All posts by Phillip Reeve

I like to be outside with my camera and I am also a gear head with a love for manual lenses.

Beginner’s Guide to Manual Lenses on the Sony a7

Okay, everybody is talking about how manual lenses work so well on the Sony a7 series but how does it actually work? And which results can I expect? Read on if you want to know.DSC00720

Zeiss Distagon 2.8/28  ~ $250
Olympus OM 2.8/100 ~ $100
 Minolta MC 1.4/50 ~ $60

Why should I use manual lenses?

    • 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 affordable primes are often sharper than very expensive modern zooms.
    • Old lenses are usually beautifully built from nothing but metal and glass which makes it a joy to handle them. They can last a lot longer 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 but personally I enjoy working with fully manual lenses a lot more than with any AF lens and I would choose a good manual focus lens over an AF lens (almost) any time. Check out our manual photographers series to read other photographers stories who feel similar about this.
Minolta MD 2/50 ~$25

Why shouldn’t I use manual lenses?

Continue reading Beginner’s Guide to Manual Lenses on the Sony a7

The Manual Photographers Series Part 7: Helena Normark

P: Hi Helena, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to use manual lenses?

H: My name is Helena Normark and I was born in northern Sweden. When finished with school I moved to Stockholm to work. After a few years I met my current partner and when he got a job in Trondheim, Norway 2004 we decided to move here, which we have never regretted. Beautiful country with friendly people.

I work from home as an artist/illustrator, drawing clipart among other things. This means that I am fortunate to be able to go out whenever the light is good and my favorite weather is so called “bad weather”. Nothing livens me up more than being out with the camera in a thunderstorm or snowstorm.  🙂

When turning seven I got my first camera, but photography as a hobby didn’t take off until 2008 when I got the Canon 5D and 35L, and eventually various other AF lenses. I enjoyed the Canon gear, but finding the alternative board at in 2012 opened my eyes to the wealth of old MF lenses, so when I stumbled upon a Sony A7 for a really good price I decided to switch systems.

First I got a few Contax Zeiss lenses which were great and I still have most of them, but they aren’t very fast or flare resistant, which is important for my style, so I ended up buying a few Voigtlanders  and like them a lot.

Fall and winter (especially winter) are my favorite seasons.  One of the reasons is that I like a calmness in my photos and find it easier when there is snow. Also, there are fewer people about and usually I prefer to be alone when I am out with the camera.  I am part of a local photo group though and at least once a month we meet up and take a little trip or walk and it is always very nice and also inspiring to see what others come up with from the same subjects/scenery. Highly recommended!

Some winter photos, all from the Voigtlander 50/1.5 VM:

Continue reading The Manual Photographers Series Part 7: Helena Normark