Jump to content
Bryan

Best heritage 28mm for mirrorless?

Recommended Posts

I find that, with a 1.5x crop factor on the Sony NEX 6, a 28mm's 42mm equivalent is a very useful focal length.

 

I f you can find an adapter with accurate registry, it becomes very simple to use. Dial in a distance and shoot, the depth of field is enormous, so it's difficult to get it wrong. It's a bit like shooting with a sophisticated box camera.

 

I've not tried any exotic glass, but have experimented with run of the mill 28s by Pentax, Olympus and Canon. From my limited testing there's not too much to choose between them, but I prefer the smaller package and simpler fittings associated with the Pentax and Olympus lenses to the more complex bayonet connection of the Canon FD.

 

My pick of that particular bunch is the 28mm f3.5 Pentax K, one of the earliest Pentax bayonet lenses. I find that it produces less distortion and CA than the more recent M series, while providing a similar level of sharpness. Three downsides, it's a bit bigger than the M lenses, it takes a weird (for Pentax) filter size, and they tend to be quite a bit more expensive.

 

Not tried Minolta nor Nikon, while Leica is definitely beyond my budget. I guess that Zeiss probably has a good but pricey 28, but not looked.

 

Anyone else interested?

Edited by Bryan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use the Contax G 28mm f2.8 on my Panasonic. GX-1. Well priced these days. In fact, I use all the G lenses from 28 - 90mm

 

Do they get any better? Doubt it.

 

Not sure of adapters for your set-up though.

Edited by ReeRay

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tried a number of Leica R lenses on M43 a few years back including a version of the 28mm which I rather liked.  It does seem that the R lenses cost more now, perhaps because of the compatibility with the M240, but still nowhere as expensive as M glass.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a mint condition, very compact 28mm Minolta MD lens from the early 1980's that I sold for a song a few years back.

 

Moral of story: think twice before getting rid of old equipment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bryan, do you use the Pentax 28mm lens much for landscapes? If so, how do the results look at full size? I find the Sony 18-55 that I use on my NEX-6 to be fine (must have a good one) for general walk-around photography but lacking for landscapes. I usually end up downsizing landscapes to about 12 MP (30 MB) for Alamy. Paranoia perhaps, but they look a heck of a lot sharper at 100%. It would be great to have the pricey Zeiss 24mm for landscape shooting, but...

 

Unfortunately, those old MF wide angle lenses have become popular with video-shooters and are now more difficult to find and consequently more expensive than they were a few years ago.

Edited by John Mitchell

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John

 

It's way better than my Sony kit lens, which is why I use it, but for landscapes the edges can be a tad lacking. The peripheral softness is insufficiently troublesome to fail QA here but not as good as I would like. Images taken with it typically produce much larger JPG files than the kit glass and just look more vibrant. I've always liked this lens, it used to produce crisper and more dynamic shots than my other lenses when shooting with B&W film.

 

I don't have anything landscape currently available to show you from the K f3,5, but there is a closer up shot here

 

I have also published a comparison between the kit lens and the cheap as chips Pentax M f2,8 here

Edited by Bryan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember when I was young and skint, I bought a Hanimex 28mm lens for my Minolta SR2. Cost a little under £20. Coming home along The Thames at dusk I stopped and rattled off my few remaining frames at Battersea Power Station doing its smoke belching thing. Finger held 20 red gelatine filter flapping in front. Good technique? quality lens? well no, but double page spread in Time Life book of London, yes! The lens later fell apart after a flight, so no, it's not still going strong.  Hanimex is a brand long since gone.

 

Thankfully, I could later move onto better gear but getting descent results out of all you can afford is a good place to start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember when I was young and skint, I bought a Hanimex 28mm lens for my Minolta SR2. Cost a little under £20. Coming home along The Thames at dusk I stopped and rattled off my few remaining frames at Battersea Power Station doing its smoke belching thing. Finger held 20 red gelatine filter flapping in front. Good technique? quality lens? well no, but double page spread in Time Life book of London, yes! The lens later fell apart after a flight, so no, it's not still going strong.  Hanimex is a brand long since gone.

 

Thankfully, I could later move onto better gear but getting descent results out of all you can afford is a good place to start.

