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35mm Alternatives


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Lenses with 35mm or zooms including 35mm are even more common than for 28mm. 35mm started out being regarded as "wide", but during the wide-angle craze of some years ago, 35 was the "new standard" focal length. On APS-C sensors like on the Pentax *ist DS, they offer a field of view comparable to a 52mm lens - close to the standard 50mm lens on film. This means that there is an abundance of lenses available for 35mm. I took most of my 35mm lenses I own and took them for a spin. All are M42 and "full-frame" except for the KAF mount APS-C Sigma and the Tamron Adaptall, which can be adapted to various camera mounts:
  • Revuenon 28-70mm 4.0 My favourite M42 zoom
  • Pentax 35mm 2.0 SMC Takumar Famous lens and its grandson, the FA 35/2, continues the legend
  • Sigma 18-125mm 3.5-5.6 DC APS-C only, lazy zoom
  • Porst 35mm 1.8 Even brighter than the Pentax - but larger, too.
  • Tamron 35-80mm 2.8-3.5 QZ-35M Looks good on paper but I don't really like it much
  • Isco Göttingen Westron 35mm 2.8 Plastic body, pre-set aperture,...
  • Unitor 35-70mm 2.5-3.5 Brightest zoom ever made in M42, AFAIK
  • Carl-Zeiss-Jena 35mm 2.4 Sadly my copy of this legendary lens does not stop down
I shot all photos wide open, plus at f/8.0. I tested the bright lenses also at f/4, as this is the aperture that the other lenses are roughly wide open. I shot from a tripod, mirror pre-release, took three images with each lens and aperture, manual focus each time from new, picked the best by file size. None of the images have been sharpened or softened or levels adjusted, the crops are the utmost corners. I did not vary the distance, it was 3.5m for all lenses (so roughly 100x focal length). Sorry for the zooms not having precisely 35mm.

I chose this rather bad page design (horizontal&vertical scrolling) because I believe it makes comparing easier.



full frame Centre upper left corner upper right corner lower right corner lower left corner

Tamron 35-80 @ 2.8
Tamron 35-80 @ 2.8
Tamron 35-80 @ 2.8
Tamron 35-80 @ 2.8
Tamron 35-80 @ 2.8
Tamron 35-80 @ 2.8

Asahi Pentax 35mm 2.0 @ 2.0
Asahi Pentax 35mm 2.0 @ f/2
Asahi Pentax 35mm 2.0 @ f/2
Asahi Pentax 35mm 2.0 @ f/2
Asahi Pentax 35mm 2.0 @ f/2
Asahi Pentax 35mm 2.0 @ f/2

Carl Zeiss Jena 35mm 2.4 @ 2.4
Carl Zeiss Jena 35mm 2.4 @ 2.4
Carl Zeiss Jena 35mm 2.4 @ 2.4
Carl Zeiss Jena 35mm 2.4 @ 2.4
Carl Zeiss Jena 35mm 2.4 @ 2.4
Carl Zeiss Jena 35mm 2.4 @ 2.4

Porst 35mm 1.8 @ 1.8
Porst 35mm 1.8 @ 1.8
Porst 35mm 1.8 @ 1.8
Porst 35mm 1.8 @ 1.8
Porst 35mm 1.8 @ 1.8
Porst 35mm 1.8 @ 1.8

Unitor 35-70 @ 2.5
Unitor 35-70 @ 2.5
Unitor 35-70 @ 2.5
Unitor 35-70 @ 2.5
Unitor 35-70 @ 2.5
Unitor 35-70 @ 2.5

Isco Göttingen Westron 35mm 2.8 @ 2.8
Westron 35mm 2.8 @ 2.8
Westron 35mm 2.8 @ 2.8
Westron 35mm 2.8 @ 2.8
Westron 35mm 2.8 @ 2.8
Westron 35mm 2.8 @ 2.8


