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Going Old School - Purposefully Working In Manual Focus Lenses (Image Heavy)

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by gryphon1911, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
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    Nikon Df / Nikon 20mm f/3.5 AIS
    1/320, f/8, ISO 800

    I've done a lot of soul searching over the last 31 days. Starting Oct 1, 2018 I purposefully disconnected myself from social media sites, forums and a bulk of the internet for 31 days.

    I kept my business posts going by using schedulers and had all that I wanted to publish ready to go.

    Over that 31 days, I've learned a lot about myself, where I want to go and who I want to be going into the future.

    Let me start of by prefacing this with one thing. I'm so sick and tired of the know it all pundits, click bait articles and YouTube videos. I've not missed the online forum arguments where the trolls come out and pick fights or those that don't have a clue claim to be experts.

    I'm one person with an opinion sometimes. Opinions are good as they give you perspective into the way that others think. Opinions about anything can be done respectfully or they can be represented in absolute douche-baggery. Not going to lie, I've fallen into all those traps before - either victim to them or perpetrated them myself.

    Those days are over, my friends! After the last 31 days, I know that I am going to divest my life from the noise and find that awesome, low level under current of fellowship and knowledge. I'm going to seek that out and offer it up.

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    Olympus EM5 Mark II / ZhongYi Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95
    1/125, f/1.2, ISO 500

    With that being said, the title may have you wondering. No, I'm not going to tell you that working with manual focus lenses is the "only way to learn" or that "doing everything manually" is "true photography". Too many judgments are associated with those kinds of thinking. I'm going to share with you my journeys and experiences and allow you to glean from them what you will.

    Also, along the way, we may not always agree. I make this pledge that even if we disagree, that I will disagree respectfully. We can have debates and disagreements - but we should never let anything that we disagree upon put us in a position that we cannot have a civil discourse about it. This is, after all about photography. It is about an art form that can be at times very scientific in how it is approached (objective) and at the very same time very subjective and up to the likes, dislikes or biases of the viewer.

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    Nikon Df / Nikon 105mm f/2.5 AIS
    1/125, f/8, ISO 2000

    Alrighty...soul bearing stuff out of the way, lets talk about manual focus lenses. Yes, you've read it right - I purposefully decided to work one full day making images with only manual focus lenses and prime lenses at that as well.

    I'll get into more of that detail later. This article is also going to discuss manual focus photography in general.

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    Olympus PEN-F / Nikon 55mm f/3.5 Macro
    1/320, f/4, ISO 200

    Starting off, the WHY.

    OK, why?? Why not!

    Let's look at price. I've had the good fortune of having 2 very well respected camera stores near me. they have great selections in vintage SLR lenses. Having Nikon f-mount cameras and adapters for our Micro Four Thirds cameras, I can take advantage of some great values.

    My most expensive purchase on a manual focus lens so far has been $270 on a Nikon 180mm f/2.8 ED AIS lens. My least expensive lens has been $30 for the Nikon 55mm f/3.5 macro lens.

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    Olympus PEN-F / Mitakon Creator 85mm f/2
    1/500, f/4, ISO 200

    Even for pixel peepers, the Nikon 180mm and 55mm macro are superbly sharp and worth the money even looking at them against modern lens designs. If you are shooting macro or portrait, you can often get great images without the need of auto focus.

    Now, let's get into desire. Why would I want to work in this way. Honestly, for me it is another way of approaching photography. We already have so much automation, of which I am very thankful for, that sometimes I find the whole process very sterile. Camera picks the exposure, you place the AF point over the subject and click the shutter. Lather, rinse, repeat. Did that sound like I was complaining? On the contrary!! Again, perspective. If I am working a shoot for a client, I may only have a certain amount of time to work and the automation helps keep things moving along. It makes getting the images that make me money easier to get.
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    Olympus PEN-F / Nikon 55mm f/3.5 Macro
    1/400, f/5.6, ISO 200

    Thinking different sparks imagination. It makes you solve problems in other ways beside what you are normal. All these things cause you to grow as a person and a photographer. Growth is life, stagnation - death.

