best way to get in to vintage glass?

Erich_H

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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.
Actually, Richard, I was suggesting the M42 version of Helios-44! So the adapter-lens combination does get pretty large.

And with an M42 adapter you get access to tons of very often nice, and, also, very often very cheap glass! Lots of very in that sentence...

But, concerning the Auto-110 lenses, if you want SMALL, get the 24 mm! The adapter for this can also be DIY at almost no cost at all!
 
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Focal reducers later.
If you haven't bought a body yet, keep in mind that focal reducers will not work with Fool Frame sensors.

I shoot legacy glass a lot! Almost all of it Olympus OM. A good focal reducer makes a good lens sing! But if either of them are crappy, the result will be crappy — there's no such things as "free lunch."
 
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avoid glassed adapters, focal reducers, and their ilk like the plague
I'm just the opposite. I now use a quality focal reducer just about any time I use a legacy lens. They make a great lens even better!

But don't worry; if your goal was to get artsy results out of a crappy lens, it will still look crappy with a focal reducer. :)

I recommend the Viltrox Mount Adapter EF–>MFT II, which fits Canon EF lenses. It has a great balance between performance and price.

Don't have any Canon EF lenses? Not to worry; EF is the smallest register distance of just about any SLR mount, and so a wide variety of thin adaptors are available to mount just about anything onto the Canon EF mount. I have a thin EF—>OM ring that I use for my beloved OM Zuikos.

If you wind up with the older, non-"II" version of the VMA, you will have to tape over the contacts on it in order to use it with a non-electronic lens, or it will refuse to participate, and your viewfinder will be dark. I complained mightily to them, and voila, the "II" version now works fine with non-electronic lenses.

I also have the Zhongyi, which I find to be a tad less impressive than the VMA, but perfectly serviceable, compared to some of the utter garbage that is out there masquerading as focal reducers. Don't buy anything with a list price much below $150!

Of course, if you can afford it, the Metabones Speedbooster Ultra is the gold standard, which the Viltrox approaches, but does not surpass. But hey, it's for 1/4th the price.

So I have four focal reducers, more or less permanently attached to OM Zuikos.
 
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One more thing, if you're shopping for a body to use primarily with legacy glass: the Olympus E-M1.2 and Pen-F (at least) have multiple entries for legacy glass information that both informs IBIS, and also shows up in EXIF data.

You can enter an arbitrary name for the lens, it's focal length, and an aperture, typically the maximum aperture, but if you really want to document your work, you can set it to whatever you're shooting at — it is not used by the camera, and is only for EXIF data.

My only complaint is that there are only ten entries available for such data! If you use both a focal reducer and a tele-extender, that sorta limits you to nine lenses you can program in!

Other cameras may have such a feature, but others that I've used only let you put in the focal length for one lens, and no other EXIF info.
 

PakkyT

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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
Not a concern anymore but back in the 4/3rds (dSLR days) adapting vintage glass was popular because the 4/3rd line up was dominated by zoom lenses and in the case of Olympus none of their lenses were any faster than f2. So adapting old film lenses gave you a large selection of prime lenses and lenses with apertures larger than f2.

Now we have an embarrassment of riches with tons of fast primes and many of them not too expensive, so the reasons to adapt old lenses have changed a bit. These days people do it more for the fun of it (it was fun back in 4/3rds as well of course, but it also gave you something you maybe couldn't get "digitally") I think most of all. It is always fun when you run across some $5 film era lens at the thrift shop and a quick eBay check on your phone shows you can get an adapter for $6 heck why not try it.
 

Erich_H

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I'm just the opposite. I now use a quality focal reducer just about any time I use a legacy lens. They make a great lens even better!

But don't worry; if your goal was to get artsy results out of a crappy lens, it will still look crappy with a focal reducer. :)

I recommend the Viltrox Mount Adapter EF–>MFT II, which fits Canon EF lenses. It has a great balance between performance and price.

