Advice, please! What lens/adaptor combination?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by mslizzieemily, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. mslizzieemily

    mslizzieemily New to Mu-43

    Nov 21, 2013
    Hi everyone,
    I need some advice. I've been looking for a while now (about half a year) for different lenses for my Olympus Pen E-PL1. It came with a m.zuiko 14-42mm lens, which is great for general camera use, but I want lenses for more specific uses.

    I've been playing around with photography, which I have very little experience of on the technical side, but I want to learn.

    So I need some advice! M4/3 lenses are a bit expensive, and don't have the greatest variety as far as I can tell. I've been looking into Canon FDs, but I'm not sure which ones have manual aperture/focus, nor what adaptors to get. I'm looking mostly at prime/pancake lenses, because I want to take better portrait type shots.

    Also, what would be your advice on the first lenses, after kit, to get?

    Thanks! :) 
  2. dadadude

    dadadude Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 12, 2013
    San Carlos, CA
    Canon FD 50mm 1.4 is a great lens although the FD/m43 adapter is a little more fiddly than other mounts. Minolta Rokkor lenses are fantastic. The Rokkor 45mm f2.0 is a bargain and right in that sweet spot for portraits. The 50mm 1.4 and 58mm 1.4 are great lenses for portraiture also.You can get them all day long for $20-$50.
  3. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    In general, each legacy mount requires its own specific adapter. That said, you should be aware that many lens "mount" designations are actually the meter coupling spec rather than the actual mount spec.

    Two common "mounts" where this comes into play.

    Minolta: The classic Minolta mount is the SR mount, but you almost never see "SR" designation these days. What you see is "MC" and "MD". These two are the two different meter coupling types that are found on the SR mount lenses. The m43 mount adapters are almost universally labeled "MD" but will mount any SR mount lens whether it has no meter coupling, "MC" class coupling, or "MD" coupling. Since the m43 bodies can't coupling with the antique mechanical tabs and levers on the old lenses it doesn't matter which class of lens you mount.

    Canon (pre-EOS): The situation here is similar to that of the Minolta SR mount. There were 3 major variants and the last has 3 sub-variants. They all use the same mounting flange and the same adapter. The original and rather rare "R" lenses may pose some mounting problems on some adapters as they have a long diaphram coupling pin that might bind. The "FL" lenses and all 3 variants of the "FD" lenses ("FD", "FDn", and "NewFD") will all fit and work on the same adapter. The "NewFD" versions do require that the adapter had a provision for holding the diaphram lever in the closed position. The "FL", "FD" and "FDn" versions, which all use a chrome rotating ring to mount rather that rotating the whole lens, provide their own mechanism for holding the lever closed, though they will work find on adapters that do it for them.

    Pentax/Asahi/Takumar: These are all the same company. Originally the company was Asahi and their camera series was "Pentax" and their lenses were "Takumar". The cameras often appear under the "Honeywell" brand in the US as there were rebranded by their importer, Honeywell. Later, company changed their name to their camera brand, "Pentax". The early cameras use the M42 thread mount. Their later models use their K-mount bayonet. These K-mount lenses carry either the "K" designation or, later, an "M" designation (for "miniature"). Later lenses were classed "Ka" (added electronic meter coupling) and "Kaf" (added auto-focus ability). Again, all of the variants of the K-mount lenses (K, M, Ka, Kaf) will adapt to m43 with the same adapter, usually labeled "K" (e.g. "K-m43", "K > m43", ...). The M42 thread mount Takumars use any of the common M42 adapters. Non-Takumar brand lenses in the M42 mount very often require an adapter that holds the diaphram stopdown pin pressed in. The "real" Takumars have an "A/M" lever to provide this function. I prefer to use adapters that do not press the pin when using Takumar lenses.

