« The Second Ctein Dye Transfer Print Offer | Main | Print Sale Update »

Friday, 22 January 2010


I'm afraid I may have had a hand in that, although I think it would be a real stretch to say I am solely to blame. It's a popular lens with a lot of folks.

I can't remember if it was Carl, Oren, or me who dubbed it "The King of Bokeh."


Favourite lens is probably on a fixed lens camera - the Leica 28-90 Vario-Summicron on the front of my old Lumix LC1 (poor man's Digilux 2).

Of my SLR lenses, it's a close call between the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4 (nice colours, contrast, sharpness coupled with great bokeh. Built nicely too) and my old Tamron 500mm SP. Yes I know the latter is an eccentric choice, but it's a cheap secondhand buy, compact, a great solution for us city folk who rarely need such a long lens, and capable of excellent results when used with care

One from the Tamron below:


So many lenses, so little time.

Of recent lenses, my favorite is the Nokton 35mm f/1.2. To my way of thinking, it was the perfect lens for the Leica M8/M8.2.

To some, too large. To me, perfect balance.

A picture

I don't have a lot of lenses, but I've had a lot of fun with my Pentax DA 21mm Pancake, even taking it on trips as my only lens. I have a coat with pockets big enough for it and my old *ist DS body.

50mm f/1.4 SMC-Takumar in the M42 mount. It lives on my Spotmatic and rarely ever comes off.

Nothing I have ever owned compares to the following: 43mm on my Mamiya 7, 35mm Summicron ASPH on my M6, and even though it is "just a point-n-shoot" the 28mm on my Nikon 28Ti....All of them have provided me with the BEST images I have taken in the past 30 years. Yes, my old Rolleiflex that I shot in the 70s took excellent images, but that was a different time, different film, and different subjects. I am now the new owner of a slightly used M8 and am anxious to see the results I obtain after a few months of familiatization. Michael


Short and sweet:

Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 IF-ED AF-S

And (of course)

Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2.



Oh yeah, not bought at dime store (but one can wish).

There are a several OM System Zuikos that I haven't used but might qualify as my "must never sell". But since I haven't owned them, I am partial to the Zuiko 50/1.4.

Easter Wines

More recently I acquired the Konica Hexanon AR 40/2, stuck to the front of an FS-1 body. The lens is a keeper, but I've added a T4 all-mechanical body since if the FS-1 fails is not repairable, at least at rational cost.

Gate Milford Ontario County Road 17 South Bay

My first "desert island lens" is my Nikon Ai 35mm f1.4. It is old, and a rather finicky at f1.4, but the handling and the image from f2 just make my day. I recently purchased a used Ais 50mm f1.2, and I would take that one, too. The third would be the Tokina 90mm f2.5. It has the same handling qualities as the two above, very flexible (from portraits to macro), and had a wonderful combination of acuity and bokeh. The designers got this one right.

I just cannot afford the best Nikon zooms, and that has turned out to be a true blessing, because it encouraged me to consider "old glass." The combination above will out perform any mid-range zoom by any maker, and the combined cost was far less.
(Note: I can shop Japanese used camera stores for bargains, and I found the Tokina just before it became a cult object.)

Mike's comments are on the mark: the combined power of the media and respected reviewers can exert tremendous influence on prices, and the views of buyers. Judging from previous blog posts, this happens as well with photo book prices, too. Perhaps that should be an extended blog topic: As photographers, we assume that photographic value of images and the tools are based upon visual evaluations. I would argue, though, that non-visual knowledge can be just as influential in our opinions, and buying choices.


Boy Oh Boy...If you want to fill a photography blog, just ask about gear. ;~)

I have many favourite lenses. They are all "favourites" due to specific attributes that my other lenses lack. However, my "best of the best" is my Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L (pre-IS version). It gives me more keepers than any other lens. Here's one (these dogs were running @ full speed):


Cheers! Jay

I can't remember if it was Carl, Oren, or me who dubbed it "The King of Bokeh."

It was you.

< g >

Nikon 35/2 AF. But only on a full frame body. I could never get used to using it on the cropped sensor camera. But it's great to have it back with the D700.

Also, on the cropped sensor body, the original 18-70 kit lens. There are fancier kit lenses now, but none were quite as nice or quite as fast.

Oh! And I forgot... the 35/2 on the old Hexar AF camera. Love that.

I have a Nikon AIS 35-105, F3.5. Why do I like it, because with that lens I took 90% of all my Slide images and hone my skills on it, and learned it's the brains behind the camera and not the lens or the camera. But since I was not and still am not rich, I consider myself lucky in that I chose a lens that covered most of my needs at a time when I really was just learning. So it is the lens I still like best.


Although it is not an interchangable lens the 5.1mm (24mm equiv.) f/2.0 DC Vario-Summicron gives an incredible amount of DOF on the small sensor LX3 and can produce some interesting pics.

-Olympus Stylus Epic 35/2.8
-Ricoh 50/1.7

The Nikon 85mm F1.8. I have made zillions of fantastic pictures with that lens. It's just amazing. Recently I picked up a used Nikon 80-200mm F2.8 ED AF from ebay. It's not the latest but it's incredibly sharp & handles so well - love that beefy zoom ring that doubles as a focus ring when you switch the "M-A" toggle. Been shooting a long-term project with it & my D700. Check out www.empirestate365.com. All the pictures there were shot with the 80-200.

