In this article, I’d like to talk about what motivates me to collect vintage lenses and my experience to date as a precursor to my future articles talking about vintage lenses.
My fascination with vintage lenses began when I got my first (Full Frame) mirrorless camera. Suddenly, I was not tied down to using lenses by any particular manufacturer, period or function.
To paraphrase Apple, “want to use both Nikon and Canon lenses?, want to use your grandfather’s Contax RF mount lenses?, want to turn your wide angle lens into a tilt-shift lens? There are adapters for that”
Yes, I’m aware that if I were to have used a Nikon and Canon, changed the focusing screen or used a focus confirm chip adapter to adapt a selection of lenses. But these are all hacks and would still preclude you from using a large number of lenses. Most crucially, the Leica and other rangefinder lenses.
And it was for this reason I became an owner of a Sony A7. Around 9 months after launch of the camera, there were suddenly a lot of Sony A7s for sale. The person selling the camera which eventually became mine sold his as he had bought it as a secondary body for his Leica set up and decided to sell it because it wasn’t very ‘Lieca like’. Regardless of his reasons I was an owner of a decent full frame digital camera with the potential to use any camera lens every made.
Growing up as a predominantly Nikon SLR user, I was always curious about the lenses from other manufacturers. The Zuikos, the Rokkors and so forth. Now, not only would I be able to use them, they were also cheap enough for me to be able to afford.
And affordability is the other thing which holds my interest. If I can find the best in class lenses at a bargain price, because they are manual focusing and most DSLR will not assist you in finding focus manually then great. More often than not, the thrill is in discovering that you can get lenses that can perform at 80% of the best in it class for less than 20% of the cost.
Then there’s the lens characteristics – the way it renders images, the Bokeh, the way it handles, to name just a few qualities. All add up to why I am fascinated with vintage lenses.
On my site, I will be recanting my experiences in Opto-Archeology, talking about lenses of note, lens types and genealogy and manufacturers. It is not my intention to review lenses. There are many sites, which would be able to do this much better than I can, but it would be impossible to talk about lenses without quantifying my opinions. What I am sure of is that any review will be non-technical. I feel that, when considering vintage lenses, lens condition is the most crucial factor in how it performs.
RULE #1 – Lens condition is everything. The lens I talk about performs exactly as it has been kept and treated. Reading reviews and looking at charts only tells me how it could perform under optimal conditions when brand new. My, and your mileage will vary.