The utility of Vintage Glass and the Challenge of Zooms

I did not know you guys were all into cameras :). HiFi and Shutterbugs have always been birds of a feather -- so should have guessed! For a while now, most product photography I do is shot using a Canon 5d MkII or 6d full frame, and only adapted vintage glass (because it is so good and manual is what I like) . Lately a Nikkor H-C (an old Leica formula update coating from around 72) and often a "Bokina" Vivitar Series 1 90mm for 12ax7 tubes (the lens was popular for dental work!). The idea that new lenses are better for digital is something of a myth. New lenses are good, but old lenses have allot of "micro-contrast" -- something of an urban myth (they say)... but I have compared Apples to Apple in primes....-- in a studio setting they do have something on the new lenses often!
Primes are of course the best always, not sure if anyone can debate that much...I have switch to mostly all - still sometimes really enjoy the challenge of finding and using really, really cool all manual zooms... especially for video work. There are some gems from the 70's not many folks know about.

For zooms, I also like some of the all manual Vivitar Series 1 designed by Perkins Elmer (sp) in the USA and made in Japan. These zooms can be finicky, and inconsistent, and at times not as sharp as the latest stuff --- but they sometimes have that "X factor" as dubbed by Hicks/Schultz in the Lens book....
This was a very finicky zoom I still do like allot -- push pull and sometimes it looks like a prime...last two in the list are sample shots from a 5D mk2 (there is CA of course, I don't do any post processing - too much work :).


I think the CA is what has led me way from vintage zoomers -- but I will continue to use these for video (also on circa 2008 5D mk2) work when I can. They just have "a look" that's cool sometimes.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I did not know you guys were all into cameras :). HiFi and Shutterbugs have always been birds of a feather -- so should have guessed! For a while now, most product photography I do is shot using a Canon 5d MkII or 6d full frame, and only adapted vintage glass (because it is so good and manual is what I like) . Lately a Nikkor H-C (an old Leica formula update coating from around 72) and often a "Bokina" Vivitar Series 1 90mm for 12ax7 tubes (the lens was popular for dental work!). The idea that new lenses are better for digital is something of a myth. New lenses are good, but old lenses have allot of "micro-contrast" -- something of an urban myth (they say)... but I have compared Apples to Apple in primes....-- in a studio setting they do have something on the new lenses often!
Primes are of course the best always, not sure if anyone can debate that much...I have switch to mostly all - still sometimes really enjoy the challenge of finding and using really, really cool all manual zooms... especially for video work. There are some gems from the 70's not many folks know about.

For zooms, I also like some of the all manual Vivitar Series 1 designed by Perkins Elmer (sp) in the USA and made in Japan. These zooms can be finicky, and inconsistent, and at times not as sharp as the latest stuff --- but they sometimes have that "X factor" as dubbed by Hicks/Schultz in the Lens book....
This was a very finicky zoom I still do like allot -- push pull and sometimes it looks like a prime...last two in the list are sample shots from a 5D mk2 (there is CA of course, I don't do any post processing - too much work :).


I think the CA is what has led me way from vintage zoomers -- but I will continue to use these for video (also on circa 2008 5D mk2) work when I can. They just have "a look" that's cool sometimes.
Cool stuff. I've had hit and miss luck with the variety of vintage lenses I've adapted to my Fuji cameras (XE-1 then Xpro-2). The first problem is the crop sensor - everything gets a bit to quite a bit more telephoto with the crop. But I also will lose some of the vignetting on very old lenses. A good and bad thing as I use these old lenses for their character and I actually like vignetting sometimes. I'm decidedly not a pixel-peeper - I want the flaws if they make the photo more interesting and absolutely nobody except pixel-peepers cares about most of the things they care about, least not the many successful photographers I know.

I've only used a couple of old zooms though. You're making me want to try a few of them - I have a couple of nice Nikon zooms from my old Nikon film SLRs. Nothing super fancy but they're nice lenses. I usually prefer something purposefully a bit funky like the ridiculous out of focus nature of a Helios, or just the unfussy somewhat washed out look of this Olympus 50 I just picked up. I have a 'speed booster' for minolta lenses that focuses the image down on the crop sensor so I get the whole thing, so I tend to use a lot of their glass, which I ended up with from having an Minolta X-700 slr.
 
