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Pro's and Cons of an adapted Lens

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by andy_jansen, Nov 24, 2010.

  1. andy_jansen

    andy_jansen Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 19, 2010
    Herten, NL
    Hi All,

    I must say that I really love manual lenses.
    Use my OM 50mm F1.8 a lot.

    Since I'm kind of into old stuff, I want to buy old lenses (1960 and earlier)

    But do they have advantages over newer lenses? Or is it always worst then newer lenses?
  2. pdh

    pdh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 6, 2010
    some older lenses will produce results you prefer over some newer lenses ... and vice versa ... you can't generalise ... or so it seems to me
  3. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I agree its difficult to generalize. I like my adapted legacy lenses because I like the way they feel in my hand and like the act of manually focusing when I take pictures. I earned photography on old manual focus cameras so I'm comfortable with it. I have some adapted lenses that produce outstanding results and others that do not. I also like my Olympus 17/2.8 for when manual focus is not convenient like family photos at a gathering or special event.

    If I had to pick an advantage that older lenses have I'd say cost. You can often get a high quality lens for very little expenditure.
  4. JohnF

    JohnF Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 1, 2010
    Oberursel, Germany
    Hi -

    My experience is that it really, really depends on the lens.

    My old 50 f1.4 Zuiko is really, really soft wide-open, as is an old Nikon 85 f2.

    My Zuiko 180 f2.8 works great wide-open under really contrasty lighting conditions.

    A really ancient 200 f4 Nikon is worthless wide-open, but very good stopped down to f8.

    A Leica Telyt-R APO 180mm f3.4 lens is spectacular at virtually any f/stop, and is amazing at f8, easily out-resolving the sensor (then again, this is supposed to literally be the highest-resolving lens of all time).

    A 100 mm f4 Leica macro lens on bellows also handily out-resolves the sensor at all settings, but is particularly good at f8.

    All of these were tested on an E510. Haven't had the time (nor the inclination) to do the same on a Pen...


    PS: I've got a bid in on a 400 f6.3 Leica "trombone" and hope to be able test this one...
  5. scantron

    scantron Mu-43 Regular

    May 10, 2010
  6. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus loser

    Nov 16, 2010
    The lens is capable to deliver better resolution than the sensor. In other words the only limiting factor for the ultimate sharpness in the image is the sensor's resolution, for example 10 megapixels. Many lenses, especially wide open, draw softer (lower resolution) image to the sensor than what the sensor would be able to deliver. Someone correct if I'm totally lost.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    Not quite lost, but not quite right. At maximum apertures, resolution is always highest. The down side is the aberrations are also higher or more pronounced.

    But to answer the OP. Lenses have progressively been getting better. Both in terms of the optical quality and the coating they use. Now, there are subjective judgements--there are some folks that like old Leica lenses even though they suffer from spherical aberration and are low contrast. Also, you get what you pay for--a cheap lens is a cheap lens.

    Now lenses design for digital cameras need higher resolving powers than for 35mm film camera. You can get away with a lot more when designing for a larger format--aberrations, resolving power, diffraction, etc. are not as important.

    Now, here is the twist: you can optimize a lens for resolution or contrast, but not both at the same time. So if you take the Lumix 20mm and Voigtlander 21mm, you will be getting very different results. The Lumix will resolve finer detail, but the Voigtlander have higher contrast in relatively low frequency details--the Lumix will show the small pits and scars on the skin of an apple, but the Voigtlander will make the larger patches and blemishes more contrasty and saturated.

    But if you like adopted lenses, use them. Ultimately, image quality is subjective--MTF plots can tell many things except if the image looks good and there is no absolute measure of sharpness. Have fun and play.
    • Like Like x 3
  8. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Hold on a minute
    Even if your "resolution" comment is true, which I doubt, the aberrations wide-open must actually reduce resolution ... both instrument-measureable and visible to the human eye.
  9. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    If you like the old lenses, just get them. Some will be downright awful and some will be pleasantly surprising. A lot will be artistic, if nothing else. If you can afford Leica, even the old ones will be amazing. I have a Leica Tele-Elmar 135mm f4 dated from around 1965 and it's astounding. One day I might just get a few more. :biggrin:


  10. penfan2010

    penfan2010 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 12, 2010
    NJ, USA
    Agree with a lot of the comments above---I've had great results on an Olympus 38mm for the Pen F half frame, and mixed results with some 60s vintage Leica lenses in certain light conditions. One of the biggest advantages, too, depending on the lens, is size and weight. Some of the small older lenses with tend to be well-sized for the :43: cameras. The only disadvantage is most of them have small max apertures (though no different I guess from the kit zooms that come with the :43:cameras). I have yet to use my Olympus OM lenses on my E-P1, but I get great results with them on my E-500 DSLR.

  11. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    Actually, if you read my comment, I did say there is a trade off.

    But having aberration does not necessarily mean less resolving power. Soft focus lenses have lots of SA, but yet have extremely high resolving power wide open. Aberrations also affect off-axis image areas more than on-axis. So the on-axis area has a high resolving power. Off axis is a different matter (the aperture can also be smaller off-axis--that is called vignetting). Which is why folks like to stop down. This can be measured and seen. It is hard to beat the physics related to numeric aperture (object space) and f-number (image space), as each increase the resolution at the subject plane and image plane increase, respectively, and aberration work against that, but not always.
  12. JohnF

    JohnF Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 1, 2010
    Oberursel, Germany
    Hi -

    By "out-resolving" the sensor I meant that when you get down into pixel territory, you can see that the limiting factor to resolution is the sensor, not the lens. This is a subjective interpretation, as I am not shooting resolution charts (nor feel inclined to do so... :) )

  13. iliakoltsov

    iliakoltsov Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 7, 2010
    John optically it should be the other way no, the smaller the sensor the higher the resolution is required. Concerning CA all modern lenses have CA to a certain extent better or worse controlled but present. John maybe what you are referring to is the loss of contrast on FF lenses and that is true but yet i didn't figure out a method to get away with it just photoshop. Again it is the light beam and not the resolution in this case.
  14. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    I am really loving playing around with MF lenses on my E-PL1. That is not one of the reasons I bought in to this format, but it is a very pleasant and unexpected benefit.

