Photography gear is getting more and more advanced, and it seems that new lenses are being announced every few weeks. But even with all these fancy new lenses, there are still reasons to use vintage ones.
Mark Holtze says that there are as many as 100 reasons to use vintage lenses in 2020, but “nobody is sitting through 90 minutes of this,” he adds jokingly. So, he limited himself to a 7-minute video and five big reasons to shoot with vintage glass even in 2020. And I’d say these will apply in the future, too.
As we all know, most modern lenses aren’t exactly cheap. If you want a fast lens, either prime or zoom, you’ll have to invest some serious cash into it. On the other hand, their vintage equivalents can be as much as ten times cheaper. This is especially good for people just starting out in photography and gearing up. But of course, it’s great for anyone who wants to buy a good lens and save some money.
“Character” can be best described as the unique look a lens produces in your image. And vintage lenses certainly have a lot of character.
Mark compares vintage lenses with movie characters – the most interesting ones are those with flaws and imperfections. Well, just like movie characters, vintage lenses aren’t perfect, but they can render a really unique look compared to modern lenses.
3. Build quality
Vintage lenses are made almost entirely of metal and glass. They were built to last. After all, the best proof of their durability us that we still use them in 2020, right? Another plus is that they’re often a lot smaller than their modern counterparts because they’re manual focus lenses.
4. Good for both photo AND video
Whether you’re shooting stills or video, vintage lenses work for both mediums. Mark says that they’re even better suited for video because the manual focus is more often used there. Vintage lenses provide smooth focusing, and their clear distance markings make focus pulling much more convenient.
Finding a unique and interesting vintage lens inspires you and gets you out to shoot more. And the experience is the best teacher. The more you shoot, the more you learn. The manual focus of these lenses challenges you to adapt and learn how to use it. And it’s a great feeling when you take the perfect shot and nail focus.
Personally, I own only one vintage lens, but I do love borrowing them and experimenting with them whenever I have a chance. The one I own is Helios 44M-4 2/58mm and I love its “character.” Both photos above were taken with it.
Do you shoot with vintage lenses? What’s your favorite one?