Many photographers love using vintage lenses for their unique character. With Thorium-coated “radioactive lenses,” their yellowish tint is what gives them a distinct look. However, the downside is that the color intensifies with time, turning the lens’ “character” into something that’s more of a nuisance.
While walking around a flea market, Markus found a huge 500mm Petzval lens, produced around 1860. It was in a pretty bad condition, but Markus had an idea. He bought this rare gem, restored it, and took some fantastic portraits with it.
So I made a big purchasing decision a few months ago by investing in the new Fujifilm GFX 50R camera. It is a larger-than-full frame, ‘medium format’ sensor camera. The 50Rwas by far the most affordable medium format option in its class at the cost of $4500 USD($5700 CAD). Despite the amazing image quality of the Fujifilm G series lenses, they can be prohibitively expensive and lack the wide apertures that full frame shooters are accustomed to. What excited me most about this camera was its ability to adapt other lens systems with F/1.4 lenses to create images with a very shallow depth of field. In an ideal world, I would be able to treat this camera like a medium format digital back.
It’s not much of a secret that I’m a big fan of M42 lenses, especially for things like video or timelapse. I’ve got a few dozen of them that I use when I’m after a particular look and feel that would take a lot of work to achieve with more modern glass.
But occasionally I see a video or photos using an M42 lens that I haven’t come across before. In this case, it’s a Soligor 400mm f/6.3 lens. A lens that filmmaker Victor Bart managed to pick up for the princely sum of €2. In this video, he shows it off on the 2x crop Panasonic GH5, for an equivalent field of view to full frame 800mm.
Photography is one of few industries where perception of skill feels quite so inextricably linked with equipment. For a lot of people, the start of their interest in photography is tied directly to the gear they buy: working out just enough about how aperture works to want to invest in a fast 50, getting enough of a handle of artificial light to crave a speed light or two, the eventual step into full-frame. But eventually there comes a point where the next step in your photography isn’t in your next lens, flash or camera body.
A 50mm lens is probably the first lens most of us bought after we got the camera. They are generally affordable, especially if you go for a f/1.8. But if you’re on a really tight budget, or just want to satisfy your gear acquisition syndrome without guilt: Kai Wong has a video for you.
In this video, he suggests five great 50mm lenses that cost well under $100. So if you’re looking for your first or for another 50mm lens, check out Kai’s suggestions.
Searching for camera gear on flea markets and online auctions is like a treasure hunt. And from time to time, some photographers get to find real gems. Photographer Mathieu Stern was the lucky winner this time, and he found his treasure in quite a nasty place. Covered with poop, in a box full of other dirty gear, one lens stood out. It was a Tamron 90mm f/2.5.
The strange design caught Mathieu’s attention. In a cute animated cartoon, he shares a story how he found and bought this lens, along with some sample images and footage. Indeed, this lens is a gem, and the best thing is – he got it for around 20 bucks.
My collection of lenses grows each month. I’ve recently accepted the fact that I didn’t buy a big enough cabinet to store them all. In an attempt to free up some room I decided to conduct a culling. In the process of getting exceptional lenses, sometimes I have to buy a batch in order to get the one I’m after. Recently, I bought such a box which had one lens I wanted and the rest were all “bonus” junk. One of these freebies was an old Minolta SR mount Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5. This lens is a one-touch, push-pull style zoom; slide the fat ring of the lens to adjust the focal length and to adjust focus you simply rotate the same ring. The lens’ ring is about as a tight as a 30 year old sock. With even the slightest tilt it sloppily slides forward or backward. There is a term for this condition which is called ‘lens creep’. Usually lens creep just means that the heavy front barrel of a zoom lens slowly drifts forward or backward, depending on which way it’s angled. Mmyeah… on this lens, the zoom ring itself “creeps” about as smooth and quiet as a bowling bowl thrown down a flight of stairs.
Last week we covered three of the main tips to bear in mind when trying to get sharper manual focus images. Ambient lighting, contrasting elements to focus on and actual focusing technique. Although all of these tips are essential in giving us the best possible chance to get more of our manual focus shots pin-sharp, there are still going to be times when we need a little helping hand to consistently nail those manual focus images.
So even though manual focusing is a pain you’ll be pleased to hear that there are a few additional tools available out there that are designed to help us nail that focus even in the worst possible circumstances.
Fungus isn’t an issue most of us have to deal with when using modern glass. It comes pretty well sealed, and it’s usually not old enough to let major fungus issues develop yet. But, if you’re buying older lenses at the rate Mathieu Stern does, it becomes inevitable. Usually, you’ve got a couple of options. The first is to simply sell it on and find another. But the more productive route is to just give it a good clean.
In this video, Mathieu shows us how to open it up and get to those elements. Then, an easy way to get them clean using soap and water, then vinegar. Finally, how to reassemble things so that everything works as intended.