If you had to start all over again... (legacy / non legacy lenses)

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by adanac, Oct 2, 2011.

  1. adanac

    adanac SC Veteran

    386
    Sep 30, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    Hey all,

    I'm standing in line with others to pick up a NEX-7. The view is fine from the cheap seats until they charge the VISA card I figure. Anyway... one of the appealing features of the NEX (and a few other system cameras from others) is the ability to use legacy manual focus lenses. I imagine there are a lot of used Nikon and Canon lenses out there in decent shape, and probably not a few Olympus and Pentax. Fewer Contax/Yashica mount (I have a couple, maybe one of which I might want to use if I stayed with that mount).

    If you wanted to build a collection of such lenses in useful focal lengths for the NEX / or any APS-C based camera, what might you consider choosing? Ideally with a common mount. I'm not fixated on C/Y lenses/mount at all and am open to all ideas.

    I'd like to find some good performers that aren't necessarily on the hit parade but offer really good IQ and value. I don't mind spending several hundred dollars but don't want to spend thousands per lens. I'd also like to buy into a mount where there are known good choices for adapters for the NEX in particular. Any caveats I should think about - say fit or clearance and such?

    I like something around 22 - 24mm on the APS-C sensor as my most often used lens; would like something around 50-55mm for portraiture. In both cases I do enjoy shooting wide open frequently but certainly not exclusively, so nice out of focus areas / bokeh is always good to have but also sharp and contrasty (the Contax / Zeiss experience I've had, even if bokeh isn't always terrific). No doubt I'd pick up something longer than a 55mm in medium (35mm terms) telephoto range as well, for occasional use.

    I've not bought a 35mm lens is oh so very long - since when many of these legacy lenses people love to buy today were all brand new to the market - so I'm feeling a little lost. Also my exposure to Canon/Nikon/Oly/Pentax is pretty limited too.

    Since I've always had a thing for primes that's what I'd like to stick with. Eventually I would like an AF E mount lens, mostly for video work, but am more interested in using old glass at the moment.

    PS: For those of you already doing this on NEX bodies, regardless of lens how do you find manual focus in practice on the NEX? Is it close to the experience we used to have on manual focus film bodies? i.e. easy enough to accomplish, perhaps takes a smidge of practice at first?

    Apologies in advance if this sort of question(s) has been asked before, I'm currently reading as many old threads as I can on related topics.
     
  2. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Mark
    Definitely the PK mount. Over 30 years of lovely lenses to choose from, with the Pentax FA Ltds and *s the cream on top!!! :thumbup:

    You can't do the cheaper DA Ltds, due to a lack of aperture ring, but they're not as stellar as the older glass anyways.
     
  3. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    My choice for the Nex would br Canon FD glass. The lenses seem to come alive on the Nex, or any digital camera. I had the 24 2.8 mounted almost all the time. The focus was a cinch and I never need to use MF Assist due to the Peaking Feature. THe FD lenses are Medium contrast and of course this will lead to finer detail and tonal separation in the image. Another good choice would be the Olympus OM system lenses. The contrast is about the same and the lenses have a smaller footprint. I did test both and decided the FD was a better choice due to the way they draw.
    I believe Nic uses a lot of FD glass, maybe he'll chime in.
    Good luck in your quest....don
     
  4. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Yeah, no no experience with a NEX but I've used a variety of FD lenses on m4/3. OM Zuikos, too. If you go the FD route stick to the "new FD" bayonet mount. The FDns are newer, smaller, lighter and all except the 50/1.8 have the SSC lens coatings. The 24/2.8 Don mentions is a great lens, as is the 28/2, the 35/2, and the 50/1.4. Om my m4/3 cameras that takes me from 48-100mm in the old money which is enough for me. They are all sharp lenses and record lots of detail. A decent lens hood will solve any contrast issues you may have compared to a more modern lens.

    My OM lenses are great too, but slightly different in character to the FDs. It's hard to describe, but they tend to look a bit more "vintage"...or something like that. Maybe a bit smoother in the out-of-focus areas. The OMs are physically smaller than the FDns but no lighter, and due to the longer flange distance of the OM cameras they are the same length when mounted on an adapter. OMs also tend to be a bit more expensive.

    Compared side-by-side with equivalent OMs and FDns

    P1020873.

    P1020876.
     
  5. Travisennis

    Travisennis SC Regular

    69
    Jan 17, 2011
    I used to shoot Contax/Yashica mount lenses on my NEX and they were fine performers; plenty sharp and had excellent contrast. I had the Zeiss 28 2.8 and the 50 1.4. I really liked them and if my only consideration was image quality I would have kept them, but I eventually decided that they were too big for my taste mounted on the NEX. Strangely enough they both needed hoods to protect against flare and to really get all of the contrast the lenses were capable of producing. They were both at least 20 years old so I didn't find that surprising. However, the lenses were big anyway, with hoods they were just ridiculous. I've since moved to shooting with rangefinder lenses exclusively on the NEX. I still get excellent quality but the lenses are much smaller. The lens I have on my camera most of the time is the 28 f2 Ultron. When I want to go wider I have the 15 f4.5 Heliar. The only issue with these Voigtlanders is price. They are more expensive than most any Canon FD or Olympus OM lens you will find, but I bought them new.
     
