Are vintage 35mm lenses as sharp as modern lenses

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saab900 Junior Member • Posts: 43
Are vintage 35mm lenses as sharp as modern lenses

Hi people

I often find myself looking at vintage lenses as a cheaper option to new mirrorlesss lenses,  but am I just wasting my time.

I know older lenses have character but I often find myself looking at sharpness, can old 35mm film lenses compete in sharpness against newer mirrorlesss lenses??

Astrotripper Veteran Member • Posts: 8,390
No (n/t)
1
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Valdai21 Regular Member • Posts: 284
Re: Are vintage 35mm lenses as sharp as modern lenses

Short answer is it depends on what camera you want to use them and at what aperture setting. Usually I'd say no but if you want to shoot only between f/5,6 and f/11, some vintage lenses can provide very good sharpness, especially when used on APS-C bodies.

If you want a 35mm for a full frame 42mpix body, just buy something modern. With an APS-C camera or a lower megapixel full frame like the A7S or Nikon DF, some vintage 35mm are more than sharp enough.

OP saab900 Junior Member • Posts: 43
Re: Are vintage 35mm lenses as sharp as modern lenses

I have a full frame Panasonic Lumix S1 24 megapixel

rich_cx139 Senior Member • Posts: 1,320
Re: Are vintage 35mm lenses as sharp as modern lenses

saab900 wrote:

Hi people

I often find myself looking at vintage lenses as a cheaper option to new mirrorlesss lenses, but am I just wasting my time.

I know older lenses have character but I often find myself looking at sharpness, can old 35mm film lenses compete in sharpness against newer mirrorlesss lenses??

If sharpness is your criteria then, generally, no - at least comparing to the best of MILC glass.

In particular, if you are looking for corner to corner sharpness or at f1.4 then you are going to be out of luck. Most legacy glass ( without aspherics etc and usually with double Gauss derivative designs ) are going to be loaded with spherical and other aberrations wide open. You will get that softer rendering and maybe nice bokeh that some people like.

If you are shooting at f4 -f8 then things even up a lot.

There are exceptions and you would have to look on a case by case basis.

For example, some ( not so old ) Nikon ai-s and AF-D lenses can outperform their AF-S ( DSLR ) equivalents - but not the Z glass.

I use a lot of C/Y glass on my Z6 ( 24 Mpx )  - used properly they are plenty sharp enough for what I want but I rarely shoot at wider than f2.8 on them. They have other attributes which I prefer to modern glass - in some circumstances.

In general, people are aware of the worth of legacy glass and know the good from the indifferent so prices, though well under modern, good MILC stuff, are not necessarily that low.

QuietOC
QuietOC Veteran Member • Posts: 4,424
Re: Are vintage 35mm lenses as sharp as modern lenses

In my experience it is unlikely that a vintage wide angle lens will compare well with even a cheap modern lens.

For example my $115 7Artisans 35mm F2 is much sharper than the $210 Minolta MD 35mm F1.8 I sold. I have a Vivitar 35mm F2.8 that gets fairly sharp in the center, but it has more optical issues than the 7Artisans. The 7Artisans doesn't compare well with $200 to $300 AF 35's.

My Tamron SP 35mm F1.8 USD is very nice--arguably the best 35mm I've had. It is rather bulky when adapted.

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ken_in_nh Senior Member • Posts: 1,095
Re: Are vintage 35mm lenses as sharp as modern lenses

Check out the Adapted Lens forum for some good discussion:

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/1065

BBbuilder467 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,912
Re: Are vintage 35mm lenses as sharp as modern lenses

saab900 wrote:

Hi people

I often find myself looking at vintage lenses as a cheaper option to new mirrorlesss lenses, but am I just wasting my time.

I know older lenses have character but I often find myself looking at sharpness, can old 35mm film lenses compete in sharpness against newer mirrorlesss lenses??

When I started with the first m4/3, I had no choice but to adapt sir lenses, since nothing was available. Some lenses are sharp, but most had to be stopped down to match the results of the oem lenses. Over time, I've updated to the later digital lenses.

the manual focus and stop-down got irritating after a while. I already had lenses from film, but I wouldn't do it today if I didn't have to. All my oem lenses are as good or better.

Valdai21 Regular Member • Posts: 284
Re: Are vintage 35mm lenses as sharp as modern lenses

Micro 4/3 is not the best system for adapted lenses.

I also used to have a nice collection of old glass. Fun to use but not that cheap, difficult to find and often bulky with the adapter. I finally got more native options, they are smaller, efficient and sharper even if they don't have any special rendering.

Unless you are really on budget or really want something special, buy second hand native lens will save you time and money.

DavidP03 Regular Member • Posts: 427
Re: Are vintage 35mm lenses as sharp as modern lenses

saab900 wrote:

Hi people

I often find myself looking at vintage lenses as a cheaper option to new mirrorlesss lenses, but am I just wasting my time.

I know older lenses have character but I often find myself looking at sharpness, can old 35mm film lenses compete in sharpness against newer mirrorlesss lenses??

I have three vintage lenses that are in my bag and I use them regularly, the m50 f1.7 is probably the sharpest lens I own. All three made in the late 70’s.

David.

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Cato1040
Cato1040 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,891
Re: Are vintage 35mm lenses as sharp as modern lenses

If sharpness is an important criterion for you, then it's probably better to look at modern lenses rather than vintage ones.

Also, usually, the smaller the sensor, the more important sharpness is. A smaller sensor might use the sharper part of the lens (usually near the centre) but because it's 'zoomed-in' on a smaller part of the lens, imperfections will be magnified.

A Sony A7 can be a very affordable way to get a full-frame sensor on which you can adapt vintage lenses.

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