    Image quality and rendering are another aspect we can look into. I find that there is just something about the rendering of images from these lenses. Could be the older coatings on the glass elements or the lack of coatings that make a difference. Optical design is another consideration we do not want to leave out of the equation. Some lenses just have a certain look to them, and if you find them appealing it is usually much easier to get what you want at the time of capture than trying to reproduce it in Lightroom or your post processing programs of choice.
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    Olympus PEN-F / Mitakon Creator 85mm f/2
    1/500, f/4, ISO 200

    If adapting these lenses to Micro Four Thirds systems, you also get the benefit of being able to use the in body image stabilization!

    Now, let's get into the HOW.

    Working in manual focus makes you think differently, we've established that previously. No longer are you always placing the AF point on a subject, letting the camera track it and pressing the shutter with 99% success rates.

    You need to pre-plan how you are going to capture the focus. Sometimes you can capture right on the subject, if they are not moving too fast for you to keep up. Other times, you'll want to try and find a place in the area you want to capture the subject, pre-focus there and when they come into that area or zone, you actuate the shutter. What also helps in this is using a sufficiently deep depth of field, so that there is a good size area for the subject. Razor thin depth of field makes this technique a challenge.
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    Olympus PEN-F / Nikon 55mm f/3.5 Macro
    1/100, f/3.5, ISO 1000

    Manual focus assist systems are also another thing to consider. Back when the norm was manual focus, camera makers would make the focusing screens/ground glass in such a way that helped you know when something was in focus. With the advent of auto focus and it being the dominant method of focusing, less expense and time is placed on these focusing screens in SLR/DSLR cameras.

    What you do have is auto focus confirmation systems that assist you. Like on the Nikon DSLRs, there is a yellow dot in the viewfinder display that tells you when it thinks the image is in focus based on where the current focus square is located in the viewfinder. If you have a higher end camera, you also get some assist arrows that let you know which way you should be turning the focus ring to get to proper focus.
     
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  2. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
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    Olympus PEN-F / ZhongYi Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95
    1/8000, f/0.95, ISO 200

    Using these lenses on adapted cameras, like Fujifilm, Sony or Micro Four Thirds, you get even more options. You can surely try and eye ball the focus on the EVF. However, knowing that the mirrorless cameras would be popular choices for adapting older manual focus lenses, there are other options. The most popular are focus peaking and punch in zoom.

    Focus peaking allows you to pick a color and when that color outlines items on your EVF, those are the sections that will be in focus.

    Punch in zoom gives you the ability to select a section of the scene and zoom in, allowing you to see exactly what is in focus. Some cameras have more than those and others allow multiple varieties at the same time. For example Micro Four Thirds cameras allow for focus peaking and zoom in punch together.
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    Olympus PEN-F / ZhongYi Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95
    1/6400, f/1.2, ISO 200

    Finals Thoughts.

    Not only do you get to try out many different kinds of legacy lenses and see what they are capable of...you also get to try something different. There is something very satisfying to me about being able to use a lens made in Japan by Nikon from 1977 and dazzle people with the image. Unbeknownst to them that the lens used may be older than they are!!

    Personally, I like the workflow. For me, photography is about the image...surely....but I often tell people that the journey we take is often just as, if not more so, important than the destination. I enjoy the entire photographic process. From selecting lenses, checking the cameras exposure and making subtle tweaks to editing selections and post processing.

    Manual focus cameras and lenses are just another way to go about something. Doesn't make it right or wrong. It is just different.

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    Olympus PEN-F / ZhongYi Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95
    1/800, f/4, ISO 200

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    Olympus PEN-F / Zhongyi Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95
    1/2000, f/1.4, ISO 200

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    Olympus PEN-F / Zhongyi Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95
    1/100, f/1.2, ISO 640

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    Olympus PEN-F / Laowa 7.5mm f/2
    1/100, f/2, ISO 5000

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    Olympus PEN-F / Laowa 7.5mm f/2
    1/1250, f/4, ISO 200

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    Olympus EM5 Mark II / Laowa 7.5mm f/2
    1/200, f/4, ISO 200

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    Olympus PEN-F / Laowa 7.5mm f/2
    1/100, f/4, ISO 1000

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    Olympus PEN-F / Nikon 180mm f/2.8 ED AIS
    1/400, f/4, ISO 200
     
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  3. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
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    Nikon Df / Nikon 20mm f/3.5 AIS
    1/500, f/5.6, ISO 100