 

Goes to show that it's what's in the picture that counts, not how sharp it is around the edges. I have quite a few pictures on Alamy taken with my old manual Minolta's and inexpensive lenses, and they continue to sell. I even remember Hanimex.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John

 

It's way better than my Sony kit lens, which is why I use it, but for landscapes the edges can be a tad lacking. The peripheral softness is insufficiently troublesome to fail QA here but not as good as I would like. Images taken with it typically produce much larger JPG files than the kit glass and just look more vibrant. I've always liked this lens, it used to produce crisper and more dynamic shots than my other lenses when shooting with B&W film.

 

I don't have anything landscape currently available to show you from the K f3,5, but there is a closer up shot here

 

I have also published a comparison between the kit lens and the cheap as chips Pentax M f2,8 here

 

Thanks Bryan. Interesting comparison. I now remember reading it when you first posted it on your website. As mentioned, old 28mm MF lenses are getting more difficult to find, but I'm looking around. A 24mm might even be better, but I sold that one as well. :(

Edited by John Mitchell

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

24s were a good deal rarer than the common or garden 28. I have two, a Sigma and a Tamron, neither are great. The Tamron is particularly poor, while the Sigma would be very good were it not for a de-centred element or two!  I don't use them. Suspect that a good replacement for your sold lens will be hard to find at a decent price.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

24s were a good deal rarer than the common or garden 28. I have two, a Sigma and a Tamron, neither are great. The Tamron is particularly poor, while the Sigma would be very good were it not for a de-centred element or two!  I don't use them. Suspect that a good replacement for your sold lens will be hard to find at a decent price.

 

My MF 24mm was a Tamron as well. I agree, it was a bit disappointing. I've actually found a 28mm f/2.8 Minolta at a local camera store for a low price. Going to check it out today. No Pentaxes in sight, though. Just wondering, do you think that the coatings on 1960's and 70's lenses were better or worse than those on later models?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

24s were a good deal rarer than the common or garden 28. I have two, a Sigma and a Tamron, neither are great. The Tamron is particularly poor, while the Sigma would be very good were it not for a de-centred element or two!  I don't use them. Suspect that a good replacement for your sold lens will be hard to find at a decent price.

 

My MF 24mm was a Tamron as well. I agree, it was a bit disappointing. I've actually found a 28mm f/2.8 Minolta at a local camera store for a low price. Going to check it out today. No Pentaxes in sight, though. Just wondering, do you think that the coatings on 1960's and 70's lenses were better or worse than those on later models?

 

Best of luck with the Minolta 28 John. Presumably adapters are available?

 

I know nothing about coatings but would suspect that things might have improved since the 1960s !  However the proof of the pud is in the taking of photos and examining the results, and my experience has been that every heritage lens, by a recognised camera manufacturer, that I have tried has out performed the Sony kit zoom.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

24s were a good deal rarer than the common or garden 28. I have two, a Sigma and a Tamron, neither are great. The Tamron is particularly poor, while the Sigma would be very good were it not for a de-centred element or two!  I don't use them. Suspect that a good replacement for your sold lens will be hard to find at a decent price.

 

My MF 24mm was a Tamron as well. I agree, it was a bit disappointing. I've actually found a 28mm f/2.8 Minolta at a local camera store for a low price. Going to check it out today. No Pentaxes in sight, though. Just wondering, do you think that the coatings on 1960's and 70's lenses were better or worse than those on later models?

 

Best of luck with the Minolta 28 John. Presumably adapters are available?

 

I know nothing about coatings but would suspect that things might have improved since the 1960s !  However the proof of the pud is in the taking of photos and examining the results, and my experience has been that every heritage lens, by a recognised camera manufacturer, that I have tried has out performed the Sony kit zoom.

 

 

I've already got a NEX adapter for MF Minolta lenses, which makes things easier, although getting inexpensive ones for other brands is easy. I didn't go for the 16-50 with my NEX-6. Decided to stay with the original manual zoom 18-55, which I find sharp at mid focal lengths but not so good at the short and long ends.

 

I currently have a Minolta 45mm f/2 "pancake" lens (circa late 70's), which for some reason I didn't sell. It's very light and compact, and surprisingly sharp. However, as mentioned, the 68mm (35mm equiv) focal length isn't that useful. I keep it on my old NEX-3. A 28mm would probably team quite well with my 45mm.

Edited by John Mitchell

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An interesting post on using old manual focus lenses on mirrorless cameras. Thought it might be relevant to this thread.

 

http://admiringlight.com/blog/using-old-manual-focus-lenses-on-mirrorless-cameras/

 

This blog also has some well balanced (IMO) AF lens reviews.

Edited by John Mitchell

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An interesting post on using old manual focus lenses on mirrorless cameras. Thought it might be relevant to this thread.

