Vintage Lenses

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Alan
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Just for fun...

Fstoppers asks if you can tell the difference between a modern lens, the Sony 55mm f1.8, and an old Nikon 50mm f2 AI...


I have that Sony lens and I'd say it's outstanding. When I tested mine my benchmarks were the old Sigma 50mm f1.4 and Canon f2.5 macro I used on my 5D and the Sony is just so much "better" if your criteria is sharpness across the frame and into the extreme corners and including wide open performance. I'd say it was better than the Canon f2.5 at any aperture the Canon could match with the proviso that the Canon whilst not being a 1:1 macro could focus closer. I've since bought the Voigtlander 50mm f2 apo in e mount and I'd say that that is an even better lens than the Sony.

Looking at older 50mm lenses I have the Zuiko f1.4 and f1.8, FD f1.4 and f1.8, Rokkor f1.2, 1.4 and f1.7 and the 55mm f1.7, Nikon AI-S f1.4, 1.8 and Nippon Kogaku f1.4 and f2 and a Sigma 50mm f2.8 macro in Rokkor mount which is a different beast as it is a 1:1 macro.

I do like my old lenses and stopped down there's less visible difference to modern lenses but I do believe that if you look closer towards the edges and into the corners you will see differences. That's not to say that these old lenses are bad, they are in fact perfectly useable but just not as good if you go pixel peeping the extremes of the frame. At larger apertures I'd say that the differences are often much more obvious with the more modern lenses displaying less funky bokeh and artefacts but of course looking at technical optical properties ignores the look and if you/we just like the look a lens gives then that's enough.
 
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Bob
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Do try and keep up.... :LOL:

Have a look at this.....

Just for fun...

Fstoppers asks if you can tell the difference between a modern lens, the Sony 55mm f1.8, and an old Nikon 50mm f2 AI...


I have that Sony lens and I'd say it's outstanding. When I tested mine my benchmarks were the old Sigma 50mm f1.4 and Canon f2.5 macro I used on my 5D and the Sony is just so much "better" if your criteria is sharpness across the frame and into the extreme corners and including wide open performance. I'd say it was better than the Canon f2.5 at any aperture the Canon could match with the proviso that the Canon whilst not being a 1:1 macro could focus closer. I've since bought the Voigtlander 50mm f2 apo in e mount and I'd say that that is an even better lens than the Sony.

Looking at older 50mm lenses I have the Zuiko f1.4 and f1.8, FD f1.4 and f1.8, Rokkor f1.2, 1.4 and f1.7 and the 55mm f1.7, Nikon AI-S f1.4, 1.8 and Nippon Kogaku f1.4 and f2 and a Sigma 50mm f2.8 macro in Rokkor mount which is a different beast as it is a 1:1 macro.

I do like my old lenses and stopped down there's less visible difference to modern lenses but I do believe that if you look closer towards the edges and into the corners you will see differences. That's not to say that these old lenses are bad, they are in fact perfectly useable but just not as good if you go pixel peeping the extremes of the frame. At larger apertures I'd say that the differences are often much more obvious with the more modern lenses displaying less funky bokeh and artefacts but of course looking at technical optical properties ignores the look and if you/we just like the look a lens gives then that's enough.
 
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Neville
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Not a fan of the 50mm Pentacon lens, I have to say. Initially I managed some nice close up shots of flowers, and they were quite encouraging, so I was keen to try it out. But sad to say it proved to be a bit of a disappointment. It displayed similar characteristics to that of the Helios 44M I have. Some really gnarly bokeh, and it completely loses the plot at the edges. Not nice. Plus which the colours seem a tad harsh and lifeless for my taste. Hard even. Interesting, but not a lens I could warm to.
 
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Not a fan of the 50mm Pentacon lens, I have to say. Initially I managed some nice close up shots of flowers, and they were quite encouraging, so I was keen to try it out. But sad to say it proved to be a bit of a disappointment. It displayed similar characteristics to that of the Helios 44M I have. Some really gnarly bokeh, and it completely loses the plot at the edges. Not nice. Plus which the colours seem a tad harsh and lifeless for my taste. Hard even. Interesting, but not a lens I could warm to.
I found the Helios an interesting lens to try but the bokeh wasn’t for me. I like creamy smooth and the Helios was anything but.
 