Nikkor 85 1.8. The old one, manual focus, built like a tank. You can use it as a hocky puck between shoots. Back when I was doing newspaper work it was the standard lens, giving just enough tele to pull in the action. It did everything from basketball in dimly lit gyms and football at night on fields lit by what seemed like candlelight to portraits to fashion to dance concerts to the "wild art" shot picked up on the way driving to and from assignments. I still have mine, bought in 1971, but it sits unused in the equipment locker most of the time. I just can't focus manual focus lenses with my old eyes and these new clear focus screens. And on my APS-size digital Nikons my 50 1.4 has taken over most of the duties that the 85 used to perform...but it just isn't the same.

Here's an ancient shot with the 85 from the mid-70s:

Wow. GeeksRUs !

I've used roughly 25 Maxxum/Alpha mount lenses (since 1991 and never more than single digits at one time), most Minolta (few Sony) and a handful of 3rd party. I can't remember the manual focus lenses I used prior to 91 well enough to name any. Of those, my favorite is the 200/2.8 (when used on film - or presumably full frame). It's built like "big glass" but can be carried as easily as a good 70-300 zoom, and with the 1.4X TC it's plenty sharp wide open. Decent bokeh, fast AF (I didn't even have the "high speed" version), used to cost under $1000 new. And the focal length worked for me.

An odd choice, given I've used "better" lenses, is the KM 28-75/2.8 (which is a rebadge of the Tamron). It tests well on full frame, it's great on APS-C. It's very compact & light compared to most 28-70/2.8's (and certainly 24-70s), pretty inexpensive, with quick AF and useful close focus that lets you get a shot of someone sitting in a chair next to you like this:

It's a favorite because it offers so much for so little.

Finally, the 40/1.7 on my Minolta HiMatic 7sII. Teeny tiny, perfect FL, fast and sharp.

I don't have a favorite lens, but this phenomenon is very familiar to those of us that shoot with small flashes 'strobist' style. In the early days of the Strobist blog, the SB-26 Speedlight was recommended as an inexpensive starter flash, and after a while they were nearly impossible to come by.

Later, a blog entry by Zach Arias about Sunpak 120J flashes increased the value significantly overnight. They used to be available for less than $75. Now it's rare to see them sell for less than $200 on eBay.

My favourite lens is the Canon 400mm 5.6 L. I use it for all of my Bird photography. It is a great balance of Contrast, Sharpness and just plain pleasure to use. The ultrasonic focusing is fast and the lens is light... what else could you ask for. See some recent pictures in my Costa Rica Birds gallery at www.siamimagesltd.com

If I could only pick one: Carl Zeiss Opton 50/1.5 Sonnar in Contax RF mount. I use it on micro 4/3 and a Konica Hexar RF (with adapters.)

I think my favorite lens is my g-rokkor 28 in LTM -- small, light, excellent focussing tab and looks great on my iiif with 28mm finder. I'd pick the 35 summicron ASPH in LTM but it's heavier (Chrome and brass) and my 35 uc-hexanon looks beautiful in black on my MP but not so nice on the iiif.

There's too many answers already too read.
Canon 135 f/2
Pentax 135 f/3.5
Konica 40mm pancake.
There. ...all the systems I've enjoyed.

OK, so now I'm reading these and I've found at least one other fan of the Canon EF 135 f/2.
Maybe we should tally this all up? No.
Then I couldn't afford to replace the one I sold. D'oh!

I have the strangest urge to run out and buy a Canon EF 35 f/2

I believe that's been two votes for the Pentax FA43 Limited and two votes for the FA31 Limited, but I have to throw my support behind the FA77. I really thought it would have too small an angle of view on the digital cropped sensor, but it is my go-to lens. Usually I carry a screw in adapter to turn it into a totally serviceable macro. It's also a perfect portrait lens and long enough for when I shoot dance and theatre.

sweet blue nectar

those eyes

For many years my favorite lens was the 105mm f/2.5 Nikkor with its built-in lens shade, and its silky Ai-S design, shape, and form. I have one 105/2.5 I bought new in '82 for $269.95, and a much later one I bought in 2002 for $100. Small,light,solid, and very easy to focus. However much I liked the one-oh-five-two-point-five over more than two decades, I've come to like the Nikkor 105mm f/2 AF-D Defocus Control even more than the old warrior! The 105 DC works great on Nikon,and I shoot it adapted on my Canon bodies as well. I do not think there is a more wonderful 100 to 105mm lens made.

The 75mm Tessar embedded in my Rolleiflex T. Rollei engineers liked to tease their customer base with a lens that gave 98% of a Planar's performance at a quarter of the cost.

My Zeiss ZM 50mm f2 Planar.


Although you put any fas-fitty in my hot little hands and you'll do ok. Even that Canon f1.8 I'm holding there. Which belongs to,


It was pass your camera day that day, Apparently.

[Mike, sorry if this is a repeat, Typepad's Facebook connect functionality is kind of wonky]

Pentax M 135/3.5: Cheap, sharp, dreamy look.

