The Pergear 50mm f1.8 is a manual all-metal, compact 50mm APS-C lens with a 75mm equivalent field of view. This lens produces a classic rendering with great micro-contrast and some very impressive sharpness, no distortion, and almost no vignetting. It’s a great street lens or portrait lens, especially for photographers looking to take advantage of lens flares and blooms.
Table Of Contents
- First Impressions
- Build Quality
- Technical Overview
- Art & Character
- Pergear 50mm f1.8 Sample Images
Pergear 50mm f1.8 Spec
|Focal Length: 50mm ( 75mm Equiv )
Focus System: Manual
Aperture Blade: 10, Rounded
Aperture: f1.8 – f16
Elements: 6 Elements in 4 Groups
Coatings: Multi-Layer Coating
Minimum Focus Distance: 38cm
Filter Threads: 43mm
Pros – Very sharp, no distortion, little vignetting, lightweight, fun to use, cool bloom effects, inexpensive, comes with a lens hood.
Cons – Flaring can be overwhelming and reduce clarity in some situations, some chromatic aberrations, a strange haze that hits the center frame when stopping down, and loss of clarity and contrast in high-contrast situations facing a light source.
Editor Notes: It has all the right things wrong with it to create some fun character, but it’s not ideal for reproductive work or styles of photography, like landscape or architecture due to the flaring and ghosting.
Pergear 50mm f1.8 – Amazon
First off, the color since you guys always ask :).
For these samples throughout this post, I shot a lot of RAW, but the Volleyball stuff and some of the beach stuff were shot with a sort of Kodachrome JPG recipe with the Fujifilm X-T2. Yes, this whole review was shot with the old X-T2, a great camera, especially with manual focus lenses like this.
To get this look, I had classic chrome with an AWB shifted to +3 Red -5 Blue with DR200. I messed around with shadows and highlights as needed.
Sometimes with these JPGs, I put my own presets on top, but the volleyball stuff is all straight out of the camera JPG.
If you want to learn more about my presets check out the store. The color presets are now live!
The Pergear 50mm f1.8 is pretty much the cheap APS-C 50mm I’ve been looking/waiting for. There are some other good ones like the Brightin Star 50mm f1.4 and the Kamlan 50mm f1.1 II, but, none are as small and as light as this one and I don’t think they’re as sharp either. Although I would probably need to do a side-by-side to check.
This lens is very sharp. I think it might be the sharpest lens for the around or under 100 dollars range, at least my copy.
Of course, there are quite a few flaws with this lens but no real deal-breakers, for me anyway. Mostly it flares, which looks awesome, some CA and there are some strange issues, like haze that appears in high contrast situations sometimes. But it all adds to the character. Beautiful imperfections I call them.
I don’t ever really consider lenses like this to replace our trusted workhorse lenses but, rather, to help compliment them and add something different to our photography.
There is one strange thing this lens does that none of my other lenses do. You can see it in this photo of the car.
The center frame has almost this haze to it that’s a bit more orange but it only appears when you stop down the aperture. You’ll see this in the sharpness charts too later in this review. I only see it when shooting into a high-contrast scene where there are a lot of reflections or when facing a light source. It’s kinda cool, looks a little like an Instagram filter, but it can also be annoying at times when you don’t want it.
When trying to take advantage of the flaring, you can get a very cool film look that just drips with characters. Great micro-contrast, great-looking flares, and blooms but not too crazy like some of those Helios lenses. If you need perfect and clean image quality, this lens won’t be for you.
This shot is straight out of the camera with just a crop.
The biggest issue I have with this lens is the build quality. Some of the Pergear lenses are very good, but this one feels a bit sloppy. The focus is a bit loose and you can feel some mild grinding.
We’ll see how it lasts over time, but so far it’s holding up well. I think the manufacturing of these small Chinese lenses is getting better because it’s been a while since I have had a lens fall apart on me.
The Pergear 50mm f1.8 uses an all-metal construction with an optical formula of 6 elements in 4 groups.
The aperture is a 10-blade design for smooth circular bokeh even when stopped down.
Like several of the other Pergear lenses, this one also includes the lens hood.
The lens hood is a great addition although it’s not that effective at reducing lens flares or veil flaring. But it is nice as a protective barrier for that front element.
When focusing, the length of the lens does expand, when at infinity the lens is at its shortest length.
Of the three Pergear lenses that I own, the 50mm f1.8 feels like it has the worst quality to the build. Nothing is wrong with the lens per se, but when focusing there is a little grinding with the rotation.
The focus throw is probably about 170 degrees.
Turning the aperture feels stiff and satisfying although I do wish it wasn’t de-click. Often the aperture marks on these cheap lenses are not correct.
I’ve included some shots with my hands in the frame so you can get a better sense of scale.
The Pergear 50mm f1.8 does pretty well on the technical side of things, pretty good sharpness all around but there is some slight field curvature, so focus across the board is not perfectly even. For example, you’ll notice that the corners are sharper than the edges. That’s pretty common with third-party lenses.
Also, keep in mind these charts were shot with the X-T2. RAW files from the X-T3 and X-T4 are output with some extra sharpness backed in.
