Vintage lenses - what's this trend all about???

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#1
Not on TP (yet) I queried someone's use of a 'vintage lens' they were using on a Sony A9

It seemed to me like they'd bought a BMW M3 and swapped the engine for one from a 1.0l Allegro from the 70s, and I couldn't understand why

I reasoned that taking a great shot on a great modern lens gave you the option to add a preset, or create one, and get the 'look' of an older s***ty lens whereas doing it the other way around you couldn't change your mind on the quality you were after

Seems that upset them greatly - oops

So to you more reasoned lot here - why would you put a relatively poor (but cheap, I like cheap) lens on an modern awesome (usually expensive) camera, rather than using a great modern lens and keeping the option to make it look crap or not later?

Dave
 
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#2
Because there are some aspects of the 'look' that you can't really get from a preset. I've hovered over buying a Helios 58mm to put on my M5 for the swirly bokeh - but I like the convenience of AF and stuff that 'just works'

Have a google of that lens - it's quite a unique look.
 
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#3
Maybe because you don't have to muck around with the image in PP to get the effect you want...

It's fun to use old lenses., though I prefer the Carl Zeiss Contax lenses :)
I also use them with my Contax cameras, as I did yesterday
 
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#4
Because there are some aspects of the 'look' that you can't really get from a preset. I've hovered over buying a Helios 58mm to put on my M5 for the swirly bokeh - but I like the convenience of AF and stuff that 'just works'

Have a google of that lens - it's quite a unique look.

I just so happen to have one of those and I'm looking to pass it on. It's the 44-2 which has the best swirly
 

nandbytes

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#5
I have two 44-2 in sales and one modded for maximum swirly-ness :D

@OP - as mentioned above some look isn't easy to simulate and doesn't have the authentic crap look lol. The argument is similar to using portrait mode on an iPhone to simulate shallow DoF and using a fast/long lens combination on a larger sensor body.
Besides some older lenses are good fun to use. I am currently enjoying using a porst 50mm f1.2 on my Sony A7RIII.
 
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#6
I think it’s an odd choice if someone bought an a9 to shoot old manual lenses 90% of the time but if they were just adapting for fun then why not.
 
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#7
Because there are some aspects of the 'look' that you can't really get from a preset. I've hovered over buying a Helios 58mm to put on my M5 for the swirly bokeh - but I like the convenience of AF and stuff that 'just works'

Have a google of that lens - it's quite a unique look.
That was my first lens on my Zenith !!! It was rubbish lol

Ok - so I don't get it then - fair enough

Dave
 
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#8
The fun is in the hunt, there's a lot of research involved to find the real gems - you get to learn some interesting history too, well if you're bothered to really read into the background of lenses and the old manufacturers. I've seen some really nice images produced with lenses anything up to 100yrs old. Why not look some up and see for yourself. Try sites like this: https://phillipreeve.net/blog/manual-lenses-sony-a7/ His whole site is about adapting manual lenses, mostly to an A7, and he's got some lovely images. There's reviews on there of many MF lens, both the cheap and the pricey
 

nandbytes

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#9
The fun is in the hunt, there's a lot of research involved to find the real gems - you get to learn some interesting history too, well if you're bothered to really read into the background of lenses and the old manufacturers. I've seen some really nice images produced with lenses anything up to 100yrs old. Why not look some up and see for yourself. Try sites like this: https://phillipreeve.net/blog/manual-lenses-sony-a7/ His whole site is about adapting manual lenses, mostly to an A7, and he's got some lovely images. There's reviews on there of many MF lens, both the cheap and the pricey
Bought my porst 50mm f1.2 from him :D
But his whole site isn't just about adapting manual lenses though. He has reviewed quite a number is AF and native MF lenses.
 
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#10
Bought my porst 50mm f1.2 from him :D
But his whole site isn't just about adapting manual lenses though. He has reviewed quite a number is AF and native MF lenses.
I know he does modern MF lenses, he's got 7Artisan and newer Voigtlander lenses on there, never paid attention to his AF reviews. He's always coming up when I'm looking up certain MF lenses though. He takes a nice pic.
 

nandbytes

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#11
I know he does modern MF lenses, he's got 7Artisan and newer Voigtlander lenses on there, never paid attention to his AF reviews. He's always coming up when I'm looking up certain MF lenses though. He takes a nice pic.
Indeed he has some good pictures. His reviews are fairly decent too. His AF lens reviews are as extensive as MF lens reviews if not more these days.
 

