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Do adapted Lenses produce a Retro Image?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Frankie Carroll, Oct 22, 2015.

  1. Frankie Carroll

    Frankie Carroll Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 29, 2015
    I have a Lumix GX7 and I have the following lenses:

    Samyang 7.5mm 3.5
    Panasonic 20mm 1.7
    Panasonic 12-35mm 2.8
    Olympus Zuiko 45mm 1.8
    Sigma 60mm 2.8
    Panasonic 45-175mm 4.0-5.6

    I am interested in purchasing some old lenses (probably Olympus Zuiko OM lenses) but before I do I was wondering does the image produced with these old lenses look any different to the images produced with new lenses? I am thinking of starting with a 50mm but is the image produced going to look much different from what I could achieve with my new 45mm? As I am pretty much covered with all the focal lengths would buying some of these old lenses be a waste of money?
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  2. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    Yeap, especially if you get one of the designs known to be weaker (the original radioactive single coated 50mm for example is a fantastic portrait lens).

    The 100mm f2.8 would be another good example, although it tends to have more CA (such a thing is apparently possible!).
  3. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 4, 2010
    It depends. Older lenses render differently for a number of different reasons - for example - older lens coating technologies and light-paths optimised for film particles rather than digital light sensors.

    Have you checked out the Adapted Lens Sample forums ?
  4. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Me too: it depends, IMO not much. A few adapted lenses can differ a lot in how they blur the background, an Helios or a Trioplan are much different from all m43 native lenses. The adapted lenses I tried wide open tend to have a soft glow that can be nice or terrible depending on the subject. All had quite poor contrast(*). Adapting the modern Canon EF 50/1.8 II also gave some kind of soft/organic look.
    After you post process the pictures boosting contrast, a little saturation, sharpness and clarity may be hard to tell them apart.

    Two similar processed pictures shot the same time, same place, Oly kit zoom vs Nikon 50/1.8 + focal reducer. Which one is which?

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    Considering you already have a 45/1.8 I think a super lens like the Nikon 105/2.5, for example, could be a better investment giving you a different focal length, fast and not available natively. Or maybe a long macro lens. Primes are the best option, also to benefit from the IBIS.

    (*) I've just read the advice to always underexpose a little to avoid this, I'll try.
  5. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    I think you'd have more success and spend less money learning to post process the images you can get with what you have to a "retro" look.

    I'd look into the Nik Suite or onOne Perfect Suite.
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  6. Frankie Carroll

    Frankie Carroll Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 29, 2015
    Thanks for all the tips & advise guys, I will spend a bit of time checking out the Adaptive Lens Sample Image Forum and also consider the Nikon 105 lens, I probably dont really need anymore lenses, but I am keen to try some old lenses to see what sort of results I can get and hopefully pick up a bargain with the lens at the same time.
  7. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    While processing images to achieve a retro look can be fun, it's a lot easier and faster (in my opinion) to just use old glass.

    As said above, there will typically be a lot more aberrations, especially CA and field curvature, but also coma. They will also tend to be lower contrast, which I don't at all think is an inherently bad thing, given how easy it is to blast the contrast in post-production. Most M4/3 lenses are very sharp with lots of microcontrast, and it's quite a different look.

    Here's a Canon 50-135/f3.5 with a $95 focal reducer:

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  8. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    Get old c-mount lenses, they got the best retro look since they're made for a smaller image circle. The old Pen-F lenses and Pentax 110 lenses are another consideration.
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  9. Due to the huge number of lenses that you can adapt, there are some that will offer a "retro" look...and then there are others that will work just as nicely as contemporary ones, and sometimes save you some money. This is especially true for macro lenses. This is an area where AF isn't used that much and manual focus is just easier. Nice example here is the image I'd already posted in a couple of places here, but this @$100 lens has excellent qualities...and you would be hard pressed to tell the difference in images shot with this or the Oly 60mm that sells for lots more money. Point being here is that you can get some serious bang for the buck with some of the legacy glass...and be pleasantly surprised with the results. Some of this involves doing your homework to get the desired lens.
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  10. What lens and what you mean by retro depends I guess. Some examples that come to mind :

    Petzval 120/3.6

    Meyer Primotar 135/3.5

    Helios 40 85/1.5

    Volna 9 Macro 50/2.8

    &ed - and also, this fascinating thread recently on colour rendition -


    (note that - as with everything - the actual image is down to the photographer making interesting stuff happen, rather than just the lens, and there is no guarantee of any particular cool looking result just by owning one of the above :D )

    More generally - the look of some older lenses just comes down to design (eg triplet, shape or number of aperture blades, etc), some just comes down to age or the technology of the time, etc. How retro do you want? You can always buy some of the lomography lenses if you want a distinct look and it doesn't get a lot more retro than pinhole lens :D . But it's not as simple as just any "adapted" lens - plenty of older lenses are pretty much the same thing as you would buy today with no particular distinct look other than doing the same thing as a cheap kit zoom and worse.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2015
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  11. Frankie Carroll

