The utility of Vintage Glass and the Challenge of Zooms

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
What I took on my honeymoon, short though it was. I left the flash and motordrive at home, though, just took the 25 f2.8, 50 f1.4 and 100 f2...
View attachment 35724
Good stuff! Somehow smaller than our haul. The worst was getting the film through security.

And our honeymoon led to our Contax G2. Our flight back was so botched by the airline that we got a $1200 refund through some law for such things in the EU. $600 for each of us for our troubles. Which we turned into an as-new Contax G2 with two lenses, original boxes, and flash.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
The chap Adrian does all of the conversions for some reason shoots exclusively with 35mm German glass, all Leica R and Zeiss C/Y mount stuff. He brings in the most gorgeous, exotic glass and has the conversions done. Some of the lenses he uses I'd never seen examples of outside of a brochure...
I'm not surprised by the lens choice. You can't shoot video on the cameras those are made for, yet I think Leica and Zeiss glass just has a look, a sort of, well, cinematic look that a lot of Canon lenses just don't have. Most of the directors of photography I've worked with carry around Leica digital range finders when shooting stills for location reference. I've often thought of biting the bullet and just going Leica - I haven't seen anything else that I like the look of better, I just can't stomach the upcharge they give you for that little red dot.

Filmwise I think the Contax G2 (zeiss) is equal to or better than Leica, but the lenses are a bit of a bear to adapt to anything else.
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
I'm not surprised by the lens choice. You can't shoot video on the cameras those are made for, yet I think Leica and Zeiss glass just has a look, a sort of, well, cinematic look that a lot of Canon lenses just don't have. Most of the directors of photography I've worked with carry around Leica digital range finders when shooting stills for location reference. I've often thought of biting the bullet and just going Leica - I haven't seen anything else that I like the look of better, I just can't stomach the upcharge they give you for that little red dot.

Filmwise I think the Contax G2 (zeiss) is equal to or better than Leica, but the lenses are a bit of a bear to adapt to anything else.
Fotodiox makes an adapter for Contax G to Nikon Z and also one for Canon mirrorless for $70. Incredible glass and one day before an eternity passes a G2 will be coming to roost with me.

I need something relatively small, but wonderful quality to carry as a "sidearm", especially when shooting medium format as my principal tool of the day. I used an Olympus XA for the purpose for years and it was more than adequate, but the meter cell in it gave up the ghost last year and so that spot in the lineup is now vacant. I suppose if I were a "normal" person these days I'd carry an iPhone and use that, but I remain resolutely phone-free. I had a tiny Nikon S7 that worked fine for such situations and a switch quit and can't be replaced. It was pretty low resolution anyway...
 
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JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Fotodiox makes an adapter for Contax G to Nikon Z and also one for Canon mirrorless for $70. Incredible glass and one day before an eternity passes a G2 will be coming to roost with me.

