Montag, 28. April 2014

Cheap, cheaper, Makinon: the Makinon Auto 135mm f/2.8 MC in review

A focal length of 135mm is something very special. You can take portraits on a full frame sensor. With an APS-C sensor this focal length is a lightweight telephoto lens. The 135 mm focal length competes directly with lenses of 85mm, 105mm, or the typical 70-200mm zoom lenses. I want to introduce an occasional series of some lenses that have a focal length of 135mm. These will include: the Makinon Auto 135mm f/2.8 MC, the excellent and well known Olympus Zuiko 135mm f/3.5  and last the Canon 135mm f/3.5 LTM with Leica screw mount (M39). Maybe then just adds one or the other lens, if I can muster it.

Today we start with the cheap Makinon 135mm, which after all has a bright aperture of 2.8. I got my copy for just 30 €. More should also pay for it in no way. Well, it is built very solid. You can use it to hammer a nail into the wall. But: the optics are not exactly inspiring. But we'll get to later. Now once some statistics and data.
The Makinon lenses were made by Makina Optical Co. Ltd. in Japan. Starting in 1974 they began selling lenses under their own brand names, primarily Makinon but they also registered the Makinar trademark. (note that Makina, Makinon and Makinar were also brand names used by German company Plaubel prior to the 1970s). Makina manufactured lenses for OEM branding by other companies such as Vivitar and Hanimex. Like many small Japanese lens manufacturers, Makina Optical went out of business in the 1980s as consumers switched from manual focus to auto focus camera systems.
Makinon made lense in a variety of mounts – Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Minolta, Konica, M42 and so on.

The Makinon 135mm lens was made between 1976 to 1985. It has a length of 68.5 mm and a weight of 350 grams. The filter size is 55mm. The lens has seven aperture blades. The shortest focus distance is 1.5 meters. The Makinon has a special feature: There are macro shots possible with a magnification of up to 1:4.5. No sensation, but quite nice.
Here are a few pictures of the lens with an adapter on my Sony Nex:

What can now afford this cheap lens?
First the bad news: In open aperture it is not really usable. Here is a shot at f/2.8: As you can see even without magnification, the image is dull and full of chromatic aberrations around all contrast edges.

A 100% detail cut from the original image. Open aperture.
Only when you stop down to f/5.6 will change the quality of pictures. The sharpness is reasonably acceptable in the center of the image. Really good but it is only from aperture 8 to 11. The bokeh is really pleasant soft. The lens has, in my experience no problems with backlight. I have read on the net that in the lens a lens hood is integrated. This I can not confirm. My copy with a bayonet for Contax / Yashica has no retractable lense hood.

Open aperture with Macro 1:4.5.

SONY NEX-3N, aperture 5.6, exposure time 1/320 s.

SONY NEX-3N, aperture 5.6, exposure time 1/320 s.

SONY NEX-3N, aperture 5.6, exposure time 1/320 s.

SONY NEX-3N, aperture 5.6, exposure time 1/60 s with fill flash.

SONY NEX-3N, aperture 5.6, exposure time 1/320 s.
In summary, I can say: the Makinon Auto 135mm lens in general are not very good and tend to be very soft wide open. When stopped down it usable but no recommendation. 
In the next posts we will see how good or bad are the other lenses.

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