Don't have any Canon EF lenses? Not to worry; EF is the smallest register distance of just about any SLR mount, and so a wide variety of thin adaptors are available to mount just about anything onto the Canon EF mount. I have a thin EF—>OM ring that I use for my beloved OM Zuikos.

If you wind up with the older, non-"II" version of the VMA, you will have to tape over the contacts on it in order to use it with a non-electronic lens, or it will refuse to participate, and your viewfinder will be dark. I complained mightily to them, and voila, the "II" version now works fine with non-electronic lenses.

I also have the Zhongyi, which I find to be a tad less impressive than the VMA, but perfectly serviceable, compared to some of the utter garbage that is out there masquerading as focal reducers. Don't buy anything with a list price much below $150!

Of course, if you can afford it, the Metabones Speedbooster Ultra is the gold standard, which the Viltrox approaches, but does not surpass. But hey, it's for 1/4th the price.

So I have four focal reducers, more or less permanently attached to OM Zuikos.
Expensive or cheap: if you put a focal reducer, Zhongyi, Viltrox, Metabones, or crappy no name, on, for example, a Zeiss Biotar, or a Leitz Summicron, you are not shooting a Zeiss, nor a Leitz, any more!

Extra optical elements added to ANY lens will change the original optical recipe of this lens.

Sorry. But this is the law of physics in the real world. Where I live.
 
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Other note: THe adapters I got, all fit on the lens and on the camera body hard. I mean turned hard, and seemed to almost grind and scrape. Maybe because they were the inexpensive ones, say 12 or 14 bucks. I was concerned about them wearing into the mountings.

I knew applying a drop of oil wasnt a good idea, due to where it might run to, but I wanted to do something.
But what I did do, was to examine the mounts and identify which surfaces slide together (mostly the ramped tabs).
THen I put a couple little drop of 3&1 oil on a tooth pic and let that soak into the wood of the tooth pic. Then rubbed that on the mating surfaces I identified before, didnt really seem that I was applying anything to anything. But, man, the adapter sure did go on a lot smoother. Used another drop on tooth pic for the next adapter.
 
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Erich_H

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Other note: THe adapters I got, all fit on the lens and on the camera body hard. I mean turned hard, and seemed to almost grind and scrape. Maybe because they were the inexpensive ones, say 12 or 14 bucks. I was concerned about them wearing into the mountings.

I knew applying a drop of oil wasnt a good idea, due to where it might run to, but I wanted to do something.
But what I did do, was to examine the mounts and identify which surfaces slide together (mostly the ramped tabs).
THen I put a couple little drop of 3&1 oil on a tooth pic and let that soak into the wood of the tooth pic. Then rubbed that on the mating surfaces I identified before, didnt really seem that I was applying anything to anything. But, man, the adapter sure did go on a lot smoother. Used another drop on tooth pic for the next adapter.
Silicone spray on the toothpick would be even better than oil!
 
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Expensive or cheap: if you put a focal reducer, Zhongyi, Viltrox, Metabones, or crappy no name, on, for example, a Zeiss Biotar, or a Leitz Summicron, you are not shooting a Zeiss, nor a Leitz, any more!
That's true even if you put a skylight filter on the front, no?

I'm not really sure what point you're trying to make, here.
 

jimr.pdx

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Many of the 'vintage' brands have a specific forum, with chats on favored lenses or user reviews. Pentaxforums, Nikoncafe and such as those can get you winnowed down in a hurry before you find out the hard way that an old 'bargain' is priced low for a reason. For 3rd party lenses it can be harder, though Vivitar is pretty well represented online as to which company made specific lenses for them. Pentaxforums has reviews of even 3rd party K-mount and M42 lenses, so I visit there frequently.. in fact I learned that my recently-acquired 55/1.8 Takumar has thorium-infused rear elements - :eek: - 😵 - 👹
 

piggsy

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Couple things:

if you're after a "character" lens, great. Go buy a 50 or 55 F1.4 lens and a dumb adapter, or any old 3 element "triplet" lens, and go nuts.

this is the one I use for that :

https://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/SMC-Pentax-M-50mm-F1.4-Lens.html



If you want a lens that's practically useable as a good, sharp, fast lens, for cheap, buy an adapted macro lens.

