Giving up on adapted lenses?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by scott, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. scott

    scott Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 15, 2010
    I've had a slew of manual-focus lenses since I got my first G1. I've had the Panasonic 20mm the whole time, but for a long time I guess I thought MF lenses were the cheap route to lots of other focal lengths. But lately I've realized that I'm down to very few adapted lenses. Partly I'm finding that AF is very helpful for macro and wildlife stuff, and partly I've gotten sick of the problems and work-arounds with lots of the adapted stuff.

    I also went for quite a while trying to get wide lenses to work with scale focusing. But the focus scales were never accurate, and shimming the adapters to fix that was frustrating, difficult, and time-consuming. And usually not all that successful.

    And now that i have the 20, the 45, and the 100-300, I'm in pretty good shape for what I need to do.

    Looking back, it's amazing the number of lenses I went through. I'm not sure I can even remember them all. (Most of the Nikkor lenses were ones I already had.)

    • Cosina Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 [I wanted to love this lens. It was sharp and had great colors, but it didn't work well with a digital sensor -- lots of bad blurring in the corners. Sold it.]
    • Tokina 17mm [OK, but limited range of useful f stops; also a failed scale-focusing experiment. Sold it]
    • Vivitar Close-focus 28mm [lousy image quality. Sold it.]
    • Konica 40mm f/1.8 [People rave about this lens, and I really wanted to like it as a short telephoto. But it seemed to have really poor contrast; maybe it was just the one I had. Sold it.]
    • Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AIS [really soft wide open, otherwise not needed - sold it]
    • Voigtlander 50mm Color-Skopar X [cool old lens, but I don't really need collectors' items. Sold it]
    • SMC-Pentax 55mm [OK, not exciting, replaced by...]
    • Micro-Nikkor 55/3.5 [Great lens, but I was missing too many pictures due to focus problems. Finally got a good deal on the 45/2.8 and switched to that]
    • Canon 100mm f/2 FD [got this insanely cheap, but found that I didn't need f/2 and usually stuck with the 100-300mm. Sold the Canon for about $200 more than I paid for it.]
    • Canon 135mm f/3.5 [OK, but didn't have much use for it. Sold it]
    • Konica 135mm f/2.8 [guess I don't like 135s Sold it.]
    • Nikkor-Q 200mm f/4 [Got it for $12; why not? Don't use it much at all]
    • Nikkor 300mm f/4.5 AI [Nice lens, but I need AF at this focal length. Also realized the 100-300mm had much better close focus, and that the zoom would help with closer wildlife like lizards, etc.. Sold the 300.]
    • Vivitar 70-210 Macro zoom [heavy, hard to focus, never used it. Sold it.]
    • Vivitar 120-600mm (!) [Big, heavy, seemingly good--but I realized that could get better IQ with the 800mm adapter on our old spotting scope. Sold it.]
    • Celestron 1000mm mirror lens [Great idea--finally, a way to get those distant shorebirds, with a 2000mm EFL. Bad idea--low resolution, low contrast, blurring from reflections--really frustrating. Sold it.]

    Even with all those, I'm sure I've forgotten a few, and I'm not even dealing with the 7x50 "Photo Monocular" that I've attached to several of those lenses without much luck.

    Lots of energy spent. Not *too* much money, since I generally sold them for about what paid, or for a lot more in a few cases. But, having gone through it all, I wouldn't do it again. I'm happier with a few lenses that were actually built for the cameras I'm using. YMMV.
  2. sinclair

    sinclair Mu-43 Veteran

    I'm loving being able to use my MF lenses. It's why I went mFT, was so I could use my old glass. It's not for everyone, that's for sure. But I learned with them, and so they feel more natural to shoot with then the native lens I have. It feels like a point and shoot at times, which is good some times, but I like the options of having the MF lenses. I know they aren't that great, but I'm not out for the sharpest photo every time. I do plan on getting many more native lenses, but also more MF because I find them fun and relaxing to use.
  3. Jeffp3456

    Jeffp3456 New to Mu-43

    Apr 2, 2013
    South Florida
    I like being able to use the lenses I have already for my other system but don't buy legacy glass just for m43
  4. ptolemyx

    ptolemyx Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 19, 2012
    Vancouver, BC
    Real Name:
    I gotta say, that's not a very exciting list. It's already a sacrifice to use adapted vs native, so I think it only really makes sense to use the nicer pieces and then only when you can't/won't afford the closest MFT equivalent.

    For example, I've been pining away for the 75/1.8 since it was released -- but there's no way I can justify the cost at the moment. So today I picked up an EX++ Nikon 105mm f2.5 as a compromise. There are better equivalents, but not for $180, and now I can stop thinking about the 75mm for, uh, well... we'll see. :)

    And now I can take pictures like this:


    TANSTAAFL, I guess.
  5. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Using adapted lenses is not for everyone and not all lenses adapt well either. I have several lenses that I love and a few that I don't. I have also picked up some new ones and many have not lived up to their reputations or my expectations. There are some issues with using older adapted lenses and for some the extra work isn't worth it.

