after time.
    Kerkko K.
  10. The short answer is: "the lenses that are on the camera that I am actually using to create images with."
    I know that sounds simplistic but sadly, I have a lot of world-class gear and very little time to get out and use it. I have Hblad 60, 100, 180 and in RZ space I have the 50 ULD, 110, and 210mmm. I have Mamiya 7II lenses in 50mm, 80mm, and 150mm.
    My favorites that deliver the "magic:" Hblad 100 and 180; Mamiya 7II are the 50mm and the 80mm; and in RZ space the 110 and 210mm. I really dont care for the RZ 50mm ULD.
    I favor short telephotos for my work. As you can see, I clearly need to buy another medium format camera system!
  11. 38 Biogon on SWC
  12. On the Rollei 6000/Hy6 platform my favourite lenses are the 40mm f3.5, the 80mm f2.8 and the 110mm f2. They are all fantastic lenses in their own way. I have the 150mm f4 and 180mm f2.8 as well and they are excellent but they are generally a bit long for my needs. There are others I haven't tried yet which look interesting, such as 50mm f2.8, 60mm f3.5 and the 90mm f4 Makro
  13. All three lenses for the Mamiya 6: 50, 75, 150. But especially the 50.
  14. 180 mm Zeiss Jena Sonnar, in P-6 mount.
  15. Mamiya 7 65mm...
  16. Having used a combination of SWC, 60, 100, 120, and 250 as my set for a long time, then switching out the 60 and 100 for a 50 and 80, I think I prefer the 60 and 100 combo, but the 50mm is one of my favorite lenses. Less than infinity, the 120 is hard to beat. It is so biting sharp close up, but I'm not a big fan of it at infinity. I love the 350mm if you like longer lenses. Though I sold my 2000 FC many years ago, the 110mm f/2 may be my favorite lens of all.
  17. Anything on my Hasselblad. CF50 fle, 80, 100 and 180. They're all so great just the view changes. Sorry I can't post any black and white, I just started posting some digi test stuff but I'm so bad at it. Soon I hope to get posting some of my better stuff.
  18. Mr. Salmons...
    For sharpness I'd pick the Mamiya 7II with the 80mm F:4 lens. See:
    Pictures were from first test shots/roll and were underexposed. Velvia 50. Lens was sharper than film could capture. One must tap on the second picture twice, once from the thumbnail and again on the picture itself to see it full sized for a pixel per pixel perspective at 4000PPI from a Nikon 9000. The cut is from an area near the center of the full frame.
    Tom Burke
  19. 75mm Planar on my Rolleiflex 3.5F. A very close second is the 80mm T* Planar on my Hasselblad. Then the 150mm T* Sonnar for Hasselblad. They make beautiful b&w negatives. I've seen astounding results from a 120mm Hasselblad Macro-Planar lens and a digital back.
  20. I vote for the Hasselblad 120 macro as the best 120 film lens. It is good for almost everything, including portraits and macro, though real macro requires a bellows.
  21. While I can't use it that much the 150mm MC lens for my Bronica ETRSi is still one of my favorites and yield very good result. One of my most liked photographs:
  22. I like the Mamiya- Sekor 135mm f4.5 for the Mamiya C TLRs It's my favorite portrait lens
  23. 50mm f/4 for my Mamiya 6, though the 75mm is no slouch either.
  24. My landscape lens and most used is the Mamiya Sector 65mm F4 but the one that always give top results and is really my favourite and razor sharp as already said is the Mamiya-Sector 140 macro
    Here is a landscape shot with it compressing the distances in the mountains.
    From the same point with the 65 different compostion.
    I am very happy with both never tried an 80mm on MF.
  25. 180mm cfi for sharpness.
  26. 180mm cfi for sharpness.
  27. 1) 180 mm f:4,5 for my Mamiya C330S
    2) 80 mm f:2,8 Xenotar on my Rolleiflex C3 (1953)