Sharpness is very good in the center, however, there is this strange thing happening where there is almost this haze that creeps into the center starting around f5.6. I’m not sure what that is or why that’s happening. My lighting situation was very controlled here, with two 800W softboxes on each side of the test chart.
You can see that the white kind of blooms out a little bit.
In general, this lens does struggle a little with contrast and clarity in bright situations because of that blooming.
There is some slight hazing with these high-contrast charts but the lens is still very sharp.
Corner sharpness is very good.
Midframe sharpness is decent but it improves by f4. You’ll want to be at about f4 or f5.6 for the best results.
There is a donut of mild softness that starts around mid-frame and extends out to the edges. By the corners, it gets sharp again.
Edge sharpness is ok although does struggle with the high contrast a little. You’ll want to be at about f4 or f5.6 for the best results.
There is a little bit of vignetting when shooting wide open. No big deal really.
Safe to say there is no distortion, or at least very little distortion. The red are straight lines created in Photoshop that line up against my less-than-perfect white tape lines from my old salvaged chart that I pulled out of storage.
In extreme conditions, you’ll get some fringing with some really high contrast. Like water droplets reflecting sunlight. Nothing really unusual for this type of lens. Clicking the little “remove chromatic aberrations” button in Lightroom does not fix this. You’ll have to manually remove them.
Longitudinal Chromatic Aberration
This lens will see a very slight longitudinal Chromatic Aberration. It’s subtle but occasionally you’ll see it fringe the edges of high-contrast bokeh.
I don’t see it in most situations.
Sunstars look like this.
Center Frame Ghosting At Higher Apertures
The Center frame ghosting kind of looks like this. You get this almost orange ghosting in the center of the frame kind of like an Instagram effect. It only does it when you’re at certain angles from light sources and when stopped down. It starts to show up at around f4. Opening up to about f2.8 to f2 clears it up. Very strange.
Art & Character
Of all the cheap 50mm lenses out there, the Pergear 50mm f1.8 does a great job of capturing the magic of the classic retro lenses of the past. The cheaper coatings allow for those cool lens flares, yet it’s still sharp with little distortion and vignetting. Even chromatic aberrations are fairly well controlled.
All the right things are correct in this lens but Pergear kept all the flaws that we like. Even the 10-bladed aperture is a nice addition to get that smooth bokeh when stopped down.
However, getting consistent results with this lens can be challenging. You have to learn what it likes and doesn’t like, but you also have to learn to accept what it gives you.
Bokeh is nice, not too busy, you get some cat’s eyes along the edges with some swirl in some situations.
Fringing is also well controlled in the out-of-focus highlights although sometimes you can catch a little fringing in some situations.
When the subject is nice and close, you get some very smooth background bokeh, as the subject moves further back it gets a little busy but still, I would consider it smooth and usable.
I’m not seeing any onion rings or soap bubbles. Bokeh for the most part is clean and the rounded aperture keeps the bokeh decently rounded even when stopped down.
Micro-Contrast / Lens Pop – Contrast and Color
Like it or not, Micro-Contrast is a real thing, although I think it has a lot to do with photon coherency since it typically shows up better in daylight rather than in dark environments.
The Pergear 50mm f1.8 only has 6 elements which is great for getting that classic punch, but you do need to be very careful with your lighting since there is a big tendency for the lens to flare which can wash out your image. Did I mention this lens flares?
Here are some straight-out-of-camera RAW samples. Very high micro-contrast and pop.
Here are some colored shots using presets on RAW.
Here are some flaring samples.
You get some great blooms, but of course, any modern lens reviewer would mark this as a severe problem and knock points off the lens. I love it.
What is interesting with this particular lens compared to many of my other retro or third-party lenses, is you only see the blooming and flaring when the sun is outside of the frame. When you shoot directly into the sun, it handles it pretty well.
Here are a few more samples, you can see what it looks like in the first two images when the sun is in the frame.
Pergear 50mm f1.8 Bottom Line
With the Nifty-Fifty being a common and trusted focal length in most photosmith’s arsenal, you might feel hesitant with another Chinese Off-Brand alternative. But the fact of the matter is a lot of great modern lenses from major brands are made in China.
Of course, on an APS-C camera, this gives you a field of view more similar to 75mm, which is personally one of my favorite focal lengths.
To sum it up, the Pergear 50mm f1.8 is sharp, and well-corrected, but has cool characteristics with great micro-contrast.
It flares a lot, it struggles with haze and little with contrast, but if you’re going for more of a high-character film look, this lens has all the right attributes.
Because of the flaring and blooming and the occasional issues with clarity and haze, this may not be a lens you should pick up for landscape photography, or for photography where you need more of predictable results. This is a wild one.
Pergear 50mm f1.8 – Amazon
Pergear 50mm f1.8 Sample Images
Shot with the Fujifilm X-T2. A mix of RAW colored with presets and JPGs with different coloring techniques. JPGs have a base look of Classic Chrome with a WB shift of +3 Red – 5 Blue. Sometimes +4 Red – 5 Blue. Try that out with your DR200 and overexpose the comp dial +1 which will give you the look of these volleyball shots.
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