Vintage Lenses

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3,517
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Dunc
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I've always loved vintage lenses. I love using them, handling them, photographing them.. Having begun my foray into photography in the late 80s, many of the now vintage Nikon lenses bring back a real sense of nostalgia for me but I also remember how good some of them were and how good they still are. Lenses that were tack sharp then are still tack sharp today. The 35-70mm f/2.8 AF-D was/is a cracking lens and was found in the bag of many a top journalist. The old Noct-Nikkor.. hang on, let me just wipe some drool off my keyboard.. The 85mm 1.4 AF-D, 17-180mm Zoom Micro-Nikkor.. Stunning lenses that took stunning images and the list is endless. It's a great shame we don't talk about some of those lenses today as the younger generations coming through generally haven't a clue that some real gems are out there that would cost them a fraction of the latest and greatest modern monsters. Along those lines I wanted a good 50mm lens for IR photography and I remembered an old timer that was supposed to be a stellar performer with an IR filter in front of it. This is the "K" version of the Nikon Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 (Pre Ai), produced between Feb 1975 - Mar 1977 with confirmed serial numbers ranging between 195884 - 279111. Today I received 277256, an example in near mint condition. Holding one of these vintage Nikkors was like meeting an old friend again. The quality, the weight, the smoothness of the focusing, the assured clicks of the aperture ring. It all feels just right and aesthetically, to me, these lenses are just drop dead gorgeous! Here she is in all her resplendent glory! Would love to hear from others who know their vintage lenses and still use them.


 
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3,637
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Phil aka Phiggys
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I have collected numerous vintage Nikkor lenses over the years that have sat on my collection of old Nikon film and some digital bodies
But they have been dusted off and packed in a bag with my last Nikon body purchase Nikon Df
among those currently in the first lens kit bag are Nikkor 28mm f1:4.0 PC, Nikkor 55mm f1:3.5 Nikkor 135mm f1:3.5 Nikkor 200mm f1:4.0
second lens kit bag Nikkor 28mm f1:3.5 Nikkor 50mm f1:1.2 Nikkor 105mm f1:1.8
And I sometimes throw a couple of cuckoos in the nest Sigma 15mm f2.8 Sigma 24mm f2.8 of Tokina 17mm f1:3.5 but those get a rare outing
Also have more bags with different lens kits in them.
My favourites though are the old pre Ai the Ai or Ais lenses although a few AFD have crept in of late.
But for pure quality and craftsmanship the old MF take some beating and I’m extremely happy with my Df as it’s not only bought my old Nikkors back to life its taken me back 6plus decades to when my interest and learning first started:)
 
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..............>...... the list is endless. It's a great shame we don't talk about some of those lenses today as the younger generations coming through generally haven't a clue that some real gems are out there that would cost them a fraction of the latest and greatest modern monsters>...........
Couldn’t agree more. Sorry for the lack of photos but I’m sitting here on the sofa, typing on my IPAD with my lens photos safely on the upstairs PC.
I‘ve recently reduced my legacy lens collection from 20 odd to 16 and I do need to trim another couple off this.
Ironically, of all the lenses I’ve owned and used, I’ve never got hold of a Nikon! For no other reason than wrong place/wrong time.
Currently my ”best” lenses are;
Zeiss Distagon 28mm F2.8
Minolta MD 50mm F1.4
Minolta 35-70mm F3.5 - this is a belter of a lens and I think I’m right in saying that Leica used the same optics in their vario-Elmar. Not called a “bag of primes” for nothing!
Canon FD 80-200L F4 - picked up at auction for about £70.
Minolta MD 70-210 F4 - another Leica connection here, I think. This has been motor racing several times and is a stunner.
The list goes on but the two I really should be using now and again are my 35mm Flektogon (car boot sale buy) and Minolta MD 100mm macro.
Along the way, I’ve made my share of mistakes - but mainly in the context of buying kit which looked OK but on closer inspection, showed evidence of mould/fungus/haze. Over the years, I’ve probably had to ditch 5/6 lenses because of this.
All of my lenses are now used on an A7iii, but have previously been mounted on a G80 and omd10 mk2.
I now only have one “modern” AF lens.
 
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17,910
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Toni
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I have what appears to be the Ai version of that lens sat here, dating to 1977 from the code 1767919. http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html#28 FWIW I think yours is Ai but not AiS, since it has the tag (and the site I linked lists it as Ai).

It's had a hard working life, but is still fine to use - had it cleaned & lubed a few years back. Not what I'd call a sharp lens compared to modern designs, but it does give a lovely rendering and smooth tones.

