Best value in adapted lenses?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by onewheeltom, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. onewheeltom

    onewheeltom Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2015
    Cary, NC
    Tom Karches
    Has anyone found an especially nice MF lens to use with their m43 body that has remained relatively inexpensive?

    I ask, as this past weekend, I bought a non-functioning Minolta X-370N for $10 with a 50mm f/1.7 lens. Build is decent. Lens is clean, focuses smoothly. Also found the problem with the camera (bad capacitor which I have temporarily replaced), so I have gained a decent film camera FWIW.

    The adapter rings were cheap, so I ordered one. Buying a lens from a less popular brand is one obvious strategy.

    Lets hear about the hidden treasures in adapted lenses.


  2. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    I was about to say that my Vivitar 19 3.8 lens was a good value. For me it was - passed down from family. I went to fleabay to see what they where going for anywhere between $40 all the way to over $100! That really surprised me.
  3. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    Wide angle primes for FF are expensive, so people look for alternatives. Even old ones can go for more than you'd think. 19mm on FF is very wide after all.
  4. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    Yeah, I have looked at WA legacy glass. The last time I looked up that Vivitar, the highest I saw it going for was ~$50-60. Maybe some people realized that it was a decent lens, and a bargain for WA.
  5. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    You snatched yourself an awesome deal Tom! I have a collection of Minoltas and I love them. They are not very expensive, but prices are going up since I started collecting them 5 years ago. Probably due to the rising popularity of mirrorless cameras.
  6. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    I'd find it difficult to beat the value Olympus OM 28mm f2.8 'macro' I got a month or so ago.
    I did have to get another adapter to use it but the lens was free. :)
    Someone in the camera workshop was given it, & passed it on to me.

    Going vis an EOS adapter I can now use it on a helicoid adapter the adds some extension when required, via a focal reducer or (once it arrives) on a tiltable adapter. All these mounting options are available via a PK/EOS adapter with my many Pentax lenses too!
  7. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    My favorite 50mm I tried was the Yashica ML 50mm f2. You can often find them for $20 in auction and it is nearly a pancake. I liked it so much I spent almost $100 on it's big brother, the ML 50mm f1.4. I was so excited that I sold the 50mm f2 for peanuts before it even arrived. The 50mm f1.4 was not nearly as good at any aperture and especially the colors and saturation didn't have the same feel. I sold it. I wish I could get my f2 back!

    Brings up old memories, maybe I'll hit up ebay for another... :)

    I also gave my Sister my awesome Helios 44-M when she bought a Canon DSLR and she never even uses it. I asked for it back and she seemed offended so I backed off. That was a beauty, too.

    In general I find the slightly slower primes from yesteryear to be better optically, while being way cheaper. ANother example is the Super Takumar 55mm f1.8 that was way more consistent than it's 50mm f1.4 sibling and 1/3 the price.

    I also picked up a Takumar 135mm f3.5 that is a pretty good value. It was $19 like new condition and is small enough to not be ridiculous on m4/3 cams. It's not bad optically but my GX7 doesn't have a stabilized EVF, so it can be hard to focus.
  8. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    I'd vote for the Olympus 50-200, but I know....being a 4/3 lens it's kind of in the gray area of adapted lenses, it isn't "very" cheap, but it is a great value for versatility and quality unless you want a lens for street shooting.

    For a conventional adapted lens I bought a Minolta 58mm, 1.4 for very cheap that is a great portrait lens and creates bokeh beyond my m43 expectations.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016
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  9. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Being an early adopter of micro 4/3. indeed coming from an e-510 which could take some legacy lenses, I have a history with this stuff.

    In my now underused old lens drawer I have Nikkors, Pentax, Olympus OM, Contax and 1 leica... though my partner has many very nice Leica M lenses. No Canon , no Minolta, not through any aversion... just the way my collecting went.

