I haven’t posted anything in a long while. Today provided me an opportunity to test a lens. Recently at an estate sale I acquired on the desirable Konica AR 57mm f/1.4 lenses. This is the second version of the lens, having the cool bluish coatings. The first version has amber coatings, more like the classic Super Takumar series.

My goal here was to look at two characteristic of the lens. These are (1) image formation and (2) contrast. Any more I have little concern for resolution and other distortions because anything above a “kit” lens has resolved these issues. (For those buying a new camera, if you spend the extra for a better quality lens than the kit lens then you’ll not be dissatisfied with your images. And some kit lenses are good. But the step up is often worth the investment.)

The camera in use is a Sony A7rII, mounted on a tripod. I’m comparing three lenses: Konica AR 57mm f/1.4, Sony 28-70, and the Sony 50mm 1.8.

Back to the pictures. I found a nice back-lit tree in a local city park. Back-lit items show a person how the contrast works out.

In the full-frame image all three gave a pleasing appearance. The 50mm seems just slightly more washed out in the bright spots, but not offensively so.

Looking at the three images, the Konica AR has the best image rendering. The Sony 28-70, like all zooms has that slight but visible barrel hint and the Sony 50mm has something about it that’s just not right. Might be the Gaussian design. It seems like on both lenses the road on the left side is falling off just a hair. But it’s not on the Konica 57mm. Whatever it is, lens formula is everything when it comes to rendering. I’ve shot a fair amount of sheet film. Formula differences show up very clearly in this arena. And it makes me quite fussy when it come to [what are condescending called] miniature cameras. ;-0

Sony 50mm Whole Image

Konica 57mm Whole Image

Sony 28-70 Whole Image at 64mm

In the Center of each image starts to show the difference. The Konica AR lens has much smoother edges. The Sony 50mm is acceptable and the 28-70 is noticeably sh

Sony 50mm Center

Konica 57mm Center

Sony 28-70 Center

When it comes to the corners I took some pieces from the upper right area. But they’re not quite the same because of the focal length change. Yet they’re close enough to exhibit some differences.
Interestingly, the Sony 28-70 exhibits less chromatic aberration (blue fringing) than the other two. In this regard the Sony 50mm is the worst of the three. And while it is clearly present on the Konica AR it is no worse than the Sony 28-70. It would be fair to say the are comparable.

Sony 50mm Upper Right

Konica AR 57mm Upper Right

Sony 28-70 at 64mm, upper right


It is fair to say that the well-aged Konica holds its own against newer “good” lenses. Of course it couldn’t compare to better lenses, but it was never in that class. But these are all distance shots. Maybe later I’ll do a portrait with it to compare. And I suspect the Konica will easily hold its own there, too.

The Sony 28-70 holds its own as a general-purpose zoom. It’s one of those “good” kit lenses and nothing to be ashamed of. Of course it’s not a “G” or a Zeiss but the results are acceptable. And these days with the photo editors out there so much can be corrected that there’s little to worry about. People have published quality images with the 28-70.

So … if you’re not fussy about putting the camera into Aperture Priority mode, manually focusing, and having your lens on an adapter, and being seen with something old, the Konica AR 57/1.4 is a fine lens and worthy of any camera bag. Right now I’d choose it over my Sony 50mm/1.8 for the results. The only shortcoming is focusing in the digital finder. I find that a real pain. But that’s not the lens’ fault.