Vintage Lens Jeopardy #2: Fujinon EBC 28mm F3.5 review

Introduction

Welcome to part #2 of Vintage Lens Jeopardy. Today I am taking a look at the Fujinon EBC 28mm F3.5 wide angle lens for M42. As this is a brand name lens prices are quite different from the weird Porst lens I wrote about last time, a name unknown to most people outside Germany. In 2020 I paid 69€ for this lens which is average but way above my usual budget of 25€. But part of me wanted a nice Fuji lens together with my Fujifilm camera. I like having matching sets. I was planning to use this lens with a “dumb” adapter which would give me a focal length of 42mm which is my absolute favorite for city photography. Later I bought the Lens Turbo II allowing me to (almost) use its full potential as a wide angle lens. This time I omit the section “Who is Fujifilm”. Honestly if you do not know Fuji what are doing on this blog 😉

The Fujinon EBC 28mm F3.5

The Fujinon EBC line was made for the Fujica series of cameras with an M42 mount dating back to the 1970s. I can’t determine the age of my copy from the serial number but the overall build quality feels very 1980s, which means it is a solid lens made out of metal. It is light for an all metal lens with 180g and it is also very short with about 40mm. It is not a pancake though. The adapter needed to mount this lens on a modern camera is almost as long and heavy.

The first thing to notice is that the Fujinon EBC 28mm is a beautiful lens. Just the lettering on the front bezel looks so refined with the green EBC as a colorful accent. EBC stands for “electron beam coating”. I’ll spare you the marketing jargon but it was supposed to be an improved version of regular lens coating. These coatings are mostly there to prevent flares and ghosting. I’d say a lens hood is probably a good idea anyway. There is a gorgeous original square lens hood available that goes for eye-watering prices on Ebay. I opted for 10€ JJC branded one instead. I am cheap.

A really nice touch are the color coded aperture values. An ingenious way to mark the depth of field on such a small lens. The control rings are smooth and the aperture clicks satisfyingly in place. There are only full stops available though which is of little concern with modern cameras. Both rings need a bit of force to turn though, I suspect I need to relube the mechanisms. Thankfully there is a complete maintenance manual available online. Touching and using the lens is immensly enjoyable. The haptics are just no longer available with modern lenses and it is one of the reasons why I like to shoot with vintage glass.

My copy is slightly worn but otherwise in good condition. There is one little problem though. These lenses have an aperture follower on the mount which was used to mechanically sent the aperture value to the camera. On my lens someone did file it off. You can see the silver tab on the outermost left edge. This metal tab can unfortunately interfere with modern mount adapters. It works on fine with my K+F dumb adapter but it does not really fit on the Lens Turbo II. The previous owner left like half a millimeter which causes the aperture ring to become stuck when used with some adapters. It is still usable but you can’t change the aperture without slightly unscrewing the lens (and it will scratch the adapter). When I take it apart for relubing I will file the rest off.

Image Quality and samples

The lens produces sharp and beautifully rendered images. The lens has little distortion. Especially when using an APS-C sensor which records from the center two thirds of its image circle. With a maximum aperture of only F3.5 it is neither a fast lens nor does it produce any noticable bokeh. But then it does not really loose much sharpness wide open. The diaphram has only five blades anyway. This lens is made for landscape, street or city photography with little background separation. It is ideal for my style of documentary photography. With a minimum focus of 40cm it is possible to get pretty close to most subjects but there are no macro abilities at all.


some trash
Free Trash (2021) Fujifilm X-T3 + Fujinon EBC 28mm F3.5 Monochrome film sim

Sometimes I wish I could identify the people who throw their trash into someone else’s bike basket. I would collect all my trash and dump it into their garden. This behavior is very common. It is completely beyond me how people can disrespect the property of their fellow humans. Not only the property but also their dignity. Because they have to touch and dispose of the accumulated refuse.


A metal bench with fur blanket
Have a seat (2021) Fujifilm X-T3 + Fujinon EBC 28mm F3.5 Monochrome film sim

I love how this store (or was it a barber shop?) offers their patrons a place to sit, relax and maybe have smoke outside. They even put this fake fur blanket over the cold metal bench. I wonder how often they need to wash this thing. Due to the most dangerous virus ever(tm) no one actually sat there and at the time of this writing the shop might have to close again.


waterdrops on sheet of metal
Drops (2020) Fujifilm X-T3 Fujinon EBC 28mm F3.5 Eterna film sim

A sheet of metal. Rain. The sun comes out. Where is up and where is down, in fact where is left and where is right. Maybe you find out.


tree crown without leaves
Chopped (2020) Fujifilm X-T3 Fujinon EBC 28mm F3.5 ProNegHi film sim

They do some weird stuff with these trees so the crowns end up like a ball. In autumn and winter though it looks like what might be left after nuclear war. This image for some reason scares me. What do you feel?


entrance to school
rainbow on concrete (2020) Fujifilm X-T3 + LensTurbo II + Fujinon EBC 28mm F3.5 Cine Teal film recipe

The “Rainbow School”. I don’t know what kind of school this is. I saw it when we were visiting relatives ignoring the shrill and hysterical pleas of our politicians to “shelter” at home. Why do we need to shelter at home? Are we at war? The word itself reminds me of 1950s and 1960s nuclear protection films. A ridicolous idea. I pity the kids who were sheltered at home trying to stay in touch with their friends and to somehow organize an education.

I love the giant concrete plate with the embossed name and painted logo of the school. That is a very nice architectural touch which is beautifully set in scene by carefully directed lighting. It is a mundane building but they made it a tiny bit more exciting. I used a special film sim called Cine Teal to get this greenish look. It works great in artifical light.

Verdict

I love this little lens. It is a joy to hold and use. It produces well rendered images. Depending on the adapter it is a versatile wide angle lens for landscape and city photography or becomes a 42mm lens which is almost perfect for walking around capturing larger scenes or interesting details. This lens is definitely one of my favorites and I would love to buy other Fujinon M42 lenses if it were not for the aperture follower tab. As my lens has already been tampered with I will file down the small piece of metal remaining but I would hate to irrevocably damage an otherwise pristine lens. So unless I see an already altered Fujinon it will remain my only one for the time being.

Buy a print

You can buy selected photos as prints in my shop. I offer affordable posters or more premium framed prints. My personal favorite (especially for black and white) is metal print which is what I actually use at home. If you would like to have a print that is not listed in my shop please leave a comment or send me a message.

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