    On the down side, I am spending more money on lenses, and fast entering that spiral of researching and purchasing and trying out and re-selling. I thought the venture in to :43: would be kind of straightforward.

    Back to the up side, that whole lens acquisition thing is still way cheaper than what I was doing buying more expensive lenses for my DSRL.
  15. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    The one thing I've found a bit frustrating (or is it an opportunity???) is that I find a 50mm from OM that's good, and a 135 from Pentax screw mount, a 35 1.7 in c mount, etc. I was hoping to standardize on one mount, but it seems like you have to (or, more positively, you have the ability to) pick the best lens from multiple systems.
  16. panystac

    panystac Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 14, 2010
    Tokyo, Japan
    I don't see the problem....

    You can get adapter very cheaply these days, and I have numerous.

    It just means that you don't have to restrict yourself to any one brand/mount.
  17. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    But for DSLR lenses, the adapters are quite big. If you could have just one adapter, and move the lenses on/off (leaving the adapter mounted), that'd be ideal - you save more room in your bag, instead of having an m42, OM, EOS, etc. adapter.

    Another approach I read somewhere was to get an EOS to m43 adapter, and then get the little aluminum ring adapters for Nikon, OM, m42 etc. to EOS. But, I found this more trouble than it's worth as the alum. rings do not easily mount on/off the EOS to m43 adapter (alum to alum doesn't slide easily over each other).
  18. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    A good many legacy lenses are relatively inexpensive. There are also a number of very high quality legacy lenses. Sometimes the conditions of inexpensive and good quality happen to both be true.

    IMHO, manual focus legacy lenses offer a different sort of photographic experience. They require more care and attention and can give terrific results. Some lenses seem to be especially well suited to m43 cameras (and others do not). I enjoy using manual focus lenses so legacy lenses are a great fit for me. It does require a bit of trial and error because not all of them work as well on digital as they did on film. In many ways we are in uncharted waters. A lot of us are trying stuff out and seeing what works and what doesn't. If you put ten of us in a room I suspect you'd get 10 different opinions about what lenses are good and why.

    My experience so far has been that true WA legacy lenses (due to the 2x multiplier on m43 cameras) are hard to come by and tend to be expensive. I find that I get excellent results with fast normal lenses (40mm and 50mm) lenses, That gives me nice fast short telephotos. I like longer lenses like 135s and 200s because I like to do wildlife photography and the 2x multiplier works in my favor giving me nice long stabilized lenses. My Konica 200/3.5 ends up acting like a stabilized 400/3.5 for around $100.

  19. iliakoltsov

    iliakoltsov Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 7, 2010
    In my opinion, legacy lenses were made to be good ( this mainly apply to soviet lens) the cost of production was not an issue. So you end up with lenses that are far sharper than the 14-42 kit. As opposed nowadays you still have fantastic lenses but the price compared to legacy is insane. I recently acquired a Tamron SP 35-80 on adaptall 2 dear god that is a nice lens for macro i own a lot of good lenses but this one is by far the sharpest , in fact it is too sharp for portrait even wide open, :S . My 14-42 kit is sitting on the cupboard took it ones and had to delete the entire shooting it was all pretty awful. Pro or con legacy lens i feel that the question is badly asked as indeed the main factor is price /performance ratio that plays in favour of the legacy lenses. Some of my legacy lenses i got for a price of postage :)  so you really cannot beat that but to say they are better at this price obviously , but in general if we compare high end 4/3 lens and top legacy i am not sure who is going to win. I personnally shoot with legacy lenses mostly, cheap and great results.
    As adapters i currently own plenty of them C ,M39 , M42 , PK , MD , FD and as Panystac said i do not see any problem in this even more you can take the best of every mount as not all optician were good for everything. FD insane sharpness , MD rokkor rendering and bokeh , M42 cheap russian / soviet lenses and other legacy manufacturer, M39 fantastic optics, PK you can find great legacy lenses on PK mount C mount i find them quite amusing to use on M4/3 done some of my best shots with the Fujian 35 F1.7. So to stay in one mount on M4/3 is i would rather say not convenient.
  20. blouis79

    blouis79 New to Mu-43

    Dec 29, 2010
    Review of OM Lenses on micro4/3 suggest performance is better that Olympus documentation recommends:

    biofos.com: Using OM legacy lenses on Olympus E-P1.

    Recommend reading up on and particular legacy lens you are interested in.

    Noktons seem pretty good
    Olympus E-PL1 with Nokton 50mm F1.1 Night Shoot |

    The main reason I want to use legacy glass is because I already have it. Not sure it is ideal to buy more, since more modern designs are more functional.

    But adapted 4/3 lenses may be essential until more micro4/3 lenses become available. eg 4/3 50mm f2 macro seems optically highly regarded.

    Generally, I see the problem with micro4/3 is that DOF is doubled, so get get shallow DOF equivalent to 35mm, one needs a stop brighter. Certainly some legacy glass is available brighter than current 4/3 and micro 4/3, but need to check performance wide open as well.

    Because of crop factor, legacy glass could perform better than it does on legacy cameras, provided the design is good to start with, as deteriorated edge performance is not used.
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