Three Primes, One Doll

160228 three primes testing

Here it finally is! My long promised comparison of all of my three prime lenses. I took Alex, a tripod and my camerabag with me outdoors and snapped some photos. Above is a compile of all lenses at 2.0 aperture, can you guess which is which? ;) And as a reminder, the lenses I had with me were:
- Canon 50/1.8 (a modern prime with AF, retails about 100€)
- Helios 44-2 58/2 (an 80's Soviet prime with MF, bought for about 30€)
- Super-Takumar 50/1.4 (a 60's Japanese prime with MF, bought for about 80€)

All photos are pretty much as is from the camera. I haven't cropped or colour corrected any of them (with one exception, which is mentioned). I have however edited exposure of the RAW files in Photoshop, because I took way too overexposed photos >_< It was pretty bright and I just couldn't see properly in the live view. I tried to edit exposure so that all photos look like they would have been shot with a similar shutter speed in relation to aperture. I let the camera decide white balance so don't take these as a real comparison of colour range.

The first set of photos were taken with about 1,5-2m range to target and a long range to background.

160228 test001 canon 1.8 01

160228 test001 canon 2.0 01

First up was my Canon prime. It is a pretty standard lense, nothing especially outstanding about it. I thought this was such a wow!thing back when I got it, but now I understand it isn't that special XD

160228 test001 helios 2.0 01

Then Helios. I only took one photo since f2.0 is the widest aperture the lense can have. Actually compared to Canon the bokeh seems a bit smoother, although the picture in all lacks in contrast and brightness.

You can also see that the Helios lookes more cropped to the others. Last time I was a bit baffled by it, but after publishing the blog post I realised that the Helios isn't a 50mm prime like the rest, but a 58mm :D Because my camera has a crop sensor, the difference in focal lenght looks bigger than it really is. The Helios doesn't really "zoom in" any closer than my other primes, it just is closer to the target than the others :)

160228 test001 taku 1.4 01

160228 test001 taku 2.0 01

And lastly, my Taku. The extra vibrant colour in the first photo might be because the sun was slightly more out of the clouds right at that moment. But all-in-all, the Taku gives warmer photos. I might also have mislabeled the photos, since the f2.0 picture actually look less sharp than the f1.4 one...

Then a second set of photos were taken with around 1m distance to target and a long distance to background:

160228 test002 canon 1.8 01

160228 test002 canon 2.0 01

The portraits with Canon. There isnät that much difference between f1.8 and f2.0, actually :D But at least I think that when this prime is stopped down to f2.0 it is a bit sharper. I might need to do some 100% crops to really show it...

160228 test002 helios 2.0 01

Helios again looks almost cloudy in comparison.

160228 test002 helios 2.0 02 edited

But with some extra editing, it can look more like the Canon photo. So for the picture above, I edited the RAW more than the pther photos. I darkened the shadows and lightened the highlights, so upped the contrast in other words :D

160228 test002 taku 1.4

160228 test002 taku 2.0

And again finally the Taku. Compared to the Canon, lok closely at the background at the top of the picture. For Canon it is blurry green with white bokeh spots at the top left corner. With Taku the bokeh is more widespread, if you can see what I mean. The green isn't just a unicoloured mass, but speckled and you can sort of see the browns of a tree trunk at the very right edge of the photo.

Also the difference between f1.4 and f2.0 can be noticed when looking at Alex's left hand and the zipper across his pants.

So the correct answer to the question at the top is (order from left to right): Taku, Canon, Helios :)

I also took some more photos of Alex with my favourite, the Taku :3 But since Valentine and Loki have now woken up from their nap, I must leave those to another post. See you next time!


  1. GREAT comparison! Thanks for doing this, it was super interesting! I really like the Taku! And I actually like the low contrast in the helios, it gives a vintage effect :D because ofc it is actually vintage XD

    1. I'm glad it was useful ^-^ I'm not that pro with cameras that I can do a really detailed comparison like I've seen on real photography blogs. I worried that nothing would really show up in the photos but luckily there are differences that can be spotted.

      And yeah, there are merits to all of them and each will probably have their own target audiences/uses. Mostly I prefer the Taku too, but for instance when taking photos of Nigel the colder colour is better. And the AF of the Canon is useful if I take photos of moving targets.

      Now I just really want to get a shorter prime :P Something around 35mm/f2 would be quite ideal, for example for commission photos and closeups of the smaller dolls.


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