Pentax DX 70/2.4. Stunning presence and small size.

I have two favorite lenses. I use them both on the Canon 5D.

Most fave is the Canon 135 f/2 L. For reasons like this: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3626/3626894249_f48935ec3f_o.jpg

and this: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3087/3642534917_0a1f412b3d_o.jpg

And the Canon 35 f/1.4 L. For reason like this: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2649/3796531427_31b15ff2ca_o.jpg

and this: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3409/3196257410_d06f90455c_o.jpg

I don't have a huge range of experience, but I loved my old Zuiko 100mm f/2.8. Compact, light, lovely bokeh, great for soft portraits (although it was a sharp lens), just the right focal length for picking details out of landscapes.


Currently I love my Sigma 30mm f/1.4. Mounted on D90 and shoot almost exclusively (99%) with it for about one year, I learned to understand and exploit it's weaknesses and strong points. Now I can make pictures without a finder, shooting by hands, knowing the results. It's sharp when I need it and soft when I want it. Bokeh is always perfect .

Leica 35/1.4 ASPH. Best of the best; if only I had not sold it...

Man I was out all day with the psyco girlfriend and am checking this in late.

Favorite all time lenses that I still own but am not using now
Zeiss 80mm 2.8 for Hasselblad circa 1977. I've made 50" prints that look sharp with a magnifying glass. No personality but just does what you naively think a lens would do , kind of perfect.
Kodak Ektar 4 inch f/2.8 for a 70mm combat graphic. Absolutely without a doubt my favorite lens ever. It can out resolve aerial photography films. A little less contrasty than the Zeiss but maybe even sharper. I never used it with color so maybe there is some sort of flaw but I'm convinced it is worth every penny of it's rumored 1950s nice car or small house price.

Wish I still owned these
47mm superangulon. Had one on a Graflex XL / mamiya 23 frankencamera. like the Nikkor 24mm but bigger and wider and smoother.
50mm Nikkor for the Bronica S2A sold it 30 years ago with the camera and keep trying to buy them back.

I'm using these now
Nikkor 24mm 2.8 sc - pre AI but with the good coating and floating elements. has just the right amount of barrel distortion and vignetting so that people in a small room at the edge of the frame look good, bent rather than smeared out and fat. You can pre-focus by feel because there is so much travel in the helicoid. Best party lens ever if you are doing that professionally. For some reason makes everything look like 1970s rock and roll photography. Not super duper sharp but has a great personality and is sharp enough. Looked good with pushed B+W or E6 Looked awful on the 1Ds, looks pretty good on the 5D II Bought one in 1975 and have owned one ever since.

Nikkor 28mm 2.8 ais. Great super sharp lens on the 5d2 close up to about 20 feet away not as good far away. No personality, distortion flare vignetting or any other flaws just incredibly competent and sharp. Kind of boring really.

Nikkor 55mm 1.2 SC pre AI but with the good coating and the black nose. I bought this on impulse a couple months ago, and it's the psycho girlfriend of lenses. The sets your couch on fire to see your cute expression, recites the really scary soliloquies from Shakespeare in public, scares your friends who might consider sleeping with her anyway, and is liable to show up with either a kitten or another woman to "adopt" kind of girlfriend, yet has some really redeeming qualities that make you want to get her name tattooed on your body. Wide open it has every aberrant lens behavior known, stop it down a little and it's really sharp and some of the crazy is abated. Stop it down a lot and it's sort of normal.

I'm also using a S.M.C. Takumar 55mm 1.4 that is is a little less crazy than the Nikkor 55mm 1.2 but is a beautiful lens and I'm testing a 100mm 2.0 EF Canon against a 105 2.8 Nikkor and am amazed how hard it is to tell the difference sometimes. I might take the 100mm 2.0 EF back although it's a lot less fiddly for portraits.

This week the 55mm 1.2 might be my favorite, seems like it and the 100mm 2.0 EF are all I am using.

A fast short APO telephoto would be my favorite if I could track one down at a reasonable price.

My Nikkor F2.8 24mm Manual Focus pre-Ai.

I use it on Nikon D40. A colleague showed my how to use the hyperfocal marks. This is great as the 3 (count'em) auto focus points on the D40 sometimes make composition a pain with an auto-focus lens. I've got pretty good at judging the exposure. I enjoy the focal length on an APS-C sensor and to be honest when I've using the wide end of the kit lens I've struggled with composition. The camera and lens combination is good too. It's a nice size and the weight of the metal lens giving the plastic fantastic camera a bit of heft.

And I have to thank Nick Shere at "I can see for you wholesale" and now "1/125" for giving me the confidence to try out an old lens on my D40

35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M purchased with my M2 in the early 1960s and used for 90+% of my photography for over a decade. A lens I could use anywhere and everywhere, practically in the dark, since I was an astronomer in those days with access to a fabulous darkroom and often pushed film to ASA 1600++. I still marvel at my photos from that time.

