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Mamiya Sekor 55mm at f1.8
Home > Mamiya Sekor 55mm f1.8 M42 Lens Review on EOS R
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Mamiya Sekor 55mm f1.8 M42 Lens Review on EOS R

Mamiya Sekor 55mm f1.8 that I am reviewing here is an outstanding quality lens – made by Mamiya in Japan in the 1970s — made entirely out of metal, like most good lenses of those times.

Considering the price, it is the best vintage standard lens out there with bags of character and enough sharpness to be entirely usable wide open on Canon EOS R. It even works great with EF25 extension tube (images below).

Get yourself one on eBay for £50  (~$60 / €50) before people realise how undervalued this lens is.

Why this lens?

This lens is cheap and good (at least to me). I did not expect much from it at first, but I did have a Mamiya C330S TLR camera and made some beautiful pictures with it, so I thought I would give it a try.

Historic reviews

“On the camera submitted for test was the 55mm Mamiya/Sekor f/1.8 lens, a six-glass, four component objective which on the optical bench (by courtesy of Vanguard Instruments) gave a very good account of itself. Slight curvature of field, well within tolerance, was exhibited; edge quality was excellent; image contrast was outstanding. There was negligible focus shift on stopping down. A minute degree of coma was exhibited at the extreme edges – insufficient to be of significance in practice; astigmatic correction was found to be very good; chromatic spherical and coma corrections were of a very high order.”

Arthur Palmer, ‘Photography’, May 1967

“Having seen the bench performance, I’d say that this is a good specimen of the type. The tendency nowadays is to build in a fair amount of contrast and, as long as resolving power is not sacrificed, this sharpens up images in a satisfying way. Using FP4 and Resofine 2-B during my practical tests, I found that from f/1.8 to f/2.8 I had all the quality necessary for situations calling for such apertures (so-called available light shots), and from there on down the lens coped well with pictorial situations.”

Ron Spillman, ‘Photography’, November 1968

Versions of this lens

There are some variations in the models of this lens – the later SX version is different from this one, as it has a different M42 mount and a pin which makes it difficult to use standard M42 adapters.

Buy the non-SX version for simplicity of use – they are easy to distinguish as the SX versions have SX marked on the front of the lens.

Physical Quality

The lens is all metal and feels very solid. The focus ring on my copy was quite stiff, but that does help with manual focusing, as it is precise, and there is no play.

I found that with EOS R’s ‘Focus Peaking’ turned on, it is effortless (and fun) to use manual focus with this lens. The aperture ring also has gentle clicks and is a pleasure to use.

Some old lenses are radioactive, so I have tested this lens using the Geiger counter to confirm: this lens is non-radioactive. However, other versions of this lens are!

The typical Mamiya brown/yellow coating is not an indication of radioactivity. However, the big brother of this lens, Mamiya Sekor 55mm f1.4 is radioactive and uses radioactive glass elements.

Image quality

The image quality is outstanding. This lens will create beautiful images with an abundance of details. The micro-contrast is there, the 3D pop is there, the sharpness is also there, and the colours are warm and vibrant.

Some modern lenses are sharper, cleaner, less prone to flare, but at the same time, the images look too clean, too clinical. Some prefer that clean look, but I enjoy the unique look this 50-year-old vintage lens.

It is slightly soft wide open, but still detailed enough for great photos. The bokeh of the out of focus areas can get busy, especially if there are highlights.


Groups: 4
Elements: 6
View angle: 43 degrees
Min aperture: f16
Aperture Blades: 6
Min focus distance: 0.5m / 1.75 feet
Filter: 52mm
Weight: 225g
Radioactivity: Some models are radioactive
Focus: Manual
Made in Japan in the 1970s

Wrap up

Buy. This. Lens! You will not be disappointed. I enjoy using it, and I feel it helped me improve my photography. I have had it for over a month, and it has reliably delivered outstanding images.

I would rate this lens 5 out of 5.

Do you have this lens? Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Sample images


19 responses to “Mamiya Sekor 55mm f1.8 M42 Lens Review on EOS R”

  1. Nigel Thomas Avatar
    Nigel Thomas

    I bought the same lens in different black/matte-silver livery mounted on a Mamiya 1000DTL SLR film camera and found the results exceeded my expectations. When the camera shutter eventually packed up I kept the lens which I now use on a Fuji X-Pro 1 with an M42 adaptor and find the quality superb. The soft halo at full aperture gives gorgeous images and stopped down it is, as you have said, as sharp as any 50mm. Considering I paid a mere £20 for the lens and camera in excellent cosmetic condition this has to be the bargain of the century. I will never part with it, just adapt it to whatever system I find myself using, though I have no plans to move from the Fuji which is a truly wonderful camera. There is no reason to spend oodles of cash when lenses like this are available for so little. If you find one in good order, buy it. Don’t hesitate.

