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Jill Morgan

Using old 35mm lenses with digital camera

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As mentioned, I don't find the legacy Minolta MD 28mm that I bought to be any sharper than the Sony SEL 18-55 at the same focal length. The 18-55 is actually very sharp at 28mm, I find, even at the edges/corners when stopped down.

 

However, it sounds as if the old Pentax 28mm MF lenses were sharper than the Minolta equivalents. The early Pentaxes get good reviews elsewhere on the Web as well. I imagine that they are getting tough to find.

Edited by John Mitchell

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I agree with Famousbelgian.  If you were an amateur when you used the old 35mm lenses, you rarely, if ever, enlarged them anything above 5 x 7.  These days, images are enlarged to such an extent that any failings such as lack of sharpness (or SoLD) would become immediately apparent.  When I "went digital" in 2001, I tried using my old Canon lenses and ended up flogging them on eBay.  

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I agree with Famousbelgian.  If you were an amateur when you used the old 35mm lenses, you rarely, if ever, enlarged them anything above 5 x 7.  These days, images are enlarged to such an extent that any failings such as lack of sharpness (or SoLD) would become immediately apparent.  When I "went digital" in 2001, I tried using my old Canon lenses and ended up flogging them on eBay.  

 

Not the case with the older manual focus Nikkors (AIS lenses). The best of these are still excellent corner to corner even on the latest 36MP cameras. 

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I agree with Famousbelgian.  If you were an amateur when you used the old 35mm lenses, you rarely, if ever, enlarged them anything above 5 x 7.  These days, images are enlarged to such an extent that any failings such as lack of sharpness (or SoLD) would become immediately apparent.  When I "went digital" in 2001, I tried using my old Canon lenses and ended up flogging them on eBay.  

 

Not the case with the older manual focus Nikkors (AIS lenses). The best of these are still excellent corner to corner even on the latest 36MP cameras. 

 

 

Can't speak for Canon lenses, but fully agree that Sheila's comments simply do not apply to at least some of the old Nikkor manual focus lenses: my very old Nikkor 28 mm f/2.8, an equally old Nikon 180mm f/2.8 ED AI-s, and 35+ year old Nikkor 135 mm f/2.0 are sharp . . . like, properly, rooly-trooly sharp, absolutely no problem using them on full-frame Nikon bodies (and no adapters required either :-) ). Have used all on D800, all excellent across the whole frame. As i've said many times before, thank you Nikon :-)

 

dd

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I agree with Famousbelgian.  If you were an amateur when you used the old 35mm lenses, you rarely, if ever, enlarged them anything above 5 x 7.  These days, images are enlarged to such an extent that any failings such as lack of sharpness (or SoLD) would become immediately apparent.  When I "went digital" in 2001, I tried using my old Canon lenses and ended up flogging them on eBay.  

Not true with my old Leica lenses either. People thought I was stark staring bonkers over fifty years ago paying so much for lenses, some of which even then were s/h. Now I regularly swap them around between my digi Leica M's and my film Leica M's. I have newer lenses too but the old Summicrons still are superb. In the long run, (ok, ok, very long run!) I have spent less on lenses than most. 

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I agree with Famousbelgian.  If you were an amateur when you used the old 35mm lenses, you rarely, if ever, enlarged them anything above 5 x 7.  These days, images are enlarged to such an extent that any failings such as lack of sharpness (or SoLD) would become immediately apparent.  When I "went digital" in 2001, I tried using my old Canon lenses and ended up flogging them on eBay.  

 

I also tried my older lenses on my Canon DSLRs, but that was before the time of live view, and I found that the viewfinders were not good enough for manual focus. With the advent of live view, but more particularly with a good EVF giving a magnified view without  problems with reflections, it is easy to obtain accurate manual focus, actually probably more reliably than with auto focus, but nothing like as fast!

 

Re old lenses, they all have different characteristics. Some old Olympus Zuiko lenses that I have tried are very good at resolving detail but are lower on contrast, while Pentax lenses are rather more contrasty. The contrast thing is not too critical as you can boost that in PS quite easily. In some circumstances low contrast is advantageous.