I can't resist this one because my choice is, I think, rather unlikely: the Tokina ATX 28-70/2.8 (second gen). I bought this lens back in the 'film days' so I had a constant aperture zoom to use on both AF and MF cameras. Equipment has come and gone over the years, but this lens has persisted in my collection. Why? It's not great at infinity, mediocre wide open, but by F-4 at all apertures it is tack sharp, has great bokeh, and feels nearly as well made as the top-of-the-line Nikkors I have owned. I bought if after owning (and selling) the 35-70/2.8 AF Nikkor. This was a very good lens, but very subject to flare, and not stellar wide open (either). At the time, the Tokina was half the price, went wider, and had superior manual focus control. Over the years, and since starting to shoot professionally several years back, the lens made the transition with me to digital capture -- and still performs superbly for portraiture and event photography. It does a credible job on the very fussy Fuji S5 (strong anti alias filter), though it doesn't function nearly as well as an all-purpose lens, as it did with older film Nikons because of distance resolution limitations. But what a great lens at a fantastic price (I've seen these used for $100 - I think they're easily worth 3-4x that). It oozes quality next to about any current sub-pro level lens you can find. So many of my pictures have been taken with it, and while I shoot primes (and other camera systems with top notch optics) it is difficult to tell with the best images which are done with Tokina or something with greater 'pedigree.'

My favorite lens depends on the format and camera system I am working with. I love the Zeiss ZM 2/50mm on the Leica due to it contrast and sharpness. The Minolta MD 1.4/50mm at f2.0 shines in portraits:
and is sharp stopped down further. On the 4x5 the Nikkor W 5.6/180mm is the natural extension of my eye and is used almost exclusively:
However, on the 8x10 not the normal lens but the Fujinon 12.5/450mm is my favorite.

My Sigma 8mm fisheye. A present from my wife, I would never have spent the money myself.
Only one photo online at the moment. Pic 5 - four dogs:


BTW, Jonas, wow

On my Nikon F2AS, I loved the Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 Ai and the Micro 55mm f/3.5 - so much so I still have them after all these decades ;-) and have used them on my D70, D80 - and got a compensating 55mm f/3.5 for my Pentax K20D.

Currently, I enjoy very much a Pentax 35DA Ltd (which I bought after I read TOP's comment on it), and also an old Leica Elmarit 60mm Macro, using the Leitax adapter. The 2 are amazingly versatile to carry on everywhere. And I sometimes carry an adapted Contax 85mm f/2.8 for portraits. I love that it has somewhat lower contrast, but tremendous micro-resolution.

I also love a Nikkor series E 75-150mm, bought from KEH for a song, really. I taped the barrel for zoom creep, but that's OK, the image quality is awesome, and for macros with a Canon 500D diopter it is fabulous.

I seriously think I would love the FA 31mm, the Contax 28mm f/2.8, and the Voigtlander Apo 125.

And the lenses on Mike's list as well :-)

Canon 28-70 on a 5D, but the Nikkor 50mm 1.4/G on a D700 is fighting for top spot as my favorite.



Years ago I read an article of yours in Phototech Mag about the best Zuiko lenses. It was a follow up to an article about Olympus as "Photography's best kept secret". In one of these, I think it was the lens one, there was a picture of yours of a few pairs of scissors in a jar of some sort, allegedly taken with the 50/2 Macro. That picture and what you wrote about the lens convinced me I just had to have one. I looked everywhere but it took a coupple of years befoe I managed to buy one. Obsessive perhaps, but it turned out to be a very good idea. The lens really is wonderful and clearly my favorite lens ever. Thanks for the tip!

Fredrik, Ystad, Sweden.

It depends upon format.

For 8x10, I have asked local siufu to mount a cheap copy of cooke convertible lens. At 19 inches, it is quite good as my only lens covering that format. I took a lot of pictures (around 300 pictures) last year since I got my Deardroff with that lens. (I have tried the other focal length of this len but it lose quite a bit of sharpness if one "pixel" peer on a 8x10 Velvia 50 slide with a 4x loope ;-).)

For 4x5, I have a French lens 90mm which I am quite happy about.

For 6x6, a quite ugly 50mm Hassey lens for my old 500C. If I have to choose one this US$200 lens would tie with the US$300 Cooke copy above.

For SLR, 70-800 F2.8.

For M8, it is surprisingly my CV 28F3.5 which I carry in my office bag, even though I really like the Nikkor screw mount 135 F3.5 but that focal length is a bit long for M format.

But the one I always use and have is the lens coming with my iPhone 3gs. It is surprisingly good.

My favorite lens: Pentax SMC FA 77 mm Limited. Great bokeh, weird focal length, great as a street telephoto and for tight portraits.

Of all my lenses , I am still occasionally astonished at how good my 180mm 2.8 ais lens is. Icing on the cake is that is pretty beat up, and I bought it off fleabay for $125.00

Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 but only on crop sensor digital cameras where it yields a 44mm equivalent view and crops the worst out of the corners when wide open. Also the Canon EF 100mm f/2 but only on 35mm bodies using HP5 pushed a stop to 800 ISO where it makes the best portraits I've ever managed with any combination of equipment I've had the pleasure to try. I ended up selling both recently because of unemployment and financial difficulty. I compromised and now only have an EF 50mm f/1.4 but I really regret doing it as I'm not as happy using it with either digital or film. The 28mm was the most fun and 'general purpose' walkabout lens I've ever used as long as it was coupled with an APS-C camera and the portraits I used to do on film with the 100mm are gorgeous and always draw positive and complimentary comments. Luckily I can still buy both again new or second hand when better times come along.

