In this series we interview amateur photographers just like us, who inspire us and who share our passion for photographing with manual lenses.
Hi Dan, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to use manual lenses?
D: I’m studying mechanical engineering at the RWTH Aachen. Besides my studies and my work as mechanical designer at a young high tech kickoff of the Fraunhofer ILT Aachen I take photos and make music.
I started with photography about 7 years ago. At this time I owned a Lumix FZ18 – a bridge cam. I was really annoyed by it after some time, it felt like the cam made the photos and not me. There was nothing left for me to do except framing, the auto focus just had its own will and the super zoom made it too easy. To take control of the image I used a lot of Photoshop.
At some point this did not satisfy me anymore. I wanted to create an image, to make the camera do what I wanted it to do. So about 5 years ago I bought a NEX 5N with the 18-55 kit lens. While this combination was no real change to my FZ18, I could also use some old FDs from my dad.
Using the Nex-5n with the old FDs was what I had wanted all along. No more pumping auto focus and no more miss focused images.
I started testing and collecting FDs and I do so til today. Legacy lenses were and are the best compromise between price and performance. Besides some of them do have real unique characteristics.
My 5N accompanied me about 2 or 3 years but I was complaining about bad image quality at low light situations a lot. So I decided that the best thing to do would be to buy an a7 and that’s what I did. It was indeed a boost in lowlight for several reasons.
First the sensor is bigger and therefore it is better at those situations by its own. Second my old FDs were made for fullframe and now I could use their full potential. I owned some f/1.2 and this light boost seemed pretty much insane to me. Til today I’m happy with my A7. I never anticipated to buy an AF lens and I think I never will. I shot a wedding, various model shootings, a band shooting and take everyday footage of my family… of young and wild kids.
I don’t miss any little helper besides the things my A7 already does and the only thing that a A7II could do for me would be the IBIS. Photography has becomea big part of my life and I hope to lift my hobby up to the next level in the future.
Can you give us a look into your camera bag and tell us a little about your gear?
The Minolta AF 2.8/200 has the reputation to be one of the best if not the bestlens Minolta ever made. In this review I check if it still can keep up with the Sony a7II 30 years after it’s introduction.
Just click on any image to get to the full resolution version.
Last Saturday Bastian and I met up at Photokina and had a look mostly at new manual lenses. This time there have been so many interesting new things to look at, we weren’t able to cover them all. Anyways, here is our recap.
The Meyer Trioplan 2.8/100 is one of the most hyped lenses of the moment and prices have exploded to absolutely crazy levels. But do you get anything special but that soap bubble bokeh for your money? Read on if you want to know.
Close Focusing Distance from the sensor
Number of aperture blades
3 / 3
Price (September 2016): $500 in good condition.
Check current prices at ebay.de orebay.com (affiliate links).
This guide was written to give you a good idea what to expect from Canon’s older FD lenses, many of which still perform very well on modern digital cameras.
All tests are performed with the 24MP full frame Sony a7/a7ii. Our ratings are always based on using the lenses with these cameras, the evaluation will be a different one on a smaller sensor. To learn more about using manual lenses on the Sony a7 check our beginners guide.
Most of these summaries are based on our own experience but we also decided to also include lenses we haven’t used ourselves to pool useful information we found on the net which we have summarized based on our experience with reviewing lenses. We would also be very happy if you shared your own experience with Canon FD lenses we don’t have any reliable information on yet. We are quite picky with the information we use though. That’s because 95% of the information we come across is unreliable: Everyone has different standards, Person A might rate the very same lens as a great performer while person B thinks it’s total junk. So we are mostly interested in full resolution images taken with a fullframe camera including information on the aperture used.
Of course the list isn’t complete, it is work in progress and we are working at extending it but this will take it’s time.
Canon (n)FD 4/17
Status: Used by Jannik for a short time in the past
At f/4 the center is quite good but…
… I’d recommend to stop down to f/11 for usable sharpness across the frame although it never gets tack sharp, partially because of the very strong lateral CA.
Very low distortion (the biggest quality of this lens, especially in the film era), bad flare resistance and 6-bladed aperture.
Medium size, and average price/performance ratio.
The age of this legacy lenses shows clearly when it iscompared to modern options. Nevertheless, it is pretty usable if you give the files some love in the post processing (remove CA’s and sharpening).
We summarize our experience with all the native E-mount and a few (manual) legacy lenses in the 10-20mm bracket to give you a compact resource for choosing the right super- to ultra-wide-angle lens for your Sony a7 cameras. In this summary we also included some adaptable AF lenses we think are worth mentioning.
We have no association with any lens manufacturer apart from occasionally loaning a lens for a review. Before any short introduction we tell you how long we have used a lens and if we have borrowed it from a manufacturer. But in most cases we have bought the lenses new from retail stores or on on the used market. If you want to support our independent reviews please consider using one of the affiliate links. It doesn’t cost you anything and helps us a lot.
If we have left any question unanswered please leave a comment and we will do our best to answer it.
Voigtlander 5.6/10 E
Status: Sample provided by the manufacturer reviewed by Bastian, who bought one for himself at retail after that. Still often in use.
At f/5.6 most of the frame is pretty sharp, only the extreme corners are somewhat soft. Contrast is always high.
You have to use f/11 for best across frame sharpness, the corners never reach excellent values.
Almost no distortion, quite good flare resistance, beautiful 10-stroke sunstars.
Small and lightweight, decently priced.
Widest rectilinear lens there is in a small package. Downsides are huge vignetting throughout the aperture range and maximum aperture of only f/5.6.
In todays post I compare two super fast lenses from the late 60’s. The Minolta MC 1.2/58 is a legend and priced as such while the Canon isn’t to popular and one of the most affordable f/1.2 lenses out there.
The following three images are processed with identical settings.
Venus Optics is a new player in the field of high performance manual lenses. Their new Laowa Smooth Trans Focus 105mm F 2.0(T3.2) has a special apodization element which should give this lens extraordinary bokeh. That’s the theory, in this review I will put it to the test.
This is the first part of a new series in which we portrait amateur photographers just like us who inspire us and who share our passion for photographing with manual lenses.
We decided to test our concept on ourselves first, initially we didn’t intend to publish it but since we liked the product we decided to publish it. So don’t be surprised by me answering my own questions ;).
Hi Phillip, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to use manual lenses? P: I am a student from Germany and I bought my first DSLR in 2006. In September 2011 I bought a used Nex-3 for a little over 100€ to use some of the cheap Minolta Rokkors I owned on a digital camera. I fell in love with my manual lenses instantly. Suddenly I could afford really good primes while before I was limited to slow, cheap zooms! So much more creative freedom.
I also enjoyed the new, slower but more conscious process and I saw a very quick progression in my own skills at that time. I hardly touched my Canon after that.
I was a gear-head before but now I could discover so many thousands of manual lenses no one had really tested on a digital camera ever before so I started my quest to discover learn as much about those manual lenses as possible. First I published my findings in forums until I started my own blog in early 2014 which has taught me a lot.
Here are a few images from when I started to use manual lenses back in early 2012: