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Manual lenses, sharpness, color, bokeh, image quality


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Hello; this is probably one of those "dividing" topics, as there will be always those who would strongly oppose usage of vintage manual lenses as new generations are much better.

At other side; anyone who tried some of those old, classic lenses may see that there are some of those (old lenses) being just "upgraded" (and moved to much higher price levels), with the same optical "ingredients". Results, image quality may be great, only, autofocus missing.

Bought number of classic lenses, telephotos, zooms, and primes, wanted to say that, for example Canon FD 50mm 1.8, when being used with smaller apertures, is really good.

Recently, found some reviews about the Pentax SMC -M 50mm 1.7, presenting superior results, even compared with multiple times more expensive "modern" lenses.

Anyone has experience with that Pentax one or, similar Minoltas, Nikons, or some other brand?

 

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You are quite right.  Minolta made their auto-focusing MAXXUM lenses for 20 years before Sony bought them.  And the MAXXUM lenses were largely Minolta ROKKOR lenses (which Minolta had been making for over 20 years before that) with auto-focusing added.  The optical formulas of the lenses usually did not change at all -- so you get the same quality results whether you use ROKKOR, MAXXUM, or SONY lenses.  Some convenience features, such as ADI flash, Image stabilization, etc. will change, but the ability of the lens to create an image is the same -- at substantial savings.

The optical formula for Minolta's ROKKOR MACRO 50mm f3.5 was created in the 1950's -- and has never changed.  Sony is still using it today.  It's easy to find a Minolta CELTIC MACRO 50mm f3.5 -- which uses the same optical formula -- for around $10.  This is a great deal for any Sony macro/micro user since you won't need auto-focusing or image stabilization, or ADI flash control, etc. in a macro setting.

Still, lots of people will yell, "You get what you pay for!!!" 

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When I started taking an interest in photography, when film was the only option, all lens were manual, the only electronics were in metering, but you still set the aperture, shutter speed and focussing manually.

Then, after a bit of a break - dabbling in video and taking on the ease of "point and shoot" digital for skiing and canoeing/kayaking pictures - I started again with DSLR and discovered the wonders of steady shot and autofocus.

Yes, I've upgraded my kit, adopting mirrorless technology with it's wonders of eye AF and the like, but...I've also been tempted by a manual 15mm zero distortion lens, which I really enjoy using. AF etc is great for action shots and where time is not on your side, but there is something nice about slowing down and "crafting" a photo manually. With the price of so many quality old lenses being so low, I might get some more - who knows.

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Yes, I am trying to find Minolta 50mm in good shape for some time - the optical math is not being changed during time, other things are. The IBIS in A7 II is not magical, but it is really helpful, when those lenses are in use.

I still have Nikon F50 (N50), in good shape, with it's kit lens (and adapter to use the lens with Sony). It has AF which works nicely (loud, of course), it's strong as tank. Have few others (including the famous Diana F). Have to say that the joy of making images (as physical things, compared to digital photos) changed a lot. I even bought small digitizing "machine", including camera, specifically created for converting the 36mm film negatives to photos, used it for some old films, not perfect, but it's working.

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I agree with some. I just bought de Laowa 100 macro lens. It is manual, I was afraid that it would be annoying. But no, it works like a charm. I suppose that goes for other legacy lenses too. In most circumstances a fully automated lens is preferable. But for macro, the Sony lenses are very expensive.

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On 10/1/2021 at 10:20 AM, Aldowski said:

Hello; this is probably one of those "dividing" topics, as there will be always those who would strongly oppose usage of vintage manual lenses as new generations are much better.

At other side; anyone who tried some of those old, classic lenses may see that there are some of those (old lenses) being just "upgraded" (and moved to much higher price levels), with the same optical "ingredients". Results, image quality may be great, only, autofocus missing.

Bought number of classic lenses, telephotos, zooms, and primes, wanted to say that, for example Canon FD 50mm 1.8, when being used with smaller apertures, is really good.

Recently, found some reviews about the Pentax SMC -M 50mm 1.7, presenting superior results, even compared with multiple times more expensive "modern" lenses.

Anyone has experience with that Pentax one or, similar Minoltas, Nikons, or some other brand?

 

One of the reasons why I purchased 2 Sony mirrorless was the possibility  to keep using my old Nikon, Zeiss  and Angenieux lenses. Today I am using on a regular basis part of them when I don't need the speed of other AF specific lenses. I am really surprised of the quality I get from Nikon 20 mm f 2,8, Angenieux 25-70 and (really big surprise) an old Nikon 105 mm plenty of scratches and dust

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Lots of shutterbugs don't use AF all the time.  Lots of the time you can't, or you want to set the focus differently from what the camera indicates.  And if you prefer to use a hand-held meter instead of the TTL camera meter, focusing the lens manually is nothing at all.

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Today afternoon, I went to small town to take some photos using A7II with kit lens 28-70mm; Canon FD 50mm 1.8, Olympus Zuiko zoom 35-105mm. Few hundreds of photos, weather was nice, sunny, unfortunately the temperatures outside were not very pleasant. A7 II Steadyshot with Manual settings 50mm set.

While even Zuiko had some results better than Sony kit one, the Canon FD, oldtimer is unbelievably good. I used F8 most of the time on it, sometimes F5.6. Sharpness, details, are much, much better than at Sony kit lens, looks even as different, higher level. I did not use wider apertures this time (on Canon), I just wanted to make photos at mentioned range F5.6 to F8, using the Canon FD, again, results were great.

I am now trying to find a FD 50mm 1.4, in a good shape, few days ago I found Minolta50mm F1,7, but I may need to see it first.

 

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You might be surprised when you compare an f1.8/1.7 lens to an f1.4 lens.  Plenty of times the slower lens comes out on top.  Why?  The faster lens has more glass elements in it to correct for aberrations created by having a wider aperture.  I get better results from my Minolta Rokkor-X 50mm f2.0 than I do with my Minolta Rokkor-X 50mm f1.4 at f8 -- but not by much.  It's the same with my Minolta Rokkor-X 28mm f2.8 versus my Minolta Rokkor-X 28mm f2.0 at f8.

And in your above comparison, you were comprring two zooms to a prime.  If the prime were to lose, it's probably defective.

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For sure, it would be better in terms of lenses structure, if I used Sony FE 50mm 1.8 only to compare it directly to Canon FD 50mm 1.8; anyway, I did not go that way, I used different types of lenses. Every lens should provide good sharpness and have good representation of colors at it's best settings. Recently, I made lots of photos with the Sony FE 50mm 1.8 and it seems to be good, anyway, not being impressed. Okay, it's not expensive, it's not having optical image stabilization inside, still, it is not providing better results compared to old FD 50mm 1.8. Optical math built into the Canon FD lenses seems to be really great, that's what I found. At the other side, the Sony 28-70mm may be example of "the lens in the bundle, just to be in the bundle", unfortunately. Having thousands of photos made by it, I still did not make those which may be as sharp as those created using the FD 50mm 1.8.

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