M-Rokkor 40mm f/2.0 mounted on my Minolta CLE

SMC Pentax f1.2 50mm. Yeah, I hear you, fast fifty, what a cop-out. Generic OMG! lens, guaranteed to get you popular with the flickr crowd ("...it's what Cartier-Bresson used, man!")

But it's the best twenty five Aussie bucks I ever spent. (And, yes, before any of you ask, yes, I know the difference between "1:2" and "1:1.2".)

Found it in a hockshop as a down-and-out uni student, skulking around Ashgrove, Brisbane. It was the last thirty bucks I had on me for a while (got a Rikenon f1.7 50mm with the deal, figured it was worth about $5.)

I love the bargain-hunting romance the most, I suppose. It's what every K-mount photog dreams of: that forgotten 28mm 3.5 K (Zeiss-designed?) tucked away in the op-shop. The A* 1.4 85mm being sold at an estate sale for "I dunno - twenty bucks?" The LX at a garage sale a dollar, sold by a vengeful (and soon-to-be ex-)wife. I've had a few finds like that. Got my A f1.7 50 on an ME Super from a man plagued by bush turkeys, who was trying to find out if he was related to Rudolph Hess. And a few sad ones. Old guys selling their gear because their eyesight's going, or they need funds for medical work.

The f1.2 may have been run over by a truck. It had a Hoya UV filter jammed on the ring, and from Brissie's climate, full of fungus. Took it to a Vietnamese camera repairer in the city, who sawed the UV off it, and said, it's still a great lens, and whose eyes went wide when I told him what I paid for it.

Does all right on the optics stakes, too: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v466/stephen_macquarie/Brisbane%20Chrissie/Scan-100105-0004.jpg

My all-time favourite is the C/Y mount Zeiss 50mmf 1.4 Planar. Just wonderful rendering and colour. Unfortunately my copy was cursed and every film camera it was mounted on died except one lowly FX-3, so I sold it.

For lenses I own, it's my Nikkor-S.C 5cm f1.4 Close-Focus in LTM. A wonderful little clone of the Sonnar 50/1.5 and with uncoupled close-focus down to 0.45m which is quite handy for use on my G1.

That said, my cold-dead-hands lens remains a beat up copy of the Nikkor 85mm f1.8 K, the last version of this superb lens before it was replaced by the small but mediocre 85/2. My copy is AI'd, just about beat to death and full of crud but still delivers wonderful images.

A perennial favourite is the Olympus ZD 14-54 f2.8-3.5, I own the II version, it's a great range, handles well and is sharp from wide-open and performs better than many lenses that cost 3 times as much. Also the old Minolta 35-70 f4 in A mount, it's tiny, sharp and has wonderful colour and unusually good bokeh for a zoom. It's also dirt cheap at $40-60 for a good copy. Downsides are pretty much restricted to being flare-prone and a 1m minimum focus distance when not in Macro mode.

77 Limited for Pentax. I don't own it anymore but with all the inexpensive Pentax DSLR's out there, I have immagined the possiblilies.
Though I mostly shoot with a 35 Summicron ASPH, my favorite lens still in the arsenal is a 50 Summicron Type IV. The 35, maybe the best 35 ever, is almost too sharp and too contrasty on film, but perfect on my M8.

My 32-year-old Vivitar Series 1 90mm f/2.5 short telephoto. Originally purchased for an Olympus OM-1, I still use it occasionally on my Olympus E-520 and IR-adapted E-410. It has a 1:2 repro ratio by itself, and the optically matched adapter brings it to 1:1. Here's a sample shot.
Macro: Oak leaf

My equally old 50mm f/1.4 was the standard lens on the OM-1. I think it's one of the finest pieces of glass made, and probably the best that I own. Here's a sample shot.
Ed in the garden

And when I finally cough up the money for the Canon 5D Mk II, I'll be getting the OM-Canon adapter so I can keep on using these lenses.

I was very moved by Jonas Yip's photos. Wonderful sensitive work which reminds me once again that it is the artist, not the gear that stirs the emotions.

As for a lens, I think that I've always enjoyed my 100mm 2.8 Zuiko because I always felt like I was getting away with something. Without it's lens hood, it's the size of most 50mm lens and looked so sweet on the front of my OM-1. Somehow, even without a zoom, my subjects seemed to fit quite nicely within the frame.

My all times absolute favorite is Pentax SMC A 50/1.2 lens that also happens to be one of the lenses that I currently use as well. I have all three FA Limited lenses (31, 43, 77) but I still like A 50/1.2 better.

Lots of pictures for 2008/2009 in my blog were made with this lens.

I'm surprised how many of you have gotten this wrong. Anyway, here goes:

Pentax Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm 1.4
Canon 50. 1.5 in Leica screwmount
Konica M-Hexanon 50. 2.0

One can never have too many great 50s.