    If your m4/3 lenses give you what you want then use them. Cameras and lenses are merely tools. Find the ones that work for you and get the shots!
  6. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Real Name:
    Interesting story, Scott. I definitely identified with parts of it. Like you I was initially drawn to using adapted lens primarily as a means to expand my lens selection on the cheap. This approach lead me to try a wide array of bargain basement lenses. Like you, most of the adapted lenses I've shot with have been primes, since the older zooms (particularly the cheap ones) are generally pretty awful. Most of them ranged from average to terrible, but I did stumble into a couple that I quite liked.

    I found that the biggest benefit I've gotten from using adapted lenses is that they've forced me to slow down in my processes and become more thoughtful. Since they've largely been primes I've been forced to "zoom with my feet" and pay closer attention to my framing and composition than I might if I were using a native zoom. Since I have to manually focus I feel I become more attuned with the contents of the frame. Since I have an aperture dial I find I'm more cognizant of the setting than I am when the aperture is just a number on the LCD. All of these "obstructions" make the act of photography more mindful for me.

    As far as continuing to shoot with adapted lenses, it goes in waves a bit for me. There are times when I shoot with them consistently and other times when they tend to collect dust. Whenever I'm shooting just to document some event (e.g. a birthday party or the kids' soccer games) I almost always reach for one of my native lenses for the faster workflow that autofocus enables. However, whenever I go out to "do photography" just for myself, I almost always find myself gravitating to some of the old glass. Even when I'm shooting with my native lenses, I'm always using some of the skills that shooting with the manual primes helped me build.

    I can fully understand your reasoning for wanting to use the great native lenses you have, particularly for long focal lengths and shooting wildlife. However, I find myself struck by your statement that you "wouldn't do it again" with the legacy lenses. I'm curious if perhaps you've had similar experiences to me where the limitations of the adapted lenses might have helped you improve your skills in some ways.
  7. juangrande

    juangrande Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 2, 2012
    One thing that helped me was having a slew of cheap adapted lenses to figure out what FL's I liked. I'm now down to a Nikon 180mm 2.8 ED/ TC-16A and a Minolta 50 1.4 and OLY 3.5 Macro. I think I just sold my Kiron 28 f2, which is awesome for lowlight video with only 90 degrees of focus throw and f2 plenty sharp. I had the 100-300 panny once and Oly 70-300 4/3 but beyond around 225mm, bleh. The Oly 50-200 is spectacular except for AF, size, price and bokeh. Just as sharp as the 75 1.8. The Nikon ( extremely sharp,too) is hit and miss because of technique. That makes the hits exciting, especially @ 288mm! It's quite easy to use @ 180mm.
  8. MikeR_GF1

    MikeR_GF1 Mu-43 Veteran

    My experience, relatively short as it is, has been similar. I guess I can summarize it best for me in that adapted lenses force me to "pay attention."
  9. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    Real Name:
    Nope. In fact I just sold my Olympus 70-300 (4/3 lens) because the auto focus on m4/3 was making me crazy. I got some nice shots from it, but since I ended up manually focusing anyway, and the focus by wire doesn't really thrill me, I ended up using my Zuiko 135mm on a 2X-A Olympus adapter. Works rather well, well enough to do until I can afford the 75-300 (or maybe the panasonic 100-300). Here's a shot took with it yesterday around dusk. I'll probably get the 200 f4 as well.

  10. McBob

    McBob Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 22, 2012
    Naturally it all depends upon the lens and how they're used.

    Being primarily a video shooter, I can depend upon my old Nikons and Leica R's to work (via adapter) with just about any cinema camera body I might own or rent. In the past year I used them on my GH2 and AF100, 5D's, 7D's, and a Sony FS100. IQ is excellent, and they're paid for. Spending a little more to get exactly what I needed has possibly saved me money in the long run by alleviating rampant GAS problems.

    That said, I still like a few of the native m43 lenses in my kit, both for their quality and quickness of operation - the 7-14, 12-35, PL25, and even the wide-range 14-140... the last not exactly an exciting lens, but when I have to rattle off a lot of different range shots in a short period, very very handy.
  11. Hyubie

    Hyubie Unique like everyone else

    Oct 15, 2010
    Real Name:
    Like you I initially thought I can make a "system" out of manual focus lenses. I even tried out a Nex C3, for focus peaking. Discovered that it's still a hit-and-miss event. :(

    But unlike you, I only bought a few. I tried out a Canon FD 50 f/1.4, and I love it. It's an entirely different shooting experience, and I love the colors that come out of that lens. I used that lens quite extensively before buying another one, so I can decide if MF is a viable option -- and I realized it is not. So now I only have MF lenses with the knowledge that they are not "everyday" lenses - but I appreciate the images I get out of them, enough for me to keep three or four.
  12. mh2000

    mh2000 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 3, 2010
    I made the decision to sell my Oly 45 and keep my Color-Skopar 50/2.5. The Voightlander just has a nicer rendering to my eye and it's a beautiful peice of work. Not taking action shots etc.
  13. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The problem with those long focal length mirror lenses/telescopes is the internal baffling has be be just exactly right for the sensor format/size or there will be problems with field flooding and excessive loss of contrast for the myriad internal reflections. - or in the worst case a direct path from primary objective to sensor (it can happen).