Asha

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#12
It's all about what end look you want.

For example with LF film, old lenses are often prefered by togs to obtain dreamy looks etc. which of course, should they wet print then then manipulaton of the negative is not possible like it would be by scanning it.

So yes it's film not digital but the idea of putting what the OP may consider tp be a naff lens onto a modern or expensive camera remains the same.

Is it not similar to sticking a pinhole lens board / body cap on a camera or shooting IR ?

AS said it is simply to obtain whatever type of image that one is hoping to obtain.
 

StephenM

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#13
In my case, I go back a long way in photography. My first SLR was bought in 1965, and I have a lot of old lenses; probably about 20 for my OM system. And they are small and light. My early experiences with autofocus cameras simply put me off them, with too many photos with missed focus. OK, I didn't bother reading up on focus spots, locking focus and all the other essential stuff because in general my subjects don't move; and I've been manually focusing for years.

So, when Sue replaced her Sony a7rii with a Sony a7riii, and I got the a7rii as a cast off, it made more sense to keep to the small and light theme of the camera with small and light (and already bought!) lenses that I could happily focus manually.

And to be honest, I remain to be convinced that the OM lenses are inferior to modern offerings, unless you're using a tripod. Especially if you're not using them wide open. Even so, I'm happy with the Canon 55mm f/1.2 SSC ASPH wide open. Unless decentred, virtually any reasonably modern lens should be diffraction limited at the apertures I usually use.

So those are my reasons: smaller, lighter, cheaper (free) and not optically inferior for my size of print.
 
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#14
If, as I do, you require a lens with a fast aperture and autofocus, sharp, minimal chromatic aberrations or easily correctable and often require good images of 3000 - 6000 pixels on longest side when zoomed into 100%, then arty old lenses are not of any use. If you want to produce the 'look' exhibited by the particular lens then they can be. Aside, I still have all my old Canon FDn lenses, my favourite being the 17mm F4, but they only get used on rare outings with the T90 or FTb.
 
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#15
If, as I do, you require a lens with a fast aperture and autofocus, sharp, minimal chromatic aberrations or easily correctable and often require good images of 3000 - 6000 pixels on longest side when zoomed into 100%, then arty old lenses are not of any use. If you want to produce the 'look' exhibited by the particular lens then they can be. Aside, I still have all my old Canon FDn lenses, my favourite being the 17mm F4, but they only get used on rare outings with the T90 or FTb.
Not all vintage lenses have an arty or unique look, some of the better quality and still very pricey old lenses can be every bit as sharp as higher end modern lenses. This is where the hunt I mentioned earlier comes in. If you're after something specific to your needs, it will be out there. But you'll pay more in time chasing the ideal ones down than actual cash.

But when we're talking cheap as chips vintage glass for quirky IQ or artiness, this really isn't for professionals who desire perfection. This is never the aim of those who do it, it's a hobby unto itself. Dare I say it in these parts, but it's just fun!
 
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#16
It's about the look but also the user experience too. Modern fly by wire lenses are usually pretty joyless things to use for manual focus. Plus they generally have no end stops and they generally have no markings. Manual lenses are therefore easier to use if you want to use any manual technique such as zone, hyperfocal or Merklinger techniques. There are modern mf lenses with markings and end stops and some of them give a unique look too so the choice to use them is there too.

Another reason to use old lenses is that they're long lasting (can anyone see their modern dslr lenses still working in 30 to 50 years time?) and they're portable as they're not tied to Sony, Nikon or Canon mirrorless cameras and all you need to do to use them on any new camera mirrorless camera you may buy is buy another cheap dumb adapter.
 
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#17
It's about the look but also the user experience too. Modern fly by wire lenses are usually pretty joyless things to use for manual focus. Plus they generally have no end stops and they generally have no markings. Manual lenses are therefore easier to use if you want to use any manual technique such as zone, hyperfocal or Merklinger techniques. There are modern mf lenses with markings and end stops and some of them give a unique look too so the choice to use them is there too.

