I was idly browsing my emails when I saw one from Mike Eckman revealing his week’s picks for recommended reading; I am always happy to receive these as they often point me at interesting posts I may otherwise miss. On this occasion though, one of his recommendations was for a post I had already planned to read but this did prompt me to actually get on with doing just that.
The post (at Casual Photophile) which you can read here was about people’s favourite lenses and I was interested to read about this as I am always interested in what glass people use and why. It was Mike’s own recommendation that caught my eye and it seemed to me that this lens would fit nicely into my range; not that I really needed one but it just sounded very useful and might replace a lens I am thinking of parting with for other reasons.
Mike’s pick was the Kilfitt-Makro Kilar D 4cm f/2.8 lens which has a very short (2cm) macro shooting distance but also does well at normal distances. With a focal length of 40mm I figured it might make a nice portrait lens seeing as I use Micro four thirds which makes it effective 80mm.
I had not heard of this lens before so I promptly jumped the internet and then that auction site to investigate and to see what was out there. One was on there for a little under $100 and I thought that was not a bad risk as many were double that. I made a bid but it went above my price; I am not one of those people that bids at the last moment, so not a win, oh well. Next day I took another look and a guy has one on there for very little money indeed. It was early on in the auction but he had the best offer available; I made an offer way over double what he was at but also still way under what I had bid the day before… he accepted!
It was the other version of this lens which ONLY focuses to 4cm and has an max aperture of 3.5 but I figured that was good enough for my purposes at least to see if I would find it useful.
It arrived a while later and all looked good, the rubber grip on the focusing ring was missing but other than that it was in excellent condition. I used an piece of rubber from a bicycle inner-tube to replace the missing grip and that works fine; it’s a first attempt and I will probably try to make a cleaner go of it later. It came with the Exacta mount and I had already ordered a suitable adapter for my MFT Olympus which arrived a few days later.
As we are still pretty locked down with the COVID crisis my only options for shooting the lens were around my house and on the dog walk and SO off I went.
Wow! I know it’s early days but I love this lens!
I have to be honest that I have been struggling with inspiration lately and I am not sure if it is the focal length or what, but I suddenly found that there were things to shoot and with the flexibility this lens offered I was not held back.
Thanks Mike for a great recommendation.
The only thing I don’t like is the way the adapter fits; aesthetically the thing is awful. It expands in diameter and then drops down to the lens itself exposing bare metal. Maybe I am being silly but that kind of thing bothers me and if I going to use a thing it has to look the part. I am working on a solution….
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9 thoughts on “5 frames with the Kilfitt Makro Kilar E 40mm f3.5 Lens – By Nigel Haycock”
I hear you about the inspiration. My photography is usually people-centric. I don’t get excited about architectural photography, or inanimate objects. The folks in my house don’t really like having their photos taken much. And so it’s a time where my main creative outlet is stifled by the need to stay safe & healthy, and help flatten the curve on new cases.
It’ll be interesting to see how we all change when this is behind us, as a society, and more specifically as photographers. Will that extended isolation change us somehow? Change our style? What we want out of photography?
For me (other than taking pictures of my daughter) I am usually taking picture of inanimate objects so my lack of inspiration/motivation has been mostly of my own making to be honest. But somehow this lens is halping and I’m seeing things through it now.
This whole situation is going to change the world for a while so yes, it will be interesting to see how the photography world adapts to whatever the new normal will be.
I have used an Olympus OM 50mm macro lens plus adapter on a Leica M with good results..Lately I used it with a Tamron x2 adapter in Olympus fitting and it became 100mm f7. Stopped right down the results were excellent. I just bought a Tamron AD2 90mm macro lens and the initial results are encouraging. The longer the focal length the less the need to approach the subject very closely, which makes perspectives look more normal.
There are plenty of these old macro lenses on offer but condition and prices vary.
Sounds like you have a good setup there. There is something about this lens that make it feel more versatile than other Macro lenses I have used.
Nigel! I am glad you not only enjoyed my Recommended Reading, but also my recommended lens and it inspired you to make a purchase of your own! Assuming the f/3.5 is similar to the f/2.8, the only complaint I have about the lens is it gets REALLY soft and low contrast wide open. I never shoot mine wider than f/4 for this reason, otherwise it’s the perfect general purpose lens!
I’ve used it at most apertures and yes it is a little soft wide open but not offensively so. Really happy I got this and thankful you were bold enough to put it out there 🙂 I think I might look for the 2.8 version now that I am happy with the setup
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Kilfitt made the first macro lens (the one you reviewed) and also the first zoom lens – the zoomar
Indeed! I have the Zoomar lens… at least the Voigtländer one; the first Zoom lens for 35mm – I know there were Zoomars previously for motion picture cameras. What I like about the Zoomar is how right they got it; the design of zoom lenses (at least from the point of view of operation) changed very little from that first iteration and it’s capable of f2.8 all the way through the zoom 🙂