    Frankie Carroll Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 29, 2015
    I probably didn't explain my question correctly - I am not specifically looking to achieve a retro look as such with one of these old lenses, I just thought with them being old lenses by using them I might end up with a photo that looks like it was taken 30 or 40 year ago rather than taken in 2015 with a modern day digital camera (if that makes sense?) I suppose a better way to have put my question is if I use one of these old lenses would the resulting photograph look any different to the result I would have achieved with a modern day lens? From what I can tell so far - probably not, so I dont think I will buy the Olympus Zuiko OM 50mm as the focal length of this lens is pretty much the same as my 45mm and would not really give anything I didn't already have, so if I am going to dip my toe in the water I will probably buy a lens that compliments my existing set up more rather duplicates something I already have.
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  12. Well, there's a few different ends to pull on that same thing - one example would be the pinhole lens, which is basically a non-lens and will make it look like the photo was taken on a pinhole camera, or the examples of the meyer triplet lenses or particular shape aperture blades and mechanisms, which will produce a similar kind of bokeh on anything used with them no matter what the output is written onto. Another end of it would be emulating the film and process applied to the film 30 or 40 years ago, which is more something you'd approach in post process, the colour rendition topic link goes into that a little - eg it can be quite difficult to post process something in that was never in the shot to begin with and it can be hard to make it look as consistent and natural as it does by using a lens with special transmission properties. It's not some unusual thing to do - you've probably seen a few movies that have messed with how the scenes are shot with the aim of processing the hell out of it in a certain direction later (Three Kings comes to mind as one).

    Oh and, re the OM 50mm, macro lenses are kind of their own thing - the goal of these is to be as completely accurate, flat and consistent as possible (sometimes down to IR and up to UV transmission as well on the APO/higher end enlarger lenses). The older ones whole purpose was something more like a photocopier kind of application than a "look" lens application. So most of the old ones that are notably good are usually really, really similar, and the goal of modern ones is pretty much the same as it was then.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2015
  13. Unless you find some interest in trying close up/macro shooting. Then the macro version of that 50mm would be worth getting.
  14. I agree...easier to try to do this with post processing and get the look than to hunt for just the right lens. That could take some time.
  15. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    The easiest way to get the retro look is to use an old lens on a film camera and actually take the old picture.

    No post processing needed.
  16. MarkRyan

    MarkRyan Instagram: @MRSallee Subscribing Member

    May 3, 2013
    I have a handful of (newer) OM lenses, I wouldn't describe any of them as giving a particularly retro look.

    Now, as for your other question: Is it worth getting one with a focal length that overlaps with your native lenses?

    In my opinion: Hell yeah! There's a different joy in using manual lenses. It's slower, for sure, but that's not a bad thing in all cases. I love the feel, the weight of the lenses, the metal construction, and the manual aperture rings. I love focusing manually, using magnified live view to look through the lens stopped down and nail focus more exactly than autofocus will manage. The process of using manual lenses is, for me, much more satisfying than native lenses.
  17. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    Even then you often won't necessarily get the look of a photo taken 40 years ago. Ageing of the the photo medium can have a dramatic effect on the image seen these days.

    Many of the old slides I pulled out to copy have developed a marked colour cast. I'm very sure the NASA slides of the earth from space my dad brought, where not severely red cast when new!
  18. If you're going to share them digitally, you still need to post process the scanned file. But that's only after finding the lens that gives you the look that you desire. Of course, that assumes that you have a working film camera to mount it to. Much simpler to just do it in post where you can have more control over the look.
  19. If you were shooting during the '70s and 80's, you may find that the experience of going back to these lenses can be a bit addictive. It scratches multiple itches that many of us have...first being a good functional piece of gear, second being the user experience, and third would be a sense of satisfaction for the collector bug that some of us have. One last item not to be overlooked, it satisfies the bargain hunter...and I think there's a few of us here. Notice I didn't use cheapskate...that wouldn't be appropriate. So you see, it isn't just about the images.
  20. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    It obviously depends on the specific lens but IMO yes, if you take an average lens and do not process it to make it "better" the resulting image may look a little like an old one (vignetting, blur/halos, colour casts, low contrast, etc.). But again these are characteristic of some lenses.
    Look at this thread for example:


    Some things with adapted lenses are just a pure coincidence: old prints fades, putting a full-frame lens on a m43 lens spreads the extra light around and you get a washed result that looks like a 40 years old print appears today. But a freshly printed picture taken with matching old equipment was much better. Also some old lenses works better on digital then others.

    The other important thing missing is the different colours and grain that different films gave. Some cameras (IIRC Fuji) have special modes to emulate specific films colours (Fuji, Kodak, Velvia, etc.), or this can be achieved in PP.

    Then printed images themselves (took with any equipment) look different when printed (less digital) rather then on a computer screen.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2015
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