      Now, all lenses at f/4 or f/4.5

Revuenon 28-70mm 4.0 @ 4.0
Revuenon f/4
Revuenon f/4
Revuenon f/4
Revuenon f/4
Revuenon f/4

Sigma 18-125 @ 4.5
Sigma f/4.5
Sigma f/4.5
Sigma f/4.5
Sigma f/4.5
Sigma f/4.5

Asahi Pentax 35mm 2.0 @ 4.0
Pentax 35 2.0 @ f/4
Pentax 35 2.0 @ f/4
Pentax 35 2.0 @ f/4
Pentax 35 2.0 @ f/4
Pentax 35 2.0 @ f/4

Porst 35mm 1.8 @ 4.0
Porst 35mm 1.8 @ f/4
Porst 35mm 1.8 @ f/4
Porst 35mm 1.8 @ f/4
Porst 35mm 1.8 @ f/4
Porst 35mm 1.8 @ f/4

Tamron 35-80 @ 4.0
Tamron 35-80 @ f/4
Tamron 35-80 @ f/4
Tamron 35-80 @ f/4
Tamron 35-80 @ f/4
Tamron 35-80 @ f/4

Unitor 35-70 @ 4.0
Unitor 35-70 @ f/4
Unitor 35-70 @ f/4
Unitor 35-70 @ f/4
Unitor 35-70 @ f/4
Unitor 35-70 @ f/4

Isco Göttingen Westron 35mm 2.8 @ 4.0
Westron 35mm 2.8 @ f/4
Westron 35mm 2.8 @ f/4
Westron 35mm 2.8 @ f/4
Westron 35mm 2.8 @ f/4
Westron 35mm 2.8 @ f/4


      Now, all lenses at f/8

Revuenon 28-70mm 4.0 @ 8.0
Revuenon f/8
Revuenon f/8
Revuenon f/8
Revuenon f/8
Revuenon f/8

Sigma 18-125 @ 8.0
Sigma 18-125 @ f/8
Sigma 18-125 @ f/8
Sigma 18-125 @ f/8
Sigma 18-125 @ f/8
Sigma 18-125 @ f/8

Asahi 35mm 2.0 @ 8.0
Asahi 35mm 2.0 @ f/8
Asahi 35mm 2.0 @ f/8
Asahi 35mm 2.0 @ f/8
Asahi 35mm 2.0 @ f/8
Asahi 35mm 2.0 @ f/8

Porst 35mm 1.8 @ 8.0
Porst 35mm 1.8 @ f/8
Porst 35mm 1.8 @ f/8
Porst 35mm 1.8 @ f/8
Porst 35mm 1.8 @ f/8
Porst 35mm 1.8 @ f/8

Tamron 35-80 @ 8.0
Tamron 35-80 @ f/8
Tamron 35-80 @ f/8
Tamron 35-80 @ f/8
Tamron 35-80 @ f/8
Tamron 35-80 @ f/8

Unitor 35-70 @ 8.0
Unitor 35-70 @ f/8
Unitor 35-70 @ f/8
Unitor 35-70 @ f/8
Unitor 35-70 @ f/8
Unitor 35-70 @ f/8

Isco Göttingen Westron 35mm 2.8 @ 8.0
Westron 35mm 2.8 @ f/8
Westron 35mm 2.8 @ f/8
Westron 35mm 2.8 @ f/8
Westron 35mm 2.8 @ f/8
Westron 35mm 2.8 @ f/8


Conclusion:
Ok, I admit I focused them manually without a viewfinder magnifier. Still, by focusing three times and picking the best, I hope some conclusions can be drawn.
The Sigma shows good sharpness but with high distortion. The superbright Pentax 35mm 2.0 is better than the slightly brighter Porst 35mm 1.8. What really surprised me was the quality of the plastic Isco Görringen Westron. Although it has fairly low contrast, the images are quite nice.
Overall, I am confident to say that even old 35mm film lenses work well on dSLRs. For more details, please look for yourself, my head is dizzy from all these brickwalls...


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