Durability of lenses

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Wolf, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. Wolf

    Wolf Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 14, 2012
    So everybody is saying "lenses are more important then bodies" which of course is true.
    But since lenses like the 12mm, 75mm, 12-35, 35-100, 25mm are very expensive, I wonder what is the durabilty of lenses like this ?
    With durability I mainly mean "built quality".
    Can "modern" lenses last a lifetime ?
    Do they need maintenance if you always take good care of them (body caps always on, filter, no walking in bad weather) ?
    • Like Like x 2
  2. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    One concern would be the AF and aperture motors. Will they fail in 5, 10, 15 years? It's hard to say since there are just way too many factors.
  3. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2011
  4. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 23, 2012
    I don't see modern lenses as needing to last a lifetime...by the time the lens falls apart (I can't see this happening in less than 10 years), I'll probably have moved onto a new technology. Speaking only for myself of course.
  5. iGonzoid

    iGonzoid Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 6, 2011
    Tasmania, Australia
    Durability: my Leica DRS 50mm f2 still works perfectly on my M3 and three m43 cameras, and it's 50+ years old. No electronics or motors to fail. Which is why I love my new, second-hand, all-manual Voigtlander Nokton f0.95 25mm m43. The cameras I use it on [EP-2, GH2 and OM-D] will probably be dust when the Leica and Nokton lenses are still in use on some form of light-recording technology.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Wolf

    Wolf Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 14, 2012
    Indeed, good ol' manual lenses can last a lifetime.
    Of course I'm sure you can still use the 75mm for example as a manual focus lens in 10 years...

    Having said this, as people say, in 10 years we'll maybe be working with 100MP cameras most likely and the Iphone 37 will be better then current micro 4/3 cameras ;-)
  7. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I use many many manual lenses from the 70's and 80's on a daily basis, and have one as old as 1953 (60 years old) which I use on occasion (I used to use it regularly until I got a bigger bag to fit a newer manual lens). Those lenses certainly do last a lifetime.

    In the digital end, I'm using lenses from as old as 2003 (the original Zuiko Digital lineup). They are just as good as new. 10 years later, I see no degradation in those lenses. Perhaps 10 years is too short a time to tell (at least compared with 60 years), but as far as I'm concerned good quality digital lenses hold up just as well.

    Keep in mind that I'm a professional photographer and 100% of my living is in photography. These lenses see a lot of use and abuse. For comparison's sake, I go through several bodies per year. I just bought a new Pen Mini last week, and there's already a crack in the screen (thankfully they moved to a protective glass screen over the LCD since the E-PL2, which was exposed in the original E-P1 Digital PEN). I handle my lenses as rough or even rougher than my bodies, and the most damage they ever receive is rubbed paint or a crack in a plastic hood.

    The one thing I can't comment on however, are all-plastic lenses like the kit zooms. I just don't use them... Most of mine are still in the box with all the receipts for the camera it came with. As hinted at already in this thread - if you pay for a quality lens you will get a quality lens, in this age just as in days of old.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. macalterego

    macalterego Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 10, 2012
    Lawrence, KS
    Real Name:
    Jeffrey McPheeters
    That's good to know. I also use many older lenses from the 70's. even though technology advances, it doesn't always mean older tech becomes useless. The IBIS in the OM-D and focus peaking with the NEX bodies has caused a resurgence in interest in older lenses, not to mention the impact video has played in arousing interest in these fine pieces of glass. As an aside, I've found that walking around with a manual lens has added a dimension to my photography that was somewhat ignored or lost with the advent of nearly instant auto-focus: taking time to focus on a scene or person gives me time to think and consider the scene more fully before I press the shutter release. I notice more, see more opportunities, etc. in a way it's been freeing rather than restricting to use a manual lens.