Schenider-Kreuznach Xenotar 80 2.8 (Rolleiflex)

Howard French

Zeiss Distagon 25mm for my Contax. It doesn't have the best reputation- I must have got a good one. Will not be parting with this one.

Hasselblad Planar 120mm f4.0 Makro

This lens never let me down and helped me make a living for many years

Leica 35 Summicron-M.

My favorite lens which I sold when I got rid of my Canon gear to buy an M9 was the Canon 90mm TSE. I loved using the lens because it required you to slow down and of course the tilt and shift aspect gave you so many choices. It's the one thing I've truly missed with my switch.

The one lens that I find myself lusting for but will never have the deep pockets to afford is the newest example of the Leica Noctilux. I find myself spending far too much time pouring through images made with this lens with extreme jealousy.

"Leica 35 Summicron-M."

Which one?


My cheap little Canon 50 f1.8 is great for headshots, and my 70-200 f2.8 IS is the moneymaker. Both great lenses.

Nikkor 20mm f/4 was my first wideangle in '78.
I had an FM and I loved that combination.
Now I have D700 and with 20 it's quite small and handy.
Don't need AF because of its hyperfocal ability.

I'd have to say that the Pentax SMC 67 105mm/f2.4 for the Pentax 6x7 is easily my favorite. It has a wonderful three-dimensionality to it's images -- the subject seems to come out of the surface of the print while the background has depth.

Yeow! Mike - do you keep track of the article that has garnered the most responses? This one seems to have touched a nerve...

There's an old saying "The best pistol in the world is the one in your hand when the shooting starts."

For me, the same applies to my lens collection - my favorite lens is whatever is mounted on the camera when I take the shot. (That may explain a lot about the lack of quality in my photography but my wife disagrees. She say's there's no explaining how this much money can be spent with such limited results without the federal government being involved).

I do tend to match the lens for the day's expected shooting requirements, but I can't say I've got a favorite. Since I take a lot of refrigerator prints of the grandkids, my "most often grabbed" lens has to be the too-slow, too-soft Nikon 18-135. Not a great match for my D300, but a good match for a photographer who is also too slow and too soft.

May I submit a whole camera, as the lens does not come off? The lens is the worst I own - plastic, a bit scratched, soft, vigenettes badly. It's attached to my Holga, of course. The reason I love it? The prints that I have made using it. And this is the first "fine art" print I ever sold, made using this camera / lens -


BTW I cleaned up the neg before printing, so that dust is gone. And printed on 16*20" fibre (well, 16*16 square), can I just say the scan doesn't do it justice. Definately my favourite lens is one of my worst :)


"Yeow! Mike - do you keep track of the article that has garnered the most responses?"

Yep. The record is 217.


+ Currently — Nikon 50mm 1.8 Series E. I've only owned it for a short time, after seeing a flickr member's images with it. It has a 'magic aperture' and i've only shot it at that setting. With APX100/D-76.
50 S-E

+ Seemingly, any 75 or 80mm Planar or Tessar built into a Rolleiflex.

+ The 'best' lenses i own are the Canon EF 85/1.2L and 35/1.4L.

+ When i used a Leica/Zeiss Ikon, i liked the Leica 35/2-ASPH Summicron.

+ The Leica-R 35/2 Summicron does some very nice things, although it wasn't technically better than the Canon EF 35/2 i had. I didn't get any 'magic' from the Canon 35/2, but based on the comments here, i may have to try again. The 35L is just toooo big for a 35....

+ I've owned a Hasselblad 150mm f2.8 FE lens for almost two years. Haven't taken a single shot with it. But, i EXPECT it will be a favorite soon. That 'Sonnar thing' — i like Sonnars.

Here's another vote for the Pentax FA77/1.9 Ltd. Fast, clean and round images. It's my go-to, followed closely by the FA35/2.

natalie on the couch

Has to be the old Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 for no other reason than it's the one I started with back in the long-ago manual exposure/manual metering days. It was the first good lens on the first good camera I had ever used, and I can still remember when (with the guidance of a friend who knew about such things) I saw the result: a Tri-X negative projected on the enlarger easel. And then the print. My goodness. A whole new world. I suspect many other TOP readers have a similar memory. Sure, since then we've all used equipment that's more convenient, more sophisticated and, yes, probably "better," but the glow of an early infatuation never entirely fades.

What, only 167 comments (as of this comment) .... you would have thought more people had something to say about their favorite lens...

depends on the camera.

on the R-D1, it is the ZM biogon 2.0/35mm.
examples: http://www.sebastel.de/xitang/index.html

on the R2C, it is an uncoated sonnar 1.5/50mm.
example: http://www.sebastel.de/trento09/34.html

mor me, it feels easier to use a FoV of ~60° (35mm, in 135 terms), but i am more happy with results from ~45° FoV (50mm in 135 terms).


Jonas Yip's work is striking because the lens' inherent poor quality and focus creates an abstract and dreamy context for shape and texture that simplifies the images. I really like them. This reminds if a recent comment you (Mike) made about how photographers in the past would seek out soft lenses over sharp ones.

