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Love of MF lenses
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 4:33 am    Post subject: Love of MF lenses Reply with quote

I brought in a Takumar 50mm f1.4 lens earlier today. It came with a working camera and cost US$27 for the lot. This is not about the Takumar lens, which is a pretty boring and unremarkable lens here in this forum.

But that lens got me to thinking about why I love and enjoy MF lenses so much, even one as routine as that Takumar. Part of it must go back to when I was young. There was never a time, way back then, when myself or anyone in my family would have been able to afford ANY f1.4 lens. All lenses were MF in those days, and mostly all presets. The very fastest lens we could afford, and it was a major wallet stretch let me tell you, was an f2.8 lens. That was IT!! Fancier and faster lenses back then, for us, were simply out of reach. We did not have the money. And years ago I thought any lens fast as f2.8 was amazing.

I'm guessing that feeling of hopelessness and desperation, a residue of it anyway, has sort of remained with me for the last sixty years. So when I hold in hand any f1.4 lens I am somewhat awestruck at how astonishing and wonderful it is that today I can afford to own such a lens . . . . even though it is in used condition.

I guess I have always enjoyed lenses because they are so intriguing and precise and facilitate such neat outcomes. But I have to mix in the deprivation of having been so limited all those years ago in terms of which lenses were actually within reach. And now, today, it is upon reflection almost a miracle that so many of those old desires for great MF lenses can be fulfilled.

Whoo Turtle


PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 5:05 am    Post subject: Re: Love of MF lenses Reply with quote

guardian wrote:
I brought in a Takumar 50mm f1.4 lens earlier today. It came with a working camera and cost US$27 for the lot. This is not about the Takumar lens, which is a pretty boring and unremarkable lens here in this forum.

But that lens got me to thinking about why I love and enjoy MF lenses so much, even one as routine as that Takumar. Part of it must go back to when I was young. There was never a time, way back then, when myself or anyone in my family would have been able to afford ANY f1.4 lens. All lenses were MF in those days, and mostly all presets. The very fastest lens we could afford, and it was a major wallet stretch let me tell you, was an f2.8 lens. That was IT!! Fancier and faster lenses back then, for us, were simply out of reach. We did not have the money. And years ago I thought any lens fast as f2.8 was amazing.

I'm guessing that feeling of hopelessness and desperation, a residue of it anyway, has sort of remained with me for the last sixty years. So when I hold in hand any f1.4 lens I am somewhat awestruck at how astonishing and wonderful it is that today I can afford to own such a lens . . . . even though it is in used condition.

I guess I have always enjoyed lenses because they are so intriguing and precise and facilitate such neat outcomes. But I have to mix in the deprivation of having been so limited all those years ago in terms of which lenses were actually within reach. And now, today, it is upon reflection almost a miracle that so many of those old desires for great MF lenses can be fulfilled.

Whoo Turtle


Yes, I could not agree with you more.
Don't be too hard on the Takumar 1.4/50, it will hold its own in any company and is one of my favourites.
Your sentiments are shared by many of us here
Well said
Tom


PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:32 am    Post subject: Re: Love of MF lenses Reply with quote

guardian wrote:
This is not about the Takumar lens, which is a pretty boring and unremarkable lens here in this forum.
Why would you think so? This lens still surprises me with what I can do with it.

More in general, I liked your story.

My first camera was a fixed (manual focus / manual aperture) lens, OVF without rangefinder, external exposuremeter, and the best I could do was hope to get the exposure and focus sort of right Smile

Sometimes it's so funny to read how complicated some people make seem photography, although it never has been easier than now, with all the live preview, focus assist, auto exposure, etc.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:29 pm    Post subject: Brigt viewfinder Reply with quote

What I find is the big change is that we no longer crave wide apertures for bright viewfinders (SLR)

Now they are for shallow Dof. Also the focus aids work at all apertures, but not as well as the split prism in the ground glass screen beneath the pentaprism. I have diagonal split prism and the circle of small prisms (up to about f5.6) around it in my OM2N. It is horizontal in the 5DII and not as useful, the mirror less does not have any precise stuff, except magnify but no real limit in f numbers.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Brigt viewfinder Reply with quote

Slalom wrote:
I have diagonal split prism and the circle of small prisms (up to about f5.6) around it in my OM2N.