Cool stuff. I've had hit and miss luck with the variety of vintage lenses I've adapted to my Fuji cameras (XE-1 then Xpro-2). The first problem is the crop sensor - everything gets a bit to quite a bit more telephoto with the crop. But I also will lose some of the vignetting on very old lenses. A good and bad thing as I use these old lenses for their character and I actually like vignetting sometimes. I'm decidedly not a pixel-peeper - I want the flaws if they make the photo more interesting and absolutely nobody except pixel-peepers cares about most of the things they care about, least not the many successful photographers I know.

I've only used a couple of old zooms though. You're making me want to try a few of them - I have a couple of nice Nikon zooms from my old Nikon film SLRs. Nothing super fancy but they're nice lenses. I usually prefer something purposefully a bit funky like the ridiculous out of focus nature of a Helios, or just the unfussy somewhat washed out look of this Olympus 50 I just picked up. I have a 'speed booster' for minolta lenses that focuses the image down on the crop sensor so I get the whole thing, so I tend to use a lot of their glass, which I ended up with from having an Minolta X-700 slr.
Yes -- I agree --- whoa -- moving from a crop sensor to full frame took *allot* of getting used to. The so-called upgrade from crop was not all good in my book. Using legacy 35mm glass, the crop sensor does not use the worst fringe parts of some of those old lenses. Going to full frame camera, where 50mm=50mm will have you discarding any lackluster lenses you might normally suffer through for sure.
It's also a real hassle to get any real DepthofField out of the full frame....crop sensors are really good for so much.

That said, I'll never be able to go back. Sort of like hearing vinyl or getting efficient speakers -- once you get a taste for it I guess it's really hard to backtrack. You are right too --it's much nicer to used the lenses as they were intended on 35mm film.

Now that you can get old, beat up full frame Canon's cheap as chips (5D mkII's should be well under 500 now) and though they are not mirrorless, they are beautiful, well made cameras, that I have found adapting Canon to Nikon AI or non-AI manual mounts or vintage M42 threads to be seamless with no trouble, using the built in light meter of the camera, in full manual (never did like auto focus anyhoo).

I really liked the Helios 44-2 lens, and though it flares, it's very sharp, though USSR quality really varies! I just traded mine off though -- I prefer a peculiar couple of Nikon 1960s/70s lenses ... the Nikkor H-C 50mm is really something special, as is the Nikkor P 105mm/2.5.... A version this 105mm lens was dubbed the "Afgan Girl" lens, forthat famous Time Mag photo..

Can you guys believe manual glass is so cheap? I think if folks gave it a try, they would not want all of that crazy automatic stuff! There is nothing like that manual aperture ring! Now, if they would just make a true manual, mirrorless camera -- in my dreams! Below are photos of daily driver lenses -- only used with digital Canon so far.
 

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JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Yes -- I agree --- whoa -- moving from a crop sensor to full frame took *allot* of getting used to. The so-called upgrade from crop was not all good in my book. Using legacy 35mm glass, the crop sensor does not use the worst fringe parts of some of those old lenses. Going to full frame camera, where 50mm=50mm will have you discarding any lackluster lenses you might normally suffer through for sure.
It's also a real hassle to get any real DepthofField out of the full frame....crop sensors are really good for so much.

That said, I'll never be able to go back. Sort of like hearing vinyl or getting efficient speakers -- once you get a taste for it I guess it's really hard to backtrack. You are right too --it's much nicer to used the lenses as they were intended on 35mm film.

Now that you can get old, beat up full frame Canon's cheap as chips (5D mkII's should be well under 500 now) and though they are not mirrorless, they are beautiful, well made cameras, that I have found adapting Canon to Nikon AI or non-AI manual mounts or vintage M42 threads to be seamless with no trouble, using the built in light meter of the camera, in full manual (never did like auto focus anyhoo).

I really liked the Helios 44-2 lens, and though it flares, it's very sharp, though USSR quality really varies! I just traded mine off though -- I prefer a peculiar couple of Nikon 1960s/70s lenses ... the Nikkor H-C 50mm is really something special, as is the Nikkor P 105mm/2.5.... A version this 105mm lens was dubbed the "Afgan Girl" lens, forthat famous Time Mag photo..

