Hexanon 40mm f1.8 Pancake lens

The 40mm is a good compromise between 35mm and 50mm. Compromises are just a part of photography. I think the reason a lot of us shoot primes is because for most of us, we put priority on size and weight savings compared to fast zoom lenses. I guess that would be the first compromise for me. I often must decide between a 35mm or a 50mm lens. The 40mm focal length will general fit the bill. It’s never just that simple though. 

There are quite a few 40mm prime lenses out there too. I first discovered that focal length with the purchase of a Rollei 35 S twenty years ago, and I thought it was a great focal length for that camera. Some years later, I bought the Canon EF 40mm STM pancake lens for my EOS 5D and these days I routinely use that lens on my EOS film cameras. I have a Metabones adapter for my Sony A7 mirrorless camera and it works great.

I saw a Konica Autoreflex TC in the case last year a thrift shop and it had the Hexanon 40mm f1.8 pancake lens attached. Word on the street, this lens is a strong performer. Although, I already owned an Autoreflex TC, I bought it anyway just for the lens. I’ve put a few a rolls through the camera so far and really liked it. I decided to buy an adapter for my Fuji and Sony to see how well the lens performed on digital cameras.

The specs

Weight140g / 4.9oz
DimensionsW63mm x L27mm max length / 2.48031in x 1.063in maxlength
Blades6 / Straight
Min Focus Distance.45m / 1.47ft
Lens formula6 elements 5 groups

Handling

It’s a small lens, which is a strength, but also can be a weakness.

The rubberized focus ring in quite narrow at 9mm / 0.35in and sits close to the body. The aperture ring is also quite narrow and sits right up against the body. If you have large hands, this could be a problem. I have found using an adapter on the Sony pulls the lens 22.5mm / 0.88in away from the camera body. This makes it a lot easier to operate.

My copy of the lens isn’t so smooth, it’s a bit tight. I am sure it’s just my lens. I have the 50mm f1.7 and that lens is buttery smooth. What I really don’t like about the lens is the rubberized focus ring. I prefer the knurled metal of the older Konica lenses and even the Pentax and older Nikkor lenses.

Image quality

 I have to say, this is quite a sharp lens. I know sharpness isn’t everything, it’s nice to have it when you need it. Sharpness extends across the whole frame. Vignetting isn’t a problem at. BEcuase it doesn’t seem to have any. Over the last couple of days, I went out on bright sunny days and the lens performed admirably. The bokeh looks fine wide open, stopped down the bokeh does take on some hexagon shapes, but that doesn’t bother me too much. The aperture blades have a sawtooth shape at f2.8 and f4. It didn’t seem to be a problem though.

This morning I caught a YouTube video by Brian Grossman and he featured this lens. He had a very positive review of the lens and during his research he found a site that claimed this lens may have been made Tokina. He also stated that Tokina made Hexar branded lenses for Konica. I couldn’t find that site to verify, so he clearly was digging deep. I noted previously that this lens has a sawtooth shaped aperture at f2.8 and f4, I used to own a Tokina made Vivitar 28mm that did the same thing. These two lenses bear no resemblance to each other though. I thought it was interesting. Here is the link to Brian’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfwvqKIbMQg&t=12s

Final thoughts

This is an excellent lens, they seem to be dirt cheap too. If you have a choice between the 40mm or 50mm f1.7 to mount to your mirrorless camera, it would be a tough call. If like me, you already own a half dozen 50mm lenses then go for the 40.

Tom

Photographer, videographer, and lover of all things analog.

Tom Chamberlain

Photographer, videographer, and lover of all things analog.

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