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Tuesday, 31 March 2020


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You may think the 56 is too long for portraits, but really, it's not much longer than a 105 on FF, being 112 on m4/3. It's very nice indeed, and yes, too sharp to be kind, but that is easily fixable. I've used it extensively.

One caveat however, it's all been for client work, so I can't show any publicly. However if you'd like to take a gander yourself, let me know and I'll send you a bunch of links.

120mm too long? Back in the late '70s I was working in a camera store and building a Pentax "K" mount system. I saw in the Pentax catalog an odd duck: the 120mm f2.8. Originally a Super-Multicoated Takumar screw-mount lens, the newly-introduced "M" version was smaller, lighter, and reputedly sharper than the then-current 135mm f2.5.

Our sales rep told me that he'd never placed an order for one, which tickled my idiosyncratic nature no end. The personal purchase discount was substantial, and so I ended up with what was probably the only example in my state. That lens rapidly became a favorite focal length, second only to the 35mm. In fact I often went out with just those two lenses. I made thousands of good pictures with the 120mm.

Fast-forward to the 21st century and I'm using m4/3 cameras. I don't yet have the Olympus 60mm, but only because I already have a superb Lumix 45mm Macro-Elmarit and the faster Olympus 45mm f1.8 (both purchased before the 60mm was introduced.) Still, though, that 120mm-equivalent is calling my name, urging me to go back to my "roots".

You may have enabled yet another lens purchase!

“ It's only flaw might be that even wide open it's too sharp. “

Really? I miss Modern Photography tests for resolution, and contrast.

That lens may be great, but with apologies to Sony owners who like their cameras, on a Sony? Image quality great, ergonomics beyond awful. Oh dear I expect I have upset somebody.

I'm with you, I love that Oly lens, here is one of my pics with it:


Surprisingly, I use the Oly 60/2.8 macro for—closesups of things, sometimes approaching 1:1.

I had a Sigma 105mm macro for Nikon, that (for the only time in my life) I manged to lose; I have one vague idea how/where but no way to test it because I didn't figure out the theory until long after the event. And when I was looking to replace it finally I was coming more and more towards my dropping Nikon and going fully with Micro Four Thirds (for financial reasons)—and this Oly cost a LOT less than the Nikon 105/2.8 VR macro. So I got this instead of the Nikon.

Going for good bokeh seems wise when designing a macro lens, since many of the common uses of them involve vast tracts of out-of-focus material.

According to my copy of The Ultimate Asahi Pentax Screw Mount Guide, Pentax made an SMC 120mm f2.8 lens, between 1972-1975.

"Especially designed for portrait photography, because image contrast and sharpness are somewhat weak at large apertures".

This lens was not made as a Super Takumar, only as a Super Muli-Coated Takumar.

I don't have this lens, and prefer the 85mm f1.9 Super Takumar for portraits.

Do the corrections needed for macro lenses tend to produce good quality bokeh as an unintended benefit?

My favorite 4/3 lens was/is the 50f2 macro, I used this with an adapter on M/43until I purchased the 60f2.8.

This lens is not my favorite M4/3 lens but a strong #3 (12-40f2.8 is #1 and the 17f1.8 is #2) but my favorite self portrait at the link below was done with th 60 on an OM-D 10 using an iPone as a remote.


Bokeh is over-rated.

Andrew of the Danae and Andrew YT channel, who has a professional background in marketing surveys, did a survey and found most people preferred photographs shot at ~2.8 - f/4. People invariably preferred some of the background to be present to provide context for the photo to backgrounds that were way out of focus.

Also, survey respondents felt that how in-focus the subject was considerably more important than how out of focus the background is in the photo.

Conclusion: Don't sweat this too much.

"f/4 and be there"

One of my wishes is that Sigma releases the trio of lens to which the 56 f/1.4 belongs in Fuji X mount.

Mike, would you please post a link to the pic of which the lens rendering impressed you ? Rendering to me being so much more meaningful a concept than sharpness or resolution per se.

Have you tried the Olympus 45/1.8? I've mostly used it for head-and-shoulder portraits done out of duty and not to for my own enjoyment, but I think it has a sympathetic rendering that suits portraits.

It may be the best lens I have for MFT and they can be had cheap. Shame I have very little use for a 45mm lens…

I used to do a fair bit of macro (or just close-up) work so this lens has tempted me for a while. A 120mm 1:1 and so small and light, and AF! Wow. I used to just put a Sigma +1 or +2 corrected diopter on my Series E 75-150 Nikon and it worked well for travelling.

I've said this before, it's amazing to me but this lens is much cheaper here in Australia than it is in your country. I can buy it brand new from a reputable dealer here for A$451 = US$275. If you bought it you could take the 10% Australian GST off as well. Check it out.

Dang, I don't need this but it is tempting.

You just have to egg me on, don't you. I've hovered over the buy button every time it goes on sale, partly because I like the focal length, partly because of the numerous glowing reviews. But I'm not really into macro, and already have this length covered by the 40-150 f2.8. I know it somewhat defeats the small and light of m43, but I really wish it was f2. That would change my screen from "add to cart" to "order confirmation ".

I'm not sure I'm a fan of using macro teles as portrait lenses based on my very limited experience of trying one out and hating it. I used the Tokina 90/2.5 "Bokina" on a Nikon D850 a couple of years ago in a studio photo shoot, so that means fully-controlled lighting and small shooting apertures (f/5.6 or f/8) at about a 2-3-meter distance for a full body shot. While the results are technically fine and were used by the client, I hated the rendering of the lens on the in-focus plane because it was too harsh: imagine the visual analog of a loudspeaker with a tipped-up upper midrange and treble response.

The other lenses I regularly use in these situations are the Zeiss 55mm Otus and their new 1.4/35mm and 1.4/85mm Milvus at their optimal apertures, so I don't have an allergy to well-corrected lenses. There's just something about the rendering of the Tokina that is unpleasantly harsh at those shooting distances and apertures. Or maybe it's just me: I also dislike the Nikon 60/2.8 AF-S G Micro's rendering at distance but I've happily used that lens at typical macro distances, while other people on the Internet seem to especially like that lens's distance rendering. For this lens, it's the opposite problem: there's no snap or life (ie. microcontrast) to its distance rendering. Who knows?

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