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Another lens sorted thanks to Stuart Hale. CZJ Tessar 50mm f2.8 Zebra. That's two vintage lenses brought back into circulation. They cost me nothing from ebay and I'm so glad I sent them off to have the aperture blades fixed.
 
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Another lens sorted thanks to Stuart Hale. CZJ Tessar 50mm f2.8 Zebra. That's two vintage lenses brought back into circulation. They cost me nothing from ebay and I'm so glad I sent them off to have the aperture blades fixed.
I’ve recently been in touch with Stuart and am planning to let him have a look at my Flektogon 35mm (Prakticar version) to see if he can fix a broken pin on the aperture. Here’s hoping!
Still on the search for a replacement front glass element for my Petri 28mm F2. A nice lens and such a shame it can’t be used. Probably destined for the lens “graveyard” or cannibalised for bits.
 
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Another lens sorted thanks to Stuart Hale. CZJ Tessar 50mm f2.8 Zebra. That's two vintage lenses brought back into circulation. They cost me nothing from ebay and I'm so glad I sent them off to have the aperture blades fixed.
What kind of money was it to fix them? Would be good to have an idea when looking at possible purchases in the future.
 
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Stephen
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What kind of money was it to fix them? Would be good to have an idea when looking at possible purchases in the future.
£36 to see to "Lens received, same as last time, sticky aperture and a bit of fungus under the front group"

This included VAT so I didn't think was bad at all to resurrect a lens from certain death.
 
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richard
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£36 to see to "Lens received, same as last time, sticky aperture and a bit of fungus under the front group"

This included VAT so I didn't think was bad at all to resurrect a lens from certain death.
and to me - amazing price. Just tracked "Stuart Hale" down to Don Clark Camera repairs right ?

Worth knowing - I paid Newton Ellis £120 to fix a stuck aperture on a Contax Dist 28mm a few years ago.
 
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Well, I picked up a 50mm 2.8 Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar for peanuts the other day. Mind you, you get what you pay for, I suppose. The focus ring was slack with a tight spot and was really tight towards infinity. Now it seems to not work at all. The ring turns freely, but there is no focus. Is it repairable, do you think?
@Plain Nev
Having had the zebra version of this one, I now have 2 of the above. Quite happy to loan one out to you for a couple of months if you pay the postage both ways. Under a fiver with Royal Mail.
 
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Minolta MD 70-210 F4. fully manual lens. Been with me on a couple of motor racing days. Will never get rid of this lens (and I have a Canon 80-200L FD F4).
I’d like to think I have a fair idea about lens quality - previously having owned Canon EF 70-300L, etc.
Interestingly, I've been reading a lot about the Minolta MD 70-210 after acquiring one and there seems to be a great deal of confusion about which of the Minolta 70-210s was designed in collaboration with Leica. From what I can gather it is the MD fully manual version shown below:



Which would stack up as this is the Leica Vario Elmar, which is virtually identical in every aspect:



However, in many discussions on other forums I've seen members stating the Minolta "Beer Can" lens was the one designed in collaboration with Leica. I'm fairly sure that was not the case as the beer can was/is an AF lens and several sources state the Leica linked lens was the manual focus predecessor shown above. Any Minolta experts care to confirm or deny my theory? (y)
 
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Neville
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@Plain Nev
Having had the zebra version of this one, I now have 2 of the above. Quite happy to loan one out to you for a couple of months if you pay the postage both ways. Under a fiver with Royal Mail.
That's very kind of you. I would like to try one, I have to say. Tot it up and we'll take it to PM's.
 
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However, in many discussions on other forums I've seen members stating the Minolta "Beer Can" lens was the one designed in collaboration with Leica. I'm fairly sure that was not the case as the beer can was/is an AF lens and several sources state the Leica linked lens was the manual focus predecessor shown above. Any Minolta experts care to confirm or deny my theory? (y)
Could both be true? Early AF lenses often reworked manual focus designs. Maybe all three lenses, with the same constant maximum aperture and focal length range, have the same optics? I think my early Nikon 70-210 f/4 AF re-uses the optical design of the E series manual focus lens.
 
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Could both be true? Early AF lenses often reworked manual focus designs. Maybe all three lenses, with the same constant maximum aperture and focal length range, have the same optics? I think my early Nikon 70-210 f/4 AF re-uses the optical design of the E series manual focus lens.
It's definitely possible, even probable, I'd say but I believe the actual lens designed together with Leica at the time was the MF version above.
 