I also have a 135 f2.8 AiS, which again is very pleasing to use, and makes a good pairing with it.
 
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3,637
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Phil aka Phiggys
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This year I have stated collecting more old vintage pieces mainly old lenses 42mm thread as they easily adapt to my mirrorless bodies as well.
I had hunted for a long time for a couple of older legendary pieces of glass,
The Yashica 5cm f2 and the Zeiss Pancolor f1:1.8 both 42mm screw mount and yes both radioactive
Then came along a few older Pentax. Takumar lenses 55mm f1:2.0 , 55mm f1:1.8, 28mm f1:3.5, 35mm f1:3.5 all metal and glass build with remarkable optical quality. I soon added Sonnar 135mm a Zeiss 135mm f3.5 and a lens I was told to steer away from at all costs the 3element Dompilan 50mm f1:2.8 lens often fitted to old Praktica Nova cameras I have also added two more Pancolor lenses but with old Exacta mounts
I’m just looking forward to freedom once more so I can get out and shoot once again
my very latest a very first lietz lens I purchased for a bargain pice the grand sum with postage fo £75 a 90mm f1:4.0 short telephoto.
I had slowed down until I dropped on a zeiss design Pentacon PB Mount 50mm f1:2.4 pancake lens and what a surprise it was when I did a few test shots (y) in fact it has forced me into purchasing more PB Mount lenses namely 28mm 50mm the f1:1.8 and a 135mm f1:2.8 myOCD/GAS is having some respite from Golden Oldies ATM although a beautiful mint Nikon AFD 180mm f1:2.8 lens did appear on my doorstep lunch time today ???
 
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richard
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I have some of the cheaper contax slr zeiss lenses which I still use occasionally on my slr and also adapted to my z6. Still prefer manual focussing to af for slow stuff like landscapes. I find it easier to set the focus and depth of field the way I want rather than fighting with an at system.

Also, a few odd tamron adaptall2 lenses and some nikkors ais and af-d.

All nice to use - I am not picky about super sharpness - my old film shots are plenty good enough for me grain and all since I am either printing at less than a4 or looking at them on a 15 inch screen.

richard
 
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6,313
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Ian
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There is also the Classic Lenses Podcast which goes on and on at length about... classic lenses... I tried subscribing but it was a bit too specialised for me. Might be up your alley. Episodes are a bit sporadic recently, and they do tend to wander off topic, but if you like lenses it's probably worth a listen.
 
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15,713
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Bob
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I've got a few vintage lenses.
One of my favourites is a Minolta Rokkor 135mm f2.8
I have a few olympus fit lenses too that I'll need to dig out.
I also have a minolta 70-210 beercan lens. (I still have the Minolta 9000 that I used it on for almost 20 years).
 
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THIRTYFIVEMILL
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3,517
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Dunc
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I have some of the cheaper contax slr zeiss lenses which I still use occasionally on my slr and also adapted to my z6. Still prefer manual focussing to af for slow stuff like landscapes. I find it easier to set the focus and depth of field the way I want rather than fighting with an at system.

Also, a few odd tamron adaptall2 lenses and some nikkors ais and af-d.

All nice to use - I am not picky about super sharpness - my old film shots are plenty good enough for me grain and all since I am either printing at less than a4 or looking at them on a 15 inch screen.

richard
And that's what often makes me smile. You see on all forums folks new to photography clamouring to know the sharpest "pro" lenses and best DSLRs. Thousands are spent to take some seriously dodgy pics of the kids with the occasional dog or cat thrown in for good measure. 36 shots and the laptop hard drive is half full already. Most would find a D1 and a couple of decent vintage AF zooms more than sufficient but don't even try to get that across in a thread. :oops: :$
 
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THIRTYFIVEMILL
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3,517
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Dunc
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There is also the Classic Lenses Podcast which goes on and on at length about... classic lenses... I tried subscribing but it was a bit too specialised for me. Might be up your alley. Episodes are a bit sporadic recently, and they do tend to wander off topic, but if you like lenses it's probably worth a listen.
I shall go and look that up now. (y)
 
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............
I had hunted for a long time for a couple of older legendary pieces of glass,
The Yashica 5cm f2 and the Zeiss Pancolor f1:1.8 both 42mm screw mount and yes both radioactive
I started buying legacy lenses about 5 years ago and to begin with I must confess that I became a little obsessed with the whole radioactive thing.
As time has gone on, I’ve realised that there are probably more important things to worry about.
 
