Suggestions for Legacy Lenses

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by RobertS, May 15, 2013.

  1. RobertS

    RobertS Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 28, 2011
    I recently picked up a nice Oly E-PL2 and a couple of decent (to me) kit lenses. But now I'd like to try a couple of "legacy" manual lenses. Something like a faster 50mm and faster 135mm lens. What specific lenses do you recommend, and what adapter (I'm new to this, too) do I need for using such legacy lenses?
  2. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    So many good choices, it's hard to go wrong as long as the lens is in good condition. Look for any of the major SLR and rangefinder lens manufacturers (Konica Hexanon, Pentax screwmount or K-mount, Minolta MD, Canon FD, Nikon, etc) - the adapter you'll need will depend on which lens you get as they each had different mounts.

    A 50mm f/1.4 to f/2 will make a nice portrait or short telephoto, and are easy to find. Since you wanted specific recommendations I've tried the Hexanon 40/1.8, 50/1.7 and 50/1.8 and they were all great. I ended up preferring the Pentax SMC Takumar 50/1.4 to all of them though - beautiful rendering and amazing build quality.

    I've also got a Hexanon 135/3.2 that is quite nice. I don't use it very often though since I find it too long for some things and too short for others.
  3. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 16, 2011
    Hayward, WI
    William B. Lewis
    Pre-AI Nikkor's are some of the best deals out there. Excellent lenses but little demand because the ears don't fit most modern Nikon digital cameras well. I have a F2 from before I bought my E-PL1 and then invested in a cheap adapter from Amazon. It works fine.

    I have a 24/2.8 that makes a great normal, a 50/1.4 for short tele, a 105/2.5 that is a bit long but remains an exquisite portrait lens if I have the room for it & I occasionally use my 200/4 for birds or planes.

    Both of these were at a concert on 3/1/2013 & both were with the 50/1.4:


  4. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    There's totally too many to choose from. :D I'll just share the fast 50s and fastish 135s that I have kept and continue to use out of all those I've tried... For fast 50's the two I use regularly are the Konica Hexanon 50mm f/1.4 (Konica AR mount) and the G.Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 (OM mount). The Hexanon is the sharpest, the Zuiko is the richest in color. For fastish 135mm's the only one I've really grown attached to and will never let go is my Zeiss Sonnar 135mm f/2.8 in Contax/Yashica mount. Fantastic sharpness and contrast. These three lenses are all part of my regular everyday mobile location kits.

  5. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    The Zuiko 135mm f3.5, while not fast, is a remarkable lens. I don't have the f2.8; I've heard it's quite good but perhaps a tad less sharp.
  6. RobertS

    RobertS Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 28, 2011
    Thanks folks. I am interested in your suggestions for specific lenses. And for now, I'd prefer they were of the same brand, so I can get by with a single adapter.
  7. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Welcome to the :43: party, Robert.

    Lot's of good suggestions here. The first thing I would suggest is to read the [thread=12347]How-To Guide to using Adapted Lenses on Micro Four Thirds Cameras[/thread]. The next thing I would tell you is to just go find a decent, cheap lens and try it out. Either it will click and you'll soon find yourself stopping at every pawn shop, thrift store and yard sale you pass to find your next lens, or you'll discover that using manual focus is just not for you and move on.

    Don't worry about the adapter until you find a lens that looks good. Just about any lens made in the last 60 years or so is adaptable one way or another for use on :43:, although it's probably best to stick with the major brands (Olympus, Canon, Nikon, Minolta, Pentax, Konica) for your first lens.