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    Nikon Df / Nikon 20mm f/3.5 AIS
    1/60, f/8, ISO 5000

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    Nikon Df / Nikon 180mm f/2.8 ED AIS
    1/250, f/4, ISO 160

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    Nikon Df / Nikon 135mm f/3.5
    1/500, f/3.5, ISO 100

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    Nikon Df / Nikon 200mm f/4 QC
    1/500, f/8, ISO 4500

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    Nikon Df / Nikon 180mm f/2.8 ED AIS
    1/800, f/4, ISO 100
     
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  4. DefectiveMonk

    DefectiveMonk Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    140
    Jan 19, 2018
    Columbus, Ohio, US
    Mark
    I've got a couple of the cheap, manual MFT lenses that I kind of like. I find that, shooting manual, I slow down and think more about the process and the desired result which sometimes results in a better image (shocked face).

    I think Robin Wong is on to something with his "shutter therapy" because, when I actually get out and shoot, I feel better. And the more manual the process is (manual settings, manual lenses, etc.) the better I feel at the end of it.
     
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  5. damianmkv

    damianmkv Mu-43 Top Veteran

    638
    Nov 7, 2014
    Surrey, England
    Enjoyed those, Andrew, thanks :thumbsup:

    I have just placed an order for a Helios 44 ( of some variety ). Why ? I fancied a new challenge, I've rarely used MF and thought why the hell not ? Also, the lens is cheap ( less than £20 ) so if I don't get on with it, then it goes and its cost me next to nothing..

    Once despatch is confirmed, I'll get an adapter and then shoot even more garbage than before.
     
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  6. Mike G

    Mike G Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    252
    Aug 13, 2018
    London
    Mike Gorman
    Andrew, that’s not old school, that’s geriatric school.
     
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  7. longviewer

    longviewer Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    614
    Oct 22, 2015
    SW Washington (Longview area)
    Jim R
    Great shots and good logic /self-realization. I'm doing the same with Pentax Limited primes, cheaper than native still small - and IQ that I don't deserve & should not get so cheaply. Pentax coatings are as good as anything out there for clarity and flare resistance. Just missed a DA21, but my vivitar 24 will keep the 40+70mm company for a while.
    As to 8 and 14mm.. I'll be sticking with the tiny natives for now ;) 
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
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  8. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I wouldn't call what you shoot garbage. I thought about picking up some of the Helios lenses, but no stores local to me have any...but they have plenty of Nikon, Canon FD, Pentax takumar, Oly OM lenses to play with. I just like having the f-mount to use on the Df and the mirrorless and I only need one adapter!

    I hear ya! The geriatric lenses still have some legs in them yet, and I am enjoying all that come with them.
     
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  9. gnarlydog australia

    gnarlydog australia Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 23, 2015
    Brisbane, Australia
    Damiano Visocnik
    You are preaching to the choir here: I pretty much use only manual lenses, some SLR but mostly smaller format.
    And despite having a very good selection of native AF lenses I rarely use those.
    Somehow my images taken with an AF lens look and feel more like snapshots, while the ones created with MF are more artistic and have more soul (message/story).
    Possibly it's me slowing down, planning and taking more care with composition that leads to better images?

    About that adapter and selecting mainly f-mount lenses: I believe each lens should have its own adapter and no sharing it between lenses. I want to grab a lens out of the bag and mount it as a native one, no need for futzing with aligning an adapter and stuff.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
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  10. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    My only problem with manual lenses on m4/3 is the crop factor is so large, which means just about anything worth adapting ends up as a telephoto. Sony A7 II is down under $1000 new now, though. That would be great for film lenses as native FL, IBIS and EVF with focus peaking/magnify.
     
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  11. The Grumpy Snapper

    The Grumpy Snapper Mu-43 Regular

    198
    Oct 9, 2017
    I put together a small set of manual focus primes a few years ago for when I'm in a retro mood. Originally it was a wide angle, a standard and a telephoto similar to what I used as a student in the late 1970s. Later I added a Samyang fisheye when I found one at a silly price.
     
  12. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Great post, great pics. Thanks for sharing. Really love some of those. especially 6,7,8,10,12,13 (if I tracked the numbers correctly).
     
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  13. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    My favorites are longer lenses anyway. I have a 300/4.5 AI lens that works wonderfully on the PEN-F.