  6. akulya

    akulya SC Veteran

    219
    Mar 1, 2011
    Good choice with the Nex-7, it's a mighty fine looking camera (i'm quite keen to try one out myself, and if I ever see one in the flesh I will - which will be dangerous for my bank card)

    The OM 50/2 macro is an absolutely amazing lens, and might be one of my first choices if I was looking at using vintage SLR lenses on a NEX, but in this range there are lots of (cheaper) choices too.

    Finding a wider lens might be tougher, but you have had good advice from some experienced guys so far. (The native Zeiss 24 1.8 might be worth the cost, it is autofocus, seems very good, and although it's pricey - if you really like the focal length, might be worthwhile it in the long run)

    SLR lenses do tend to be physically quite big, especially after adding the adapter; so you might want to look at rangefinder lenses too (they are not all priced out to the stars), I have been using a ZM Zeiss C-Sonnar 50/1,5 a lot recently, and no matter what camera body I end up settling on - I'm keeping this lens forever.
    It is very compact for its speed and class, and handles beautifully; wide open it is wonderful for portraits, and stopped down it sharpens right up.

    Just my experiences, but good luck choosing something right for you.
     
  7. adanac

    adanac SC Veteran

    386
    Sep 30, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    Thank you all for your input. Lens-line choice aside, I'm really pleased to hear Don's vote of confidence for manual focus with peaking for confirmation.

    And thank you too Nic for the visual comparison of the Canon and Olympus lenses... that is really helpful. Intuitively I like the shape and placement of the FD lens controls compared to the OM so would probably lean the FD new mount way.

    Do you FD using folks have any preference for E mount to FD bayonet mount adapters? Do some have better tolerances / offer a better fit? There seem to be a bunch of adaptor makers/sellers out there (not just for NEX) - are any of them a safer bet regardless of mount than others? I've no experience in adapting lenses to other systems.

    I figure it is good not to over think things like this so I'll keep an eye out on the local used market for some FD lenses and others. I'd expect there would be more Canons out there on the used market than Pentax (certainly more than C/Y mount lenses from Zeiss or Yashica) but perhaps I'm wrong there.

    Travisennis, I don't suppose you'd have any images comparing the relative size of your 28 f/2 Ultron with something comparable to say the FD or OM noted above? It'd be interesting to see what the size benefit amounts to, including relevant adaptor.
     
  8. Travisennis

    Travisennis SC Regular

    69
    Jan 17, 2011
    I can't make the comparison to an FD or OM mount lens, but I can make a comparison between the 28 f2 Ultron and a Zeiss C/Y 28 f2.8 Distagon.

    P1000833.JPG

    P1000820.JPG

    As you can see, the Voigtlander is significantly smaller than the Zeiss and not just in length, which you can see here, but also in diameter. The Voigtlander takes 46mm filters and the Zeiss takes 55mm filters.
     
  9. adanac

    adanac SC Veteran

    386
    Sep 30, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    That's also interesting Travisennis, thanks. The C/Y to E mount adaptor looks to be significantly longer, which explains something - I was looking at some of my Yashica lenses and they are relatively short in length -- but not accounting for the adaptor length -- but are wider as is the Zeiss.

    BTW, which adaptors are you using in those two examples?
     
  10. Travisennis

    Travisennis SC Regular

    69
    Jan 17, 2011
    I believe both adapters are from RainbowImaging.
     
  11. Ghosthunter

    Ghosthunter boo!

    Sep 8, 2010
    London UK
    Andy
    I strongly believe that you can't do much better than Voigtlander lenses on the NEX. They are the right size for the NEX and render superbly.
     
  12. adanac

    adanac SC Veteran

    386
    Sep 30, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    I've been trying to come to grips with what I am looking for, and a really nice portrait lens is one of them. Especially a lens that I'll want to move from camera to camera.

    In the medium format (6x6) I used a 180mm f/2.8 Schneider Tele-Xenar. Lovely lens. Heavy. Huge amount of glass out front. Intimidating maybe. I suspect it shares some of the qualities of the C Sonnar without the size penalty. Stopped down it is sharp enough for doing interesting landscape work, wide open nice creamy out of focus areas and good for portraits if a tiny bit long sometimes for use in more confined spaces than a studio (around 105mm in 35mm equivalent).

    I rather like the thought of a "two-speed" lens, something that suits one purpose wider open but can be useful elsewhere. Filing that one as a definite maybe... provided I can find one.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. summerkl

    summerkl SC Veteran

    374
    Oct 11, 2010
    Vancouver, Canada
    Kevin
    I think I am about to start over ...

    About 2 years ago, I was sucked into the EVIL vortex with an e-pl1. I went through legacy glass in a frenzy (Hexanon, Canon FD, Takumar, Russian lenses and some Voigtlander). I bristled at the 2x crop factor of m43 and the poor high ISO quality so when the Sony NEX came out with its 1.5x crop and better high ISO, I abandoned ship.

