Are there any serious users of MF lenses on this forum?

Started 6 months ago | Discussions thread
Tom Caldwell
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Re: Silver Age of Legacy Lenses
In reply to Iskender, 6 months ago

Iskender wrote:

As others have alluded to, the golden age of legacy lenses in this system was when it was new: I remember seeing this forum being born, and there being constant discussions about adapting this and that, and some pretty creative uses of legacy lenses. A lot of good results, too.

The good results have not gone away.

These days, I get the impression that the majority of legacy lens users are on a budget.

Maybe so - I think that it might even be the other way around.  Those that wanted lens variety initially were not budget conscious, even though these lenses were cheap.  Now if you are a serious legacy lens user then you can spend quite a lot in getting a (very) extensive MF lens kit.  On the other hand I can agree with you that just to buy a few basic MF lenses because you cannot afford a suite of oem AF lenses budget consciousness is probably quite true.  But if you just buy basic MF lenses based simply on bargain pricing then no doubt it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy - the images are not so good and therefore it is decided that old MF lenses are not as good as present issue AF lenses. "$10 lenses" might be "a bargain" but often there is a reason why they were $10.  Good MF lenses might require a lesser bargain of at least a $200 investment (unless you are lucky of course).

What MF lenses, especially good ones do achieve is that they become to a certain extent camera mount independent.  If someone buys a good stock of oem AF M4/3 mount specific lenses then they might have a great set of lenses but they are locked into the M4/3 mount forever whilst they wish to use those lenses.  Not necessary any bad thing but consider the example those with Canon EF lenses waiting for Canon to "go mirrorless" they are stuck there with Canon dslr bodies for as long as Canon chooses not to change course.  Unless they join up with "Captain Meatbones" and the enterprising Chinese who are providing much the same thing. Do Novoflex make electronic adapters or focal reducers?

They've probably been further reduced after Sigma released their affordable lenses for the system, and especially after they had a sale for the Mk I versions (bought the 19/2.8 myself). Since I'm using this system on a budget, I have no interest in the speed booster adapters: they're to expensive.

Still, the system user base is larger than ever before, and even a smaller percentage of all the users are probably enough for the Chinese adapter manufacturers. I think the average user in here is pretty well-off and uses a lot of money on gear, and the budget-conscious may fade into the background.

Some things I've found out while using legacy lenses:

  • Cheap Chinese adapters are a good deal. If one doesn't work, just get another. Adapters from Novoflex and similar are much more expensive and add little value.

Agreed, Chinese adapters are mostly quite good enough, but buy Novoflex or one of the other big names if you are a nervous buyer

  • Konica Hexanon lenses are great. My Konica Hexanon AR 40/1.8 with adapter is about the size of a 25/1.4, if I'm not mistaken. I got this as an assembled set - I believe they require minor modification to be adapted, but to get anything else this small you have to buy hugely expensive rangefinder optics.

Yes what I have seen of the Konica Hexagon is all good, but I don't have any myself as that is just another set of adapters and a good MF kit necessitates drawing the line on just how many mount types you buy into.

  • 50mm lenses of any brand are a good deal, just don't use too much money.

50's range from cheap and chearful kit lenses to some really good stuff.  I have been experimenting with some "slow" but highly resolving old 50's.  Generally not expensive and good value in modern days when f2.8 is regarded as snails pace for a 50.

  • Canon FD and Olympus OM lenses give good or great performance, but may cost too much.
  • M42 is the ultimate budget mount - you can get all kinds of lenses for almost nothing (I seem to recall a friend buying a lens for four dollars, including shipping). The long adapter and relatively primitive lenses *will* add a lot of bulk. However, if you want background blur on the cheap, then nothing can probably beat an M42 135/3.5 (one auction I see right now has seven euros as the latest bid).

I once managed a Russian Helios 44M-6 58mm f2.0 (M42) for $19 including shipping.  For the initiated these lenses were a developed Ziess Biotar design and the Ruskies made something like 3 million of them as a standard lens on the Zenit camera.  They are a sharp lens and there were so many versions of this lens that just getting one of each type could be a collectors hobby in itself.  I have a few versions and they all seem quite good, but I am only at the first stage of "understanding them" as far as the type descriptions go. Here is a lens that is cheap because they made so many - a sort of supply and demand thing where the supply is runaway.  But don't expect this sort of bargain any more as the market has figured out this lens and driven up the price it seems.

I hope this is of use to someone! It's great that manual focus is easy again - I used the old Four Thirds system and manual focus was bad enough that I quickly gave up the idea of legacy lenses. In this system it's very useful, however.

MF lenses used with a dslr ovf are a form of self torture.  Evf and lcd with magnified screens and good focus peaking gave them new life.

Thanks, thoughtful post.

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Tom Caldwell

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