    My experience is that
    1) good lenses cost money, unless you are very lucky in thrift shop finds - your minolta will be good.. but perhaps not stellar
    2) forget about chasing wide angles, 24mm in old 35mm terms was at the edges of the envelope, wider than that was expensive or crap. Unless you are into wacky bokeh and odd vignetting, basically anything legacy wider than say 21mm will be a repurposed industrial/surveillance camera
    3) legacy 35's can be interesting... its not a focal length covered by native lenses
    4) 50's are most folks entry drug to legacy lenses... I know I have a lot... sadly it is to me an awkward focal length. The temptation is to go for the faster ones... but most of them wide open are a little dreamy
    5) Going longer there are good 85's and I particularly like the nikkor 105/2.5
    6) beyond 100mm I don't have much if any experience

    I had a lot of fun with legacy lenses.. but when smaller, autofocusing native lenses came along I got those and took more photos

    My legacy lenses still live with me, waiting for the day an appropriate full frame camera appears on my horizon

    if you care to look I have a flickr album of legacy lens on 4/3 here

    Legacy lenses

    At the end of the day different lenses are just like different paintbrushes to an artist :)

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  10. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    If you would like to try macro, I would recommend the Vivitar 55mm/f2.8. It goes all the way from infinity focus to 1:1 without any adapters, extension tubes, or matched diopters (as many legacy macros do), it's relatively lightweight, has nice bokeh when used as a portrait lens, and is nice and affordable. I got mine for about $50, as I recall, but you should never have to pay more than $100. Here's one for $70 right now.

    Another excellent macro option for a bit more money is the Sigma 90mm/f2.8 MF Macro, which I also have. Again it's light and compact by 35mm SLR standards, and this one is even sharper than the Vivitar, but it only goes to 1:2 magnification natively without the matched diopter (which may or may not come with one you find used). Still an excellent lens that you should be able to find in and around $100 with luck. My main (only) complaint is that the focus ring goes goes between 1m and infinity in much too short a travel to make it easy to use for portraits or telephoto work, despite the otherwise useful focal length for that.

    Along the same lines, it looks like there is also a Sigma 50mm/2.8 MF Macro in the same family that goes to 1:1 natively and should also be very high quality and affordable.
  11. gnarlydog australia

    gnarlydog australia Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 23, 2015
    Brisbane, Australia
    Damiano Visocnik
    by far the best value/character lens I have is the mighty Russian Helios 44.
    I have two copies: the older 44-2 and the newer "fake" 44M-7 (fake because it is not a real 44M-7 but sneakily dressed up as one, probably a 44-6)
    The Helios can be purchased for little money from the Eastern block countries or Russia itself, on eBay.
    I find the bokeh exceptional, creamy at times while swirly at others, depending on subject distance/light.
    Being a 58mm lens it can be regarded as a "portrait" lens on M43 because of crop factor.
  12. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I've done a fair bit of shooting with adapted lenses on mirrorless for the past 4 years and I have learned a few things. This is just my take on it but here goes.

    1. The brands that I have found to be very good value (generally) are Canon FD and Minolta. Canon because there are a ton of them out there and Minolta because unlike a lot of Japanese lens makers they ground their own glass and because they definitely benefitted from their time collaborating with Leica. One really nice thing about Minolta MC and MD lenses is that they are color matched so no matter which one you use they look like the others.

    2. I agree that you get what you pay for in that a Zeiss or Leica is going to be better than Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Konica, Pentax etc. but the difference will not be as great as the gap in price would suggest. For instance during their period of collaboration with Leica, the Minolta 24/2.8, 35-70/3.5 macro and 70-210/4 macro are all designs that were also sold as Leica R lenses. Then there is the Minolta M-Rokkor 40/2 and Leica Summicron 40/2 (for the Leica CL) are identical lenses yet the Summicron costs a good deal more.

    3. Sometimes value is going to be more about the focal length than the lens maker. For instance, many manufacturers made really good fast 50/1.8's, 50/1.4's so it's tough to get a bad one.

    4. Some FSU (former Soviet Union) lenses can be quite good. Many of them are copies of WWII era Leica and Zeiss lenses. Sample variation can be quite large and workmanship at some of the factories was less than stellar so you often are taking a risk picking one up. That said, when you get a good one they can be spectacular. I have always liked the Helios 44-M 58/2 which is a Soviet copy of the Zeiss Biotar.

