Improving manual focus lenses for mirrorless cameras, any ideas?

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E Dinkla Senior Member • Posts: 2,191
Improving manual focus lenses for mirrorless cameras, any ideas?

To avoid hijacking another thread;

In this forum we discuss the adaptation of lenses to camera mounts they were not intended for. In practice mainly vintage manual focus lenses to mirrorless cameras with electronic viewfinders. It is remarkable that these parts go so well together given half a century of time between their designs.

As written in the other thread: There was never before a combined range/viewfinder that was as good as the EVF is for manual focus lenses, including features like magnification and peaking. Improving on what was possible with medium format SLR viewfinders that still lacked in luminosity compared to EVFs. Add sensor IS to the EVF and it becomes even better. Autofocus lenses were partly introduced because the SLR viewfinders were not ideal, that next to faster focusing for sports etc. Rangefinder cameras had other flaws in their viewfinders but coped better with available light. The ergonomy of image stabilised EVFs for the eye plus lens control by hand is hard to replace with AF lenses if focus point and depth within a composition is your first goal.

Still I think that MF lenses today designed for mirrorless cameras could be improved for that task. Some features to think about, mainly electronic:

* Report lens focal length to the camera for IBIS function and EXIF file.

* Report maximum aperture to the camera.

* Report used aperture to the camera for better exposure control and EXIF file. Should also be used for auto fine tuning RAW development with a lens profile.

* Report focused/subject distance to the camera for IBIS function and EXIF file.

* Report lens model to EXIF for convenience.

What to keep of the vintage MF lenses:

* Direct mechanical linking of helicoid and focusing ring.

* Lenses could be small but should not compromise on control rings sizes and their accessibility.

* Per brand the original position and rotation direction of control rings on the lens. My preference is Minolta AR.

* A lens exterior that says "this is a lens, it is not a beercan"

But I actually think that to get there the basic design could start from the early AF lens interior designs despite their ugly exterior. Kind of hybrid MF lenses. Take out the focusing motor/control parts. Nice smooth helicoid/focusing ring system should be possible. Add a linear encoder strip for the extension/elements shifts measurement so focused/subject distance can be reported. Keep the electronic aperture control done from the camera, it might reduce the number of aperture blades but 7 well shaped is good enough for me (Canon EF 40mm 2.8 STM has that). We have two hands, one finger to roll a camera dial for aperture control with stop numbers in the EVF should be nice. Max aperture and used aperture report will be available in the data. Power consumption remains low. Focusing ring can be wider when the aperture ring is abandoned. A chip added for additional info.


Met vriendelijke groet, Ernst
No photographer's gear list is complete without the printer mentioned !

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