    In choosing lenses you have to realize that the "crop factor" caused by the smaller :43: sensor (compared to 35mm film or "full frame") means that the effective focal length (EFL) of any lens is roughly double what it would be on a 35mm camera (e.g. a 50mm lens mounted on a :43: camera will have a field of view similar to that of a 100mm lens on a 35mm camera). A 135mm becomes a pretty long tele prime, and I personally find that focal length difficult to shoot with -- it's too tight for most uses, but it's not quite long enough for when I really want a telephoto. What focal length works for you is a very personal experience and it depends on what types of subjects you are shooting, but I would recommend you start out with something wider. The most popular focal length you'll find is 50mm which is the standard "normal" prime on a 35mm SLR.

    As far as which brand to choose, I agree the Hexanon (Konica) lenses are a good place to start for a couple of reasons. The Konica AR mount (sometimes referred to as Konica F) they use has a shorter flange focal distance (or register) than most of the other 35mm cameras, which means that the adapter is shorter, which make a more compact package. Also, since the register is shorter, these lenses cannot be adapted for use on any other SLR, which minimizes the market for them -- lower demand leads to lower prices. The Hexanon 40mm f/1.8 pancake is one of the smaller combinations of lens and adapter you can find among SLR lenses and it's a very useful focal length when adapter to :43:.

    My personal favorite 50mm is the Canon 50mm f/1.4.

    Another really cheap option you might consider are the C-mount lenses (e.g. 35mm f/1.7). These are tiny and dirt cheap and they're a great first step.
  8. barbosas

    barbosas Mu-43 Veteran

    May 7, 2013
    Pentax-M 28/3.5
    Pentax 50/1.4 (The original K, M and A models are also nice)
    Pentax-M 100/2.8
  9. RichDesmond

    RichDesmond Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2011
    That sounds logical but...:smile: A lot of us just end up putting an adapter on every lens. It makes switching them faster and easier, plus you only have to have to carry :43: rear caps. The adapters are very cheap, so it's not much of a financial stretch to do it that way.
  10. RobertS

    RobertS Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 28, 2011

    So just what brands of lenses have the C-mount?

    Then, I have heard that none of the legacy lenses are as good as the native lenses. Is this true? It would seem to make some sense. I can see where the use of legacy lenses does allow an outlet for the older gear. But as for IQ, are they competitive with today's lenses at all?

  11. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    The C-mount is used (I believe) for closed-circuit TV cameras (things like security cams), and lenses are available from a number of manufacturers. The most readily available (read: cheapest) lenses are probably those from Fujian which are carried by a number of internet retailers such as Rainbow Imaging. Other C-mount lenses are made by brands like Pentax, Panasonic, Computar, Navitar, Cosmicar. Angenieux made some lenses in the mount which are generally highly regarded and thus usually quite expensive.

    It depends. For the most part I would say that modern lenses are superior to those designed and built 20-50 years ago. There are exceptions (Zeiss, Leica, etc.), but those lenses are not available cheaply. Due to the crop factor imposed by the :43: sensor size, there are really no bargain legacy lenses on the wide end (really anything wider than about 28mm). I would also generally recommend avoiding legacy zooms.

    All that said, there are a good number of legacy primes (many recommended in this thread) that you can pick up cheaply (relative to native lenses) that are very capable.
  12. suntoryjim

    suntoryjim Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 6, 2013
    Before you spend $30+ on a CCTV lens, I recommend picking up the Konica Hexanon 28 F3.5 for $37 (as of this writing) from KEH, and a Konica AR-to-M43 adapter for $15 (free shipping) from Rainbow Imaging.

    I have both lenses and adapter and I'm fairly certain you will get more out of the Konica than the CCTV lens (unless your goal is to have sharp center and soft edges in every shot). You can check out the sample images of the Konica in the legacy lens sample image section of the forum here.

    It's not a fast lens, but it makes beautiful pictures.

    You can also pick up a fast 50 for less than $20 (Canon FD 50 1.8 comes to mind), but I find the x2 crop factor a little limiting at that length.
  13. Artorius

    Artorius Mu-43 Regular

    My favorite "50" is the SMC Takumar 55 f2. An AMAZING lens. I can't tell what it is I love about it, but I just love it.