Category Archives: Manual Photographers series

The Manual Photographers Series Part 8: Bob Israel

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

B: I’m originally from New York City but oddly enough, I’ve never really photographed there.  I live in the suburbs of Minneapolis, MN and work downtown.  Hence, you can usually find me photographing  both natural and urban landscapes.  I’ve been photographing since the mid-80s but it was a fledgling interest initially.  While I have a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, the darkroom was never all that interesting to me.  My obsessions with photography took off when digital cameras took off as well.   Maybe it was the instant feedback but the digital darkroom resonated with me.   I started with a Nikon 880 but quickly transitioned to Canon with the Canon 10D.  Then came the 20D, 30D and 5D.  About this time, I really started getting into Canon L glass.  In 2003, I joined  I learned more about photography by reading and looking at images on that site, than any other.  It was there I was introduced to the Alternative Forum.

Voigtlander Heliar 15mm f/4.5 III @ f/8, 1/15 sec, ISO 100

Continue reading The Manual Photographers Series Part 8: Bob Israel

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


Selfie with Mamiya m645 | 80mm 2.8 C @F16 | old ORWO NP22 80ASA

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

S: Hi! I will start with what I do for a living: I am a graphic designer and photographer based in Bulgaria. I started editing photos long before I had my first experience with a camera (and that was as part of my job as a designer). But it was only a matter of time for me to get excited about taking the pictures myself. I started with what gear was available in the companies where I was an employee, but back in those days the Canon G5 was like space technology in my eyes.  Because of the huge depth of field of these compact cameras I was mainly focused on landscapes and macro. When I got bored of landscapes and macro I started to look around for something with a larger sensor.


The Manual Photographers Series Part 5: Ronny Olsson

Nikkor 16mm f3.5 AI fisheye


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

R: Hi, I live in Sweden in a village called Johannishus. I am 45 years old and work as a construction painter. I have a wife and two children, a daughter of 17 years and a son of 21 years. I began to photograph in 2010 when I bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D80, followed by a D90 and D700. Photography is a hobby for me  and I see myself as a beginner, always trying to improve my photography.

My interest in manual focus lenses started when I became interested in Zeiss lenses and their special look: 3D pop, micro contrast and beautiful colors. Later I also bought older manual Nikon lenses, where there are quite a few gems among them.
2014 I went over to Sony E-mount. I liked the size of the body and then all possibilities with different lenses and different adapters.
First I bought a Sony A7 and later Sony A7R II and a Sony Rx1R.

P: Can you give us a look into your camera bag and tell us a little about your gear?

Sony A7RII – My main camera that gets used for everything. Aspects I appreciate about it are:

  • Very good image quality
  • High detail reproduction
  • High Dynamic Range
  • Built-in stabilization which works regardless of lens or lens adapter
  • Significantly improved AF function (over A7 )
  • Many programmable buttons
  • Electronic shutter for reduced vibration
  • Silent shooting
  • Very good electronic viewfinder
  • Very good folding screen
  • Solidly built
  • Weather sealed

Overall it is a really good camera to me.

Hint: All images are linked to the higher resolution version on flickr, just click on them.

Sony A7R II + Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8

Continue reading The Manual Photographers Series Part 5: Ronny Olsson

The manual photographers series part 4: sebboh

Sony A7 | Carl Zeiss Contax 35mm f/1.4 Distagon | f/1.4 | My crazy eye

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.

one of those days
Sony NEX-7 | Carl Zeiss Contax G 28mm f/2.8 Biogon | f/2.8 | One of those days

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