I need something relatively small, but wonderful quality to carry as a "sidearm", especially when shooting medium format as my principal tool of the day. I used an Olympus XA for the purpose for years and it was more than adequate, but the meter cell in it gave up the ghost last year and so that spot in the lineup is now vacant. I suppose if I were a "normal" person these days I'd carry an iPhone and use that, but I remain resolutely phone-free. I had a tiny Nikon S7 that worked fine for such situations and a switch quit and can't be replaced. It was pretty low resolution anyway...
We have that little Rollei 35 seen above, which I think is even smaller than the Olympus XA. It actually takes really nice photos, though you have to meter it if, like me, you can't remember the sunny 16 rule. BUT....and this doesn't help you... the light meter apps on the iPhone work GREAT. They really do. We used one with the Rollie in Barcelona and every photo was properly exposed. We also have a very nice digital light meter but never remember to take it with us, and having ANOTHER thing to carry defeats the purpose of the Rollei.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
As for the G2, note that its more or less the worlds fanciest and finest... point and shoot. While a rangefinder, its setup for auto-focus. You can manually focus it, but only with the range scale - there's no aligning of the halves of images like you'd think. The auto-focus, at least on the G2, can't speak for the G1, is very accurate, though. Its a bit unnerving as you can't see what its focussing on and you just kind of hope its right, but it usually nails it. The adjusted framing for parallax error in the viewfinder works pretty well, too.
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
We have that little Rollei 35 seen above, which I think is even smaller than the Olympus XA. It actually takes really nice photos, though you have to meter it if, like me, you can't remember the sunny 16 rule. BUT....and this doesn't help you... the light meter apps on the iPhone work GREAT. They really do. We used one with the Rollie in Barcelona and every photo was properly exposed. We also have a very nice digital light meter but never remember to take it with us, and having ANOTHER thing to carry defeats the purpose of the Rollei.
I have a couple of nice meters that are rather smaller than your iPhone, so there is that! Also, if I'm shooting any of the medium format cameras I own (Rollei SL66 or TLR and Hasselblad 500C/M) I will be carrying that meter with me anyway as all are innocent of TTL metering.
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
As for the G2, note that its more or less the worlds fanciest and finest... point and shoot. While a rangefinder, its setup for auto-focus. You can manually focus it, but only with the range scale - there's no aligning of the halves of images like you'd think. The auto-focus, at least on the G2, can't speak for the G1, is very accurate, though. Its a bit unnerving as you can't see what its focussing on and you just kind of hope its right, but it usually nails it. The adjusted framing for parallax error in the viewfinder works pretty well, too.
I cannot tell you the number of times I fondled and drooled over the Contax G when it first came out. I've just never been quite able to justify the cost, especially when I still had a functional XA. Of course I also have a Canon "Barnack Leica copy" (IVS) which is basically pocketable with the Jupiter 8 ot 12 on it. Heavy little blighter though, so a saggy pocket...
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I cannot tell you the number of times I fondled and drooled over the Contax G when it first came out. I've just never been quite able to justify the cost, especially when I still had a functional XA. Of course I also have a Canon "Barnack Leica copy" (IVS) which is basically pocketable with the Jupiter 8 ot 12 on it. Heavy little blighter though, so a saggy pocket...
My carry-around film camera is the Canon Canonet QL17. Its small, light, and takes very very good photos. I use it more than the Contax as I find it a bit more fun to use. It's one of the few times that something has been described as 'the poor-man's Leica" and I'd agree. One of the best parts is the leaf shutter and its almost non-existent little "tick" when you take a photo. No mirror-slap, nothing - takes really sharp photos. The fixed lens is great. Metering is shutter-speed priority but you can manipulate that a bit to get the aperture you want, as that's shown in the viewfinder. Modern batteries don't seem to throw-off exposure, either.
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
My carry-around film camera is the Canon Canonet QL17. Its small, light, and takes very very good photos. I use it more than the Contax as I find it a bit more fun to use. It's one of the few times that something has been described as 'the poor-man's Leica" and I'd agree. One of the best parts is the leaf shutter and its almost non-existent little "tick" when you take a photo. No mirror-slap, nothing - takes really sharp photos. The fixed lens is great. Metering is shutter-speed priority but you can manipulate that a bit to get the aperture you want, as that's shown in the viewfinder. Modern batteries don't seem to throw-off exposure, either.
Canonets have become incredibly pricey recently, the flavour of the moment it seems, other similar makes/models showing similar increases as well.

There has been a bit of a Cold War between the adapted-lens crowd and film shooters that has gone back and forth for a few years now. One of the sad results was for sometime a lot of lonely film bodies for sale minus the lens they would originally have been sold with. You know that pretty much every one of those Leicaflexes, Contaxes etc. would have left the shop with a gorgeous 50 and maybe a few lenses in other focal lengths, but suddenly they were orphaned and near worthless. One hopeful sign lately has been that the film bodies are starting to return to what I think of as closer to their inherent value. We shall see where that all leads...
 
The Nikkor 105mm is my absolute favorite lens. Bought it right out of college many years ago. Why? Because 105mm is allegedly the ideal focal length for taking portraits - also ideal for a young guy to have an excuse to take pictures of a certain young lady he wanted to impress - of course. ;)

IMG_5858.jpg
 
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fiddlefye

Senior Member
The Nikkor 105mm is my absolute favorite lens. Bought it right out of college many years ago. Why? Because 105mm is allegedly the ideal focal length for taking portraits - also ideal for a young guy to have an excuse to take pictures of a certain young lady he wanted to impress - of course. ;)

View attachment 35735
The 105 Nikkor is marvellous in any of its many iterations.
 

