Pentacon 29mm 2.8

Front view of a Pentacon auto 29mm 2.8 lens
Front view of a Pentacon auto 29mm 2.8 lens
Pentacon auto 29mm 2.8

Focal length : 29 mm
Aperture : f2.8 – 22
Min. focus : 0,25 m
Filter diameter : 55 mm
Weight : 204 g
Multicoated:
Yes

Stop-down button

LENS STORY

The 29mm Pentacon was amongst the first manual lenses to come my way. Once I was hooked and realised “HEY lenses don’t need to cost three-figure numbers”, I started browsing local websites and found it from a local seller, together with a Pentacon 200mm f4. 

Some bubbles had formed on the black paint between elementsand there were slight scratches on it. overall my inexperience made me overpay for it. My first adapter didn’t have a board to depress the aperture pin, so I had to use the Depth of Field preview button – which was frustrating to no end. I hated the lens. It flared, it wasn’t as sharp as my modern nifty-fifty Canon. I gifted it to a friend who wanted to try film, together with a Pentax Spotmatic. They certainly got more joy out of it.(Their rolls of film turned out great!)

About a year later…

On a trip to Germany a kind gentleman gave me a few lenses as a gift, and woe and behold, there was one of these in the bunch. I didn’t think much of it – still holding on to my bitter memories for some silly reason. Hubris, inexperience and stupidity, I guess. Well I decided to try it again and the weeks I shot with it were awesome. I have a new found appreciation for this little lens. 

Do note that some say that Pentacon lenses exhibit a lot of sample variation, due to the GDR label on them.
Go read a forum, get mad and call someone a word they won’t like. Or pass up on that and read up on Meyer Gorlitz lenses and the Orestegon – the grandad to this lens.

HANDLING

Both of my copies didn’t have an A/M switch, but instead a button that stops down the aperture. Apart from that infernal button, I enjoyed using the lens – it’s small and compact, with an okay focus and aperture ring. At 240g it was well balanced on my Sony A7, even with the bulky M42 adapter. I liked the 29mm lenght, a bit wider than the usual 35mm.

This lens has barrel distortion. That’s it, I have nothing more to add on this bit.

While I’ve read a lot of people mention CA – I didn’t really notice much while out shooting.

Do you like flaring? This lens likes flaring, so keep that in mind and bring a hood if needed.  Flaring was an especially annoying problem when I tried my hand at some night city photography. It might be that  this lens has Photoaugliaphobia (fear of glaring lights). There, even if this review sucked, you learned a word you’ll forget by tomorrow. 

If there is one thing I absolutely adore about this lens, that’s the close focusing distance – at 0.25 you can get really close and personal with your subject/rock/lizard. I love the unseen details in everyday objects, so I felt covered when I was out with it.

OPTICAL PERFORMANCE

The Pentacon 29mm 2.8 has good sharpness in the center while wide open, with really soft corners and heavy vignetting. Get your subject in the center and you can get some dramatic results, with nice subject isolation.

Stopping down improves sharpness enough. I was content with taking landscape photos with it, although the corners never get up to the sharpness you see in the center.

The colors! Initially I hated them, but take two at the Pentacon opened up a proverbial third eye. Not too warm, not too cold. A bit toned down, as if looking through a very thin gray veil, giving a look reminiscent of autumn/fall. Not those colors that pop off the screen, but instead serene and gentle tones, which translate very well into Black & White. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you want a lens that’s cheap, wide and good as a walkaround – get this lens. 

If you have an uncanny affection to vintage looking photographs, look no further. Don’t expect wonders, but learn to use the Pentacon 29mm, play to it’s strenght and you’ll get awesome results at a cheap price.