Regular readers here on DIYP will know how much we like seeing Mathieu Stern’s videos. He’s shown us some great old and weird lenses working with modern cameras and shared a few cool stories. Now, he’s teamed up with fellow French photographer Serge Ramelli to talk about portraits. More specifically, they’re portraits with vintage lenses.
In these two videos, Mathieu introduces Serge to vintage lenses, and the pair also offer up a challenge. They’ve made raw files available and want to see how you’d post process some of the images Mathieu shot using old Canon FD lenses. The second video shows the adapter Mathieu uses to connect FD lenses to his Sony A7II and why he’s now ditched ND filters from the front of his lenses.
Shooting with old equipment might seem odd, to some. On the one side we’ve got the gearheads who want the latest and greatest bleeding edge technology, and on the other there’s the “best camera is the one that’s with you”. Neither side is right, nor is either side wrong. But, Mathieu’s goal is not to say that the gear does not matter. Simply that there’s a lot of great old inexpensive gear. Some may not be perfect for every situation, but not every situation calls for equipment that can do everything.
To adapt the Canon FD lenses to work with his Sony Mirrorless cameras, Mathieu uses the Fotodiox ND Throttle FD to Sony E-Mount adapter. What advantage do these offer over regular cheap adapterS? Well, they have a built in variable neutral density filter. This is why Mathieu no longer has to put them on the end of his old lenses.
With an adapter that offers from 1-10 stops of neutral density, he doesn’t even need to bother with the welding glass any more. Fotodiox also make one for M42 lenses. I love old lenses. I have a bunch of old manual focus Nikon Ai-S and M42 lenses here that I use fairly regularly for stills and video. The M42 lenses are particularly useful for things like timelapse, completely eliminating the issue of aperture flicker.
Having the ND filter sitting behind the lens with an easy to reach dial is sure to make life a lot easier. Most of the time I end up having to fight lens hoods with a variable ND filter. Or, I have to constantly swap out 4×5.65″ ND filters in a Z-Pro holder as the ambient light changes or I move the camera to a different part of a location.
What are some of your favourite old lenses to shoot portraits with? Have you taken up Serge & Mathieu’s challenge? Let us know and share some of your results in the comments.