    In their effort to accomodate many formats they usually opt simply for the largest (possibly even 35mm film) which results in baffles, etc that are totally inadequate for smaller sensors.

    If one is not willing to retro fit the correct baffles then it is probably best to not even bother with generic mirror lenses unless they are specifically designed for ones sensor format. Or use for astrophotography where ambient light is not a dominant factor.
  14. sinclair

    sinclair Mu-43 Veteran

    Some of us shot for years with only MF, so it's a very viable option. AF is nice and all, but to me it's like power zoom, not necessary. But I think we are all saying the same thing, adapted lenses aren't for everyone. Some of us love them and use them as our main lenses, other don't like them and use the native.

    So far, of all the shots I've taken with my GF5, the ones with my Canon lenses are my favorite, mostly because I had to stop and pick what I focused on and how to frame it and meter it. My nFD 50mm f/1.8 has quickly becoming my top shooter. Is it going to stop me from saving my pennies and adding to my list of native lenses, no way, nor will I stop getting old glass to use either.
  15. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    I feel you - I am only really using the manual glass to avoid buying things like Olympus 45 and 75mm. I do admit the feeling of mechanical focusing is nice especially for video for smoother transition. Also since my only m43 camera does not have manual video control I appreciate the ability to change aperture manually.
  16. joma

    joma New to Mu-43

    Mar 23, 2013
    Real Name:
    I have few adapted lenses. Mainly I bought them due to the fact that I had a tiume time justifying the cost of the lenses I really wanted to buy. I enjoyed a few, others not so much.

    The one thing I really, really like about adapted lenses - controlling the aperture buy using a ring on the lens. Maybe I am alone on this, but I wish all modern lenses / camera systems still had the aperture control on the lens. For some reason I hate using the same control for both shutter speed and aperture. This isn't just on my GF-2, I didn't like having to do this on my Nikon D40 either.
  17. apicius9

    apicius9 Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 1, 2010
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    The idea to connect current and old technology had fascinated me from the beginning and was a major point for me to get into m4/3. So, I went a little overboard (well, some of my friends think it had crossed the boarder to pathology...), especially with c-mount and older lenses for a while. Also added some really good other glass (like Leica and Zeiss lenses) to try out how I could get the most out of the new system. After a few years, I have now calmed down considerably, i.e. I have a much better idea what I want, what I like, and what I will actually use. Since most lenses could be bought and sold with minimal financial loss, I don't regret the craziness.

    What it comes down to is that I still like using manual lenses, they taught me to move from taking snapshots to taking pictures and - in rare occasions - even to photography. But these days I see them more as a complement to the native lense, not a a replacement. There are a few lenses I really liked but sold again, mostly because I could not afford to hold them all or they did not outperform cheaper alternatives IMHO. Examples are the 25/0.95 Angenieux c-mount lens which is very nice (with some limitations like vignetting etc) but not $1,200-nice (for me). I also loved the Zeiss 45/2 and would still have one if it hadn't been that fiddly to use. Also really liked the Leica 60/2.8 macro Elmarit, but I have a 50mm Summicron that has sentimental value to me and decided I won't need both.

    In the end, I will keep my Summicron and the C/Y Planar 50/1.7 (and that may go if I ever decide to pick up the Oly 45/1.8), a Vivitar 105/2.8 macro, a few Kodak cine and older c-mount lenses for their small size and/or quirky images, a few cheap odd ones for macro (like enlarging lenses). My favorite manual lens is still the C/Y Planar 85/1.4, but the rate of keeper pictures is low in moving targets and I now have the Oly 75/1.8, so the Planar may go also. Or I will wait until later this year when I hopefully pick up an E-M5 and see what difference the IS makes. Some others like a Kern 75/1.9 or a Schneider 75/2.8 will definitely go, the Oly is just too good to justify keeping them.

    Sorry, long rambling. But no, I am not giving up on adapted lenses, but I have a much better concept now on when and how to use them, and I don't see them s full replacements for native lenses, rather a nice way to occasionally slow me down and make me using the camera more consciously.

  18. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Real Name:
    This is one of the reasons why some find the Fuji X series cameras so appealing. Myself, I'm afraid to even pick one up since I don't want to invest in a new system right now. Lucky for me there aren't too many camera shops left that carry Fuji (or :43: either) so temptation doesn't slap me in the face you'll often.
  19. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    Real Name:
    None of my long telephoto lenses are mirror lenses. The Oly 135, 200, and 300 are all conventional telephoto lenses without mirrors.

  20. johnvanr

    johnvanr Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 12, 2013
    I think the only lenses that would really make a difference are Leica and Carl Zeiss lenses. They're the only ones that render contrast and colors in a special way.