Using vintage lenses

My enjoyment of photography leads me to reading and researching a lot about the latest advances in photographic technology, or just reading about how other photographers approach their work.

One such article caught my interest about 18 months ago, a former pro photographer was using his old film camera lenses on his digital camera with the help of an adaptor.

Many of todays mirrorless cameras facilitate such adaptors very easily, so I set about a little more research, eventually acquiring such an adaptor for my Xpro 1 Camera.

The adaptor (M42 screw mount) cost around £15 (no electronics for autofocus) , the lenses anywhere between £10 and £75 – this being my pre defined budget, some of the more sought after vintage lenses will command a lot more in terms of price, but there are some little gems to be found even in the lower price range.

My first acquisition was the much talked about (in forums and such) Russian Helios lens, a 58mm F2 (helios 44-4), a well built lens that at shallow depths of field, produces a swirly bokeh that is liked by many

At F2 the images can be soft around the edges but stopped down, it is a lovely lens to use, especially for portraits.

I really enjoy the tactile experience of a manual focus lens, it has taught me to be more deliberate in my approach to a shot.
Yes, there are times when I have missed certain shots that a modern autofocus lens would have nailed, but somehow, the shots you do get feel like a reward.

It is strange to think that when these lenses were the technology of their day, the lens flare and the faded rendering of colouring of the odd one or two, were considered to be flaws, now we have a more nostalgic view of them, it is called character.

Over the last few months I have acquired a number of lenses, the ones above being in my ‘most used’ section.

Of course, they will not be for everyone, today’s lenses are pin sharp, machine made precision products, with fast autofocus and for wedding photography, I would reach for the native lens without a doubt but for my own enjoyment, vintage lenses have taught me to enjoy photography even more.

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