Legacy lens vs Modern lens Improvement points

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YuriS
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Legacy lens vs Modern lens Improvement points
9 months ago

With introduction of Sony A7 many old legacy lenses may start to have a new life. So, do Legacy lenses have any advantage over Modern lenses?

First of all, I would divide legacy lenses for two groups:

Legacy primes (fixed focal length)

Legacy zooms (variable focal length)

I think that Legacy zooms which were developed during pre-autofocus era had a lot of cons and it is very few of such lenses have a good image quality. And they cost a lot of money. So everyone would agree that modern Zoom lenses performs better than legacy Zoom lenses.

In opposite, Legacy primes developed in 80th (From Olympus, Minolta, Nikon, Canon and Pentax – large brands) are almost perfect creations.

So, in which parameters Modern primes can show improvement over Legacy primes.

1. Usability.

Modern lens have autofocus, which is definitely improvement but usually do not have aperture ring (impossible to change aperture manually) and only electric motor focusing. This two things obligate you to use only native system / mount and reduce system-to-system flexibility to zero.

2. Compactness and weight.

Pancake lenses exist for long time, so no improvement in compactness. There is a reasonable improvement in a weight of the lenses by usage of the plastic instead of Aluminum / Brass. But it is very hard to call plastic lens as improvement. It is just a lack of choice.

3. Resolution.

I assume that resolution of the modern prime lens is not superior than legacy lenses made by brand name manufacturers (Olympus, Minolta, Nikon, Canon and Pentax). At least in the middle of the frame. It may be some improvement at the edges but I would call it moderate, not dramatic.

4. Anti reflective coatings.

Again, lenses made by brand name manufacturers started from 80th had very good coatings. May be not all elements were coated (multicoating), but at that time coatings started to be solid and durable.

5. Speed (maximum aperture).

For this parameter I see no improvement at all, even worse – most of the modern systems lack of really fast prime lenses. I see no modern lens compatible to 50mm (Full Frame) f1.2. Not speaking about faster than f1.0.

6. Aberrations

This might be a major point of improvements. Usage of Low Dispersion glasses and aspherical elements may improve aberrations dramatically. It would be moderate improvement over five Seidel errors (spherical aberration, coma, astigmatism, field curvature and distortion ) and it would be huge improvement for chromatic aberrations. But… You have to be pixelpeeping to find the difference…

What would be your opinion?

 YuriS's gear list:YuriS's gear list
Olympus PEN E-PL1 Sony Alpha NEX-6 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 Samyang 7.5mm F3.5 UMC Fisheye MFT +1 more
Sony Alpha 7
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