Why do older camera lenses have faster F-stops?

Started Apr 14, 2013 | Discussions thread
Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,136

Barrie Davis wrote:

vjk2 wrote:

I've gotten into vintage lenses lately, and it seems like with these older lenses, they're often much faster than the lenses I've gotten used to in the modern era.

I use Olympus and while I know that there is a 50mm f2.0 prime lens that costs $400, there are a number of less expensive vintage manual lenses I know of which will range from $50 for a f2 50mm to at most something like $150 for a f1.4

Could it be...what, autofocus, maybe the zoom design that makes modern lenses so dim?

It IS because the older lenses were of fixed focal length, not zooms, that the manufactures had more freedom to produce wide aperture designs.

Wide apertures were more necessary, too.

Like that Zeiss 50mm f0.7 that Kubrick snagged from NASA.

For a long time the fastest available colour film was 400 ASA (ISO)... the quality of which was so grainy (noisy) that people used it with reluctance, often choosing to stick with 100 ASA (ISO) stocks instead.... Slide films were even slower: The best Kodachrome was 25 ASA (ISO).

You youngsters, spoiled rotten by that fast Kodachrome 25. Everyone knows that the best stuff was the Kodachrome 8.

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Rahon Klavanian 1912-2008.
Armenian genocide survivor, amazing cook, scrabble master, and loving grandmother. You will be missed.
Ciao! Joseph

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