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Tokyo Kogaku RE Auto TOPCOR 58mm F/1.4 – the best high-speed normal lenses of its era?

Durlacher

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Greeting fellow forum members,



Some three months in the making, I am delighted to present my review of the Tokyo Kogaku RE. Auto-TOPCOR 58mm F/1.4.



Proclaimed by Topcon and Topcor enthusiasts to be among (to be) the greatest fast standard prime lens of its time!



It is a claim which is sure to cause some debate.



Please find below the video link for your enjoyment:











It’s a rather long video, performance results commence around 19 minutes in for those that want to skip past the history and specifications (although you’ll miss out on some fantastic imagery and period advertising).



Please note that this is intended as being the definitive guide to the Topcor 58 1.4 lens and was compiled from extensive research, cross referencing of information (there was a tremendous amount of conflicting data), period documentation and reviews.



It is a lens with an interesting back story, manufactured by Tokyo Kogaku (later to become Topcon Corporation) who were at the leading edge of 35mm camera technology in their time.



The story of Topcon itself is fascinating, being the second oldest specialised lens manufacturer in Japan. Among my research for the Topcor lens, I have part written a script (near on novel) detailing Topcon’s history since 1932. However, two thirds of the way through, having reached 1957, and it’s getting close to three hours long. I am not sure anyone would have the desire to sit through such a long video, but if there is interest, please let me know.



Of note, much of the historical information is now lost forever, many of the original contributors having since passed away, or websites and web pages since closed or disbanded with abundant dead links.



Oh – and is it the greatest standard prime lens of its time?



Not having tested its period alternatives, I couldn’t really say.



However, in isolation, it’s pretty damn good!
 
Greeting fellow forum members,



Some three months in the making, I am delighted to present my review of the Tokyo Kogaku RE. Auto-TOPCOR 58mm F/1.4.



Proclaimed by Topcon and Topcor enthusiasts to be among (to be) the greatest fast standard prime lens of its time!



It is a claim which is sure to cause some debate.



Please find below the video link for your enjoyment:











It’s a rather long video, performance results commence around 19 minutes in for those that want to skip past the history and specifications (although you’ll miss out on some fantastic imagery and period advertising).



Please note that this is intended as being the definitive guide to the Topcor 58 1.4 lens and was compiled from extensive research, cross referencing of information (there was a tremendous amount of conflicting data), period documentation and reviews.



It is a lens with an interesting back story, manufactured by Tokyo Kogaku (later to become Topcon Corporation) who were at the leading edge of 35mm camera technology in their time.



The story of Topcon itself is fascinating, being the second oldest specialised lens manufacturer in Japan. Among my research for the Topcor lens, I have part written a script (near on novel) detailing Topcon’s history since 1932. However, two thirds of the way through, having reached 1957, and it’s getting close to three hours long. I am not sure anyone would have the desire to sit through such a long video, but if there is interest, please let me know.



Of note, much of the historical information is now lost forever, many of the original contributors having since passed away, or websites and web pages since closed or disbanded with abundant dead links.



Oh – and is it the greatest standard prime lens of its time?



Not having tested its period alternatives, I couldn’t really say.



However, in isolation, it’s pretty damn good!

I was still shooting Exakta when Topcon introduced the 58 f/1.4, so naturally had to try it. I also had a Leica Summilux-M 50 mm f/1.4 Version 2 at the time. I thought the Topcor was OK by comparison.
 
Many thanks Razky, intriguing to have insight from someone with experience of the lenses at the time. Whilst the Leica lens offerings were and still are at a premium, the Topcor pricing wasn’t that far off. It would be interesting to do a side by side test.
 
Many thanks Razky, intriguing to have insight from someone with experience of the lenses at the time. Whilst the Leica lens offerings were and still are at a premium, the Topcor pricing wasn’t that far off. It would be interesting to do a side by side test.
Personally, I prefer to judge a lens on its own merits. As I recall, I took some flash shots of similar subjects with the same bulbs as with the Leica and didn't care for the Topcor's color rendition (same film, KM-25). Resolution was excellent, but so was that of the Leica. And, I probably would have bought a 300 f/5.6 Topcor if I hadn't already had (and still have) a Novoflex 300 f/5.6 Noflexar.
I have more to say about Topcon, but have to run now.
 

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