Vintage 50mm Lens Shootout: Trying 10 Lenses Under $100

Photography Gear

Andrew of husband and wife photography team Denae and Andrew recently partnered up with KEH to test out 10 of the best-selling vintage 50mm lenses on the used market. From old Nikon and Canon glass, to Minolta, Pentax and even a Contax lens, all of these can be had for under $100, and Andrew wanted to find out which of the 10 performed best.

One note: Andrew tests all 10 lenses on his Fujifilm X-T3, so there is an APS-C crop involved, but we don’t feel it takes much away from the comparison. However, if that totally negates this shootout for you, feel free to click off and check out this video about how scientists colorize deep space photos.

Alright, back to it. The lenses included in this shootout are:

  • Nikon Nikkor AIS 50mm f/1.4
  • Nikon Nikkor AI 50mm f/1.8
  • Canon FD 50mm f/1.8
  • Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 S.C.
  • Minolta Rokkor MD f/1.4
  • Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm f/1.7
  • SMC Super Takumar Asahi M42 50mm f/1.4
  • SMC Pentax-M Asahi 50mm f/1.4
  • Olympus Zuiko OM 50mm f/1.8
  • Contax C/Y Planar T* 50mm f/1.7

Each of these can be had for under $100 on eBay, or a little more if you want to make sure yours is in pristine condition, and all of them perform fairly consistently. Some of them do have quirks though, especially if you’re adapting them, and Andrew is good about walking through the feel of each lens before comparing everything from sharpness to color, contrast, bokeh and beyond.

We definitely recommend checking out the full video for an in-depth comparison of how each of the lenses performed before you go hunting for a vintage 50mm lens on eBay. At less than $100, you’re not risking much picking one up, but it’s good to know exactly what you’re getting into and what to expect from this older glass.

(via ISO 1200)

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