Those old split prism screens have been very useful. Unfortunately modern DSLRs designed for AF don't offer something similar. Therefore I bought a custom made solution for my Pentax K20D and replaced the original focusing screen to such an "old-fashioned" one to ease the use of my old Takumars and other MF lenses.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guys I am appreciative of all the great responses. It is a wonderful group of lens enthusiasts we have here!

Please rest assured I did not mean or intend to impugn the Takumar 50mm f1.4, mine or anyone else's. I would never do that. I just bought the lens, for goodness sake, and it is surely a good lens. It's just that, in the overall scheme of things here on this forum, that lens is less remarkable than some of the very special and amazing lenses discussed here, many of which still remain out of reach for me even to this day!

I was alive in the 1940's but I was unaware then of lenses. I did not start with photography until later in the 1950's, my first (and only) camera being a Konica III rangefinder camera with a superb (but fixed) Hexanon lens. Most of my photographic activity back then was darkroom work, developing and printing both colour and black and white film and prints. I worked with both Ansco Color Printon and Ektachrome, producing some nice color prints and slides. But by 1962 I had left the hobby, not to return until this century.

It was not until joining this forum years ago that, thanks to a very kind and patient personal assist from calvin83, I finally learned of automatic lenses and learned to distinguish between automatic and preset lenses. Prior to that, for me, preset lenses were just "lenses". This is because when I left the hobby circa 1961-62, all the lenses I ever had encountered were preset lenses.

I well recall, back sixty some odd years ago, my dad and I made frequent trips into a nearby city with photography on our minds. There were two camera shops in that city back then (today: zero), and we haunted both. The MF lenses we all so enjoy today were on full display inside the display counters and lining the walls of those shops, all new, incredibly enticing, and wholly unaffordable. Now I actually, finally, own some of those MF lenses and it is GREAT!!

I suppose had I remained engaged in photography through all the intervening years I might be less overwhelmed now by the MF lenses it has become possible to afford. But I still unavoidably carry some of that late fifties/early sixties mindset where lenses are concerned. I can't help it. And you know, I still very much prefer preset lenses over the automatic variety, even though I have many of both types in my MF lens collection. But there is just "something" about preset lenses. They remain for me most desirable of all. Wink


PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, there's something in what you say. Speaking as someone who spent his original MF days with a 50/f2, 1.8 being out of financial reach never mind anything exotic, there is a satisfaction in redressing things.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In 1976 I was 12 years old and my dad bought me my first camera, a Zeiss folder, I then inherited my grandad's Werra camera and his Poljot watch, both which I still have. My dad was a very good engineer all of his working life and being a war child he hated waste and liked well engineered stuff. I think that's were my love of old photo equipment comes from, things were built to last, and many still do thank god!


PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My experience mirrors Guardians exactly to time ,place and even the drooling over lenses that I could no way afford,today I have over 200 lenses and an over abundance of cameras which will soon be going on sale.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I know how to use a camera, it is already the era of AF lenses. I wonder why I will become addicted to MF lenses. Laugh 1


PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 5:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Love of MF lenses Reply with quote

guardian wrote:
This is not about the Takumar lens, which is a pretty boring and unremarkable lens here in this forum.



I can't disagree more.

