Category Archives: Manual Photographers series

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

Continue reading The manual photographers series part 4: sebboh

The manual photographers series part 3: Oliver Fecher (aidualk)


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.

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland – Sony A900, Sony-Zeiss 24mm, f8

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.

Nightsky over Watzmann – Sony A7R, Samyang 14mm, f4

Continue reading The manual photographers series part 3: Oliver Fecher (aidualk)

The Manual Photographers Series Part 0.3: Jannik Peters


 Hi Jannik,
can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you use manual Lenses?

Jannik: I am an automotive engineer from Wolfsburg, Germany. I started out with an Sony Alpha 200 in 2008 but I discovered photography as my passion when the first Sony A7 came out. I preordered it and was fascinated by the ability to revive all the legacy lenses, that were “dead” for a long time. My first manual lens was a Canon nFD 1.4/50 which was an eye opener for me. At this time, I only owned the Sony FE 3.5-5.6/28-70 kit lens and I was never really satisfied by it. The sharpness and the creative potential of the fast aperture combined with the bargain price (50€) were amazing. I added lots of Canon FD lenses soon and started to discover other systems like Olympus OM and especially Contax/Yashica as well. With some experience, I found the different rendering styles of specific lenses and I am happy that I can choose between several lenses depending on the look that I want to create.

Sony A7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24mm | Na Pali Coast, Kauai
Sony A7 | Samyang 2.8/14mm | San Francisco

Continue reading The Manual Photographers Series Part 0.3: Jannik Peters

The Manual Photographers Series Part 0.1: Phillip Reeve

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:

The Minolta MD 1.4/50 was my first standard lens, I bought it for less than 50€.
I got the Minolta MC 4/200 for 26€ back in 2011 and it was sharper and faster than any zoom I could have bought.
Minolta MD 4/100 bought for 80€, I used it for landscape and macro photography on this trip with very good results but I wasn’t a fan of the handling.

Continue reading The Manual Photographers Series Part 0.1: Phillip Reeve