Saturday, August 25, 2012

Shooting Wide Open with Carsen-Polaris 85mm f1.7

A while ago, I got a few lenses from the photo show with stuck apertures, and one (Pentacon 100mm f2.8) without aperture blades!  Naturally, these lenses are much cheaper and I was hoping to either find a place to fix them inexpensively or do it myself.  Well, there is always a question of time.  I haven't gotten any of them fixed, but decided to shoot with them anyway, wide open.  Today we have the Carsen-Polaris 85mm f1.7 in YS mount.

The YS mount looks almost identical to M42 mount, except the thread size.  It's 42mm x 0.75 whereas M42 is 42mm x 1.00.  For a few minutes I was puzzled by why it wouldn't be screwed in all the way, and then realized it's YS mount.  Luckily I have a bunch of YS mount adapters, so I used the YS-MD mount and shot with it for a couple of times.

This Carsen-Polaris lens was a house brand.  Like many retailers of the 70s and 80s, they put their name on some OEM lenses and sold them as their own.  Other similar house brands are JCPenny, Sears, and Spiratone.  I have no idea who made these lenses, but for some reason, it reminds me of the Minolta Rokkor 85mm f1.7, probably because they both have same maximum aperture, and are very well made.

In terms of optical quality, I can only judge for its wide open performance, and I must say it's not bad at all.  Not exceptionally sharp, like the Canon 85mm f1.2L, but it does render pictures very nicely, and as a portrait lens, bokeh is quite sweet.  Like most older lenses, purple and green flinging is quite bad, and flare control is not very good either.  This lens does not seem to have multi-coating.  I really would like to see how it performs slightly stopped down, but that has to wait until the aperture is fixed.

Pink Flower - NEX-5N & Carsen-Polaris 85mm f1.7. Click for larger.

Wall-E's Evil Twin? - NEX-5N & Carsen-Polaris 85mm f1.7. Click for larger.

Purple Flower - NEX-5N & Carsen-Polaris 85mm f1.7. Click for larger.

Young Sun Flower - NEX-5N & Carsen-Polaris 85mm f1.7. Click for larger.

Afternoon Reading - NEX-5N & Carsen-Polaris 85mm f1.7. Click for larger.


  1. Hi,
    I'm a bit curios about this polaris lens though i bought one, but wont have in until about 3 weeks from now. So do you have any experience with it on a Full frame camera? I was hoping to be able to use it with my 5dmk3 what do think?

    Best regards from Sweden
    /André Lindholm

    1. I have only used this lens on the NEX-5N and no other cameras. The aperture is stuck so there isn't too much of a use. But, judging from the pictures wide open, it seems to be a good performer.