System with best "bang for buck" lenses?

Started Jun 8, 2014 | Discussions thread
TrapperJohn Forum Pro • Posts: 16,488
Mirrorless body+old Nikkors

The short registration distance mirrorless bodies can take just about any lens from just about any system, if that lens doesn't depend on in body electronics to operate. Older Nikkors, Pentax K, Minolta, even Conax if you can find those lenses.

Older Nikkors are very good lenses for the time in which they were made, definitely built to last with their all metal construction, not a lot to go wrong with them as they have no electronics (sticky shutter blades seems to be the most common malady), the selection is extensive, and the price is right. I have several left over from film days, and regularly use an 80 2.8, 105 1.8, plus a 400 3.5 I picked up a few years ago for a (relative) song.

Lots of exciting things going on in the micro/mirrorless field, but... the better lenses tend to be a bit pricey, largely because it's a new field, they're still amortizing costs, and there aren't a lot of used micro/mirrorless lenses on the used market to put pressure on new lens prices.

I use my old Nikkors on an EM1 and EM5 body, where they work very well: the very clear display of DOF makes MF easier: just adjust the 'in focus' band that can be seen clearly with the faster legacy lenses. EM1 has 'focus peaking', but I didn't find it to be that useful - it's either on or off, doesn't show degree of focus the way a real DOF preview does, so it can be hard to tell where within the focus band your central focus actually is. Also, the very effective 5 axis IBIS on EM1 and EM5 works with the legacy lenses: you manually enter the focal length when you mount the lens.

Side benefit of the EM1: it can use the very excellent ZD lenses made for the older 4/3 system that never really took off. Current prices for the ZD lenses on the used market is very low, on a relative basis. It's like getting Zeiss IQ at Sigma prices. In particular, the ZD 50-200, 11-22, and 50F2 are real bargains right now, and I've seen some sinfully low prices on the ZD 35-100 F2 lately - a lens that earns it's nickname of 'a bag full of primes'.

True that you can use older Leica M glass that is very good, but with all these mirrorless people snapping up the older Leica M glass, the price has been driven up quite a bit. Not quite the bargain they used to be.

One caution: be careful with the adapters you buy. Some are available at very low prices, but they're made of brass or aluminum which can bend or shed metal flakes into your camera body under extensive use. I use the Kindai/Cameraquest adapters,made from stainless steel. Have been using a Kindai Nikkor to 4/3 adapter for nine years, including using it with the seven pound 400 3.5, and that adapter is still in great shape.

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