    Sadly, as you stated, even the 20mm on the m43 cameras is a bit "long". However, the rendering is still what draws me to keep using them.
     
  14. That's where focal-reducers/speed-boosters come into play. They don't do the complete job of getting back your angle-of-view, but they do at least 70.7% of the job. :) 

    I have a Kipon Baveyes Ultra (four stars), Metabones Ultra (five stars), and the Viltrox (4.5 stars). They each have advantages and disadvantages, although the only disadvantage of the Metabones is the price.

    The incredible Olympus OM Zuiko 21mm ƒ2.0 becomes an incredible 14.8mm ƒ1.4 lens! Even the OM Zuiko 21mm ƒ3.5 becomes a credible 14.8mm ƒ2.5 lens.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
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  15. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    Problem is, a used older APSC costs the same as a focal reducer and gives you about the same crop factor.
     
  16. This is true if you only use the focal reducer with one lens. But I have many Olympus OM Zuiko lenses, and one focal reducer works with all of them!

    So yea, don't go out and buy a focal reducer to use with one lens, unless you are planning to buy a few more lenses in the same legacy mount.

    But if, like me, you already have a nice collection of legacy lenses in the same mount, by all means, get thee a focal reducer! You won't regret it!

    I have the eight OM Zuikos: 21/2, 35/2, 55/1.2, 90/2, 180/2.8, 300/4.5, 500/8, and 600/6.5, which becomes 14.8/1.4, 25/1.4, 38.9/0.85, 64/1.4, 127/2.0, 212/3.2, 354/5.6, and 424/4.6 lenses. That makes even the Metabones a good buy. :) 
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
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  17. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    I'd still argue they'd be better on APS-C, where you can get 1.5x crop alone, or 1.08x crop with a speed booster.

    What I was referring to earlier is that you can get something like a Fuji X-E1 for under $200 used. That's a better .75x speed booster for the money than anything you can put on m4/3.
     
  18. Saledolce

    Saledolce Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    542
    Apr 17, 2017
    Italy
    You also use the apsc body with the whole set of lenses,so you can apply the same 'average cost' logic also with that. Personally I think a used sony A7 would be a great "vintage lens camera", and completely solve the crop factor problem.
     
  19. melanieylang

    melanieylang Mu-43 Veteran

    362
    Jun 23, 2017
    This is a post that speaks to me, @gryphon1911@gryphon1911, and I like the positive message you're spreading.

    I'm slowly expanding my legacy lens collection to adapt to m43 and FX, as I appreciate the feeling of shooting the way I did when photography (pre-digital with 35mm film) was new to me. Though I often miss focus with adapted lenses, there's such a pleasure in the feel of adjusting analogue equipment.

    All the best with your intentions,

    Melanie
     
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  20. Walter

    Walter Mu-43 Veteran

    286
    Aug 6, 2016
    Germany
    @gryphon1911@gryphon1911
    Thanks for your series of "insight" posts, I thoroughly enjoyed reading them and I'm sharing many of the things you mention.

    Looking at the web-junkies around me, I decided for myself to switch back to the phone with answering machine. So when I'm outside or with friends I enjoy being not "reachable". Same with my emails: only at fixed times. And when having a coffee or sitting together for a nice meal I ask them to switch off their toys for the time we are together. It would take pages to tell the good effects of this.
    The main effect of this change: those who are important to me still get in touch with me, but I'm rid of most "pains in the neck", as they only use social media. Sitting together with friends who look at you, talk with you, have fun with you ... without permanently goggling down on their smartphones for messages or cutting conversations in the middle of a sentence to answer the nervous ringtone and talk into the gadget.

    Same thing with camera: like you, I have phases chosen deliberately with switched off automatic functions - back to pure manual and activated brain cells - and using my old primes. Wonderful relaxing sessions with beautiful results, especially with the old Tamron 2,8/105 macro (magnification range 1 to 1 on the OM-4). This lens was one of the best at the time I bought it, an excellent tool, and it still is. Advantage today: with 4/3 it gives me twice the flight distance (210 mm) on the EM-5 and that with the best quality at f=5.6 already. Of course these lenses are heavier, bulkier and not waterproof ... but compared with canikons the are still tiny, handy and lightweights.
     
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