Another reason to use old lenses is that they're long lasting (can anyone see their modern dslr lenses still working in 30 to 50 years time?) and they're portable as they're not tied to Sony, Nikon or Canon mirrorless cameras and all you need to do to use them on any new camera mirrorless camera you may buy is buy another cheap dumb adapter.
Using a lens specifically designed for manual focusing is simply a joy in comparison to performing same on most modern lenses definitely. This comes into it's own especially for macro work. The precision and ease of use on older MF macro lenses can't be match even by macro lenses costing up to £1K today. In fact if you are only ever using a macro lens for macro, then it makes much more sense to go mechanical. And they are every bit as sharp, I have yet to come across a true macro lens that wasn't tack sharp or had any quirkiness about it. It's tougher to find the gems in other types of lenses but they are out there.

2 areas I often look to when it comes to old MF lenses would be macro and for casual wildlife. Right now I'm looking at a Nikon 200mm F4 AI for example, a lens known to be sharp wide open and would more than stand up to a modern budget tele lens. I don't do BIF or any kind of fast moving wildlife or sport so don't need hyper fast AF. With practice you can lock manual focus as quick as cheaper lenses that hunt in and out before locking on. It'll probably beat most of them in terms of resolving power, and sure it might have some mild CA wide open but stopped down that's gone. 2 clicks in PP for the odd time it's an issue.

Old lenses can shine for other types of photography too where corner softness doesn't really matter, like portraiture or in any case where you're blurring the backdrop out anyway
 
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#18
Not on TP (yet) I queried someone's use of a 'vintage lens' they were using on a Sony A9

It seemed to me like they'd bought a BMW M3 and swapped the engine for one from a 1.0l Allegro from the 70s, and I couldn't understand why

I reasoned that taking a great shot on a great modern lens gave you the option to add a preset, or create one, and get the 'look' of an older s***ty lens whereas doing it the other way around you couldn't change your mind on the quality you were after

Seems that upset them greatly - oops

So to you more reasoned lot here - why would you put a relatively poor (but cheap, I like cheap) lens on an modern awesome (usually expensive) camera, rather than using a great modern lens and keeping the option to make it look crap or not later?

Dave
If you're going to rely on presets for looks then you might as well start shooting iPhone.
 
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#19
Some interesting points are ever, cheers all

I know many older and/or manual lenses are as sharp as modern ones, so I can fully understand that with macro too where saving a lot of money is a good thing

Its more the ones that we know were cheap, not high quality, suffered various types of distortion etc. that I don't understand why you'd use them for a 'look' that can probably be found in a preset anyway

For me, I always want the highest possible quality as my starting point, if I then choose to blur bits its something I can change again later, whereas if an awesome shot was already not as sharp or with flare/distortion etc. as shot then I can't remove those effects later if I change my mind

Maybe its just me but I find no 'joy' in using kit itself, my joy comes from the captured imaged once finally processed, the kit used is not part of any joyous process

Horses for courses as ever :)

Dave
 
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#20
If you're going to rely on presets for looks then you might as well start shooting iPhone.
You can't be serious so I'll not reply to that :D

Other than, my entire workflow is based on presets, mostly of my own design :)

Dave
 
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#21
So many of the previous comments in favour of using legacy lenses ring true with me. if you have the time and have a modicum of interest, then it’s usually great fun.
For me, it’s about the challenge of using the lenses, the hunt (I have the time to track down lenses and quite enjoy doing so) and the fact that I take more time over my photography whenever I have an old manual lens attached to the camera body. I enjoy using an aperture ring and manually focussing.
most of my manual lenses are better built than their modern day counterparts and can be taken apart for a good clean if and when the need arises.
Without exception, I have acquired my lenses for far less money than if I’d bought modern day counterparts - even used. That said, I’m not and never have been in the hunt for the truly exceptional/expensive old lenses.
If I were ever to consider selling my collection then assuming the current “market” hasn’t changed dramatically, I can’t think of one lens which I wouldn’t make money on. do in that regard there is little risk in continuing to do what I do; picking up reasonably priced, good quality old lenses as and when I see them.
a final thought. for the last couple of years I set myself the challenge of using just manual focus legacy lenses when I went motor racing. as it happens, I only went to Silverstone twice in that time. So many of my shots were complete rubbish and my hit rate was very low, but the pleasure of seeing that I could actually nail focus and composition on a few images gave me as much pleasure, if not more, than seeing the “usual” results from my Canon 80d and 70-300L.
I’m not in the camp of using old lenses for that special look. I just use them because I like to.
 