Can you guys believe manual glass is so cheap? I think if folks gave it a try, they would not want all of that crazy automatic stuff! There is nothing like that manual aperture ring! Now, if they would just make a true manual, mirrorless camera -- in my dreams! Below are photos of daily driver lenses -- only used with digital Canon so far.
My wife has a Canon 5DmkIV that I occasionally use but I just can't get used to shooting with it, too many menus, too many buttons. The reason I went Fuji is that it feels like a film camera to me. Everything where it should be, lenses with aperture rings, etc. So putting old manual glass on one just makes sense- the camera doesn't really feel much different as a lot of the Fuji glass reminds me of old legacy glass. Just not quite as robust. Still, everything is as god intended as far as where they put aperture and focus rings on them.

I haven't liked other crop sensor cameras I've tried, Fuji is the only one that I think got that right. But I could be maybe convinced to go with a Nikon mirrorless, or, well, Leica if I win the lottery. Or even better, Fuji's digital medium format mirrorless, which has some options for adapting old lenses.

The Helios 44-2 is what I have. It's in an M42 mount. I have a few other russian lenses in L39 that are also fun. I've even adapted old Argus Brick lenses (to interesting but not great results... not great lenses). I think I have adaptors for L39, M42, Leica bayonet mount, Argus, Nikon, Minolta and Olympus. One of my favorite portrait lenses is a Mamiya in M42 though I can't remember the focal length at the moment..I think it's a 55mm. I got it for $10. There's some nice old Fuji manual lenses, too, that go for nothing.
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
My (ahem, our) son the semi-serious photographer (and very serious mathematician) tends to get a bit sniffy about zooms in general and in vintage zooms in particular (FWIW). That said, he does acquire some now and again... although they seem to end up at our house, as opposed to his.

DSC_7455 (2) by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
 
My wife has a Canon 5DmkIV that I occasionally use but I just can't get used to shooting with it, too many menus, too many buttons. The reason I went Fuji is that it feels like a film camera to me. Everything where it should be, lenses with aperture rings, etc. So putting old manual glass on one just makes sense- the camera doesn't really feel much different as a lot of the Fuji glass reminds me of old legacy glass. Just not quite as robust. Still, everything is as god intended as far as where they put aperture and focus rings on them.

I haven't liked other crop sensor cameras I've tried, Fuji is the only one that I think got that right. But I could be maybe convinced to go with a Nikon mirrorless, or, well, Leica if I win the lottery. Or even better, Fuji's digital medium format mirrorless, which has some options for adapting old lenses.

The Helios 44-2 is what I have. It's in an M42 mount. I have a few other russian lenses in L39 that are also fun. I've even adapted old Argus Brick lenses (to interesting but not great results... not great lenses). I think I have adaptors for L39, M42, Leica bayonet mount, Argus, Nikon, Minolta and Olympus. One of my favorite portrait lenses is a Mamiya in M42 though I can't remember the focal length at the moment..I think it's a 55mm. I got it for $10. There's some nice old Fuji manual lenses, too, that go for nothing.
Agreed. The MK IV, you guys are serious! I decided 20mp was enough, but I am sure 50 is better. The Canon hardware / build / IQ is so is nice, but uggh, those menus -- it kills all the fun. I love the look of the Fuji's .... To me, the ultimate would be a Nikon DF. That full frame camera should be worth twice what it is because it's a digital, but all manual dials..... I like Nikon, but prefer the warm tone of Canon. Fuji has that pleasant greenish cast. I don't post process, so for some reason I do care about this silly native character.
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
I had a fling with a DX (crop-sensor) Nikon D200 as my first foray into digital beyond the realm of P&S, but moved to full-frame as soon as I could afford to. I really wanted my 35mm glass to look the same as it always had, depth of field etc. Currently using a D750 and D3. I actually wanted a Df, but they simply weren't available for any amount of money at the time so I ended up with the 750 and the D3 came along as an estate find last year.

John, yes there can be a lot of buttons, but as I've set things up I pretty much never need touch most of them or look in the menu while shooting. I keep things as close to the film-shooting experience as I can.

I shoot with a lot of vintage glass, mostly Nikkors in digital, but not exclusively. I have a couple of Tamrons I use often, a 90mm f2.5 macro (52B) (adore it) and a 70-210 f3.5 SP (19AH) that is excellent. I do have some more modern Nikkors as well (24-70 f2.8 etc.) - horses for courses and depends on what I have to shoot.

In shooting film all bets are off and I use a wide range of glass dating back as far as 1900 or so. I have that same Series 1 35-85 f2.8, but in Canon FD mount. A ton of fun on the F-1n - literally a ton...

Saving my pennies to add a Nikon Z7 into the mix. I think being able to use all of my glass on a 45MP sensor could be a lot of fun.
 

