Pentacon Auto 29mm f2.8 M42, a handy weekend road buddy

This weekend of travelling has been marked by my tests of a GDR (German Democratic Republic) vintage lenses on my Pentax K-5 DSLR. The generous Mikołaj Podlaszewski has been so good to me to send me as a gift a film camera, the Praktica MTL 50, coupled by two sets of prime lenses: a Praktica 135mm f2.8, and this one here: the Pentacon Auto 29mm f2.8. All of the items seem to be in a perfect condition, well cared of, with lenses caps and filters provided. The camera even had a film loaded in. Already found out my weakness for wide-to-normal focal range prime lenses; before giving the film camera a try, tried the 29mm lenses on my Pentax K-5 through a M42 thread ring adapter that makes the lenses fit on the K mount camera.

We have seen the rise of the hipster photography movement embodied in the Lomography community these years. The lenses seem to offer a perfect retro delight in this sense: a sturdy, heavy metal form factor, all manual, except the M-A switch, which characterized the last generation of M42 thread mount lenses, the aperture of which was able to be controlled from the camera body. Sharpness is not among the top features f it, as I found: at 2.8 modern photography fans would be displeased. I am not among them, as for me sharpness has ceased to be a top-frame quality feature long ago. Just look at the 19th century photography masterpieces and will understand why. Focus ring is very smooth, aperture has half-clicks from 2.8 to 22, which is good. Some flare is also in place, especially facing the sun, although the GDR manufacturer obviously has tried to minimize it through a ‘multi-coating’, as the inscription over the front reads. Filter thread takes a 55mm diameter filter rings.

What I like a lot, is the bokeh: at f2.8 creamy, dense, busy, resulting from a 6 blades’ aperture. Don’t buy it, in case you’d like a very fast, super sharp, automated thing to indulge into a high-tech illusion of photography. Buy it in case you have weakness for photography experiments, close-ups [minimum focus distance is 25cm], perfect for walk around with the somewhat strange 29mm focal range [x1.5 crop of a DSLR it makes a close-to-normal experience].