I do however concur with what else you have said as my experience is similar. Such as drooling over the 1973 Pentax brochure showing the entire line of S-M-C lenses and Spotmatics F and ES-II cameras and accessories. I actually collected all of it except the more exotic pieces such as the UV, the 15mm, and the 1000mm. I had the Autobellows, Copypod, & most of the accessories that made up the Pentax System. I was learning by experience. But I cured my lba, selling all of it except what's in my signature.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I began with manual lenses on digital when I was looking for inexpensive options for my Canon 60D. I had the EF 50mm 1.8 and I was not really that impressed. I looked at upgrades and read forums. One of the threads mentioned the value quotient of the vintage glass. I started searching the local second hand shops and watching craigslist. I found a vintage Exakta VXii A with a biotar 58mm f2 in impeccable condition with the original ever-ready case. After carefully examining it I bought it for 90 USD thinking I could snag the lens and e-bay the camera. Upon very careful scrutiny I could find no evidence that it had ever been used at all. I couldn't bring myself to split it up. It sits on a shelf in my office. Gorgeous camera and lens. I started buying glass on e-bay (alarming amounts if you ask my wife!). Soon I had dozens of lenses, then hundreds. Along with a couple dozen cameras. Everything from a early 20th century wooden field camera (likely made from a british kit) to a couple of Canon AE-1 program.Japaneses cameras Konica, Minolta, Olympus, Pentax, German cameras Ihagee, Edixa, Pentacon, Zeiss, Folders like Welta Franka, Telka, and so on. I am just amazed at the precision and ergonomics of the "classic" era of MFL. Multi coatings had evolved to a pretty high level, which allowed for more complex optical schemes. The trend toward plastic had not yet invaded the industry so we had top quality optics housed in robust all metal housings. These lenses could survive a thousand years of regular use if not abused and properly maintained. Just masterpieces of industrial design. So my desire for inexpensive glass lead to a several thousand dollars worth of antique camera gear occupying my office. But man oh man have I had a lot of fun with it!


PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lenses, in general, fascinates me. I started out with a lowly Ricoh XR-1 with 50 f2.0 in the 1980s. (I think I still have it) But I didn't start collecting old MF lenses until in the early 2000s when a lot of people were selling their MF lenses for AF lenses. Takumar was one of the first lenses that I bought then and adapted to my Canon camera. The soft bokeh and the construction gives me a great sense of satisfaction when I use it. I took out this lens just a few weeks ago and used it on my A7. The sharpness still impresses me. Smile


PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jamaeolus wrote:
I began with manual lenses on digital when I was looking for inexpensive options for my Canon 60D.

I began the same way.

I had used film SLRs in the past, but the repeated expense and inconvenience of film
was not to my liking, and classroom courses concentrated on developing and printing
over composition and such. I hated the chemicals and the processes, as well.

I became interested again as digital technology became much more affordable,
buying my first DSLR in a Canon 400D/Rebel Xti. Looking at options for various
lenses, I was aghast at the prices of modern compatibles in AF offerings,
and thought that there must be less-costly alternatives.
After Googling and digging into further information, I came to understand that
I had been fortunate enough to have chosen a camera system which is one of the most
easily-adapted to other/vintage lens mounts, and I was completely thrilled.
I could easily and inexpensively use a huge variety of vintage lenses with my camera,
adapters were easy to acquire and of very low cost, much vintage glass is really of
excellent quality, and the older lenses are built to last a lifetime.

In addition to the obvious build quality, there is immense satisfaction in owning
and using something which is so finely engineered and crafted. Many of these
vintage MF lenses are of an age when it actually seemed to be important to show a level
of detail and actual, true craftsmanship, even in an age of mass-production.
There's a gratifying weight to these older lenses, making them very satisfying to handle;
a level of detail in their appearance, very lacking in modern counterparts; and knowing
they will last for several generations or beyond with adequate care, as they have before
they came to me, is an enjoyment I am unable to define.


PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just found this thread and thought I wanted to reply as it sort of encapsulates the Love one feels for MF lenses.

Last year (Feb 2018), I stumbled upon MF lenses while browsing a Flickr friends photostream, she had a stunning flower shot , with gorgeous bokeh and I was intrigued to read the exif data had an aperture of f0. She'd taggged the photo Jupiter lens, so off I went to google. Jupiter and Helios lenses returned from the search and I was amazed at the low price. I researched adapter's too and realized my Sony A6000 was perfect for attaching vintage lenses.

