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SCL Photo Podcast 103 - The Potential In Glass

SCL PodcastA few thoughts on different focal lengths....

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Hanimex 200mm f3.3 Prime Lens:

Hanimex 200mm f/3.3 Prime Lens

Cheers, Rob.

Reader Comments (2)

Hiya Rob,

Hope you're keeping well. Good to see the new style site, I'm just trying to catch back up at the mo but couldn't resist a first call to your latest podcast :-)

Good to hear you chatting about lenses and great to hear about your car-boot bargains, (although I think I mentioned some time back about leaving the cheap tripods alone and saving for a good one, but you've eventually figured that out now).

I too have been revisiting some of my old collection of lenses bolted onto the Olympus dSLR and have come to realise that I dismissed some of them far too quickly before. I used to love my old Carl Zeiss Sonnar 135mm f3.5 when it was bolted onto my old Praktica but just didn't feel the same about it on my Oly, the same with the old CZ Tessar 50mm and the Helios 44/2 I have amongst the collection. I think it was the dramatic change in view due to the smaller sensor size of the Oly that made me dismiss them so quick, (what a fool I feel now though!)
The old russian Helios 44/2 has actually turned out to be a beauty and weirdly because of it's failings. It's "swirly" bokeh has been somewhat inspirational lately and I've accepted the 'look' I get with it on the Oly, (the angle of view being equivalent to a 100mm lens). The old CZ Tessar has had a similar impact with a different bokeh characteristic.
But, the old Sonnar has really provided me with some exceptional portraiture work recently. I can focus as close as 3 foot with it and the bokeh produced is exceptionally smooth, (much as I remember), but on the Oly it provides me with the facility to produce silky smooth close up portraits without being up the sitters nose! (Unlike the standard kit lens). The falloff in focus, (f3.5 opened up), provides me with sharp eye details and the falloff occurs just before the ears with a full face framing producing exceptional images. Not bad for an old lens and as you mentioned considerably cheaper than modern OEM counterparts.

All of this made me realise that I shouldn't dismiss a lens too quickly, I should discover it's failings and faults and use them to the best advantage. The old CZ Tessar has an awful looking highlight bokeh, (rings of light and spaghetti backgrounds), but with subdued background lighting levels by utilising flash the bokeh is silky smooth. The old Sonnar was dismissed as a fast telephoto on the Oly dSLR but has become a favourite portrait lens once again. A similar discovery was heralded with the old Zuiko 50mm f1.8 being almost impossible to focus accurately but switching to live view has circumvented that little issue and again is a smooth lens to utilise. (Just for further information I've found that if I shoot at +2/3rds EV with these old lenses I get better results!)

Maybe you ought to give your Hanimex a go as a long portrait lens? If you can't focus close enough then bolt on the smallest macro ring spacer you have and try again. You might just be surprised :-)
(Remember that a telephoto often produces a lower/flat contrast but it's something easily fixed with digital pp nowadays.)

BTW, the lenses I have mentioned, Helios 44-2, CZ Tessar and Sonnar have strangely picked up a minor cult following in certain circles recently pushing up the prices of them second hand. Yet when I purchased them many years ago they were seen as eastern block rubbish and I paid next to nothing for them!

Great podcast again Rob and good to see you pushing things further.

All the best,


July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVictor

Hi Victor,

Wow! Great comment! These old lenses are great - I just wish I could find something wider than 28mm, and cheap!

Great advice about your old glass, I'll keep an eye out for those ones!

Thanks for dropping by,

Cheers, Rob.

July 1, 2010 | Registered CommenterRob_Nunn

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