best way to get in to vintage glass?

demiro

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I have someone asking for advice on this. I played around with manual focus lenses numerous times, but never stuck with it. I assume that a cheap adapter and an m4/3s or Sony body is a good place to start, with lenses of choice? Focal reducers later. Any obvious watch-outs or recommendations? I'm thinking about recommending a used E-M1 or E-M5 II, or an A6000. Any bodies especially good or bad? Budget is undefined, but on the low end for sure.

Thanks in advance!
 

LilSebastian

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Zenography is a nicely paced, practical channel for vintage lenses. He uses Panasonic, Sony and Fuji I believe so not a brand zealot. I think we all know the tradeoff with m43 is the crop factor. If you want wide to normal field of view, the options are harder to reproduce with m43. Classic 50mm lenses become short telephoto. Not always a bad thing as long as you understand why. An A6000 or Fuji get you similar FOV to M43 and a focal reducer. A 50mm becomes ~36mm for example. More useable in general purpose situations. One could always get an original A7 full frame if you want mirrorless and use all the FOV from the vintage lens.

Don't forget the native mount manual lenses for M43 too. Many here like the 7Artisans/Samyang/Pergear etc brands for that experience.
 
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ac12

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My first choice is a FF camera, only to maintain the 35mm film FoV.
If you don't care about that APS-C or m4/3 doesn't matter. As John said, crop cameras are probably easier with telephotos than wide.

As for lens.
If you get an older autofocus lens, and you want it to autofocus, you NEED to research and verify that the adapter WILL allow communication between the lens and the camera.

The cheap adapters are all probably "dumb" adapters.
IOW, there is ZERO communication between the lens and camera. The lens is FULLY MANUAL.
 

ex machina

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IMO the biggest advantage to m43 is compatibility with a wider range of vintage glass before vignetting becomes a problem. For instance, my favorite adapted lenses come from 16mm movie cameras, none of which would be of much use on APS-C or FF sensors. Also, you can look at crop factor as an advantage giving you faster telephoto lenses.

In my experience, adapted legacy wide-angle lenses are kind of pointless unless they provide a lot of character, zoom lenses are generally crap and not worth the trouble and weight, long lenses become really long due to crop factor and likely require a tripod to be of much use. Coming back to native glass after a stint with adapted really brings the m43 advantage home!

As for bodies, focus-peaking is super helpful, pretty sure all will offer a magnify view to help nail focus, which can be hard in low-contrast settings where focus peaking doesn't work well.

Hope this helps.
 

bargainguy

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I shoot both Sony FF and Olympus/Panasonic for MFT. Some ideas:

--EVF: Sony is way behind Olympus. Whenever I switch from Sony to Olympus, breath of fresh air, clean colors and crisp edges. Switch back to Sony, muddy and dark. I don't like to use focus peaking on Sony as much as Olympus for this reason.

--File size: MFT will produce relatively small files. Sony APS-C (6000 etc) will be bigger, and Sony FF bigger still. Make sure you have the workflow capacity for large files before you start filling up a Sony FF card.

--Ergonomics: Both Sony & Olympus bodies are very customizable, but Olympus wins out for not having to dig too deeply into menus for some features. Fit and feel is a personal thing. Sony bodies feel clunky in my small hands. Olympus feels svelte in comparison.
 

gnarlydog australia

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The real reason for me to use adapted glass is that I look for an image that is not necessarily perfect, in modern optical terms.
If I was to look to replicate the ability for a lens to give ma a clinically sharp image I would be fooling myself with vintage glass: what's the point where native MFT lenses are so incredibly good?

But once I established that certain lenses can give me a look (we are talking bokeh here) that most modern ones can not, then the real joy of shooting with quirky old lenses became clear.
Finding that "look" that kept my interest took a while but now I just about exclusively shoot with adapter or refitted lenses.

