If you ask all the photographers, which single prime lens they would choose if they could own only one lens in the world, the majority would say the 35mm, and most of the rest would say a fast 35mm. This is because it is one of the most versatile prime lenses. Although it’s a wide-angle lens, it is sometimes referred to as the alternative normal lens because it is so close to the standard focal length that it does not distort the subject much. With such lenses, you can also get a good background separation with a nice bokeh. They are useful in almost all kinds of photography, especially in everyday photography, street photography, environmental portraits, landscapes, weddings, events, and travel. Additionally, it works well for stitched astrophotography.
Its popularity has led to numerous 35mm lenses being produced by various manufacturers from the early days of photography to the modern era. In this article, I will compare six of them, from vintage to old to new. Let’s have a look together!
The guys from Silbersalz35 were organizing a small Night Photowalk in Stuttgart and part of the package was one roll of their 500T Vision3 cinefilms that you already know from some of my previous articles. I figured this was a good opportunity to find out how the film holds up being pushed one stop so I decided to pay the entry fee and join. Processing (ECN-2, Push +1) and scanning was done at Silbersalz35 in Germany.
It was my second time in Istanbul and as I already covered many of the “must see” tourist sights the first time I thought it was a good opportunity to shoot some more film this time around. Being less flexible with film it also helped that I already knew what to expect and where to go.
The Tessar is a very old design (1902), actually one of the oldest optical designs of all consumer lenses. It was produced before WWII for the first Contax rangefinder cameras and early Exakta cameras and post-war both in East and West Germany for several other camera brands.
Fun Fact 1: In 1932, when Leica II by Leitz of Wetzlar was the king of 35mm cameras, Zeiss Ikon of Dresden decided to produce a competitor that would be superior in every way. Thus the first Contax camera was born; the “Contax I”, which was designed to outperform the Leica in every aspect including the optics; thus the first Tessar 50/2.8 for 35mm format was born (a redesigned Tessar to cover 24x36mm negative), from Zeiss Jena.
Fun Fact 2: This lens was famous during its era and was called “Adlerauge” in German, which means “Eagle’s eye” because it was considered super sharp. Let’s see about that further down!
Any film is hard to get these days, but the Fuji films are even harder to get than the Kodak ones here in Germay. Therefore I developed the habit of buying any type of color negative film I haven’t used before for this series – even when it means paying 20€ for just this one roll of Fuji Superia X-Tra 400. Processing (ECN-2) and scanning was done at Silbersalz35 in Germany.
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