    Roberto Leotta
  28. I like to use the 37mm fisheye for the RZ67 it can give objects a intresting look.
  29. A summary so far of definite preferences:
    RB and RZ
    37mm, 65mm f4, 110mm, 140mm (2 votes), 180mm, 210mm
    6, 7 and 7II
    50mm (3 votes), 65mm, 75mm (2 votes), 80mm f4 (2 votes), 150mm
    135mm f4.5, 180mm f4.5
    50mm f6.3 Sekor
    HC 35mm, 38mm Biogon (3 votes), 50mm Distagon (2 votes), 80mm Planar, 100mm Planar (2 votes), 110 mm f2 Planar(2000 FC), 120mm Macro Planar (3 votes), 150mm Sonnar (2 votes), 180mm Sonnar (2 votes)
    80mm f2.8 Biometar, 80mm f2.8 Planar, 80mm f2.8 Xenotar, 75mm f3.5 Planar
    180mm Sonnar
    150mm Zenzanon
    Interesting that the most common of all medium format lenses, the Tessar has not yet made an appearance at all. As you would expect all focal lengths in the common ranges make an appearance according to shooting style favoured. None of this has any statistical validity but just might be interesting to look at if you have nothing better to ponder!
    Breakdown by focal length :
    35mm-38mm 5 Votes
    50mm 6 votes
    65mm 2 votes
    75mm 2 votes
    80mm 4 votes
    100mm 2 votes
    110mm 2 votes
    120mm Macro 3 votes
    135mm 1 vote
    140mm Macro 2 votes
    150mm 2 votes
    180mm 3 votes
    210mm 1 vote
  30. Wow factor with any Pentax 67 lenses? Yes.
    The 75mm f/4.5 SMC Pentax/ Takumar-- Amazingly sharp
    The 400mm f/4 SMC Takumar-- Sharpest big glass I've used
    The 55-100mm f/4.5 Zoom-- Beats most P67 primes in sharpness-- Ex contrast too
  31. Another vote for the Mamiya 7II 50mm and 80mm lenses. Let's just say that this is my favorite MF system altogether.
  32. Mamiya 7II 43mm f/4.5.
    Hasselblad 110mm f/2 Planar.
    Between the two there are very few situations you can't cover amazingly well.
  33. The rectilinear Pentax SMC-A 35mm f/3.5 is the only lens I presently have for my P645N; I chose this combo for extremely low levels of distortion for such an ultrawide view, and I really couldn't be happier with the results. Although I do enjoy the shooting with the P645N and wouldn't mind acquiring other lenses for it, this is the one niche I find the 645 format does supremely well, whereas other angles of view would perhaps be best covered in other formats.
  34. Hi, Steve -
    Kind of tough to actually select "the" better ones, but I'll give the nod to the 50 Distagon f4, although for my strictly hobby work it's the least used. Next is the Sonnar 150 f4, often some of my best landscapes are from it. Then the old standby Planar 80 f2.8, what can I say, it's just so sharp.
    One that totally surprised me and in my eyes came to be surely the equal to all, second to none, the Xenotar 75 f3.5 on my Rolleiflex E-2. I've had so much enjoyment with these optics, over many years, never was tempted to move on to something else that I thought might be better. BTW, the H'blad lenses are all "C*" T stars.
    I really enjoyed the post, thanks for thinking of it and for detailing the results so well. Cheers.
  35. Steve, great question; tough to answer - so many lenses; so many of them really great ones.
    Mamiya 645 - I have or had a few others, but these are my "most satisfying" lenses: 55mm f2.8 N, 80mm f1.9, 110mm f2.8 N, 200mm f2.8 APO. I don't yet have a lot of experience with the 110mm, but I really like it so far. The 55mm is the best SLR retrofocus wideangle I've used.
    But if I had to pick only 2 to live with to the end of my days, they would be the 80/1.9 and the 200/2.8. Put away your Planars and Xenotars: there's nothing as sharp across the field as the 80mm at f4 and f2.8, or as dreamily selective-focus as it at 1.9. And the 200/2.8 is just the best corrected photographic lens I have ever looked through - it performs so well on-axis that I use it as a high-magnification visual telescope as well.
    Mamiya Press (6x9) - another vote for the 50mm f6.3: slow but exquisite Biogon-style 90-degrees wideangle. I also love the 100mm f2.8 - another speedster, midway in angular coverage between the M645 55mm and 80mm lenses, while giving more net IQ than either of them.
    Pentacon 6/Kiev/etc.: the 30mm MC Arsat fisheye. Although I now only shoot this lens on my Mamiya 645, and I was determined that it wasn't quite good enough (off-axis) to make it into this list with such exalted company, I have to admit that it keeps cropping up when I think of my"most satisfying" images!
  36. For photos of subjects in context, 60mm distagon is most used. Since that's the type of photography I mostly prefer, the 60 is my most used lens and is giving me the most satisfying images.