    You should keep in mind that "pancake" lenses in legacy mounts aren't so "pancake" when mounted on an adapter. The adapters for legacy 35mm SLR mounts add roughly 1 to 1-1/4 inch (24-30mm) to the overall length. If you need (read: want) an adapted legacy lens to be particularly compact you should consider looking at lenses made for rangefinder cameras. The most common will be in Leica M or Leica Thread Mount (aka LTM). The adapters for these add only slightly over 1/4" (~8mm). The Russian (aka Former Soviet Union or FSU) LTM lenses like the Jupiter-8 50mm f/2.0 are quite good, very compact, and useually fairly inexpensive.

    Other good 50's to consider would be the Canon 50mm f/1.4 and f/1.8 lenses, The Minolta Rokkor 50mm lenses (any) and the 45mm that dadadude mentioned, and the Pentax lenses, both their K-mount and older thread mount lenses. I particularily like my Takumar 55mm f/1.8. Here are 3 that I use; Jupiter-8 50mm f/2, Leitz Summicron-DR 50mm f/2.0, and Takumar 55mm f/1.8:
    You can see how much longer the Takumar is with its adapter compared to the two RF lenses to its left.
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  4. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    Start with a 50mm lens. You can hardly go wrong with a lens from any of the major camera makers (Canon, Olympus, Konica, Minolta, Pentax, Nikon, etc). A few are better than others, but all will be competent. The f1.8's should cost hardly anything, no more than a big burger, fires, and a drink. The faster f1.4's could set you back a couple of dinners though. I have a Canon FD 1.8, and that was $5. This lens can be soft wide open, but that's nice for portraits.

    Adapters are $10-15 via ebay. No need to spend more on an inexpensive lens. The FD mount is one adapter that I cannot do in the dark. I have to see it, but otherwise it's pretty easy once you understand how to work it.
  5. edmsnap

    edmsnap Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 20, 2011
    Edmonton, Alberta
    All Canon FD lenses have manual aperture/focus. There's nothing in the series that'd be considered a pancake though. If a pancake is essential to you, I'd point you toward a Minolta 45mm f/2, a Zeiss Tessar 45mm f/2.8, or an Industar 50-2. Although as with most adapted lenses, once you attach the adapter you also won't have a pancake.

    This one: Canon FD adapter. That seller has equally good adapters for any other mount you're interested in at great prices with free shipping.

    The Canon nFD 50mm f/1.4 - A perfect lens for portrait work. Good, clean, professional rendering. Very fast. Great colours. Sturdy, near-indestructible construction.

    The Canon nFD 24mm f/2.8 - Canon made great 24mm lenses. The f/2.0 is one of the best lenses ever made, but probably more than you want to spend for an initial leap into adapted lenses. The f/2.8 is a little slower, but beautiful all the same and nicely economical. On µ4/3 cameras, it functions as a great normal lens for all-around use.

    A Helios 44-2 or 44-3 (58mm f/2) - I always recommend a Helios to people wanting to try out manual focus. The preset aperture is great as you can operate it very easily by touch. The bokeh is classic and you really learn how to work with character-rendering. They're built like tanks and cheap like dirt.

    The Adapted Lens Sample Image Archive threads on this site are a great place to browse through and see what lenses are creating photos that really appeal to you. Go with those as you might hate what any of us think are beautiful! :smile:
  6. biomed

    biomed Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 22, 2013
    Seattle area
    When you decide which type of lens you want to adapt to your u4/3 camera, get a quality adapter. I favor the Voigtländer adapters, but there are other quality brands. Not all of the cheap adaptors are created equal and tolerances can vary in adapter thickness (affects focus) and in the lens mounts ( both for the adapted lens and the flange for the camera body). I have adapters for Nikon F lenses and Leica M type lenses. There are many very good manual lenses available. I just purchased a mint 300mm Nikon for $160. I am very pleased with the photos made with this lens! Look for a good fast 50 (f/1.4 - f/2.0). It will make a dandy short telephoto. Even the somewhat unpopular 135mm will be great. A real plus when using adapted film SLR or rangefinder lenses is that only the center of the image (usually the sharpest part) is used by the u4/3 sensor. This means that some mediocre ( because of corner softness) lenses perform very well on a u4/3 camera.

