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

Started 8 months ago | Discussions thread
Tom Caldwell
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Re: Are there any serious users of MF lenses on this forum?
In reply to Godfrey, 8 months ago

Godfrey wrote:

Tom Caldwell wrote:

Subtitled "What is a focal reducer?"

It seems that most members of this forum are using M4/3 oem AF lenses. They will perform well, are matched to the camera mount and are straight forward in use. No problem. ...

Hi Tom,

After several rounds of using various MF SLR lenses (not the ones designed and built for mFT) on my Panasonic G1, GF1, then Olympus E-PL1 and E-M1, I came to be of the opinion that the best lenses to use on this format were the ones built for the format. In particular respect to my Leica R lenses, while they worked well on the E-M1 in terms of sharpness and rendering, they lost the 'Leica Look magic' that is essentially why I own them.

I came to be of the opinion that these lenses were so well optimized for the 35mm film format that they needed a FF sensor of appropriate quality to do their thing and make the magic happen. So I bought a Sony A7 body to use them on, hoping that the 24Mpixel sensor would be good match.

Lo and behold, it is. Doing comparative testing between the Leica R lenses on film (with a Leicaflex SL) and on the digital with the A7, the photos captured show the same lens characteristics and 'magic' from f/stop to f/stop. And they prove to me that my hunch was right: the tuning done to top-notch lenses does take the format they're designed for into account.*

I feel this is also why Micro-FourThirds bodies image so nicely with FourThirds SLR and Micro-FourThirds lenses: the lenses are all tuned with this specific format in mind, and as such, do the best rendering job. Oddball things aside ... like the Holga 25mm lens or the Skink Pinhole/Zone Plate lenses, or my construction of a Cosmicar 12.5mm f/1.4 TV lens onto an mFT mounting flange ... I use FT and mFT lenses exclusively on my E-M1 and E-PL1 now.

* The Ricoh GXR + A12 Camera Mount is an exception to this general rule. It is a case of a manufacturer of a camera format optimized specifically for existing lenses of a particular type on another format. Of course, that does not stop the notion that various lenses that work best on it can be a little different from lenses that work best on the film and FF-digital bodies that they are designed for, because that does happen too...

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Hi Godfrey it is almost a case of "fancy meeting up here" (grin)

You are quite right of course and maybe I should be using an A7.  But I am reluctant to give up my Ricoh GXR-M simply because it now works like it is part of my conscience, the thinking process. Mode 2 focus peaking of course is without peer and for something that has never been changed it seems to get better and better the more I use it.  Since I discovered the Clearviewer with its slightly awkward fitting I have increasingly warmed to Mode 2. I am now not nearly so interested in a big bright useful evf but of course would never knock one back if it were available.

We are looking at two quite different types of cameras that perhaps Ricoh should make but are not doing so.  The A7 type as the FF horse for MF lenses - lenses tuned to sensor size as you correctly note, on one hand, and the micro-body of the Panasonic GM1 - how small can you go and still have a largish sensor?  Methinks that Ricoh could do something like this for an aps-c sensor with some panache.  However I have found that the GM1 is no toy and is remarkably powerful for such a little box and I am happy. Where Panasonic has really excelled is that they have made use of the touch screen for "grown ups" without the girly icons and just basic useful functionality.  The way the touch works for basic normal use and provides six touch-enabled configurable function keys that turn this seemingly sparse mechanical-enabled device into a serious camera device for serious users.  However the menus only have five lines per page (instead of the Ricoh-ten) and no seeming access to a quick paging shortcut which means that setting the camera up is quite tedious. But luckily there are so many configurable functions (six) and a fifteen slot quickmenu and therefore menu diving should hardly be necessary once setup is complete.  Add four custom mode settings and the GM1 is a serious fiddle to set up but intuitive-easy once this has been done.

I need to get around the lack of a viewfinder of any sort and had been waiting for my Clearviewer to arrive - it came in today's post - more anon.

I had a good paw-over a Sony A7R that a son had bought.  It seems a great camera and he is a good photographer as well.  So good things are happening.  I thought the user interface was quite poor, but if I had been enthusiastic enough I would most certainly made myself get used to it easily enough. But I had enough cameras of not so different type and the need was not great enough to get over the A7's awkwardness which became a hurdle for me.  My Canon EF lenses work well on a NEX6 with the Metabones Speed Booster and the RJ Glassless adapter.  ProfHankD in his article shows that a 24mp aps-c NEX7 combined to a focal reducer adapter is not that far behind a 24mp FF A7 is capability when it comes to legacy lens use.  Of course this does not apply to RF lenses, also my NEX6 is not 24mp either, but the general drift is there with the usual caveats.

The upshot of the argument was that the GM1 was going to be more portable on my next trip and did not directly compete with the cameras that I already own.  And of course as we both know a new mount format is only a few adapters away from a full system if you already own some good MF lenses.  No matter how well the M4/3 oem lenses are optimised for that sensor nor how many of them exist.

When the A7R II arrives with a more sorted out user interface or Ricoh makes that FF mount module then making a u-turn is a lot easier than locking myself into some u-beaut never-adaptable lenses in M4/3 format (forever).

But I have made an exception and have a pre-order for a Nocticron.  Even if I never buy any more M4/3 lenses I can be assured that it will happily grace a tiny GM1 forever.  Like my Ricoh's I simply don't care if it is never upgraded and that probably states the case.

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Tom Caldwell

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