nandbytes

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#22
Actually fast lenses is one of the reasons I adapt. My 50mm f1.2 gives a certain look and results other lenses wouldn't quite give me. And for a focal length I use only a few times in a year that's good enough.
Besides the next best thing or other native solutions costs a whole lot more.
 
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#23
I started about 6 years ago adapting my Yashica lenses to my 5D2. I then bought the A7 not long afterwards. I still have my Yashica stuff now but mainly use it with the FX3.

For me, it's the experience of using a MF lens. The time, the precision, the feeling, the aperture ring on the lens..... It's like using the film camera but you can play with the files easier!

I've been through several lenses over the years. Several FD primes, all sold on now for a profit too!

That's why now I mainly use the Voigtländer CV40 1.2E followed by the CV21. Beautiful lens to use. I know they are modern designs, but there is no way you can add blur to an image to match the look from that 40mm the same as you can't to some other legacy lenses too.
 
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#24
Maybe its just me but I find no 'joy' in using kit itself, my joy comes from the captured imaged once finally processed, the kit used is not part of any joyous process
Hah. I am the almost absolute opposite :) I hate (digital) processing nowadays, am not after perfection, and find the clincal excellence in modern digital lenses to be... well... too clinical...

So whilst this might be of no use to the OP, I thought I'd add it here in case others want to explore the joy of classic lenses: https://www.classiclensespodcast.com
I never thought I'd listen to a podcast about old vintage lenses but these guys are amusing and knowledgable. Occasionally gets far too technical for me, sometimes wanders very off topic, but also occasionally well worth a listen.
 
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#25
As with most things, it's a personal choice. I don't think anybody can convince the OP, or even needs to but for me there's the chase, the nostalgia, the history. It's a bit of fun at a cheaper price. For others it's a chance to try a focal length out, get a certain look without faffing about, and then for others, it's a learning curve.

I love vinyl but I use, or have used, most music formats. I guess it's relatively similar for folk who drive classic cars.

But then the modern gear has it's appeal too. Horses for courses maybe. I love it all :D
 
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#26
Maybe its just me but I find no 'joy' in using kit itself, my joy comes from the captured imaged once finally processed, the kit used is not part of any joyous process

Dave
This may be why you haven't understood where they're coming from Dave :) There's absolutely nothing wrong with that at all though, you're a pro and you NEED to get the shots too, so obviously using the best equipment possible is going to help with that. When I was shooting professionally I was the same, with very little of the messing about I used to do beforehand. I had adequate gear for the job and beyond that I didn't really want to deviate much.

Since stopping shooting professionally i've started having more fun with it again as I'm only shooting for myself with no comeback if something doesn't come out. I get annoyed with myself but at least I'm not getting shouted at :LOL: My 2 remaining cameras are a D750 and Sigma 35mm which i know will get me the shot every time as it's superb, the other is a point and shoot film camera from the 90s which has some controls but is limited too (it doesn't allow you to set your own shutter speed for example) and finding it's quirks and getting good shots despite them gives me more satisfaction than maybe the D750 does. As our Irish cousins would say, I'm "doing it for the Craic" :D
 
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#27
I got into the manual lens scene 12 years ago when they were dirt cheap. That was the main reason behind going manual focus with stop down metering, it was very cheap. I still use a few of the lenses that I got from that time as some of them are superb. I should probably sell a load of them off though as I don't use as much of it anymore.

I can't say I ever had any interest in buying old lenses to intentionally get optical defects though. I tried to buy the absolute best lenses of the past in order to avoid paying huge sums of money for new AF kit. Soap bubbles and swirly bokeh were never a driving factor and I particularly avoided lenses from the eastern block. I had a preference for Contax, nikon, olympus and Tamron SP adaptall lenses. In more recent years, I've had a tremendous amount of fun using my mamiya 645 lenses on my D810, as they were lovely to use and the quality of the results was exceptional.