  7. mslizzieemily

    mslizzieemily New to Mu-43

    Nov 21, 2013
    Thanks! I've bought an FD adaptor (one suggested here) to try it out. Are there any Minolta Rokkor adaptors you would suggest? The lenses are so cheap, it's incredible! After the prices I've been looking at for m43 lenses, it's like a gold mine.
  8. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 22, 2013

    I agree -- I've used some great FD (and FL) lenses, but the mount itself is annoying when changing lenses often. If you are just going to leave the adapter on a lens though, it is fine and really one of the more secure mounts.

    OM, F, MD, and PK mounts don't have that problem.

    I've noticed Nikon F mount lenses tend to be priced higher than the others, probably because they can be used on current Nikon cameras to varying degrees. Price-wise, it is probably better to stick with Canon, Olympus, Minolta, or Pentax lenses.

    I went for Olympus myself, just because they're making MFT cameras. :) 
  9. Chris5107

    Chris5107 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    I would suggest the Canon FD lenses. the newer ones have the best coatings and are most likely to be "good" lenses. They are plentiful, and relatively cheap. The mount is not a problem if you take a 1 minute look at it and make sure you understand how it works. Once you have it down, mounting the lens is a snap and the mounts are less than $20 on ebay.

    I would start with the 50mm f1.4 (f.18 if you really want to go for less $). Next you can try something like the 24mm and they also have great 85mm, 135mm, 200mm,, etc. I have the 200mm f2.8. It is heavy but fun to use. If you buy them used and hate them, sell them again and you should almost break even. A very cheap lens rental option.
  10. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2013
    You can get a minolta adapter on Ebay for $9 shipped from China. They are high quality, all metal. Fotos or something like that..they also make other mounts.
  11. dadadude

    dadadude Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 12, 2013
    San Carlos, CA
    Well I buy the cheapies on ebay for under $10. The only issue I have had with any adapter (and I have quite a few) is one Pentax P/K adapter that doesn't reach infiniti. Be careful though, buying vintage legacy lenses becomes addictive and leads to impulse buying.
  12. mslizzieemily

    mslizzieemily New to Mu-43

    Nov 21, 2013
    I think I already have that down. Now I can move from bundles of NatGeo to lenses!
  13. mslizzieemily

    mslizzieemily New to Mu-43

    Nov 21, 2013
    Thanks! I was somewhat worried about getting a cheap one incase it didn't work, or would break really easily.
  14. mslizzieemily

    mslizzieemily New to Mu-43

    Nov 21, 2013
    Just bought a 45mm Minolta + adaptor for £15... The impulse buying has begun.
  15. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    A typical MD adapter on ebay.

    Quality has varied for chinese adapters. By now, they have had enough feedback to know what matters. The first one I bought in 2010 had a wobbly bayonet mount, but haven't seen any since then..They still will be a bit undersize on the length, so your lens will focus a bit past infinity and lose some of its near distance. Paralellism isn't good, but is not a big issue when you mount a $20 lens. On the other hand, a collectible german lens deserves a good adapter from Europe. That's a different league.

    On a budget, I think the best buys are a 50mm and a 135mm f2.8 tele. Both were well known lens designs back in the day, and still work well today.They are also common, and inexpensive. A fast 80 or 85mm is also affordable, maybe $100-150, and that's cheap compared to the $799 Olympus wants for an ED 75mm. You probably want to avoid zooms. Few are good. All are heavy and unwieldy on an EPL1, although I will sometimes use my old ones just to see if I can get something good out of them. One exception is the Vivitar 70-210 series 1. It has good quality, but is very hard to use on an EPL1 without an EVF and tripod.That makes them cheap though, except I bought mine new in 1977 for 10X it's current $20 going rate.

    Quality wide angles get too expensive for me. A $225 FD 19mm is nice, but a $199 Sigma 19 will likely work better. Personal opinion.
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