The Mamiya-Sekor 50mm f/2.0 M42 lens was a standard lens supplied on several Mamiya 35mm slr bodies in the 1960s, and is available for not too much money either as a stand alone lens or, more frequently when suppled as a complete camera kit bought second hand.
These pictures can be viewed full size here.
I acquired my copy when I purchased a Mamiya 500TL recently for a couple of pounds. It turned out that the camera body wasn’t in very good shape and needs a lot of work to get it going, but the lens is fine and so I tried it out on my Fuji X-T1 mirrorless to see the sort of results it is capable of.
The lens is of fairly standard M42 screw mount design having a pin in the bottom of the mount which stops down the lens at the point the shutter opens, and an Auto/Manual switch on the lens barrel to disable this action. On the original camera this switch would have been set to Auto so the metering and focusing could be carried out at full aperture, but when used on a digital camera this action is unnecessary. In fact, since a modern mirrorless camera like the Fuji X-T1 controls the aperture electronically, the mechanical nature of the lens’s stopping down pin would cause problems. Fortunately, as well as the Auto/Manual switch, the M42 mount adapter makes sure the pin is depressed and the lens is in manual mode whichever way the switch is set.
The only controls which need to be set on the lens are the aperture and the focus rings. Obviously, the aperture needs to be set manually and there is no readout of the aperture value either in the viewfinder or on the picture metadata when it is viewed in Lightroom (or equivalent). The focus also needs to be set manually, but the X-T1 is a great camera for manual lenses because of the many different focus aids like the focus peaking or split rangefinder view.
In order to test the lens on the X-T1, I put the camera into manual mode by setting the shutter speed dial to T which gives shutter speed control to the front dial, and the ISO to Auto. With the camera set up this way I can set both Aperture and Shutter speed and let the camera adjust the ISO to suit. As long as you observe the ISO to make sure it’s not being set too high everything should be OK.
The results I got with this lens are shown in the gallery above. They were all shot in Raw and imported into Lightroom CC where they had a minimal amount of Post Processing following my usual workflow before being exported as Jpeg files with a max length of 1000 px.
To test it out I took a stroll around Fairlands lakes in Stevenage and tried taking picture with a variety of different f stop values to get a feel for how it performs. Unfortunately it was a bit of a murky day when I went out, but the lens still managed to capture some subtle colours quite nicely. One thing which did strike me as I was using the lens was that it focuses really quite closely and with a short extension tube would probably make a good close up lens.
Being a 50mm lens, the Fuji X-T1 crop factor made this the equivalent of a short telephoto, so I needed to stand further back from subjects than I normally like to; personally, I find it easier to compose shots with a wide angle lens than a telephoto, which made the test a bit more of a challenge than say a 28mm lens would be.
I expected the Mamiya to perform well simply because it is such a good name and overall this lens didn’t disappoint. The definition was good, colour rendition good and there is certainly evidence of the characteristic swirly background this type of lens normally produces (which is down to the lens design). Since this lens is available for only a few pound, I would definitely add it to the ‘worth a look’ list.
While I was out with the camera I also shot a couple of video clips just to see how the lens performs, and they are shown below.