A Quick Comparison of the Bokeh From Budget Friendly Vintage Lenses

Here’s a quick test to give you an idea on which vintage lenses to go for if you’re looking for budget-friendly options for those bokeh-licious shots.

Whether you’re a digital photographer with a soft spot for vintage lenses, or a hybrid shooter of both film and digital cameras, you’ll want to check out this interesting lens comparison. In the video below, we get to see which vintage lenses can give you bang for your buck if you prefer to go big on bokeh using your Micro Four Thirds camera.

The bokeh test by Panorama as a circle YouTube channel was done for both photo and video using an Olympus E-PL5 Micro Four Thirds camera and a bunch of lenses: Olympus 45mm f1.8 (modern lens for a more thorough comparison), Industar 50mm f3.5, Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8, Helios-44M-4 58mm f2, and Asahi Super Takumar SMC 50mm f1.4. Let’s see how bokeh-licious each lens performed:

It’s important to note that you’re essentially getting bokeh on a budget whichever lens you choose, as the price range is from $20 (Industar) to $100 (Asahi Super Takumar SMC). That’s a big leap down from the $300 Olympus lens. But if you really want to nitpick, there’s a clear winner: the Asahi Super Takumar SMC. It’s expected given the wide aperture, but the Helios-44M-4 comes at a close second.

So, what’s the conclusion? These vintage lenses still make great options for both photo and video work, if you don’t mind the manual focus. But actually, that makes them perfect for shooting dreamy, bokeh-licious videos shown in the comparison.

If you’re shooting with a Fujifilm mirrorless camera, you may also want to watch another comparison video of four vintage lenses priced $30 to $90, and paired with a Fujifilm X-M1:

In this test, we are given more specific results per lens: the Yashica DS 50mm f1.9 2 is a good choice for value; the Helios-44M-4 58mm f2 is your choice for sharpness; the Asahi SMC Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 gives you the maximum bokeh, and the Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8 produces strong saturated colors.

Check out this playlist for more film photography stuff from the Panorama as a circle channel.

Screenshot image from the video by Panorama as a circle