GuyK

Junior Member
Agreed. The MK IV, you guys are serious! I decided 20mp was enough, but I am sure 50 is better. The Canon hardware / build / IQ is so is nice, but uggh, those menus -- it kills all the fun. I love the look of the Fuji's .... To me, the ultimate would be a Nikon DF. That full frame camera should be worth twice what it is because it's a digital, but all manual dials..... I like Nikon, but prefer the warm tone of Canon. Fuji has that pleasant greenish cast. I don't post process, so for some reason I do care about this silly native character.
If Nikon updated the DF with a more modern sensor and higher resolution, I'd probably get one and never think about getting another camera.
 
Yeah -- some of these FF cameras are really old -- boy they sure do hold their value.. Through some reading and also studio use -- I came to the conclusion that that 20ish mp is "enough", so long as they are the large full frame version of pixels. Once I got to that point, I noticed only a few of my prime lenses were sharp --- and I had to become very picky which optics I uses to keep up with the sensor, (so to speak). My two sharpest are both long portrait lenses; Canon's 100mm 2.8L (love it for 1:1 macro on 12ax7 tubes) and the early 1980s Series 1 90mm 2.5 (the sharpest lens I have tried to date, I heard. it was made for Dental work?).

When I read about it, I did not believe the sensors had surpassed the glasses ability to resolve, just did not make sense.

Anyway, I used to believe it was all in the sensor -- I mean -- how could optics impact what we think of "resolution" -- but now when I pixel peep -- it always seems to be the glass at any fault at all. Allot of the color shift and other things attributed to sensors -- this too can often be the lens.

As of a few years ago, some of the newer cameras like the 6D mkII were getting panned as bad sequels to the earlier version.

I guess the 50mp sensors are great, but the file sizes get so large -- I dunno -- very wary of change once I got to really use this stuff for work...
Main thing I would like to do is ditch the mirror!
 
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fiddlefye

Senior Member
If Nikon updated the DF with a more modern sensor and higher resolution, I'd probably get one and never think about getting another camera.
A higher resolution Df would be wonderful (with a few minor quibbles fixed as well), but I don't see it ever happening, sadly. We'll be lucky if the current lot of DSLRs aren't the last, ever. In terms of the Nikon lineup I suspect that the only further development will be an update to the D850 and that the rest are already the end of the evolutionary line. From now on it will be all mirrorless as they are not only popular, but ultimately cheaper to produce. Like the F6 they'll quietly stay in production for a few more years and then just as quietly vanish.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I'm tempted to get a full-frame body, probably Sony, to use exclusively with adapted old lenses. And what might push me over that edge is I've learned that I can adapt my Contax G lenses now. Among the best glass ever made for 35mm. The Xpro-2 has really bummed me out because it's the only time Fuji really let me down. I've gotten great shots with it but it's been a real lemon compared to the others (XE-1, X100s, X100v and my wife's X70). Or I could maybe pick up a used DF.

As for mirrorless/DSLR, I honestly don't have a preference performance wise. Its the bulk of the SLR that I don't like, as I don't get the shot if I don't have the camera, and I don't like having a camera around my neck that screams "HEY PHOTOGRAPHER HERE!!" which is kind of unavoidable with a big DSLR.

I think the mirrorless medium-format Fujis have kind of freaked out Canon, because that's medium format on about the same-size body. Fuji lenses are really nice and those GFX cameras are incredible for what they cost.
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
I'm tempted to get a full-frame body, probably Sony, to use exclusively with adapted old lenses. And what might push me over that edge is I've learned that I can adapt my Contax G lenses now. Among the best glass ever made for 35mm. The Xpro-2 has really bummed me out because it's the only time Fuji really let me down. I've gotten great shots with it but it's been a real lemon compared to the others (XE-1, X100s, X100v and my wife's X70). Or I could maybe pick up a used DF.

As for mirrorless/DSLR, I honestly don't have a preference performance wise. Its the bulk of the SLR that I don't like, as I don't get the shot if I don't have the camera, and I don't like having a camera around my neck that screams "HEY PHOTOGRAPHER HERE!!" which is kind of unavoidable with a big DSLR.