 

http://admiringlight.com/blog/using-old-manual-focus-lenses-on-mirrorless-cameras/

 

This blog also has some well balanced (IMO) AF lens reviews.

 

Thanks John, as you say an interesting and informative post, with some very nice photos. That guy has deeper pockets than me however, and I wonder if it really is worth shelling out for Zeiss etc when the more humble offerings are fit for purpose.

 

He correctly comments on the price differential between 50mm f1.4 and f1.8 glass. My findings have been counter intuitive, with the slower, but much cheaper, lenses performing rather better on the NEX. Maybe I need to run more tests.....  All of the old 50s that I have tried have been better than the Sony kit zoom however.

 

I take some issue with the statement that early zoom lenses are best avoided, as I have successfully used a Pentax 75-150 f4, which I find to be more reliable than my new Sony 55-210. I certainly would avoid early zooms with a large range however, and cheapo stuff that came rather later to the scene. For example I have a diabolical Pentax kit zoom from the mid 90s.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

An interesting post on using old manual focus lenses on mirrorless cameras. Thought it might be relevant to this thread.

 

http://admiringlight.com/blog/using-old-manual-focus-lenses-on-mirrorless-cameras/

 

This blog also has some well balanced (IMO) AF lens reviews.

 

Thanks John, as you say an interesting and informative post, with some very nice photos. That guy has deeper pockets than me however, and I wonder if it really is worth shelling out for Zeiss etc when the more humble offerings are fit for purpose.

 

He correctly comments on the price differential between 50mm f1.4 and f1.8 glass. My findings have been counter intuitive, with the slower, but much cheaper, lenses performing rather better on the NEX. Maybe I need to run more tests.....  All of the old 50s that I have tried have been better than the Sony kit zoom however.

 

I take some issue with the statement that early zoom lenses are best avoided, as I have successfully used a Pentax 75-150 f4, which I find to be more reliable than my new Sony 55-210. I certainly would avoid early zooms with a large range however, and cheapo stuff that came rather later to the scene. For example I have a diabolical Pentax kit zoom from the mid 90s.

 

 

I'm sure that my pockets are even shallower than yours. Since I don't often take portraits, I don't really need super-fast lenses. They are sometimes not all that good wide open anyway. When I started scanning slides, I was surprised at how soft and loaded with CA some of my images shot with what I thought was a good quality 70-200 MF zoom (from the late 70's) were. Mind you, many of those photos had looked fine in print and were accepted by a stock agency.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why a vintage lens? I have the Sigma 30mm f2.8 for the Sony E-Mount which was $100 new. Auto focus and auto aperture is nice. It's a pretty good performer. I also really like the on the fly lens corrections that correct in camera JPGs for CAs vignetting and even distortion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why a vintage lens? I have the Sigma 30mm f2.8 for the Sony E-Mount which was $100 new. Auto focus and auto aperture is nice. It's a pretty good performer. I also really like the on the fly lens corrections that correct in camera JPGs for CAs vignetting and even distortion.

 

I've been looking around for a used one of those. Sigmas have become scarce in Vancouver. I agree, the in-camera CA and other corrections are a real boon, which is one of the reasons I've switched to shooting mainly in JPEG or RAW+JPEG mode.

 

That said, vintage lenses can be real bargain given their good optical and build quality, plus they are much easier to focus manually. There's also a fun factor, and they provide a nostalgia hit for those of us who used them for years.

Edited by John Mitchell

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Why a vintage lens? I have the Sigma 30mm f2.8 for the Sony E-Mount which was $100 new. Auto focus and auto aperture is nice. It's a pretty good performer. I also really like the on the fly lens corrections that correct in camera JPGs for CAs vignetting and even distortion.

 

I've been looking around for a used one of those. Sigmas have become scarce in Vancouver. I agree, the in-camera CA and other corrections are a real boon, which is one of the reasons I've switched to shooting mainly in JPEG or RAW+JPEG mode.

 

That said, vintage lenses can be real bargain given their good optical and build quality, plus they are much easier to focus manually. There's also a fun factor, and they provide a nostalgia hit for those of us who used them for years.

 

All good points. Points having been taken, there are a few other modern lenses that are still manual focus that you might consider. There's a fun, fast and cheap 35mm f1.7 that you can get here in the US shipped including an adapter for e-mount for about $30 (a few samples of snaps I've taken here). This lens is intended for an even smaller sensor, and has a crazy curvature of field that can be used for fun effects, especially wide open. Then there's the Samyang/Rokinon/etc 35mm f1.4 fast, but guess that makes little point if you're talking budget lens. But having owned quite a few lenses over the decades, I'm hard pressed to think of a budget 28mm or so vintage lens that would outperform the 30mm Sigma, or even come close. Your point about the fun factor aside of course. Manual focusing with e-mount lenses isn't too bad IMHO however, and I really like the DMF function on the NEX series.

 

Generally speaking the best vintage lenses for APC are going to be on the longer side. The value to performance ratio is really good on vintage 35mm prime lenses that you could hardly give away until mirrorless cameras and cheap adapters came along. I also have a cheap Chinese made Commlite adapter to use my Canon EF lenses on my Sony NEX. My favorite combo with the adapter is the 17mm TSE, the combo gives me the ability to shoot architecture with corrections (the NEX has the capacity to display bi directional levels in the electronic viewfinder.) It's almost like being able to handhold a view camera with a 75mm lens! Of course that lens costed as much as my first couple of cars. In short, not what you're looking for.

 

One exception to the quality of longer vintage lenses was an Eyemik 135mm lens I picked up in a pawn shop in your fair city of Vancouver. Fortunately it was cheap, but a real dog of a performer!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

Why a vintage lens? I have the Sigma 30mm f2.8 for the Sony E-Mount which was $100 new. Auto focus and auto aperture is nice. It's a pretty good performer. I also really like the on the fly lens corrections that correct in camera JPGs for CAs vignetting and even distortion.

 

I've been looking around for a used one of those. Sigmas have become scarce in Vancouver. I agree, the in-camera CA and other corrections are a real boon, which is one of the reasons I've switched to shooting mainly in JPEG or RAW+JPEG mode.

 

That said, vintage lenses can be real bargain given their good optical and build quality, plus they are much easier to focus manually. There's also a fun factor, and they provide a nostalgia hit for those of us who used them for years.

 

All good points. Points having been taken, there are a few other modern lenses that are still manual focus that you might consider. There's a fun, fast and cheap 35mm f1.7 that you can get here in the US shipped including an adapter for e-mount for about $30 (a few samples of snaps I've taken here). This lens is intended for an even smaller sensor, and has a crazy curvature of field that can be used for fun effects, especially wide open. Then there's the Samyang/Rokinon/etc 35mm f1.4 fast, but guess that makes little point if you're talking budget lens. But having owned quite a few lenses over the decades, I'm hard pressed to think of a budget 28mm or so vintage lens that would outperform the 30mm Sigma, or even come close. Your point about the fun factor aside of course. Manual focusing with e-mount lenses isn't too bad IMHO however, and I really like the DMF function on the NEX series.

 

Generally speaking the best vintage lenses for APC are going to be on the longer side. The value to performance ratio is really good on vintage 35mm prime lenses that you could hardly give away until mirrorless cameras and cheap adapters came along. I also have a cheap Chinese made Commlite adapter to use my Canon EF lenses on my Sony NEX. My favorite combo with the adapter is the 17mm TSE, the combo gives me the ability to shoot architecture with corrections (the NEX has the capacity to display bi directional levels in the electronic viewfinder.) It's almost like being able to handhold a view camera with a 75mm lens! Of course that lens costed as much as my first couple of cars. In short, not what you're looking for.

 

One exception to the quality of longer vintage lenses was an Eyemik 135mm lens I picked up in a pawn shop in your fair city of Vancouver. Fortunately it was cheap, but a real dog of a performer!

 

 

Can't get the links to work. If that's the big pawn shop on Hastings Street (BC Collateral), it has sadly gone now. It used to be a treasure trove of used (and probably hot) equipment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

Why a vintage lens? I have the Sigma 30mm f2.8 for the Sony E-Mount which was $100 new. Auto focus and auto aperture is nice. It's a pretty good performer. I also really like the on the fly lens corrections that correct in camera JPGs for CAs vignetting and even distortion.

 

I've been looking around for a used one of those. Sigmas have become scarce in Vancouver. I agree, the in-camera CA and other corrections are a real boon, which is one of the reasons I've switched to shooting mainly in JPEG or RAW+JPEG mode.

 

That said, vintage lenses can be real bargain given their good optical and build quality, plus they are much easier to focus manually. There's also a fun factor, and they provide a nostalgia hit for those of us who used them for years.