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Come to think of it, I had the same sort of “manic” obsession about lead in gloss paint and asbestos when we moved into our new “old” house three years ago.
Given what’s happened to everyone over the last 12 months - it all seems a bit inconsequential now (especially as I never actually found any evidence of asbestos in the house!)
Anyway, I digress. This thread is about vintage lenses and I’ve just remembered I’ve got a Canon FD 24mm and a Konica 135mm (the F3.2 version) which I need to wheel out of the cupboard this year.
 
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THIRTYFIVEMILL
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3,517
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Dunc
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Would be great if we could post our top legacy lenses in this thread. Maybe it would provide some good info and motivation to the younger folks and help keep some of those lenses in circulation.
 
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15,467
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Keith
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We had a thread on here about vintage lenses couple year back, had some good discussion but it faded out. I used to love using old MF lenses, it's been a whille but I'm looking at a Nikon to Fuji adapted I have laying here gathering dust, really should give it another go. they can be fun and many still fit for high level photography.

Some of the old lenses I've tried: Super Takumar Asahi 200 F4, Vivitar 200mm f/3.5 [owned at different stages, the Takumar is superior], Canon FD 50mm 1:2 macro, Vivitar 75-200 Series 1, Helios 44-2, Minolta 50mm 1.7, also adapted the old-ish but not exactly vintage Nikon 60mm 2.8D to the Fuji also a Sigma 150mm macro. I can't remember any other specifically but I did have a couple other in the 28-50mm prime range. I would like to try another macro maybe or another tele. I remember part of the fun being the hunt, looking up info or reviews on these old lenses then trying to track a nice copy down on the cheap. It can be a whole side hobby in itself
 
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3,637
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Phil aka Phiggys
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L
It could just be us four, you know. After lockdown ends we should all meet up, each carrying a bag of ancient lenses. It'll be like the TP version of "The Last Of The Summer Wine".. :oops: :$:D
I would definitely be up for that:)(y) a meet up somewhere would be great if possible.
I’m not sure where we are all located ?
Maybe we could start a list of where we are located and where we would be willing to travel to and meet up ?
 
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Phil aka Phiggys
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I’m happy to start off a list
Known on here as Phiggy or Phiggys
located in Shropshire Telford is my hometown
And willing with notice to travel to most of the U.K.
 
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A very much overlooked/underrated lens is the Rikenon 50mm f2. I have two,one came with a Pentax body I bought that was virtually free, the other cost £12. They are both at least the equal of any 50mm I have owned. Also the Canon 35-70 f4 FDn a super performer, though due to it's design, using filters can be problematic.
 
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Phil aka Phiggys
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A very much overlooked/underrated lens is the Rikenon 50mm f2. I have two,one came with a Pentax body I bought that was virtually free, the other cost £12. They are both at least the equal of any 50mm I have owned. Also the Canon 35-70 f4 FDn a super performer, though due to it's design, using filters can be problematic.
If memory serves me right when Cokin came out with the original A series filter system you were able to to purchase a push on filter ring, that you could then attach the A filter holder to ?
I know I still have the lens but not sure about the filter ring
 
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Phil aka Phiggys
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Canon made some beautiful FD/FL Breech lock lenses in there day I still own a few today but I guess that not of any surprise to anyone who knows me.
They were extremely good optical pieces of craftsmanship.
Yet they can be picked up for a very reasonable price these days.
 
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Canon made some beautiful FD/FL Breech lock lenses in there day I still own a few today but I guess that not of any surprise to anyone who knows me.
They were extremely good optical pieces of craftsmanship.
Yet they can be picked up for a very reasonable price these days.
Agree with you on this. I still own two FDs - down from 5 I think. At one point I did have a 35-105 F4, built like a ........... and weighed a ton.
The only thing which I find a bit exasperating with my FDs (and it only applies when adapted to digital) is the fiddly “lock/unlock” mechanism on the lens adapter. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve thought that the aperture had broken/seized, only to find that I hadn’t mounted the lens and turned the lock ring correctly.
 
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if I ever start buying vintage lenses again (something I have been quite forcibly told not to!!!!!), then one which has been on my radar for years is the Pentax K 28mm F3.5.
I find 28mm a nice FL to work with on the Sony FF when out and about
However, at one point I had four 28s and had to decide which two I wanted to keep. In the end, I decided it made more sense to try and concentrate on a smaller number of brands/mounts (if for no other reason that it meant having to have fewer lens adapters) and with 6 Minolta MDs in the stable, Minolta was my obvious choice. It meant my Canon FD 28mm and Olympus Zuiko 28mm F2.8 had to find new homes but it does leave with with my Zeiss Distagon and the Minolta MD 28mm in reserve.
 