If you don't find that "thing" that keeps you interested in manual focus lenses then your style of photography maybe doesn't require/benefit from it :)

34322874893_3854562c05_b.jpg
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Kodak Cine 50mm f1.6 on E-P5_c by gnarlydog, on Flickr
 
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I use a few Rokkor MD Minolta lenses on my Olympus gear.
See the example shot below, this was taken with a Rokkor 50mm f1.4 lens using a Zhongyi Lens Turbo II adaptor making it a 35mm f1.0 lens.
_C150376-1.jpg
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Brownie

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I have to agree, M-4/3 is THE single most adaptable format on the planet. Fotodiox makes an incredible number of adapters. I have their MD, K, and A mount and all perform perfectly. At about $20 for a full manual adapter they're well worth it for investing in a couple of lenses.

Here's a link to page 1 of 10 of their M-4/3 adapters:
Micro Four Thirds Adapters – Fotodiox, Inc. USA (fotodioxpro.com)

If you don't want to get as obscure as some of these guys, who have elevated it to art, there are plenty of common lenses out there. Pentax K and Minolta MD lenses can be had for reasonable prices for the most part. There are still some expensive outliers, but not many. Good $50 primes are plentiful.
 
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Depending on your definition of "vintage". . . . .

If you mean old manual focus manual aperture lens, like from SLRs of the 70s-80-90s, adapters for those are 20 bucks or less. And can find such lens on ebay for 40-50-60 bucks. Search ebay based on mount type, Well, first thing is to learn what mount types were common. Say, MD for minolta, and FD for Cannon. Maybe choose one type and get an adpater for that, then get a couple different of that type lenses.

Some not-so-old lens (say late 90, early 2000) do not have an aperture ring on the lens, and the adapters for those can be 60-70-80 bucks or more, because the adapter has the aperture ring and the mechanics. If the adapter is for a lens the has electronics in it, well then the adapter has electronics in it, and the expense defeats the purpose, well, at least for what I was trying to do.
 
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retiredfromlife

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I have found that for the few adapted lenses I have tried my E-P5 accepts the adaptors easier than my panasonic G85.
The adaptors are all tighter on the G85 with the "C" mount adaptors actually jambing on it, almost scraping the metal off.

So my sample is only only one panasonic body, but I no longer try to use adapted lenses with the G85
 
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In my experience, Olympus EM10 mkII was an excellent camera to use adapted vintage lenses with, superior to my Panasonic GX and G bodies; I think the IBIS worked better, as did the peaking. I no longer have that body, having consolidated to all Panasonic bodies, but am trying out a Fujifilm X-T20, as I really love Fuji's film simulations. However, it doesn't feel as good to me as the little Olympus did. Which, incidentally, is in my profile pic with a Canon FD lens.
 
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mcgillro

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I have adapters for my Canon M5 (which I haven't used since purchasing the Olympus gear), and M4/3rds. While I haven't used my Minolta lenses much recently I do love the effect, and well worth buying both the lenses and adapters. I also need to get my Helios lens out again.
 

Chris999999

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Nobody seems to have mentioned Nikon lenses, and there are so many of these available. All the old Nikon F lenses work because they have mechanical aperture control on the lens, and there are adapters with aperture control on them for Nikon G lenses.

You can use these with a simple cheap adapter. I use a K&F concept G adapter which is cheap but good quality. I also use a Viltrox NF-M43X adapter which is a focal reducer and a Kipon Nikon G Tilt/Shift adapter. All these work with Nikon F & G lenses.

Another option is Tamron Adaptall lenses, many of which are plentiful and cheap. You can buy a cheap Adaptall to M43 adapter which I use, but I also have an Adaptall to Nikon adapter, so I can also use the Viltrox and Kipon adapters if I wish.

You will not run out of things to try.
 

fortwodriver

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I have adaptors to fit my Pentax screw-mount, Pentacon, an Olympus OM lenses onto my m43 camera. I also have a little adaptor that lets me mount microscope objectives to it.

It's fun. Every once in a while I have to take my Super Takumar lens and leave it out on the window ledge to de-yellow it. It's got elements in it doped with thorium that will yellow if not exposed to light and that yellow definitely alters the colour balance of the lens.

The only thing I can't mount is my old Mamiya press lenses. They're lens-shutter lenses mounted in focusing helicoids and are absolutely massive.
 

ac12

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Nobody seems to have mentioned Nikon lenses, and there are so many of these available. All the old Nikon F lenses work because they have mechanical aperture control on the lens, and there are adapters with aperture control on them for Nikon G lenses.