 

For people looking for a bargain, the Zuiko 50 mm f1.8 is a star performer, and, as it was fitted as a standard lens to thousands of cameras, it can be picked up for peanuts (mine cost £10 including a camera in mint condition). I also have the Zuiko 50mm f1.4, but prefer the smaller, lighter, 1.8 for general use. The compact Pentax 50mm f1.7 is also very good and equally cheap. I find the equivalent 75 mm focal length (Sony) to be surprisingly useful, although my standard is a 28mm giving an equivalent of 42mm.

 

Wider is harder (for designers) and you have to search to find a bargain with veteran glass. I mentioned above the 28mm f2.8 M Pentax which is a widely available lens at a reasonable price, but it suffers from CA (easily fixable) and a bit of distortion. 

 

I was recently shooting in an old factory with strong side light, and found that my modern Sigma 19mm f2.8 auto focus lens suffered badly from what I am probably incorrectly describing as flare (a spread of light greatly reducing the contrast across a part of the frame), while my aged 28mm f3.5 K Pentax was completely immune to the problem. In both cases the lens was out of direct light.

 

I could burble on......

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I agree with Famousbelgian.  If you were an amateur when you used the old 35mm lenses, you rarely, if ever, enlarged them anything above 5 x 7.  These days, images are enlarged to such an extent that any failings such as lack of sharpness (or SoLD) would become immediately apparent.  When I "went digital" in 2001, I tried using my old Canon lenses and ended up flogging them on eBay.  

 

I also tried my older lenses on my Canon DSLRs, but that was before the time of live view, and I found that the viewfinders were not good enough for manual focus. With the advent of live view, but more particularly with a good EVF giving a magnified view without  problems with reflections, it is easy to obtain accurate manual focus, actually probably more reliably than with auto focus, but nothing like as fast!

 

Re old lenses, they all have different characteristics. Some old Olympus Zuiko lenses that I have tried are very good at resolving detail but are lower on contrast, while Pentax lenses are rather more contrasty. The contrast thing is not too critical as you can boost that in PS quite easily. In some circumstances low contrast is advantageous.

 

For people looking for a bargain, the Zuiko 50 mm f1.8 is a star performer, and, as it was fitted as a standard lens to thousands of cameras, it can be picked up for peanuts (mine cost £10 including a camera in mint condition). I also have the Zuiko 50mm f1.4, but prefer the smaller, lighter, 1.8 for general use. The compact Pentax 50mm f1.7 is also very good and equally cheap. I find the equivalent 75 mm focal length (Sony) to be surprisingly useful, although my standard is a 28mm giving an equivalent of 42mm.

 

Wider is harder (for designers) and you have to search to find a bargain with veteran glass. I mentioned above the 28mm f2.8 M Pentax which is a widely available lens at a reasonable price, but it suffers from CA (easily fixable) and a bit of distortion. 

 

I was recently shooting in an old factory with strong side light, and found that my modern Sigma 19mm f2.8 auto focus lens suffered badly from what I am probably incorrectly describing as flare (a spread of light greatly reducing the contrast across a part of the frame), while my aged 28mm f3.5 K Pentax was completely immune to the problem. In both cases the lens was out of direct light.

 

I could burble on......

 

I'll certainly agree with you about the Olympus Zuiko 50mm f1.8.  Dirt cheap and, with a suitable (also cheap adaptor) it works well on Canon EOS DSLRs.  But it wasn't as good as the Canon 50mm f2.5 macro I bought in my first year of DSLR ownership so it's gone.

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I think that you have to view this thing in context. I have a Canon 5DII with a 24-105 F4 and other Canon lenses, as well as the Sony NEX 6. I use the NEX because it is much smaller and lighter than the Canon - although I dig out the Canon from time to time for certain auto focus purposes.

 

The old film 35mm lenses on the crop frame camera use only the inner part of the image circle, so we are getting the best out of them. I suspect that my Canon 24-105 (which is an excellent copy), used on the NEX, would produce better results than my Zuiko 50mm, but that would defeat the purpose of having a small light camera.