Oddly enough I think my favorite is the kit lens that came with my Panasonic G1 - the Panasonic 14-45 f google to f googleplex OIS. Surprisingly sharp and contrasty. As a landscape guy the fact that it is pretty dark doesn't bother me. (Lots of f8 and be there.) But mostly it is a lens that is good enough to allow me to take that camera all over the place. I've better lenses but that one has done more heavy lifting than any kit lens since my Minolta 50mm f1.7.

I'm sure I'm transferring some of my love of the G1 to the lens attached to it. So I might not agree with this this time next year. So looking ahead we'll go with my Tamron 28-70 for my canon. Sharp sharp sharp sharp sharp.

Lot of us fond of the Canon EF 35/2.0.

I'd go back to it instead of the 35/1.4L if Canon ever updated the focus - I like small light unthreatening lenses.

Could this be an undiscovered 35mm Summicron?

“Yeow! Mike - do you keep track of the article that has garnered the most responses?”
“Yep. The record is 217.”

Yeah... that record ain’t gonna hold up today. (^_^)

I could sell, replace, or retire all of my Minolta and Nikon lenses save one – I will never, ever part with my Nikkor AF 85mm f/1.4D. I love this lens. It’s too long to use as my everyday walkabout lens, but all of my favorite photos were taken with the 85mm. I should use it more.

Definitely the Canon 35mm 1.4. It's on my 5D original more than any other lens.



Alright, let's carry on with this long list.

Mine is a SMC Takumar 1.8/85 for many reasons. First of all, it's fancy vintage glass, and the cool factor of that is very high. Second, it is has terrific resolution from 2.8 onwards, is very flare resistant, never shows chromatic aberrations, in a word, never deceives. Third because it is a M42 screw mount lens, and that means you can stick it on a huge variety of bodies (canon, sony, pentax...) film or digital.

"Leica 35 Summicron-M."

Which one?

Mike, the one I bought new in 1995. I later sold it along with two M6s to help finance a new Hasselblad outfit (which I no longer own either). Of course I have regrets. :) I'm pretty happy though with my AF-D 35/2 Nikkor, but it ain't no Summicron.

In 35 mm, my personal favorite was the 28 mm 1:2.8 of the Ricoh GR-1. Sadly, my camera gave up the ghost after a decade of hard use, and now there are no parts available. My current favorite lens is the 80 mm 1:4 of the Mamiya 7.

35mm: Sonnar 85/2,8
8x10: Computar 240/9

have bougth both 20 years ago, and still use and love them.

Another vote for the Pentax FA77. I keep thinking I can do better, but nope.

Very interesting to see that everybody favorite lens is a prime. :-)

I guess that mine is the Sigma 30mm f/1.4. But it is a hard call. The Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 and the Canon 35mm f/2.0 are also awesome!!

They all get pictures with a lot of character. It is almost like the have their own personality.



Thanks for the challenge Mike. It has been a reminder that film cameras were prettier and more compact than today's DSLRs. I've gotten used to hauling around the Canon 5D II, with it's potato masher lens!! As impressive as its performance is, it sure isn't pretty or compact.

My favorite lens is the Nikkor 85 mm f2. It looked good on a Nikon FM2. For me it is the perfect focal length, compressing perspective pleasantly and making clean compositions so much easier than with shorter lenses. And this exercise has been a good reminder that film provides an H&D curve that really curves, providing subtlety in both the toe and shoulder.

Four of my favorite photos of woodland scenes with the FM2/Nikkor 85mm / Reala combination can be seen at: http://petervagt.com/nikkor85

I haven't bought a roll of film since getting my first Canon DSLR five years ago but now I'm thinking of ordering a brick of Reala!

I am also a fan of the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 on an FX Nikon (mine was the D200). Mike, I know you were disappointed in it, but I saw a photo on TOP that you took with it and that convinced me to buy it. I used the lens for over 90% of my photos. It worked for me, providing a viewpoint that spoke to me, and it gave me confidence. It brought me back to prime lens shooting; I never really felt right with zooms.

I really miss that lens now that I have changed to the D700, FX. But I won't get rid of it.

Hmm, my Canon 24 mm ƒ2.8 FD which i still have on an old FTb, and the 135 ƒ2.5 FD sadly it was stolen years ago (not the the later ƒ2.8 that 'replaced' it and a poor substitute it was!). I think the post above re the Canon135ƒ2 must be referencing this same lens as i don't believe there ever was a 135 ƒ2 made, and the new EF 135 lens which i would love to have, is a ƒ2.5 as well, i thought. If i'm wrong i would LOVE to see such a lens in person!!!!!! I can only imagine the size of the front element though…

14-inch Commercial Ektar on 8x10

As an A900 user I have access to a whole hoard of older MInolta AF glass, but one stands out as my favourite, the 35-70 mm f4.

Cheap as chips, I have actually bought 3, all good but one was slightly better overall.

I use it instead of a 50 mm lens, think of it as a 50 with framing flexibility. Between 40-65 mm it is very sharp, it is never fully sharp at 35mm at any aperture. A full battery of tests against all the other Minolta 50s revealed only the 50 mm 2.8 macro can beat it (just). Oh and it has great macro ability and works a treat with add-on macro filters.