I get joy from the whole process, start to finish. The more involved I feel I am in that process, the greater the sense of achievement.
 
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#28
Maybe its just me but I find no 'joy' in using kit itself, my joy comes from the captured imaged once finally processed, the kit used is not part of any joyous process

Horses for courses as ever :)

Dave
For me, it is the difference between taking the bus to work and taking the Ferrari out for a spin at the weekend. The destination might well be the same but one is much more fun.
 
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#29
For me, it is the difference between taking the bus to work and taking the Ferrari out for a spin at the weekend..
Indeed. Most modern AF lenses are to most manual lenses as a Ferrari is to a bus. :exit:
 
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#30
You can't be serious so I'll not reply to that :D

Other than, my entire workflow is based on presets, mostly of my own design :)

Dave
Phones are compensating for their small sensors with computational effects, you're compensating for your neutral lenses with computational effects, what's the difference? Both are faking the real thing.
 
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#31
Phones are compensating for their small sensors with computational effects, you're compensating for your neutral lenses with computational effects, what's the difference? Both are faking the real thing.
I'll have to disagree in that you clearly don't understand me, nor probably I you - so let's just call it quits :)

Dave
 
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#32
Some people set great store by how their lenses 'render' images. It's not so much the amount of bokeh but the quality of it, and other nuances of representation which processing can't replicate. They're the sort who will use an old manual focus lens on an autofocus digital camera, or pay vast sums for a modern exotic lens. Simple as that.

Normal people* couldn't give a toss how lenses render because they're looking at the pictures they're looking at the pictures.

* people who aren't photographic gear obsessives.
 
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#33
This is very true.

I do sometimes get a bit perplexed when people can't see something even when it's pointed out to them but of course they are the normal people. Some people don't even notice when their tv is in the wrong mode and the people are all squashed or stretched :D
 
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#34
This is very true.

I do sometimes get a bit perplexed when people can't see something even when it's pointed out to them but of course they are the normal people. Some people don't even notice when their tv is in the wrong mode and the people are all squashed or stretched :D
Winds me up big time when I go to someone's house and their tv is really badly calibrated. It's like they push all the sliders to 100 and be done with it :D Much worse when they ask would you like to watch a film ... er .. seen Willy Wonka enough times already ta :D
 
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#37
You might not but others like a different look now and again.

The best lens I have is probably my Sony 55mm f1.8. It is an exceptional lens but some may say that the exceptional technical performance brings with it a too clinical look and for those who think like that a lens that gives a completey different look might be nice to use now and again.

Hopefully after the comments in this thread you can see reasons why some enjoy using old lenses now.
 
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#38
Some of the old lens are probably better than some of todays lens. The Zeiss planer was I believe the best lens ever tested for decades. The old Tamron SP90 was so good it was used on optical benches to test other optics. Just because something is old doesn't mean it's rubbish.
Look at me I'm old and I'm not.... errrr. Ok bad analogy... ;)
 
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#39
You might not but others like a different look now and again.
To be serious for a moment: I think that some people come over a bit Jehovah's Witness on their pet subjects. It's not really surprising that other people are a little nettled by what they see as misplaced enthusiasm. Perhaps we all need to make allowances to get on.

Anyway: if you want real swirly whirly you could always use the bottom of a glass...

Hettythroughaglass.jpg
 
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#40
To be serious for a moment: I think that some people come over a bit Jehovah's Witness on their pet subjects. It's not really surprising that other people are a little nettled by what they see as misplaced enthusiasm. Perhaps we all need to make allowances to get on.

Anyway: if you want real swirly whirly you could always use the bottom of a glass...

View attachment 255040

That's great, always wanted giant hands swirled around my images :ROFLMAO:

As for the Jehova thing :thinking: OP found this to be true on another forum it seems, but he's got nothing but sensible discussion here. I don't see anyone getting overly pushy [I take it that's what you mean with that?] or anywhere close to annoyed or upset on the matter.

Some love to adapt old lenses for reasons, some think it's a silly idea - *shrugs*

There should really be a shrug emoticon for this forum
 
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