I think the mirrorless medium-format Fujis have kind of freaked out Canon, because that's medium format on about the same-size body. Fuji lenses are really nice and those GFX cameras are incredible for what they cost.
The Fujis are wonderful, but have a little chat with Adrian (my tech) about them in terms of actual build quality and durability. There are a number of former newspaper photographers in town who gave up shooting with DSLRs and moved to the Fujis for their "personal" work. He's had one after the other bringing them in to him for repair and he has to tell them that the truth is they're just plain worn out and Fuji won't sell him replacement parts. When they send the camera in to Fuji for repair they tell them they'll give them a discount on a newer model replacement body. Unfortunately that's the direction the business as a whole is heading.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
The Fujis are wonderful, but have a little chat with Adrian (my tech) about them in terms of actual build quality and durability. There are a number of former newspaper photographers in town who gave up shooting with DSLRs and moved to the Fujis for their "personal" work. He's had one after the other bringing them in to him for repair and he has to tell them that the truth is they're just plain worn out and Fuji won't sell him replacement parts. When they send the camera in to Fuji for repair they tell them they'll give them a discount on a newer model replacement body. Unfortunately that's the direction the business as a whole is heading.
I think some of that is also who you talk to. I have the number for the Fuji rep here and he took care of the camera once and said he would again. The current problem is annoying but hasn't totally disabled the camera so I haven't taken him up on it. Though I have thought of trading it in on something else, there's nothing else out there with the same ergonomics. I simply hate shooting with the Canons and Nikons I've used. The photos have been fine, the experience wasn't at all to my liking and I'm in this to enjoy it.
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
I think some of that is also who you talk to. I have the number for the Fuji rep here and he took care of the camera once and said he would again. The current problem is annoying but hasn't totally disabled the camera so I haven't taken him up on it. Though I have thought of trading it in on something else, there's nothing else out there with the same ergonomics. I simply hate shooting with the Canons and Nikons I've used. The photos have been fine, the experience wasn't at all to my liking and I'm in this to enjoy it.
I don't mind carrying a DSLR, but then the thing never goes around my neck. My shoulder doesn't notice the weight and tucked under the arm it isn't too obvious when carrying. The Rolleiflex SL66 is a bit different matter, mind you. When I took it on a couple of walks earlier this week every second person stopped me to ask what it was...

You know I love the rangefinder experience and I really like the Fujis, but the crop-sensor thing is a deal-breaker for me at this point. A Leica M-10 would suit just fine, but not to my bank account. Heck, I could "get by" just fine with a M-9.

The medium format Fujis are just crazy - 102MP? Wow...

Maybe Fuji service in the US is more receptive than in Canada. I'd like to think so, but the experience locally has been frustrating for Fuji owners. The mechanical parts of the cameras have been wearing out (rather before their time, therein lies the rub) and Fuji Canada isn't enthusiastic about repairing them, yet won't sell parts to those who will. Unfortunately more of the camera companies are getting on the "replace, not repair" bandwagon, not just Fuji by any means.

For the nonce I think I'll just soldier on with what I have. As I said, maybe a Z7 mirrorless eventually so I can shoot digitally with my rangefinder and other non-Nikon mount glass as well.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I think at this point the crop sensor is a non issue if you shoot with the glass made for the camera and aren’t shooting for outdoor billboards. I’d put the resolution of my X-100v up against most any fulll frame DSLR that’s more than 5 years old. Alejandra has used it on professional shoots. It’s 26.1 mp but mp isn’t the whole story, and the lowlight performance and color performance are far beyond older DSLRs.
 

GuyK

Junior Member
A higher resolution Df would be wonderful (with a few minor quibbles fixed as well), but I don't see it ever happening, sadly. We'll be lucky if the current lot of DSLRs aren't the last, ever. In terms of the Nikon lineup I suspect that the only further development will be an update to the D850 and that the rest are already the end of the evolutionary line. From now on it will be all mirrorless as they are not only popular, but ultimately cheaper to produce. Like the F6 they'll quietly stay in production for a few more years and then just as quietly vanish.
A Df as a mirrorless body would work for me. I don't give a rip about recording video, and I prefer the control layout. I'm able to function with the controls on my D610, but having controls more similar to what I learned with is very appealing to me, and I looked very hard at the Fuji XT cameras for this reason. Ultimately, I had a hard time accepting a crop sensor, and ended up finding a screaming deal on the Nikon I have now. But the Df is more or less an FE, but digital, AND it has autofocus. What's not to like?
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
I think at this point the crop sensor is a non issue if you shoot with the glass made for the camera and aren’t shooting for outdoor billboards. I’d put the resolution of my X-100v up against most any fulll frame DSLR that’s more than 5 years old. Alejandra has used it on professional shoots. It’s 26.1 mp but mp isn’t the whole story, and the lowlight performance and color performance are far beyond older DSLRs.
One issue with a crop sensor design for me is that I want to use lenses other than those designed specifically for the camera, particularly those originally meant for 35mm film. MP aren't everything by any means. The 12MP of my D3 looks remarkably good and it honestly takes a lot of pixel-peeping to see a difference from the 24MP of the D750 when I shoot both in RAW. The Fuji images look great and the glass is fantastic, no doubt about it. I'd love one, but it wouldn't work for me as my main/one-and-only digital. I regularly shoot with a much wider range of focal lengths and in all honesty the 35mm equivalent angle of view is one I rarely use. I've a lovely Nikkor 35 that gets trotted out a couple of times a year, whether I need it or not.