  37. I'm very fond of the 120mm Macro for my Mamiya AFD.
  38. The MF lens I use most often is an 80/2.8 Zenzanon PS. An SQ-A with an 80/2.8, a 120 back and a waist level finder is easy to carry around. With a Gossen meter around my neck and a few rolls of film in my pocket I can have some fun. After that my favorite lens is the 50/3.5 Zenzanon PS. I can do plenty of cropping when I print and still get very sharp results.
  39. Fit this on your chart, Steve! Pentax 55-100mm zoom for the Pentax 67. Just as sharp as the fixed focal lengths and incredibly versatile. I also like the 165mm f/2.8 a lot. Mild depth compression and all the bokeh control you could possibly want.
  40. The 45mm and 55mm Pentax 67 lenses are sweet for landscapes. The 200mm lens is good for close-ups and my perhaps my favorite Pentax 67 lens is the 90mm (non leaf shutter) for its combination of excellent sharpness and beautiful bokeh.
    Some samples at my website
    Another excellent lens is the 80mm Yashinon of the Yashica Mat LM.
  41. Without forgetting that lenses are only as good as the images one gets to create with them ( not just champions of resolution and contrast charts) it's obvious from the responses so far, that the majority of you people, have realized that it is the enjoyment of image creation that makes a lens a tool, one grows to love. My nominations for most satisfying lenses to me, are: Planar makro 120 mm f5.6 Cz. (Magnificent for portraits)
    Pentax 165 mm f 4. 0 ( Good in many situations)
    Pentax 45 mm f4.0 ( Outstanding for W/A photography anytime)
    Sonnar 180 mm f2.8 CZJ on a Kiev 60 ( Very nice focal length on 6x6 )
    Arsat 80 mm f 2.8 on a Kiev 60 (What Bokeh! And stopped down has excellent performance.) Thank you.
  42. my vote would be for the mamiya 7II 43mm lens for landscape...and for portraits i really like the PS 180mm Bronica on the SQAi. the mamiya is just wow. and the 180 bronica will focus close enough to allow for tight head shots and allow for great background separation.
  43. I like this about medium format shooters...we all like gear (especially our gear). Rollei 6008AF with 60 Schneider and 150 lenses. Mamiya 7ii with either the 43mm or 65mm. I could live with just the 65mm if I had to.
  44. The late version of the 55mm Pentax 6x7. Super sharp and, for what it's worth with a wide lens, good bokeh. When I'm shooting for an 11x14 print it beats my Hassy lenses for sharpness.
  45. Pentax 67 late model 75mm f2.8 is my hands winner.
  46. 75mm 3.5 six element Planar on my Rollei...and I am getting some very nice images from the 105mm Heliar on my old Bessa 2. I can stop this lens to f/32 (beyond its measured range) and get a very nice balance between depth and diffraction limited sharpness. Perfect for long exposures of moving water. The lens I miss is the 120mm CF Makro Planar - which I'd use handheld wide open (f/4) for spontaneous natural light portraits. Wonderful IF/OOF transition...and great Bokeh! This was also a very nice lens stopped down to f/16 or thereabouts to use in the range of about 1:10 to 1:4 with natural subjects. I also have fond memories of a 75mm 4.5 lens I'd used with a Pentax 6X7 long ago... and this is all just MF! so little time, and so many lenses I'd still love to try!
  47. My 110mm Kowa Macro lens for my Super 66 doesn't need excuses either. Super sharp flat field. Great stuff. Too bad that it needs 2 extension tubes to get to 1:1, but worth the cost to me.
  48. Here are a few of my shots with the 90mm f2.8 Pentax 67 lens. I couldn't wish for a nicer lens. Sweet creamy Bokeh and very sharp.

    sample 1

    sample 2

    sample 3
  49. CZ 38/4.5 Biogon for the incredible sharpness, 3d rendering and lack of distorsion:
    CZ 100/3.5 Planar for the top sharpness again, and for total lack of distorsion coupled with a natural perspective for architectural shots
    CZ 120/4 Makro Planar for the incredible mix of sharpness and mellowness
    Rolleiflex 2.8/80 Planar for the great B&W rendering and sweet in and out of focus passage
    Having said that, I have 13 Hasselblad lenses and they are all truly spectacular.
  50. Mamiya 127mm K/L
  51. I'd have to agree with a few of the Pentax 67 choices like the 90mm f/2.8 and 75mm f/4.5 . . . but I'll add the Hasselblad Zeiss 160mm "Tessar" type for that classic look!

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