P: Hi Sebboh, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to use manual lenses?
S: I’m a neuroscience researcher from Portland, OR. Photography has been a hobby for most of my life and I shot with my father’s manual focus film camera (Minolta XE-5) when I was a kid. I wanted something smaller when I went to college and switched to the tiniest point and shoot I could find (still film). I was pretty happy with that way of shooting for a number of years till I became afflicted with the desire to take pictures of birds. That led me into DSLRs (Olympus and Nikon). This was my first experience of AF without the giant dof of a p&s and I quickly became extremely aggravated by the inability to get focus where I wanted it easily. Landscape shots were often ruined by miss focus that I didn’t detect till after the fact and shooting people moving seemed nearly impossible if dof was small. I found I got more consistent results with my old Minolta lenses as well as having a more enjoyable experience of fuller control of my images.
Being able to zone focus or use the infinity stop for landscape and street shots drastically improved my hit rate and speed. Focusing on moving targets was slower than AF, but I had a lot fewer misses and a lot more decisive moment catches. With only a meager number of old lenses from my father, I looked around ebay and discovered that manual focus lenses offered much cheaper ways to get long focal length or high speed lenses. I began experimenting with all the different lenses I could get cheaply and found many had very distinctive looks that I preferred for one type of shot or another. Unfortunately, this has led to me having far more lenses than are necessary, many of which are seldom used except for special circumstances.
They can be very cheap, you can get a great 1.4/50 lens for $50. For most applications such a lens will give you 90% of the performance of a $1000 Zeiss 1.8/55 FE. For the $1000 you would have to pay for that Zeiss you can buy an excellent set of five lenses from 20 to 300mm.
You have a huge choice between thousands of lenses ranging from exotic ones with lots of “character” to some of the very best lenses available.
There are 30-year-old primes with better image quality than many modern lenses. Of course progress has happened in recent years but still even cheap primes are often sharper than very expensive modern zooms.
Old lenses are usually beautifully built and more reliable than modern lenses which are full of electronics and very complex designs, both of which make them more likely to fail.
They also hold their value much better than modern lenses. With some patience you can sell most manual lenses without a loss but with new lenses you can expect to lose 30% in the first year.
Manual focusing can be very enjoyable. This certainly depends on application and personality but I for example enjoy working with fully manual lenses a lot more than with any AF lens. Check out our manual photographers series to read other photographers stories.
On the Easter weekend 2016 I was rather spontaneously visiting famous Cinque Terre in Italy. The weather forecast was quite alright, but as I was only on a two night stay, I had very limited time (and blue hours) so I had to make the best of it…
The Series E lenses were meant as a low cost alternative to the more expensive yet reknown Nikkor lenses. This didn’t work out so well for Nikon, at that time many people were simply not interested in “cheap” lenses made mostly from plastic. Nevertheless, some of these lenses are quite good optically, therefore I take a look at the Nikon Series E 75-150mm 3.5 zoom lens.
Better late than never: We wish all of our readers a great and succesful year 2017! Thank you for reading our blog and for all your contributions and comments. This is our retrospective conclusion of the favorite images that we took in the passed year.
2016 was a very eventful year for me. Not all of those events were pleasant but photography was always a great compensation even in stressful times.
The blog is more about gear than about photography and I view my obsessions with gear and photography as two more or less separate hobbies of mine but it is also a pleasure (most of the time at least, the G 4/70-200 review which has been in the making for months now has been very frustrating to so far ;)) for me to discover new lenses, to share my experiences and to receive the great feedback I get here.
In early 2016 I also made the lucky decision to invite Jannik and Bastian to join the team of this blog. In them I have found two soulmates who are as crazy about lenses as I am. Behind the scenes we constantly discuss gear, photos and articles which is a great source of motivation. And of course both have since then written many well received articles and together we can bring many more lenses to your attention than I could alone.
Since the introduction of the Sony A7-series cameras, many people asked for well performing f/2.8 zooms. Although it negates the approach of the small bodies, Sony listened to their customers and developed the no-compromise GM(aster) lens lineup. The Sony FE 2.8/24-70 GM is the first lens of this new series in our hands. In this review I will check the performance of my own copy which I have used for the last three months.
Classic rangefinder lenses focus much less close than their SLR-counterparts because of how the focusing with rangefinder cameras works. With the Voigtländer VM-E adapter you can focus these lenses much closer when using them on an E-mount camera. The adapter is not only a Leica-M to Sony E adapter but also a variable extension tube. It has its own helicoid by which you can focus your lenses much closer than with a conventional adapter. I have been using the Voigtlander VM-E close focus adapter for more than a year now and it has become a valuable addition to my kit.
Hi Oliver, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you use manual Lenses?”
I am an industrial economist and live near Frankfurt, Germany. Photography has been my hobby for more than 25 years. When I started I was never satisfied with the image quality of analog 35mm film, so I turned to larger formats very soon. Most of my landscape pictures were taken with medium and large format cameras. Of course all lenses were manual focus, so I was accustomed to manual focus from beginning . 😉
With the Sony A900, I switched to digital cameras in 2008 and I was very satisfied with the possibilities of this new medium. At that time, the Sony-Zeiss 24mm SSM lens was my favorite and remained so for many years.
The next steps were the A7R in 2013 and, since last year, the A7RII. I switch slowly and flexibly (thanks to the LE-EA Adapter) from A- to E-Mount, also by reason of the fantastic Zeiss primes for E-Mount, lenses which I wanted to have for a very long time 😉 I use AF Lenses too, but for landscape pictures, I use them mostly by manual focus to get the best control of the depth of field. The Sony cameras are perfect for manual focus.