Having said that - I've just bought an "all-weather" camera that comes with a 35mm lens and that is all I'll likely ever use on it, a Nikonos II. I've wanted something to shoot with on truly inclement days and for absurdly few shekels it should do the job nicely. The 35 f2.5 is apparently the same formula as the old rangefinder equivalent and very good. Ok, so it is scale focus. I can deal with it.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I agree on adapting lenses but that's the only issue I have with the crop sensor, on the Fujis at least. All crop sensors aren't the same - I wouldn't bother with a micro 4/3s camera. But I'd choose a recent Fuji x-trans sensor over almost any full frame from ten years ago. Just like all full frame sensors aren't the same. The whole debate reminds me of when people just get into hi-fi and dig in on opposite sides of very complex questions like MM vs LOMC, as if the info around the choices is only down to those broad labels. "Well its bigger it must be better". In some extremes yes, medium format is going to blow away Micro 4/3s. Or the 20 mp squeezed into a tiny phone camera not being the same as 20mp on a legit camera sensor.

Which is to say I think somebody who wants an aperture ring, exposure dial, ISO dial, and exposure compensation dial where God intended, they'd be remiss to not consider something like a Fuji XT-3.

All that and what really matters is the person shooting it. One of the best professional photographers I know now only uses, digitally, a Fuji X-100f with its fixed lens (while shooting Mamiya 120 medium format for analog). You could put ten people in a room with him with 'better' cameras and he'd be the one published.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Anyway that debate aside, full frame for adapted lenses is something I'm after and I've been looking at the Nikon DF and Sony Alpha A7rii as relatively affordable options, being as I don't shoot video (well, I do on my phone with a stabilized gimbal - that's pretty neat).

The Sony would have the image quality edge, the Nikon would probably be more fun for me to shoot. Though I suspect if I was only using the Sony for adapted lenses, I could kind of set it and forget it. Put some auto-exposure brackets up, set it to manual focus, and just sway this or that way with the exposure comp.

With the Nikon, I could probably swap my auto-focus lenses from my Nikon F80 film SLR, though...hmm....
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
Anyway that debate aside, full frame for adapted lenses is something I'm after and I've been looking at the Nikon DF and Sony Alpha A7rii as relatively affordable options, being as I don't shoot video (well, I do on my phone with a stabilized gimbal - that's pretty neat).

The Sony would have the image quality edge, the Nikon would probably be more fun for me to shoot. Though I suspect if I was only using the Sony for adapted lenses, I could kind of set it and forget it. Put some auto-exposure brackets up, set it to manual focus, and just sway this or that way with the exposure comp.

With the Nikon, I could probably swap my auto-focus lenses from my Nikon F80 film SLR, though...hmm....
The disadvantage to the Df for adapted lenses is the usual problem of the Nikon F mount flange focal distance being so long. At 46.5mm there aren't many 35mm cameras that went deeper, though the Leicaflex R mount does and one of the Zenit mounts. I shoot all sorts of vintage glass with the D750 and D3 (more than modern glass in truth), but only with F mount. I have this handy chart in my bookmarks for reference - Flange focal distance - Wikipedia

So basically with a Df you can use pretty much any lens extant that was made in a Nikon F mount. My interest in the Z7 is because with a flange focal distance of 16mm I can mount pretty much anything with an appropriate adapter and there are an incredible assortment of them available now. I'm not a big fan of the mirrorless finder nor their power inefficiency, but as an additional option with incredible image quality they are looking more appealing all the time. Being able to mount pretty much anything is tempting.
 
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