    5. Focal length will also determine what is a good value. For instance on m43 I found certain focal lengths work better than others because of the 2x crop. Long telephoto lenses are a great value because you buy a something like 200/2.8 for a reasonable amount and end up with a lens that acts like a 400/2.8 on film. Pair that with IBIS and you have a pretty cost effective kit to shoot wildlife. On m43 I think fast 50's work pretty well as they make nice portrait lenses and can be hand for cheap. I would say that my Canon 50/1.4 SSC is every bit as good as the Olympus 45/1.8 (albeit without AF) but with much better build.

    Here is my Flickr stream. A vast majority were shot with adapted lenses on mirrorless. Most were shot with my Sony but you should still get a good idea of what adapted lenses are capable of on mirrorless.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016
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  13. onewheeltom

    onewheeltom Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2015
    Cary, NC
    Tom Karches
    Appreciate the I have an idea about what to look for. Are there any specific albums in your Flickr feed I should look at?

  14. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I think the Summer of Pictures album has a lot of m43 images. I stopped using albums a while back so if you look at the photostream the last several months has a number of shots I like. They were mostly done with my Sony and Fuji cameras but I think they do show what adapted lenses can do.
  15. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    yep .. Olympus OM 50mm f1.8 ... still around $40 for a multi coated one. But pretty much any of this category of lenses is good.

    A 50mm f1.8 was my first legacy lens (when I bought my G1 in 2009 with just the Kit 14-45) and years later it still is one of the best options I've found for cheap benefit over just the standard zoom (benefit being DoF not extra reach).

    It is hard to go past a 14-45 and an OM50mm f1.8 for value and versatility.
  16. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    Olympus OM lenses are interesting. My experience is that they can vary quite a bit in quality copy to copy. If you get a good one they can be very good but you can find yourself with a less than good copy just as easily. I agree with I Pellicle that the OM 50/1.8 is quite a bargain, it's very sharp and compact. In fact one of the best things about OM lenses is how compact they are. The 100/2.8 for instance is about the same as most 50/1.4's. It's also a very good.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
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  17. RnR

    RnR Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    A decent focal reducer :)
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  18. jdcope

    jdcope Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    May 21, 2015
    I just bought a Helios 44M-4 off eBay for $29. I also bought an adapter from Amazon, and it arrived today. Sadly, I still have a couple weeks to wait for the lens to arrive from Ukraine. Its my first adapted lens, so hopefully everything goes smooth.
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  19. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    It's hard to go by price. Some people give away their old lenses. Other want the moon. You already have the best value, which is a name brand 50mm. A name brand 135mm would be the next best value, because they are dirt cheap. Like Kevinparis wrote, skip the 24mm and 28mm. Usually cost too much for what you get. The longer focal lengths like 100mm, 135mm, and 200mm generally work OK. The fast mid teles between 85mm and 105mm tend to be expensive. Avoid any zooms.

    I found 50mm to be pretty long for a lens, but with a .7X focal adapter, it came in at 35mm and I found it more fun to use. Inexpensive focal adapters for M43 are limited in their mounts, (FD, Nikon, and M42 come to mind) and can be of questionable build quality.
  20. RichardB

    RichardB Snapshooter Subscribing Member

    Nov 19, 2012
    Maryland, US
    Konica Hexanon is a bit of a sleeper brand. @dbuckle@dbuckle has lots of nice shots in the showcase forum.

    Helios, Takumar, and Rokkor are all fun.

    I got a cheap Canon FD 50mm/1.8 that I wanted to hate because of its annoying mount, but its images were beautiful.

    Around the same time I got an OM 50mm/1.4 that I thought would be awesome, but it had a yellow color cast. I resold it immediately, and then learned that the yellowing was from a radioactive element in the coating, and I could have cleared the lens by leaving it in sunlight for a couple days. :doh:

    Have fun!
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