The icing on the cake is that it is small, not much bigger than a 50mm lens. Contrast is on the low side but that actually makes for very nice pics when matched to the A900....film-like is a good descriptor.

Overall I would guess that 70% of all shots I take with the A900 are with this lens.

The best performing lens I have ever had was a Summicron 35 mm non-asph. With an M4-P body it made the perfect couple. Moreover, it was a wonderful match with the Epson R-D1's sensor.

Can I have a word about my ideal lens?
A Micro Four Thirds, non-interchangeable, firmware-corrected, compact and self-collapsing barrel, self-closing cap, 28-300 mm equivalent. So that I can stop fussing about lenses and concentrate on the imaging process.
Why can't we enjoy photography the same way we enjoy traveling, while driving a confortable, affordable and worry-less car?

John Taylor:

Yes, there was a Canon FD 135/f2.0. I owned it. 72mm filter thread, rumoured at the time to be an L lens in disguise (i.e. containing rare earth glass).

There is a Canon 135mm/f2.0L. 72 mm filter thread. I have had one for about 15 years, just replaced it with a new one.

Pentax 35mm ltd macro.

Impossible choice, but today I'd say it's the Canon 85mm F:1.2, because yesterday I finally photographed the series of portraits with it which I'd hoped to be able to make when I bought it. The kind of photos which are its raison d'etre. See them here.

... Another current favorite is the Pentax pancake lens 70mm F:2.4. It's smaller than almost any 50mm lens, and yet has a 105mm-e reach. And it's dead-sharp. This makes it great for picking out subjects in the street scene without being in people's face but also without pointing a big zoom at them.

The Canon 70-200mm f/4L (non-IS version) is my favorite lens whenever I need a focal length in its' range. The results are always pleasing to me (nice bokeh, lack of CA, sharp) and it's a joy to use. Does a good job of replacing the primes in its' range and the f/4 max is a workable tradeoff for size and price.

I don’t know if it is my favorite lens,but certainly one I have had a long term relationship with.
Leitz 50mm 3.5 Elmar collapsable screw mount. I first got it about 40 years ago when I acquired a Leica IIIc with it from a friend. I fell for it’s look and simplicity right away. I put a bunch of rolls through the camera and found the pictures wonderful with a subtle sharpness. One picture in particular haunted me. It is of two Central Park carriage horses and the eye of one seems to jump out at me. I have had the print hanging on a wall in front of me every since. The IIIc went on the shelf after a while, succumbing to newer cameras that were easier to use and more with the times. I went through Pentax, Nikon, and Canon Cameras and lens and moved on to M4, M6 and M8 Leicas, but the 50mm Elmar kept staring at me from the shelf. Every so often I would pick it and admire it.

Several weeks ago I received my GF1 (partially based on your enthusiasm). It is a great carry around camera. I was intrigued by the idea that you could use other lenses on the body, but I didn’t quite believe that it would work well. However, I bought a Fotodiox converter and by means of a screw to M converter the little 50mm3.5 sits on the GF1.
The immediately got comfortable with each other. The 50 year old pre-war babe and the young high tech kid. I cleaned up the lens got the the action running smoothly and am I having fun. Because of the ability to see through any lens and call on the close up feature when you push in the wheel, focusing is a snap.(the dual range 50mm is also amazing in close up mode) For the moment this is a lens I have real feelings about. It is a lens that challenges me and has a soul and while not have the optics of more modern lens it produces some very special sharpness to soft balance. It has of course become a 100 mm lens with the 2:1 factor , but that also makes it interesting in that my most comfortable (favorite) lens now is a (20 year old) 35mm Summicron on the M8 ( equals 56mm. +/-)

I have photos to go with this but am not sure how to attach them.

It's actually two that share first place in my heart: The Nikkor 50mm F/2.0 pre-AI and the S.M.C. Takumar 55mm 1.8. They share color rendition, contrast and a special character that sets them apart from so many other excellent lenses in my collection.

The best lens ever forged?

Pentax 77mm f1.8 Limited.

My favorite lens?

The 77.... Or the Pentax M 85 f/2.

No-one ever talks about the Pentax M 85 f/2, but I'm here to tell you that it makes me weep tears of joy.

The fact that nobody (or very few) ever really believe me about the 85 makes me feel safe in recommending it - if I ever lose my copy, I'll be able to get another at reasonable cost.

My favourite lens that I have used extensively on several cameras since my first AF is the Canon Ef 28-105/3.5-5.6.
It is small, lightweight and, for me, highly veratile. I have, and have had many Canon lenses, but have never sold this one. For me, it is a stayer.

Example pics:




Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E, for absolutely no reasons of fine optical quality of all, but mainly because it was the lens I had mounted when I took most of my favourite and most rewarding shots in the past (example).

I recently bought the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX to replicate that focal length on my DSLR. It's a modern design with fast AF, improved optics, better handling and no DOF or distance scales to clutter the appearance.

It's rubbish.

Pentax SMC A 35-105.

Not my best lens, by a long way; it's heavy, slow and a little soft compared with today's stuff. But I've had it for nearly 30 years (for twenty of which it sat in a cupboard), and I don't think I'll ever sell it.

Takes some nice pictures, too.

The comments to this entry are closed.