    Back to the topic, I've seen expensive Canon L lenses go in for service as well as the bodies. These are $2000-$5000 items. Pretty much any repairs were not mechanical in nature but had to do with electronics. Spending $200-$300 to repair a lens costing ten-twenty times as much isn't such a huge sacrifice if it happens once every five or ten years. I will probably judge whether or not to repair a Zuiko 75mm 1.8 years down the road based on how well it has held its value in the preowned market and what the cost to repair is.
  9. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Yes...and Nikon AF-S lenses do suffer motor malfs...and the service (replacement of the motor) is not cheap at all...the more complicated the lens, the more the possible issues. We are NEVER going back to the days of Leica MF lenses or Nikon AI lenses or equivalent lenses. Is this a problem? Not in my opinion...technology moves on and we can follow.
  10. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    We live in the age of disposable proprietary electronics and most modern lenses are electronic. If a lens can serve 10 years it's good enough.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    There is a higher rate of failure for the modern AF electronic lenses. The rate is even higher for the cheaper and kit lenses. But from what I have seen they last much better than most other electronics. There are also places one can send them to be repaired, although the repair may be higher than the lens is worth.

    Even old lenses fail. They can get mold/fungus or oil leech onto the iris or the grease get hard. Nothing in this world is forever, even a diamond can be broken{although it aint easy to do that!}. So in the end we have to find what works for us and fits our budget and then go out and shoot.

    Hopefully the images will last forever!:biggrin:
  12. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Wow, talk about optimism... :smile: :eek: :frown:
  13. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    Physically I'm sure some can, although most aren't designed for 20 years of heavy use, let alone a lifetime. However, the longevity of a modern camera system is unlikely to be anything close to a lifetime, so I don't think it's worth worrying about. Cameras are at this point are really just sophisticated computers, and have about the same shelf-life and lifespan.
  14. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    What about the memories? Shouldn't they last a lifetime? ;)
  15. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Yes, but my point was that transparencies and prints do not necessarily age well, and there are all kinds of risks with digital photos (poor backup, for starters). Even with good backup, I wonder sometimes what backwards compatibility will allow us to do 20 years or (though I will not be around) 50 or 100 years from now.
  16. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    This keeps being brought up repeatedly, but it's bogus. We already have open source software that can read all the current RAW and other formats, that means the algorithms are out there, not hidden.

    Even right now, you can convert most formats to DNG.
  17. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Are you sure you know where hardware and software will be 50 years from now? :rolleyes:
  18. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    Don't need to, I still use 50 year old software, and have machine emulators for machines that don't even exist anymore. I can emulate any number of 30 yr old machines on a tablet, so that reasoning doesn't work either.
  19. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    Real Name:
    The question regarding memories is not whether the computer as we know it today will last for 50 years.
    The question that should be asked is about the longevity of the jpeg file format.
    Since this format is heavily used by all visual still instruments we can expect it to last.
    The other question that we should ask, where are those jpeg will be saved?
    Today most of them are saved in home computer without backup. I think that this will be solved when people will put more and more of their memories in cloud servers. These servers have fail safe technologies and have backup, the better ones even have geographically distributed architects.
    With this progress in computer storage we can assume that our pictures can have at least our life span and even better.
  20. kevwilfoto

    kevwilfoto Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 23, 2011
    I dropped my 45-175X lens and it rolled down a mountainside for 10-15 feet. Hardly even a scratch. I'm still not convinced that today's plastic gear can stand up to "abuse", but I'll be appreciating the light weight in the mean time.

    Going back? All that is still available today. Nikon still sells AIS lenses. Zeiss for DSLRs. All Voigtlander lenses inculding :43:. Samyang/Rokinon lenses. Zeiss 24mm for NEX has autofocus, but the new Schneider lenses for :43: aren't autofocus. Most of those are still all-metal construction.

    Plastic & AF & VR/IS/VC/OS and composite lens materials are definitely the future of photography, but there's still that 5-20% (?) that rolls old-school. Metal lenses, manual exposure ... even film with sunny-16 rule exposure is alive and kicking (or having a seizure? ha ha).

    I feel our disposable society is a bad thing, in "big picture" terms, but I'm sure you're right. As technology progresses, and that progress accelerates, a 2012 lens will likely be either very retro/vintage or almost useless in 2022, probably because it doesn't support the new holographic quantum laser focusing system or something.