 

All good points. Points having been taken, there are a few other modern lenses that are still manual focus that you might consider. There's a fun, fast and cheap 35mm f1.7 that you can get here in the US shipped including an adapter for e-mount for about $30 (a few samples of snaps I've taken here). This lens is intended for an even smaller sensor, and has a crazy curvature of field that can be used for fun effects, especially wide open. Then there's the Samyang/Rokinon/etc 35mm f1.4 fast, but guess that makes little point if you're talking budget lens. But having owned quite a few lenses over the decades, I'm hard pressed to think of a budget 28mm or so vintage lens that would outperform the 30mm Sigma, or even come close. Your point about the fun factor aside of course. Manual focusing with e-mount lenses isn't too bad IMHO however, and I really like the DMF function on the NEX series.

 

Generally speaking the best vintage lenses for APC are going to be on the longer side. The value to performance ratio is really good on vintage 35mm prime lenses that you could hardly give away until mirrorless cameras and cheap adapters came along. I also have a cheap Chinese made Commlite adapter to use my Canon EF lenses on my Sony NEX. My favorite combo with the adapter is the 17mm TSE, the combo gives me the ability to shoot architecture with corrections (the NEX has the capacity to display bi directional levels in the electronic viewfinder.) It's almost like being able to handhold a view camera with a 75mm lens! Of course that lens costed as much as my first couple of cars. In short, not what you're looking for.

 

One exception to the quality of longer vintage lenses was an Eyemik 135mm lens I picked up in a pawn shop in your fair city of Vancouver. Fortunately it was cheap, but a real dog of a performer!

 

 

Can't get the links to work. If that's the big pawn shop on Hastings Street (BC Collateral), it has sadly gone now. It used to be a treasure trove of used (and probably hot) equipment.

 

 

Links are working now. Must have been a temporary glitch. Have you submitted any images taken with the Fotasy lens to Alamy? Some look as if they would be OK.

Edited by John Mitchell

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

Can't get the links to work. If that's the big pawn shop on Hastings Street (BC Collateral), it has sadly gone now. It used to be a treasure trove of used (and probably hot) equipment.

 

The pawn shop was pretty small actually, and it could have been in North Vancouver (we were staying at Quay something or other) . But they had a dozen or so old SLR lenses gathering dust. And like all the Canadians we encountered (with a major exception of your immigration police!) were very, very nice as if only to further Canadian stereotypes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

Links are working now. Must have been a temporary glitch. Have you submitted any images taken with the Fotasy lens to Alamy? Some look as if they would be OK.

 

 

I don't recall if I've submitted any of these Fotasy shots to Alamy. I think they should work, my strategy for Alamy QC is simply to find something sharp in an image, then make sure that there's no dust etc in the skies or areas that would obviously be even. This lens is reasonably sharp in the center, and I think the sides can be OK by stopping down or if the subject is in the right curve to match the curvature of focus. This would be more for a novelty effect though, I wouldn't recommend if you wanted a traditional sharp corner to corner type photo. Wide open think somewhere between an old brass Petzval and a Diana plastic lens, just a fun effect for US$30.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

Links are working now. Must have been a temporary glitch. Have you submitted any images taken with the Fotasy lens to Alamy? Some look as if they would be OK.

 

 

I don't recall if I've submitted any of these Fotasy shots to Alamy. I think they should work, my strategy for Alamy QC is simply to find something sharp in an image, then make sure that there's no dust etc in the skies or areas that would obviously be even. This lens is reasonably sharp in the center, and I think the sides can be OK by stopping down or if the subject is in the right curve to match the curvature of focus. This would be more for a novelty effect though, I wouldn't recommend if you wanted a traditional sharp corner to corner type photo. Wide open think somewhere between an old brass Petzval and a Diana plastic lens, just a fun effect for US$30.

 

 

Yes, definitely a novelty lens. My guess too is that some of those shots would pass. I always like to hear stories about photographers doing amazing things with cheap equipment. However, this time I'll put the $30 towards the Sigma. I wish it had stabilization, but I suppose that would be asking a lot for the price. The other option is the Sony e-mount 35mm f/2.8. It does have OSS and gets excellent reviews. Unfortunately, it is over twice the price of the Sigma.

Edited by John Mitchell

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi.

You folks take your lenses Very seriously !!

I USED to use Blads with Zeiss lenses whichI loved .. as did my clients... but now just use what's going !

As a Scotsman I don't like to spend money on these things.

Must start looking at the corner of images.

Now in the BIN so I must be doing something WRONG !!

Colin.

Have a GREAT weekend !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.