You can use these with a simple cheap adapter. I use a K&F concept G adapter which is cheap but good quality. I also use a Viltrox NF-M43X adapter which is a focal reducer and a Kipon Nikon G Tilt/Shift adapter. All these work with Nikon F & G lenses.

Another option is Tamron Adaptall lenses, many of which are plentiful and cheap. You can buy a cheap Adaptall to M43 adapter which I use, but I also have an Adaptall to Nikon adapter, so I can also use the Viltrox and Kipon adapters if I wish.

You will not run out of things to try.

Here is the catch with Nikon lenses.
IF . . . you get an autofocus lens, at present it is difficult to useless.
The last time I looked, there were NO adapter that allowed the lens to communicate with the camera.
That means: no autofocus, no VR, no camera control of the aperture, if the lens is "focus by wire" you cannot even manually focus the lens.
Note that the adapter with an aperture control ring, the ring is NOT callibrated, just numbered. You have to figure out what f/stop the numbers on the ring, correspond to.

I have a dumb adapter for my 55 micro Nikkor and 500mm reflex.
 

Chris999999

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Here is the catch with Nikon lenses.
IF . . . you get an autofocus lens, at present it is difficult to useless.
The last time I looked, there were NO adapter that allowed the lens to communicate with the camera.
That means: no autofocus, no VR, no camera control of the aperture, if the lens is "focus by wire" you cannot even manually focus the lens.
Note that the adapter with an aperture control ring, the ring is NOT callibrated, just numbered. You have to figure out what f/stop the numbers on the ring, correspond to.

I have a dumb adapter for my 55 micro Nikkor and 500mm reflex.
There is a fairly new Viltrox NF-M1 which does support some Nikon autofocus lenses and supports lens VR, but I have no experience of it.

This wouldn't be the place to start if looking to use vintage manual focus lenses.

I also have the 55mm micro Nikkor, which is a great lens, and a Sigma 8-16 (Nikon fit) which I bought and modified to use on the Kipon tilt/shift adapter, and also now use on the Viltrox NF-M43X which makes it a very wide 5.6-11.2

Pictures of the Sigma are here:

https://www.mu-43.com/posts/1385763/
 

Brownie

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Note that the adapter with an aperture control ring, the ring is NOT callibrated, just numbered. You have to figure out what f/stop the numbers on the ring, correspond to.
Mine doesn't even have numbers, but it's simple to operate. Put the camera in program and starting at one end or the other, turn the ring and watch the shutter speed change.
 

Erich_H

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Warning! Practical, down to earth, advice coming up!

(Pixel peeping people please abstain from reading this post)

If this is a way of testing whether this is fun or no fun, and money (or absence thereof) plays a part in your equation, this is my advice:

Get a cheap used M4/3 body. Like an E-PL1. Max $30.
Get a $5 M42 to M4/3 adapter.
Get a Helios-44M f:2/58 mm. Max $20.

It will give you a very usable short tele focal length, and an inexpensive starting point for your experience and experiment.

A final word: avoid glassed adapters, focal reducers, and their ilk like the plague, errh, like Covid!

Despite what everyone else will tell you, the main thing about them is this:

They scr#w the f@ck out of the original optical recipe!!
 
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I think there are 3 reasons why people consider vintage glass over new lenses:
1. More Character
2. Cheaper
3. Can be smaller
The advice you give depends on what you're looking for.

Many of the replies above refer to old SLR lenses. These are big and so are the adapters. If you want small you need to look at old rangefinder lenses, such as the Helios suggested by Eric above.

Even smaller than the Helios with a 28mm FL is the Industar69. Put this on an older Oly EPL or PM and you get a pocketable set up. It needs an LTM/M39 adapter. I suggest you also need an evf as you're going to focus manually.

If you want a shorter FL you can try the Pentax Auto110 18mm. Needs a pentax110 adapter. Only snag is there's no aperture control but if you check out the threads on this site you can see how people get around that.

Hope this helps.
 

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