Almost a year ago I bought the Cosmicar 75mm 1.4 TV lens. This lens is a manual focus c-mount lens, made out of solid metal and lots of glass. It's a relatively big and heavy lens. You can buy old (classic) versions of this lens and new versions of this lens (it's still being produced). This one is the old version. It was probably once used in the 70's or 80's on 16mm film cameras or on a television camera. The specs make it seem like a good alternative for the excellent Olympus 75mm 1.8 portret lens. It has the same focal length, a large(r) aperture, but it's more affordable. I bought mine for around a 100 euros, where the Olympus lens costs about 9 times as much. Let's take a look at this Cosmicar TV lens.
As I said in my introduction, t's a pretty big and heavy lens. Certainly if you compare it to most micro four third lenses and even more when you compare it with the average c-mount lens. The c-mount lens most photographers are familiar with is the 35mm F1.7 Fujian lens. So I thought that would give a good indication regarding its size (see the pictures below).
And although they're both c-mount lenses, the type of images these lenses deliver differ greatly. Where the Fujian is known for it's crazy swirly backgrounds...
...the Cosmicar makes the out of focus areas smooth and blurry, and not swirly.
But how does the cheap and cheerful Cosmicar compare to it's much more expensive Olympus "equivalent"? Well, as I do not own the Olympus 75, I have to compare it with what I saw on various websites. The Olympus 75 delivers images that are a lot sharper and the Olympus lens provides overall technically better quality images. To illustrate the difference, I will compare it with another excellent lens I do have. The Olympus 45mm F1.8. I know, it's not the same focal length. But it's almost as sharp as the 75 Olympus and technically almost as good. So it will give an indication of what differences to expect.
Here under you see a shot I took in a part of the forest I regularly drive through, when I'm on my bike to work. It's a beautiful place I photographed many times under different conditions, but almost always shooting into the sun. I love the effect this gives, which is different depending on the lens I use.
As you can see the incoming light (flare) effects the quality of the image of the Cosmicar more than it does the Olympus lens. It looks a bit unsharp, caused by a lack of contrast. When shooting into the light you'll see this effect happen with most if not all lenses. But the older lenses are affected by it most, as newer lenses have better lens coatings reducing these effects.
Normally you would want to use a lens with this focal length for portret photography. So lets take a look at that aspect of the lens. For this part of the "review" I summoned the help of my favorite model. Who's very well behaved (at times) and will sit still for a while, if that means she gets a treat.
Both shots are very similar. The Olympus lens is definitely sharper. But the Cosmicar gives also very pleasing results.
Is the Cosmicar suitable for group shots? Well, as I don't have lots of friends willing to pose for me, I had to find an alternative solution. As luck would have it, in the city of Leusden there happen to live lots sheep. So I decided to ask them if they were willing to stand in a line and smile. They did the first part right and this was enough to prove that the lens is also somewhat suitable for group shots, if the persons (or sheep) at both ends of the picture don't mind being a bit blurry.
All in all. I like this lens. It's not a lens I shoot often with, mainly because of it's size and weight, and because I tend to shoot most while walking the dog (and I like to pack light). But for the occasional portraiture or intimate landscape type of shot, it's a fun lens to take pictures with.
To wrap it all up, a couple more pictures I shot with the Cosmicar 75mm TV lens.