The Light Slide

fun with photography

Mystery: Who made the Auto Alpa 50mm 1.7 Macro?

In my last post, I talked about how much I loved the Auto Alpa 50mm 1.7 macro lens & showed off tons of samples.

But I also called it mysterious.


Well, there's little to no solid information about this lens online, just a few sample shots and a little bit of gossip.

One thing that's known for sure is that Alpa, the Swiss camera maker, did not make the optics, because they didn't ever make optics.

But nobody knows who made this lens for Alpa… not that it stops them from speculating!

So, who made this lens?

  • It's not the Kern Switar macro lens for Alpa, let's get that out of the way right now. That's a $1,500++ lens and probably incredible but I'll never know!
  • It is widely believed to be a rebadged Chinon lens; Chinon did also make a 50mm 1.7 macro, but I also grabbed a super cheap copy and they are not the same — see photos below. The size, minimum aperture, and minimum focal distance do not match.
  • One poster suggests it's the same as the Porst Color Reflex 50mm 1.7 macro and the specs are identical. I've seen a few example photos where it produced gel-like flowers, so maybe!

Auto Alpa 50mm 1.7 Macro vs Chinon 50mm 1.7 Macro

The Alpa has a minimum aperture of 16 and close-focus distance of 0.27m. The Chinon has a minimum aperture of 22 and a close-focus distance of 0.45m.

The Alpa has a similar look but it's larger in every dimension.

(note my Alpa is still wearing a M42->Pentax K adapter; it's an m42 lens)

So, as you can see, you can't grab an Auto Alpa 50mm 1.7 macro lens pennies by buying the Chinon. Alas!!

Further reading

These are the resources I found when I was researching this lens:

  • Rumor threads about who made this lens: one (bonus history of Alpa included), two, and three
  • This lens was designed to be packaged with the Alpa Si2000, a 35mm SLR by Alpa that is supposedly a somewhat refined but rebadged Chinon SLR. I haven't tested mine yet but it feels wonderful in the hand and makes a delightfully forceful shutter noise.
  • Archive of an ancient web site collecting information about Alpa, the camera maker
  • Dark and dreamy sample photos… I was more than a little inspired by these in my own PP above
  • A review of the Auto Chinon 50mm 1.7 macro, which this lens is (incorrectly!) rumored to be
  • And, of course, don't miss my review