I can personally recommend :

https://www.pentaxforums.com/userreviews/vivitar-135mm-f-2-8-1-2-close-focusing.html

https://www.pentaxforums.com/userreviews/tokina-90mm-f2-5-x-macro.html

https://www.mu-43.com/threads/tamron-sp-af-180mm-f3-5-ld-if-macro-1-1.87331/



And if you want a sharp 50, the micro-nikkors with manual aperture on them are also a good go.

Still looking at cheaper than most native lenses for the equivalent focal length for all of the above, and usually, shot wide open, still plenty of character, and often great bokeh with it:

50805794808_ba084c7a5c_h.jpgcrow butterfly on gomphrena by PIG, on Flickr

There certain use cases where if you're after a lens of a certain character and focal length, it may make more sense to get a 2nd hand A7/A7ii and a dumb adapter and just enjoy yourself. If you want to use m43, and you're ok with your cheap lenses being 100+mm on a dumb adapter, you should consider adapting a macro lens instead.
 

Erich_H

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That's true even if you put a skylight filter on the front, no?

I'm not really sure what point you're trying to make, here.
My point is exactly what I am saying!

And, no, this is NOT applicable to UV filters!

The point of a UV filter (of good quality!) is to filter out UV light.

And, in doing so, NOT altering the optical formula of a lens in any way!

Check your math! This might be a helpful, easily understandable equation:

Magnification = 1 - Fd / Fl
and 1 / Fl = (1 / Fd) + (1 / Ff)

Where Fl is the focal length of the reducer.

Fd is the distance between the reducer and the sensor, film or imaging surface.

Ff is the distance between the reducer and the original image produced by the lens with no reducer in place.

Optic1.jpg
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I also need to get my Helios lens out again.
The Helios 44M is the one I like the most out of the few vintage lenses I have. It's a very different experience compared to shooting with AF lenses. I recently used the lens on a G9 at our Corona-adapted outdoors Christmas Eve family get-together:
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If you want to get into vintage glass, I think you're best off going the Sony A7 / A7II route. The older glass is mostly designed to be stopped down to f5.6 and the lenses with adapters are going to be quite large on M43. Adding a focal reducer will compensate for the longer focal lengths and give you something more usable on M43 crop sensors, but will not help with the size issue.

However, if you actually want to get into manual focus lenses and already have a M43 body or two then I'd recommend trying out the cheap Chinese lenses that are being produced. Because the lenses are designed for APS-C or M43 sensors, they are significantly smaller than their vintage full-frame counterparts. Optically these lenses are good to really good, though some of them can have build quality deficiencies*. You can put together a system with lenses in the 12/17/25/35/50 focal lengths would rival a Leica M system in size and cost about what a Leica M body costs.

* I recently picked up a Zhongyi Speedmaster 25/0.95 lens and was pleasantly surprised by how good it is wide open. However, I was annoyed with how easy it was to move the focus ring. It was as if they chose white lithium grease to use as helical grease, which drove me nuts. Without fully disassembling the lens, I was able to add a thicker helical grease and now the lens is a joy to use. FWIW, the other brands I've tried (Laowa, Rokinon, Samyang, and TTartisans so far) have all had smooth yet firm focusing rings.
 

Erich_H

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....
However, if you actually want to get into manual focus lenses and already have a M43 body or two then I'd recommend trying out the cheap Chinese lenses that are being produced. .....
.... You can put together a system with lenses in the 12/17/25/35/50 focal lengths would rival a Leica M system in size and cost about what a Leica M body costs. ....
Please don't mention Leica in the same context as "the cheap Chinese lenses"!
 

