Angenieux 50mm f/1.8 Type S1 on Sony A7r
Getting back to roots. It is kind of calm time here in Prague and while we are waiting for few new items to come, I thought that it might be interesting to take a look at some less mainstream lenses.
One of those rare finds is Angenieux 50mm f/1.8 Type S1 in original Leica LTM mount (m39).
I bought it together with Leica If and both were in quite good condition. While Leica If is beautiful camera itself, real rarity was attached lens.
I spent quite some time searching for information on this particular model and I got some help from MFlenses forum, but I still couldn’t find many info, until I got reply directly from Angenieux company, from Mrs. MALAVIEILLE Christine:
Dear Mr Pavlovic,
Further to your request, you will find enclosed the information we have regarding this old F50 1.8 lens.
and here is enclosed information including lens specification.
From enclosed document I was able to identify my lens as type E3 Leica. Searching further on the web, I also come across one note, that this particular version was made in less than 50 samples, but unfortunately I couldn’t get confirmation from Angenieux for that statement.
Because the price of this lens (its older E1 Leica version, I couldn’t find this particular one offered anywhere recently) is very high on the market, I was curious to see what is so special about it…
I couldn’t resist therefore and mounted it promptly on my A7/r. (I really need Leica digital camera, but I never liked to pay much for electronics, so I don’t know what to do…)
With such an old lens, I don’t think that MTF test will make much sense, so I decided to spend few hours with it trying to learn a bit about its rendering.
First what I was curious to see, was as usual – sharpness wide open. Not because I think it’s most important, but because otherwise, most of you won’t read my posts even thus far 🙂
What do you think?
I was fairly impressed with center sharpness, and micro contrast of this image. I know few very sharp old 50mm lenses, such as Topcon RE Auto Topcor 58mm f/1.8 or one of my favorite – Zeiss Ultron 50mm f/1.8 (don’t confuse it with Color-Ultron though), but Angenieux seems to go step further.
In the edges, there is some smearing, mostly because of the shallow DOF (in the image above), partially because of the Sony A7/r (thick as my beer belly) sensor cover and slightly because of the possible field curvature, but even so, result is more than acceptable IMHO.
If you ever find good reason to shot with this lens wide open in order to have sharp corners, except to proof your point in forum discussion, please let me know.
Here is another snapshot searching for its majesty sharpness.
This time, at f/5.6.
While center sharpness is outstanding, there is still a bit of corner smearing on the left side, which led me to believe that slight field curvature is probably involved.
But look at the contrast… Amazing for the lens of this age.
If you was only curious how sharp this lens is, I tried to show you that in those two images, so now you can stop reading here (thank you anyway), because no more sharpness will be evaluated in this short review.
I would like to move instead to what I consider much more important – lens character.
Yes, I know… there are many photographers (and pixel poopers, anal-ytics, and other smart people) who doesn’t believe that lens can have a soul and spirit. They are convinced that lenses are made only of glass and metal (read plastic and composite if you are bellow 30) and that they are only tools. BTW even my therapist tells me the same, before he writes me my medicine, but few of us who went to the dark side already, we know what it is all about…
Let’s dive-in straight into the bokeh.
I should say however, that I am not sure what to think about Angenieux when it comes to this crucial part of its character. Most of my shots are taken wide open and I usually know what I can expect from my lenses. Angenieux however acts a bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (Similar to what happened to my school mates, after 15-20 years)
It can be buttery smooth in some situations
In other it gets a bit more structured, but still gentle.
Notice that OOF highlights are rather neutral with tendency to form cat-eyes as a result of mechanical vignetting and just slight SA under-correction can be noticed in pronounced outlines in more contrast areas.
However, it suddenly can turn into rather nervous bokeh for seemingly no reason
This kind of swirly tendency is usually result of under-corrected spherical aberration, but it seems to be the case only in the rather extreme edges. Like if the projection circle will be slightly underestimated (on the other hand, I don’t see much of the light fall wide open). (See the picture bellow)
If you change distances and light angle just a bit, and you slightly crop the edges, you can get back to smooth bokeh easily again.
Probably only aberration that I don’t like in a real life is purple fringing, This axial chromatic aberration can be sometimes hard to remove (unless you like thick gray outlines).
There is very light tendency for it with Angenieux, but overall, lens is very well corrected for all kind of CA. Above is one shot (sugar dose), where lenses like Canon EF 85 f/1.2 L would paint everything in purple, and Angenieux didn’t show any interest. Bellow is another tough situation, where after very close inspection you might see slight color shift in contrast edges, but really nothing to worry about.
Distortion seems to be well corrected too.
All in all, Angenieux 50mm f/1.8 Type S1 is very interesting lens for sure. certainly hard to swallow its price, drifted due to the collector status, but the simplicity of its construction and respectable performance on 36mpx modern camera with very unique bokeh rendering, good contrast and quite realistic color rendition, are things to be praised. Not to forget proper RF coupling. (I haven’t tried for focus shift yet.)
I own this lens thorough test on film, where I am sure it will shine even more and it might be also holly grail for videographers who are after very charismatic and specific, slightly retro look.
Bellows are few more, (basically just developed from RAW) images.
Finally – one post processed image, taken at f/2.8
If you have more information about this rare lens, please post them bellow. Thank you in advance.
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Yummy lens, Viktor, looking at the images the rendering reminds me Contax G line. I know it sounds crazy, but apartt of less glow in bright areas (silver crowns of the dancers)- it has ::
-somehow nervous bokeh-but not too much or distracting,
-some smearing in the corners (no too much magenta though)
I would compare it somehow in character with Contax G 35mm lens
call me crazy
It is very rare lens and extremely expensive but I have to say that it is impressive indeed. I am still trying to find more time to shot with it … You might have the point with Contax G comparison, but this Angenieux has (as far as I was able to briefly experience) somehow more balanced (probably less micro contrast by hair but smoother tonal transitions) rendering. Maybe I should try to compare them directly, thanks for the idea.
All the best mate,
Hi Victor, I managed to find a S1 in Rectaflex mount and wonder which filter would fit in without unscrewing the front lens element ? I tried the front thread and it happened … Would you know if there were any snap on filters made?! Cheers Jean-Marc.
I don’t really know if the filters have been made, but you might try to write to Angenieux directly (contact on their web), they were very helpful when I tried to confirm the legibility of my sample. Good luck! Cheers, Viktor
Lovely lens indeed. I have the same E3 version and have owned it for about 10 years. I don’t know the current market value but is probably quite high. I have sold most of my other leica lenses already and only keeping this gem.
Hola, felicitaciones por la lente, y por el informe que usted realizo. Poseo dos lentes Alitar en mi coleccion de camaras Alpa, tambien tengo una Sony A7R, lo malo de esto es que no hay para la venta adaptadores para montura E de Sony de las lentes Alitar.