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I've not heard the Leica origin story before for the beercan, and I bought mine lightly used in '87 or '88 when they were a new design and much discussed. It makes more sense for the one-touch lens to potentially have a common origin with Leica because it's a quite different mechanical design. I use the beercan occasionally on my A7 with AF adapter, and it's still a good lens.
 
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There is an interesting quote from a leica lens books by Puts and others in the following thread. This names some lenses that were designed by minolta and rebadged for Leitz - and vv.

 
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There is an interesting quote from a leica lens book by Puts in the following thread. This names some lenses that were designed by minolta and rebadged for Leitz - and vv.

I have the 24mm f2.8 which I think was badged by Leica. I think it is the best of the film era 24mm f2.8's I have. I have the MD one with 49mm filter thread.
 
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There is an interesting quote from a leica lens books by Puts and others in the following thread. This names some lenses that were designed by minolta and rebadged for Leitz - and vv.

Yep, it states the 1983 collaboration which would indeed make it the manual focus MD, not the beer can.
 
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There is an interesting quote from a leica lens books by Puts and others in the following thread. This names some lenses that were designed by minolta and rebadged for Leitz - and vv.

I was sorry to hear Erwin Puts died just a couple of weeks ago. His books on Leica lenses are the standard works. In addition to the quotes in that thread, he notes in Leica R Lenses that, while the 70-210 is a Minolta design, 'optically the lens has a stronger injection of Leica Knowledge' than the previous 80-200 and 75-200 R lenses Leitz had adopted from Minolta.


I'm sure Leitz had nothing to do with the non-optical design of the 'beercan' Minolta. Perhaps they didn't have much to do with the barrel and mechanics of the manual focus versions, either. I remember reading that in the Zeiss collaboration with Yashica, the latter were supposedly responsible for designing the barrels of the Japan-made zooms. A good optical formula can end up being recycled in several closely related lenses. As well as the E lens that became the 70-210 f/4 AF, I think Nikon also re-used the optical design of their one-touch 80-200 f/2.8 in the two ring version. For what it's worth, the Wikipedia article on the Minolta 70-210 f/4 treats the manual focus and beercan lenses as versions of the same thing, separated by only two years. Maybe Minolta had an AF variant in mind all along.
 
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As a follow on, a quote from here:


1983

- MD Zoom 70-210/4 [12/9] (�55mm) 1,1m f/32 72x153mm 635g

The replacement for the 75-200mm mid-tele zoom, this presents small improvements in the range, maximum aperture, and near focusing distance. Being able to focus to 1,1m at 210mm, it doesn�t matter that this is a one-touch design lacking a macro mode, since it can do better than 1:4 macro ratio like this. Arguments persist over which is the better performer among the three similar zooms that Leitz adopted for the Leica R-series SLRs, but any way you slice it, this is a supreme optic.
 
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Interestingly, I've been reading a lot about the Minolta MD 70-210 after acquiring one and there seems to be a great deal of confusion about which of the Minolta 70-210s was designed in collaboration with Leica. From what I can gather it is the MD fully manual version shown below:
Although I have 5 Minolta lenses in my collection, in no way would I describe myself as anything even remotely approaching an “expert”.
That said, since owning the 70-210 MD it has always been my understanding - through reading various articles and ad hoc comments - that this is the lens being referred to when people talk about the Leica collaboration.
Although it’s most probably lost somewhere in the above 7 pages of comments - if anyone is interested in another “belter” of a lens (again with a link to Leica, so I understand), then they should seek out a copy of the brilliant Minolta MD 35-70 Mark 3.
It has often been referred to by others (far more experienced than me and not just on TP), as a “bag of primes”. I can see why!
OK. So you don’t have crazy big apertures but it makes up for it in another ways. It also sports a 1:4/1:7 macro mode.
 
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And just to say that after about a year of not really using my camera gear (I seem to have allowed myself to disappear down the big hole of Hi-Fi), reading this thread seems to have rekindled my interest.
Only yesterday I actually opened the box of my Minolta 100mm F4 MD (true) macro lens for only the second time.
If and when I do manage to take some half-decent photos with it, I’ll post something here.
 