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and if anyone needs any more encouragement to give vintage lenses a go - then in addition to usability/feel, image quality (not all, I agree), cost, “swapability” and availability, there is the very real expectation that if/when you need to move a lens on, then provided you’ve bought sensibly in the first place and made sure the lens isn’t fungus-riddled - then you’re not going to loose too much money - if anything.
 
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15,467
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Keith
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and if anyone needs any more encouragement to give vintage lenses a go - then in addition to usability/feel, image quality (not all, I agree), cost, “swapability” and availability, there is the very real expectation that if/when you need to move a lens on, then provided you’ve bought sensibly in the first place and made sure the lens isn’t fungus-riddled - then you’re not going to loose too much money - if anything.
I've found this very much the case, I've always managed to shift unused MF lenses as quick as I found them. Trouble now though, most of the better ones I bought over the years came from the UK but now with customs issues it's that bit tougher to not only find a gem, but not have to pay double for it! Over here you rely a lot more on whatever pops up and being the first to offer. Missed out on an excellent con Canon 80-200 going for a nice price recently because I hesitated for a few hours, don't have a Canon FD adapter and was looking for a cheap one on side [they seem to have shot up, can't find one less than €30 atm] Also I think because of postal issue from the UK now, Irish sellers have shot up their prices knowing potential buyers have less choice. I was also eyeing a Nikon 200 F4 but the seller is asking more for a not so excellent copy in comparison to what I could find from the UK on ebay. For similar money I could just buy the Fuji AF XC 50-230, only wanted it to photograph birds in the garden
 
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15,467
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Keith
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Agree with you on this. I still own two FDs - down from 5 I think. At one point I did have a 35-105 F4, built like a ........... and weighed a ton.
The only thing which I find a bit exasperating with my FDs (and it only applies when adapted to digital) is the fiddly “lock/unlock” mechanism on the lens adapter. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve thought that the aperture had broken/seized, only to find that I hadn’t mounted the lens and turned the lock ring correctly.
I believe it's the SSC breech lock older versions that you need to do this with, the newer 'nFD' versions of same lenses have a button you press to switch and they work smoother, though people say the ssc versions were better built.
 
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26,788
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Alan
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I started with a Minolta Rokkor 55mm f1.7 MC.



I soon had a little collection of Rokkors and Zuikos and later added some Canon FD's. The Nikons came last for me starting with 50mm f1.4 and f2 Nippon Kogaku's, the f2 is one of my favourite old lenses. Here it is on my Sony A7.



I now have 24 and 35mm f2.8 Nippon Kogaku's too, AI-S 24, 28 and 35mm f2.8, 50mm f1.4 and f1.8 and 85mm f2 and I also bought a couple of Series E lenses, 35mm f2.5 and 28mm f2.8 which one reviewer said was the worst prime Nikon ever made but I have to say that I think it's actually quite good. The stand out lenses for me are the 50mm f2 Nippon and 28mm f2.8 AI-S, the 50mm f1.8 AI-S (I have the close focusing version) for sharpness if that's what you're looking for, the Rokkor 24mm f2.8 and the 50mm f1.2 Rokkor MD is a really lovely lens. It's a bit wild at f1.2 with a complex scene but stopped down it's just lovely.

I love the build and handling of these old lenses particularly the Nippon Kogaku's. The Rokkors like the one above are similar but smaller but for optical quality the later MD Rokkors are usually IMO the leaders where there is a difference.

In recent times these modern lenses have pushed my film era primes out a bit, they're Sony mount Voigtlanders.

 
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26,788
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Alan
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I believe it's the SSC breech lock older versions that you need to do this with, the newer 'nFD' versions of same lenses have a button you press to switch and they work smoother, though people say the ssc versions were better built.
I've had both breech lock and the more normal ones which require you to line one dot up and then rotate to the next. I do prefer the more normal ones in use.
 
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James
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I don't throw anything away. Unfortunately being a cheapskate if you start with modest gear it is still modest gear 40 years on! I had a Minolta SLR in the early 80s. The lens for it is a 45mm Rokkor f2. It was slightly unusual in that most cameras at the time came with 50mm lenses. At some point I may look for an adapter to give it a try.
 
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26,788
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Alan
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I don't throw anything away. Unfortunately being a cheapskate if you start with modest gear it is still modest gear 40 years on! I had a Minolta SLR in the early 80s. The lens for it is a 45mm Rokkor f2. It was slightly unusual in that most cameras at the time came with 50mm lenses. At some point I may look for an adapter to give it a try.
You should. I have that lens and it's a nice one with nice bokeh. The only real issue IMO is the relatively long close focus distance.
 
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