Your Old Camera Lenses
By: TLP PHOTO
There are some amazing lenses out there in the world today and as a Phase One consumer their new Blue Line hands down is one of the sharpest. With that said all lenses today are designed to be sharp and obtain as much detail as possible.
Postproduction allows us to turn these incredibly detailed and sharp photos into artistic imagery; but what if we wanted to create in camera effects? Is there an option?
Yes, there has be a recent revival among vintage lenses in the photo and filmmaking community. Perhaps it’s the hip look or the affordable pricing that is driving pros to shoot and experiment with used glass. For now, you can still get many lenses for a bargain But with the recent uptick in popularity the price of used lenses may increase as well.
The best bargains out there are for old Nikon AI lenses and also Canon FD lenses. The Nikons tend to be a bit more expensive as they can still be used on current Nikon cameras without an adapter. However, when Canon made the move the EOS range back in the early 1990’s they abandoned the old FD mount. This mount was used on a range of excellent lenses used for both pro and consumer cameras. Medium format vintage lenses and adapters are just as ready available; these lenses can even be mounted on your DSLR.
One of my favorite features of the vintage glass is the external aperture ring. If these vintage lenses didn’t have external aperture control it would be very difficult to use them in modern productions. This is due to the camera’s inability to communicate with lens. However, when you have external aperture control you can change the f-stop with a simple wheel turn.
Some vintage lenses have awesome distortions. While it may not be great for shooting modern portraits or weddings, the distortions created by shooting on vintage glass can be incredibly stylish and unique. Vintage glass usually has more chromatic aberrations and the focus can be a little soft, but if you want to get the popular hipster look, vintage glass is perfect.
Most vintage lenses have some vingetting ,but in a good way. Distance and size isn’t always perfect with vintage glass, so you can expect to see vingetting with older lenses. While some would argue that vingetting is a bad thing, it can sometimes create an interesting effect. This is particularly helpful if you are trying to get a vintage look with your lens, but it all depends on your personal preference.
Whatever way you attach an old lens to a new camera, the chances are you will not have electronic aperture control or auto focus. Older lenses are ironically best suited to newer mirrorless cameras. The reason for this is that because you have to manually stop down the lens aperture, mirrorless cameras will compensate the amount of light coming through the viewfinder making the image still seem bright to the eye. In a DSLR, because the viewfinder is optical, as you stop down, less light reaches your eye.
Mirrorless cameras also have electronic focusing aids such as peaking and live zoom to help you get perfect manual focus with that old lens. Old lenses take a little bit of work but with some practice, you can get some stunning images.