 

In fact my tests have shown that the corner resolution of the Zuiko on the NEX, is better than that of the 24-105 on the 5DII. Quality is all about fitness for purpose, and, for stock shooting, a crop frame camera is all that is currently required.

 

Others are claiming that old Nikon and Leica lenses are capable of covering the full frame of a high resolution digital camera, I have no experience of either type, but I don't think that I would be using my old Pentax or Olympus lenses on a full frame DSLR.

 

However, who knows, I might be pleasantly surprised by the results!

Edited by Bryan

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This entire thread sounds like an ad for NIKON, even though I'm not that fond of what they have become in the new Millennium.  LOL

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I've been trying some old lenses on my Sony a6000.

 

The Olympus 50 1.8 is decent at close to mid distances, not impressive at longer distances.

 

The Olympus 35-70 3.5-4.5 is very compact and surprisingly good considering its a zoom. The only problem is placement of zoom / aperture rings are very close making usage a bit fiddly.

 

Both are more contrasty than the Sigma 30 but I'm not sure either of them resolves any more than the newer lens.

Edited by Mike R

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I've been trying some old lenses on my Sony a6000.

 

The Olympus 50 1.8 is decent at close to mid distances, not impressive at longer distances.

 

The Olympus 35-70 3.5-4.5 is very compact and surprisingly good considering its a zoom. The only problem is placement of zoom / aperture rings are very close making usage a bit fiddly.

 

Both are more contrasty than the Sigma 30 but I'm not sure either of them resolves any more than the newer lens.

 

Not been my experience with the 50mm f1.8 Mike. Are you sure that your Olympus adapter is allowing infinity focus? Mine allows focus way beyond infinity so you have to be careful to ensure that you hit the spot.

 

Take a look at this comparison.

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I use Nikon bodies, so using old MF Nikkor lenses is a standard practice. No adaptors necessary, full-metering on D700 body. Favourites include 30+ year old Nikkor 28 mm f/2.8 and 35+ year old Nikkor 135 mm f/2.0.Thank you Nikon.

 

E.g. Shot Rolling Stones recently "from the terraces", hand-held, Nikkor MF 180 mm f/2.8.

 

No AF, no IS, no problem.

 

It's sorta like how everybody used to do it once (with the added modern advantage of MUCH higher ISOs available).

 

Go for it.

 

dd

 

 

That is why I am all F mount.

I've had three wives and only one

NIKKOR 80-200 f2.8...LOL

and I am still working with that

80-200

 

Chuck

Again Nikon owner, use my old 1980's 50mm 1.8 & 85mm F12 along with a 55mm Macro no problems and for the potos I use them,portraits in low light and Macro usage, AF is not needed

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I've been trying some old lenses on my Sony a6000.

 

The Olympus 50 1.8 is decent at close to mid distances, not impressive at longer distances.

 

The Olympus 35-70 3.5-4.5 is very compact and surprisingly good considering its a zoom. The only problem is placement of zoom / aperture rings are very close making usage a bit fiddly.

 

Both are more contrasty than the Sigma 30 but I'm not sure either of them resolves any more than the newer lens.

 

Not been my experience with the 50mm f1.8 Mike. Are you sure that your Olympus adapter is allowing infinity focus? Mine allows focus way beyond infinity so you have to be careful to ensure that you hit the spot.

 

Take a look at this comparison.

 

 

Yeah the adapter is ok, I'm using Fontasy adapter It lets me go past infinite just a tiny bit.

I agree the Olympus 50 1.8 is a steal but my copy seems to have been around the world at least a couple of times :) Anything other than f8 delivers poorly at longer distances so I'll just keep it at that. (EDIT: more positive after further testing.. forgot to kill noise reduction heh)

 

Yesterday at dusk with dismal light. Stockholm hasn't woken up to spring just yet.

 

fadinglightoly5018f8_zpskj8uvqsk.jpg

 

Considering the overcast dusk etc, pretty good. I guess it's a keeper, at f8   :)

Edited by Mike R

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A tad grainy perhaps MIke, but it looks sharp enough to me!

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