    Then biggest revelation I found in the NEX was the flip-screen. At the same time, I started shooting in RAW and learned the power of LR3. I could now compensate for a lot of my poor photo skills in post. The downside was the loss of in-body image stabilization so my legacy lens shots weren't as sharp as I'd like given the instability of the flip screen shooting position. So when Sony came out with the SLT-A33, I jumped ship again!

    The body is bigger but it had the in-body image stabilization, the flip-down screen, the 1.5x, the 14mp sensor, the ability to use M42 legacy glass, and lens selection aplenty at reasonable cost. My system/lens addiction was cured ...

    Alas I still needed something more portable, I just bought a used e-pl2. I'm hoping the circle is complete and this is not the start of another round of buying :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Kevin, time to update that old signature line, again.:biggrin:

    The E-PL2 has the flip screen, right? I'm sorry that I just can't keep track of the iterations but if that's the one, it does seem pretty handy to me. May the circle be complete for 2011.:tongue:
     
  15. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    K... I think you finally found your way.
    After all, your bases are covered. You can now do it all in comfort.
    Congrats my friend.

    Nah....you shouldn't even think about the GXR....
    Don
     
  16. summerkl

    summerkl SC Veteran

    374
    Oct 11, 2010
    Vancouver, Canada
    Kevin
    BB, the latest version e-pl3 has the flip screen. I expect the A55 to be my "serious" camera and the e-pl2 will be my portable/spontaneous camera.

    Thanks Don, you are right, my equipment needs have hit the point of diminishing returns and I am out there taking photos. It is truly enjoyable to be creative and share experiences with the photo community.

    But you are planting evil thoughts in my head - I'm thinking the front page of the SC forum should have a warning about you and Armanius being camera pushers :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. akulya

    akulya SC Veteran

    219
    Mar 1, 2011
    Re: c-sonnar
    Only just noticed your reply, so I thought I'd put some thoughts and a few sample pictures up to show what the lens can do.
    I know all lenses are better stopped down than wide open, but the way the sonnar exhibits visible (but gentle) spherical abberation wide open - up to about f2; that then completely disappears as you pass 2.8, is quite nice to my eyes.

    While it's not in the same league at @f1.4 as the 50 'lux asph for sharpness across the frame, it is nonetheless sharp enough in the frame centre, and the pronounced field curvature that gives the sonnar a vanishingly thin DoF at its widest apeture; flattens right out as you stop the lens down.
    I wouldn't expect the stopped down performance to be in the same league as your 180mm Schneider for landscapes either - but the c-sonnar really is quite small, smaller than comparable RF Noktons or 'Luxes, and it's not massively expensive either.

    The bokeh at max. apeture is quite nice, but you have to be careful with bright point sources because they really don't render very well. From about f1.8-f2.8 it's got about the nicest bokeh of any lens I've ever personally used.

    Wide open (@f1.5)
    5900544454_5f2ea897cb_z.

    5803736235_67016e392b_z.
    (a central square crop, quite sharp see! Note the slightly distracting 'bright ring' bokeh on specular highlights)

    (@f2-ish)
    6111487383_a88e5c041f_z.

    5803709721_97dfc0d964_z.

    (@f2.8-ish)
    6044749593_48d6afd107_z.

    (@f5.6-ish)
    6026135010_b144a62690_z.

    (f8-ish)
    6255720386_f4e9b5fa8b_z.

    (@f11-ish)
    6072845384_33498fa3f4_z.

    6208530800_6255631bd4_z.

    6208010997_03d88a790f_z.

    Phew, that was a bit longer than I'd expected, but I hope it helps. (or starts a flame war, which was absolutely not my intention!) I've just been getting a lot of enjoyment out of it, so decided to share.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. adanac

    adanac SC Veteran

    386
    Sep 30, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    Kal,

    Those are some tasty images, thanks ever so much for sharing them. I'd been humming and hawing over the Sonnar vs Planar choice and had decided to go with the Sonnar in the end. Your images certainly make me feel comfortable with that direction so I thank you.

    Now if only I felt comfortable about which camera to put these ZM lenses on...
     
  19. Ghosthunter

    Ghosthunter boo!

    Sep 8, 2010
    London UK
    Andy
    The lens that impressed me the most when I had a NEX5 was the Voigtlander 25mm f4 Color skopar lens. This gave such great detail and a nice 'look' about the image. Very sharp too. The thing with the NEX system is that legacy lenses (as Streetshooter has said) just come alive. The NEX 5n looks to be an improvement on the 5 by a fair margin and I am SO tempted to get one. I'm not sure about the NEX 7 as I feel they have crammed too many pixels into the sensor but time will prove me wrong! For Legacy glass (especially as we now have Focus Peeking!) the NEX system is in my view unbeatable.
     
  20. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    One point that I will add here (mostly for my own benefit; maybe for someone else's too) is that while I have had and continue to have great fun using manual lenses, for me they do not make the basis of a camera system. They are the supporting act while the native AF lenses are the headliner. As much as I choose to email instead of post, and to shoot digital instead of film, I also choose autofocus over manual focus as my preferred method of shooting. Native lens selection comes first, adapted lens capability second.