    1. eman.antonio Avatar

      Your comment (and this article) really sold it to me. And I got one on ebay. No regrets lol. Thank you 🙂

  2. Claude Avatar

    I bought it like 2 years ago for like 5 pounds together with a 28mm 2.8 that never impressed me (but that’s sharp too). I fell in love! I use it on my Fujifilm xt30 and it delivers every time, it’s so good for portraits on APCS!

    1. Mantas Avatar

      Thanks for the comment, Claude! I’m glad you like it!

  3. Yoshi Avatar

    I’m japanese live in taiwan.
    I bought “SX” in old lens market.
    I use EOS 6D.
    I dont know why but when I test this lens. and watch a photo by 6D’s display. I love it. just buy it.
    really really really amazing lens ever.

    1. SDG Avatar

      Did you use a normal M42-EOS adapter for the SX version on 6D? Did the mount create any problem in adapting it to 6D?

  4. Albert Silver Avatar
    Albert Silver

    I have this and the ‘bigger brother’. If you think this is a good lens, you need to try the f/1.4. At f/1.4 it is a tad soft, but at f/1.7 (the half stop between 1.4 and 2) it is already very sharp in the center. It is my favorite standard vintage.

    1. Mantas Avatar

      Yup, I also have the 1.4! Both are stunning lenses! Try the f1.8 if you get a chance, they are relatively cheap, and sufficiently good 🙂

  5. Hank Taylor Avatar
    Hank Taylor

    I had the opportunity to buy one recently since I’m an old fan of Mamiya lenses. When I sold my 645 I kept several of the lenses to use on my Nikon Z6, My favorite is the 110 Mamiya -Sekor C 2.8 which is outstanding. Looking forward in using my new addition which I only paid $50 and it’s in pristine condition.

  6. Marc Gordon Avatar
    Marc Gordon

    I just received my Mamiya Sekor 55mm f1.8 that I had purchased from Mercari. I am using it with a Fujifilm X-E3, M42 adapter and KnightX Close Up 10x filter which acts like macro tubes but easier to use. The bokeh is this lens is first rate and have taken many photos at 1.8 with the lens wide open.

    I highly recommend this lens to anyone.

    1. Mantas Avatar

      Hi Marc, glad you like it! Thanks for leaving a comment and giving this lens a try!

  7. ZOly Avatar

    I am curious about radioctivity of this lens. I read article on this site about this issue but… Can someone tell me what does it mean in everyday use? How handle it? Keep it away 1,5 m, washing hands after use… Ok But what about camer and eyes?
    I want to buy this lens but I am little bit worried about this issues. Is that justified or not?

    1. Mantas Avatar

      In daily use – just take it off the camera to protect the sensor, dont leave it on. Otherwise, the hand washing is over the top most of the times – i do it but a lot of other people would see it as ott. Your eyes are protected by the camera when in use. You don’t have anything to worry about. Just have to be a little more careful with it – don’t drop it. Otherwise go for it, they were consumer devices after all – they are safe. Everything is radioactive around us, even things we eat.

  8. Jelke Avatar

    I have the same lens and it is not radioactive… I came across this video https://youtu.be/ACdTHGTnD8c

    1. Mantas Avatar

      Yes, my first example was also non-radioactive. Then the following ones were.

  9. Caspert79 Avatar

    Great review!

    My personal experience is that this lens is actually not soft wide open, but surprisingly crispy. Example: https://flic.kr/p/2mKDvbb

  10. Thomas Edetun Avatar
    Thomas Edetun

    I have been interested in vintage lenses and have acquired some over the years. now i am letting som of the go away. But The Auto Mamiya Sekor F1,8 are really something special. I also have the F1,4 version (that’s a good lens also) but this one are a little bit better for me.
    Sometime it’s better to buy a F1,7 or 1,8 lens than a F1,4 if you want a better, smaller lens.

  11. William Bolton Avatar

    I recently acquired a copy of this lens, together with a copy of the Auto Sears Sekor SX 55mm f1.8 which is a different lens formulation, six elements in five groups as opposed to the six elements in four groups of the Mamiya. I haven’t really tested them yet, but I took some shots with the Mamiya yesterday, and I’m amazed at the sharpness of the lens. It may be my sharpest lens, and I have a lot of sharp lenses. The color is also very good. I can believe, as the author of the blog asserts, that it is “the best vintage standard lens out there”. And it’s remarkably inexpensive (and well-made). It’s a lens that belongs in any collector-user’s quiver.

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