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.
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.
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.
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: