Review: The Schneider PC-TS 2.8/50 Super Angulon and 4.5/90 Makro Symmar

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Today’s review is of a pair of lenses that you don’t see very often, nor do you read/ hear much about – the Schneider PC-TS 2.8/50 Super-Angulon and PC-TS 4.5/90 Makro-Symmar. There’s a third lens, a 28mm, which has been announced but as of March 2014 is not available. Given that there aren’t too many perspective control options for 35mm DSLRs, and one is always on the lookout for optics that better match the resolving power of cameras like the D800E, it made sense for me to try these two…

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Tilt shift world cup: Korea vs. Japan: Rokinon/Samyang 24/3.5 T-S vs Nikon PCE 24/3.5

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In the left corner: the Rokinon (a.k.a ‘Samyang’, in some parts of the world) T-S 3.5/24 ED AS UMC, from Korea. In the right corner: the Nikon PC-E 24/3.5 ED. One weighs in at a hair under $2,000, the other, closer to $850. I have to be honest, the Samyang has only come onto my radar because of the enormous difference in price – I admit curiosity as to what we’re really giving up for the delta. The only real uses for these lenses – other than bragging rights – are to shoot architecture; Putrajaya’s Putra Mosque plays host to us for this testing session.

Technical notes: During this test, I shot both lenses from the same tripod position with the same settings on the barrels – distance, tilt, shift, aperture. Nevertheless, there are still some slight differences, which I think are a combination of sample variation and lack of precision in the focusing scales of both lenses; infinity to 1m are barely five millimeters apart on the barrel – about seven degrees of travel, by my reckoning. Live view was used to match subject sharpness as closely as possible. Testing was done on a D800E body, at base ISO with self timer used at all times, on a locked down solid tripod – a Gitzo 5-series carbon systematic and Arca-Swiss Cube head. Whole-shot sample images were shot using the Nikon; in the A-B comparisons, the Rokinon is always the warmer image.

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