December 26, 2020

From Gerald R. Lucas

Lens Approach covid-19: day 278 | US: GA | info | act

Well, it seems that people have caught on. Back when I first started buying and selling vintage camera lenses, prices were reasonable. However, now I can’t seem to find any bargains, really. The good news is that most of what you might want is available; the bad news: you’ll pay for it. That said, there are many Eastern European and Asian sellers who seem to have a great assortment of stock, if you want to wait two months to get a package from Russia.

This time, I’d like to be a bit more deliberate in my search. I set up a Digit goal of $500, so when I reach it, I can buy a new lens. I know that $500 seems like a lot, and it is. However, many of the nice quality versions of the lenses I’d like seem to average right around there—some more, some less. I’d like to stick with rangefinder glass (LTM or M39) when possible, though M42 is OK, too. Here’s a current list of lenses I’d like to own/try.

  • Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 1.8/50 (M42) — a well regarded lens, particularly for sharpness and color rendering. Most of these seem to be from Russia or Ukraine. I may even like the bokeh rendering of the Zeiss Biotar 2/58 a bit better. The Helios is a Russian copy of this lens (see below).
  • Asahi Super Takumar 1.4/50 8-element (M42) — supposedly the best of the series, though it seems that Takumars in general are pretty highly regarded. I used to have the 7-element version of this lens, and quite liked it. I believe it was a Goodwill find I got for next-to-nothing. I would even take a much-cheaper 1.8/55 version.
  • Canon LTM lenses, especially the 2.8/28. Lots of these, mainly from Japan, are available. I’d probably go for a silver (earlier) 1.8/50.
  • Meyer Optik Gorlitz Orestegon 2.8/29 (M42) — I’d like to have a 28mm of some sort, and this is a good one with painterly bokeh. Apparently, the Pentacon 2.8/28 uses the same lens formula (and is half the price).
  • Helios 44-2 2/58 (M42). Again, I had a beat-up copy of this lens a while ago, and it is a cool lens with swirly bokeh. I’d like to find a silver, M39 example. I would also take a version 3 of the lens, though is is not quite as flawed as the earlier ones. Again, these are mostly found in Russia.

With the possible exception of the Helios, all of these lenses are over $100 and on up to about $500. Some might take a while to get here, and I might lose interest waiting.

I went ahead and made a chart of my current, past, and potentially future lenses. That was fun.