I was apprehensive at first. My late father had a Leica and a couple of old lenses that were at my Mum's house, perhaps I could try those. I bought an Sony Nex to Leica L adapter and apprehensively attached an Elmar f=9cm 1:4 lens. The lens was a beautiful piece of engineering , 81 years old (82 now) and off I went , my whippet dog in one hand and my Sony A6000 and vintage leica lens in the other. The lens had what I now know is haze , and I was a little disappointed with the end results. On my next trip to my Mums I swapped the lens for a Summicron f=5cm from 1953 ! I was all excited about using a nifty fifty lens , until I read it was radioactive !!! Oh my god radioactive . Cue lots of research , postings on forums , I even contacted Leica UK to see if it was safe ! Anyway I tried it , WOW in the right conditions , stunning photos. I was hooked.

Buoyed with success , I started visiting charity shops , "Hi do you have any old cameras or lenses?" , bric a brac shops, vintage markets and now , twelve moths later, I have prime lenses from Pentax (50mm and 28mm), Helios 44 (various years), Yashica (50mm), Industar (53mm), Nikon (135mm), CZJ Tessar (50mm), Olympus (50mm) , Pentacon (50mm) and Jupiter (135mm) . I don't think I've paid more than 20-00 GBP for any lens or lens / camera combo. I have found prime lenses to be best, mid range zooms don't have that oomph

Interesting , I've never bought a lens online, I almost bought an Industar online, but then found one at a retro market !

I am now addicted to collecting MF lenses and like several say in this thread , not only is the glass great , but they are things of beauty.

On a sidenote , I am amazed that my little Industar N61 53mm , such an unassuming lens , creates such wonderful , beautiful images.

Anyway that's how I came to be a MF lens collector , "Geek" my wife and daughters say !!!

BTW : My profile pic is with an Olympus Zuiko 50mm F1.8


PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been interested in photography ever since I was a little kid. But all the cameras I owned were crap until I was almost 30 years old because all I could afford was crap. What changed was I finally got a job where I was starting to make enough money where I actually had disposable income. But even then, I didn't have the available funds, when I bought my first 35mm SLR, to spring for a 50mm f/1.4 lens. I sure wanted one, though! I put up with a 50mm f/1.8 for years before I got my first 50/1.4. And the only reason why I finally bought one was because I bought it used.

I don't know why exactly, but I've never been all that enamored by AF technology. Too much of the mechanics was replaced by electronics when AF was ushered in, and at that time in my life I was all about manual, mechanical cameras, thus I was also all about manual focus lenses. To me, part of the original appeal to the 35mm SLR concept was the level of control a photographer had over image creation, and to me, a fundamental aspect of that control was the ability to focus the lens. That was just as interesting a control feature as the shutter speed dial and the aperture ring. This attitude has stuck with me. Even though I've owned several AF cameras since the first one I bought in 1990, I still prefer manual focus lenses. I just like being able to focus a lens. Manual focusing an AF lens is just an unfulfilling experience.


PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2019 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first SLR I ever remember seeing was a Pentax something or other. It was sitting on a shelf with an attached lens at the home of a family friend. It always intrigued me but I never asked to take it down. I could never afford anything expensive when I was young. Back then, photography was something you did if you had the financial means. Everyone else just had to make do with really cheap always in focus 35mm plastic cameras or slightly more expensive 35mm cameras with AF and a fixed lens.

I remember wanting to get into the darkroom at school and put my name down a few times to do photography, but I always missed out and the 6 same kids always seemed to get the luck. This, combined with my lack of money, meant that I just assumed photography was never going to be for me, so I just stuck with my cheap automatics.

I remember becoming interested again when my parents bought me a Fuji APS camera. Remember the dying days of film and the APS format where you used less than the 35mm frame? I liked that you could choose what crop to use and I enjoyed photos again.

Fast forward and I bought my first digital camera - a Kodak DSC3200 - in around 2001. It was 1 MP and I thought that was awesome. With the advent of digital I finally figured that I didn't have to have thousands of dollars to get all of the SLR stuff.

I started exploring and buying vintage lenses in 2014 after I invested in my Nikon DSLR. Of course, if someone had told me then that Nikon is not friendly to vintage lenses I would have bought a Canon instead probably! When I finally got an Oly EPM1 on sale for cheap, I finally started seriously using old glass and now much prefer it to any AF lens.

Steve