Manual Focus shooters - what classic lenses do you use?

Started Jul 4, 2014 | Discussions thread
MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 35,162
Re: Manual Focus shooters - what classic lenses do you use?

uberzone wrote:

Tom Caldwell wrote:

Maklike Tier wrote:

I've been thinking about the Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 as my next lens, but instead of that I was maybe thinking about trying to find some classic glass and attaching it to my E-P5.

For all you manual focus fans out there, what would be a great piece of glass for MF street and general walkabout style shooting?

Wides seem very popular but what is wrong with medium telephoto?

If you find an exquisite Canon FL 50mm f1.4 and fit it to a FD focal reducer you get a very sharp MF lens of some real quality. Also the focal reducer converts the lens by giving an extra stop of light and the net effect on the crop factor is 1.4x instead of 2.0x.

In effect your FL 50mm f1.4 becomes a 70mm f1.0.

I have the FD 50mm F1.4 and find this works great ... do you know if there is an IQ difference between the FL and FD series?

I have a full set of FDn lenses including the 14mm 2.8 and the 24mm 1.4. They are both fantastic and work great on m4/3, but the really don't make much sense practically speaking. The Panasonic 14mm 2.8 is crazy small and works just as well as the Canon FD 14mm 2.8. Same story for the Canon 24mm 1.4 vs the Panasonic 25mm 1.4 (the Panasonic is sharper in this case at larger apertures). The use of a Speedbooster will give you a slightly different focal length and make them a bit faster however.

To answer your question, I would stay away from FL lenses and only get the FD or FDn versions. They have superior coatings and are universally sharper. I prefer the FDn lenses because they are smaller and lighter than their FD counterparts. Consensus seems to be that the top "Aspherical" FD lenses are just slightly better than the equivalent "L" FDn lenses. The size and weight make them not worth it to me, so I went with FDn.

I agree that the FDn are simpler and lighter and probably just have an edge over the FL series generally.  But the 50mm f1.4 FL is one of the sharpest lenses my tired old eyes have seen.

Also cost - the FD/FL lenses are supreme quality for their day and probably what made Canon into the company what it is and allowed it to "retire"a few German camera competitors.  These were not trivial lenses (coatings included).  Grunt for buck considered they are good value and so well made they will still be grunting in another sixty years when we might be wondering just what has happened to mst of the M4/3 wonder lenses of today. But on the other hand - well beyond my expected life span so "who cares" unless they have become an heirloom.

If weight of metal and glass is an indication then they are also good value measured in kilograms.

But the best shot is that the owner is not tied to M4/3 and I can currently use my FD/FL lenses (and other MF lenses) on Sony E, Samsung NX, Leica LM, Fuji-X, even Pentax Q if desperate, and of course quite a few other mounts as well.  Legacy MF lenses can make their owner mount-independent and being FF sensor capable leave their owner with quite a field to play in.

Of course with M4/3 mount forever then a good small capable lens is worth the entry fee.  However with a weather eye to the admittedly improbable switch to a larger sensor by either Olympus or Panasonic rendering an investment in M4/3 mount lenses tantamount to flirting with obsolescence this also is a factor.

But even if the serious M4/3 shooter decides to by an additional camera with a base larger type sensor - even aps-c then the M4/3 lenses may not be usable on them - a trait shared by all lenses closely designed for a mount system. But this buy-in to a lens mount sucker syndrome is well known and needs no further argument here.

Besides playing with also "obsolete" legacy manual focus lenses can be an interesting extension of the photographic mission. Sometimes there is more to the discipline than the "easy click".

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Tom Caldwell

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