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Although I have 5 Minolta lenses in my collection, in no way would I describe myself as anything even remotely approaching an “expert”.
That said, since owning the 70-210 MD it has always been my understanding - through reading various articles and ad hoc comments - that this is the lens being referred to when people talk about the Leica collaboration.
Although it’s most probably lost somewhere in the above 7 pages of comments - if anyone is interested in another “belter” of a lens (again with a link to Leica, so I understand), then they should seek out a copy of the brilliant Minolta MD 35-70 Mark 3.
It has often been referred to by others (far more experienced than me and not just on TP), as a “bag of primes”. I can see why!
OK. So you don’t have crazy big apertures but it makes up for it in another ways. It also sports a 1:4/1:7 macro mode.
Funny you should say that. Been chatting to Phil @Phiggys about this lens as he's currently trialing one.. and look what I purchased early this morning.. :p (seller's pic)

Good review of this lens by a trusted source can be found here:


 
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Funny you should say that. Been chatting to Phil @Phiggys about this lens as he's currently trialing one.. and look what I purchased early this morning.. :p (seller's pic)

Good review of this lens by a trusted source can be found here:

Thanks.
Over the years, I’ve regularly read Phillip Reeve’s reviews and find them really useful.
I’ve had my 35-70 for 4 or 5 years. initially, I had m43 and it behaved more like a mid tele zoom on those bodies (G80 and OM10 k2). Come to think if it, I do seem to recall giving it a go with a focal reducer which I owned at that time.
The lens sits much better on my A73 though and seems to have become my default lens when I’m at home.
 
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This Carl Zeiss Jena 135mm f/3.5 arrived this week. Had this one a while ago, sold it and regretted it at will. Nice to have the old girl back in the bag. This is also a lens revered by macro photographers who use it reversed as a tube lens together with microscope lenses.

JENA-1.jpg
 
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I wrote an article a couple of years back for Outdoor Photography on older lenses. I think I just called it "Just because its old doesn't mean to say its obsolete". I have a wee bag with the Nikon 28mm f2.8Ais, 50mm f1.2Ais and the 105mm f2.5Ais which I use with my Nikon Df. They just match up beautifully and the results from those lenses are gorgeous. I think I go from 18mm to 300mm in old Ais or manual focus lenses. Although I really need to cut down on some that I don't really use.
 
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Hmm.. Only 10 or so, I think. I've been having a binge lately after selling off some dead wood stuff.
Phew - that’s a relief!
For a moment there, I thought you were following in my footsteps. There was a time when I was spending so much time and effort tracking down/buying lenses and camera bodies - sometimes on-line, sometimes travelling fair distances to collect my treasures, car boots, local ads etc. Took over a bit I suppose.
Although I’ve probably purchased close to 30 lenses over the last 4/5 years, I guess I’ve never had more than 20 usable lenses to hand.
Fortunately, a dose of reality kicked in about a year or so ago and with additional “pressure” not to buy lenses for the sake of it, I’ve come to the point where I realised I needed to consolidate. As mentioned much earlier in the thread, that consolidation is based around Minolta with a few other select lenses dotted around.
I think if I were starting over (but with the knowledge acquired) and could only choose one manufacturer, it’d probably be Contax Zeiss, But I certainly wouldn’t be able to afford the 16 lenses I have now.
 
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Phew - that’s a relief!
For a moment there, I thought you were following in my footsteps. There was a time when I was spending so much time and effort tracking down/buying lenses and camera bodies - sometimes on-line, sometimes travelling fair distances to collect my treasures, car boots, local ads etc. Took over a bit I suppose.
Although I’ve probably purchased close to 30 lenses over the last 4/5 years, I guess I’ve never had more than 20 usable lenses to hand.
Fortunately, a dose of reality kicked in about a year or so ago and with additional “pressure” not to buy lenses for the sake of it, I’ve come to the point where I realised I needed to consolidate. As mentioned much earlier in the thread, that consolidation is based around Minolta with a few other select lenses dotted around.
I think if I were starting over (but with the knowledge acquired) and could only choose one manufacturer, it’d probably be Contax Zeiss, But I certainly wouldn’t be able to afford the 16 lenses I have now.
Yes, I do tend splurge now and again but I think now I've got a better idea of what I actually use. My main guilty pleasure is tracking down mint examples of the lenses I want which normally costs me a fortune extra. :oops: :$ This is my personal example of the Vivitar 55mm f2.8 Macro Komine (Nikon F Mount):


Even has it's tatty box and polystyrene inserts.
 
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