PakkyT

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Other note: THe adapters I got, all fit on the lens and on the camera body hard. I mean turned hard, and seemed to almost grind and scrape. Maybe because they were the inexpensive ones, say 12 or 14 bucks.
A lot of the cheaper adapters on the adapter-to-lens side of the mount will use gaps to determine tightness. Sometimes they come with too much gap (or too little so your lens feels loose).

2021-01-17 13.23.54.jpg
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Often you can adjust this gap to make the mounting of a lens either tighter by inserting a tiny flat head screw driver (or equivalent) to get the gap to be slightly bigger (I suggest only slightly pushing the screw driver in at first, no twisting or prying and it takes very little extra gap to make a big different) or looser by gently squeezing the tab to close down the gap every so slightly (again very gently making very small adjustments as you go).

The adapter I grabbed for the above shot did not have the same thing on the adapter-to-camera side but you might look at yours an see if there is any such feature.
 
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L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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My take on adapting old lenses may be a bit different, from my own experience. There are 2 questions you might need to ask to get a better idea of what your friends want: what's the budget and what are the expectations of the result (Small print, Large print, Online sharing, Pure curiosity, or for pure fun).
It matters because the higher the expectations to more money, time, and effort need to be put in to meet those expectations.
The most basic I can recommend, and for fun, is:

*Pentax 110 lenses and C-Mount lenses... Cheap enough, you can get a decent variety of FL and the IQ is good enough for smallish prints and online sharing. For cameras I recommend any Micro Four Thirds that has Focus Peaking (it can help a lot with manual focusing, especially for beginners) and if possible and budget allowed IBIS, it will increase the IQ results in all conditions, not just daylight AND it will reduce the frustration for beginners who might not understand why the results may be blurry in low light.

*Any dumb adapter (no electronics), solid metal preferably as some lense can get very heavy with most legacy lenses and a FF mirrorless camera. It can be any Nikon Z or Panasonic S or Canon R or Sony FE BUT Sony A7 is the oldest and the cheapest you can get (ca go as low as 400£ used in some places). A Sony A7 II might be a better alternative for the IBIS if the budget allows it. I would not recommend any camera higher the 24MP because its a strain on pretty old optics that won't stand well to such pixel density (film grain is different, it can give better results from the random nature of the crystals in the film compared to perfectly identical pixels size and shape of modern sensors).

If you want cheap old lenses look for the forgotten mounts or the oldest mounts, like M42 or Yashica/Contax. Some of the most expensive mounts are the highest quality optics or rarest lenses or mounts that are still compatible to this day, like Pentax K, Nikon F, Minolta A.
Personally, I recommend primes over zooms for anything pre 1990s on any mounts because optically most zooms have less image quality and even loser quality control, except for some extremely expensive lenses like the Yashica ML zooms and Carl Zeiss zooms.
Another recommendation is to not look for IQ as much as look for personality, character, optical qualities: color rendition, swirly or soft or smooth bokeh, and other qualities. Sharpness is not everything the same way blurry background does not make a picture amazing *cough* Tony *cough*.
Also, think about fun, not all old lenses have the same amount of fun, some can be more frustrating to use either by old design or mechanical faults like grindy or stiff manual focus, stuck aperture blades, loose controls like skipping aperture rings, wobbly manual focus rings, etc.

One of the best places I found for reviews on old lenses is this one https://phillipreeve.net/blog/

(Personally, I don't think it's much worth using APSC cameras with legacy glass even with speed booster because it has higher density pixel to beat the IQ out of these old optics. It would be like trying to watch the TV with a magnifying glass :p)
(With Micro Four Thirds it's a bit different if you stick with Pentax 110, Olympus PenF, C Mount, and 16mm cinema lenses because they are designed for smaller film size).
 
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