Favourite vintage lenses

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Name
Dom
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Just a bit of fun. Here are four of mine (in no particular order). What are yours, and why?
  1. Nikkor 50mm f/1.8mm AIS Pancake (0.45m version). Love the small form factor on my D780 and the sharpness and bokeh at f/1.8.
  2. Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 AIS. You cannot get the same f/1.2 look on any other lens that I know. The shimmery halo effect, the glow. Also love how the character of the lens changes with every stop from f/1.2 to f/4. Damn sharp at f/8. Maybe the sharpest lens I have.
  3. Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 AIS. For the focal length and aperture it’s tiny and renders beautifully from f/2.5 with contrast peaking at f/4. The hooded version is also something fairly unique and means you will never lose the hood. And the build quality seems something else.
  4. Nikkor 135mm f/2 DC. Skin tones are really amazing, and the bokeh is crazy good. The DC is a novelty, but gives some additional control on how the front and rear bokeh can look. It’s build quality is so good as well, and again the built in hood is of high convenience. It’s also a damn good landscape lens. People often complain about the AF performance, but I never noticed any issues in my copy
 
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magpiedom
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Dom
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Interesting reflections. I’ve not shot with the 50 1.2 ... yet - but I’ve heard similar opinions.
I never got on with the 135 DC - loved the build- but never that sharp for me at f2 and epic levels of CA.
Agreed. There’s a lot of CA at f/2 and it is not a clinically sharp lens wide open. At f/4 however, there is little to no CA and it’s biting sharp. It’s a portrait lens though, so I guess it wasn’t designed with sharpness in mind. But I get why some people wouldn’t take to the 135mm DC because it’s not optimised for the widest opening.
The 50mm 1.2 is a really unique lens and a lot of fun to use. I also find it quite easy to get acceptably sharp focus even at 1.2. It takes some practice but it’s possible to get consistent results wide open. You really should try it, it’s a lot of fun
 
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Lee
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Bang for buck - the Yashica ML50/1.9 - small, weighs next to nothing & mine is sharp wide open too. The ML28/2.8 is good too imo.

Leitz Tele-Elmarit M 90/2.8 thin I had was out of this world. I still kick myself for selling it!!

I still have my Voigtlander Nokton 40/1.4 Classic too but that doesn't see much use since the 40/1.2E mount.

I also liked the FDn28/2.8, FD50/1.4SSC, the FD85/1.8 was nice to use but CA/soft wide open. The Helios 135/2.8 I had was a good performer too I thought for the money.

Love/hate with the Helios 44-2

Didn't get on with the Pentacon50, Helios 77M, 44M-4, Jupiter 85/1.8 & whatever others I've sold on....
 
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Name
Lloyd
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- Leica 50mm f/2 Rigid Summicron: high resolution and medium contrast rendering makes it great for black and white work since the shadows/mids don't block up. It works great with colour as well. The focus throw is quite long so you can be incredibly precise with focusing, especially on an M3.

- Nikon 28mm 2.8 AIS: super sharp, hardly any distortion, very flare resistant and it focuses super close (0.2m)

- Zeiss 38mm f/4.5 (Hasselblad SWC): Same reasons as the Nikon above, except even more so. It's a ridiculously sharp lens that renders space within that 6x6 frame in such an immersive way.

- Pentax 105mm 2.4 (Pentax 67): Closest lens to shooting large format. It's not the sharpest 67 lens wide open (or stopped down), but the bokeh is exceptional

- Fujinon-L 300mm f/5.6: Tessar design for 8x10. Punchy and sharp in the center but the corners aren't as well corrected, but that doesn't matter. Quite light and small compared to the modern 300mm lenses for 8x10 which is a plus.
 
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Name
Keith
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I haven't used a lot of vintage lenses, but I've had my share. I think I had most fun with the Helios 44-2, used it for everything from portraits with that swirly bokeh, to reversing it for macro.

I also really liked the Super Takumar 200mm F4, I used this mostly for garden birds at the time and it was perfectly usable wide open

Since I still have a Nikon adapter going idle here I was thinking on getting either the old Nikon Ais 200 F4, or the push-pull original 80-200 F4, I've heard only good things about both.
 
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Alan
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Oh Gosh, so many to choose from. I have some old Nikons, Minolta Rokkor, Olympus Zuiko and Canon FD and a few third party lenses in those mounts.

Nippon Kogaku 50mm f1.4, f2 and 35mm f2.8. They're just gorgeously built and gorgeous to use. I think they may outlast mankind.

Minolta Rokkor MC 35mm f2.8 and 55mm f1.7, the metal bodied ones with the scalloped focus rings. They're smaller than the Nippons but possibly equally well made and they give better image quality than the presumably older Nikons.

Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm f1.2. It's funky with a messy scene at it's widest apertures but stopped down I just love the look it gives as the DoF falls away.

Honorable mentions to the Minolta Rokkor 24mm f2.8, 45mm f2 (you get lovely bokeh with that one) 35mm f1.8, 50mm f1.7 and f1.4 and 85mm f2 and also the Sigma 50mm f2.8 1:1 macro I have in Minolta mount.

All Olympus Zuiko lenses just look lovely imo. I also have Canon FD's which to me are rather stuck in the middle between the lovely looking Zuiko's and the lovely and usually optically better Rokkors but are nice middling choices even if they do imo lack character and IQ compared to some others.

If I had to choose just one or two as favourites I'd struggle. The Minolta Rokkor 50mm f1.2 is a special lens but I might just pick the Rokkor 50mm f1.7 as it's humble, small, light and cheap but eminently usable :D
 
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