GuyK

Junior Member
Really? Bummer -- are you sure? I thought it did .. so only Ai and not Non Ai then?
Pretty sure. But again, there is apparently a workaround allowing non-Ai lenses. "In menu you enter the lens as a non CPU lens, non-AI, maximum aperture and focal length. In aperture priority mode you set the lens (aperture ring) to whatever aperture you prefer for depth of field, look through the viewfinder and turn the main or sub dial depending on which one you have programmed for aperture (I use the main dial), and set the corresponding aperture in the viewfinder." A quick google search brought up the above quote from DP review.
 
And with lenses made for the camera - I don't know why somebody would need less depth of field than this.

I'm not really making a case -for- the Fuji sensor over full-frame, just that its more complicated.

View attachment 35723
Yes, that is nice and close! :) !! Ideally I need shots of Phono carts and tubes to be really sharp and lacking CA when possible as I don't use any post processing, at all.
For crop sensor camera's I found the selection of 1:1 capable ( that is not requiring extension tubes etc) or even 1:2 lenses to be slim, in the lengths I needed -- and the limits of studio "stand back" room.
And there were some other picadilo's too -- but you are probably right --- no reason at all I could not make it with a crop...
Was always fearful of a Speedbooster because of the added lens element. Does it kill a small bit of detail, maybe?
I never had a chance to own a nice crop sensor body like you guys are talking. -- that's for sure.
For the money I just got into full frame for about the same price but that was years ago.
Drooling over all the beautiful film bodies you guys are showcasing, but no time or money to take 8 photos of an item, develop and scan....
like was said above -- my camera's and lenses are daily workhorse items... The vintage lenses are honestly adding something for me and customers I feel in the the "micro-contrast" department.
I don't even shoot RAW, just JPEG, straight to camera.

I find tubes to be really hard for a variety of reasons. You need allot of light.
I want customers to see every speck of detail down to individual getter wires if possible.
This is the sort of work I do with my 100mm Canon 2.5 and 90mm Series 1 (The series 1 is the sharper of the 2, and is an adapted F to EOS mount)

(off site link so I don't hog the haven's bandwidth)
Tele 12ax7 diamonds are really a bear....but the 100mm snaps them and gets the glass texture to boot...

In this shot, only the copper filament pipes, and the Mullard blackburn etched codes are in focus...the codes are probably the single most frustrating thing to get that I do. These little codes rub easily and get faded - but it's the best way to certify that a tube is a Mullard :)



It's getting really hard to settle for anything less than really, really good 50mm and 100mmish primes these days. Nothing else is sharp enough for proper tube photos.

35mm is not the best format -- but it does have the widest selection of lenses I guess. Even though I only use 3 different ones these days. Would love medium format but finding a 1:1 or 1:2 would be tough as well.


And with lenses made for the camera - I don't know why somebody would need less depth of field than this.

I'm not really making a case -for- the Fuji sensor over full-frame, just that its more complicated.

View attachment 35723
 
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I'm not surprised by the lens choice. You can't shoot video on the cameras those are made for, yet I think Leica and Zeiss glass just has a look, a sort of, well, cinematic look that a lot of Canon lenses just don't have. Most of the directors of photography I've worked with carry around Leica digital range finders when shooting stills for location reference. I've often thought of biting the bullet and just going Leica - I haven't seen anything else that I like the look of better, I just can't stomach the upcharge they give you for that little red dot.

Filmwise I think the Contax G2 (zeiss) is equal to or better than Leica, but the lenses are a bit of a bear to adapt to anything else.
Do you think Angenieux or Cooke would be worth the $$?
 

je2a3

Senior Member
Do you think Angenieux or Cooke would be worth the $$?
Hi Early,

If you want to try the Leica/Zeiss cinematic look described by @JohnVF for not too much cash, try either these two m42 lenses + adapter.

DSCF1069.jpg
Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 50mm f1.8 or single coated Industar 61L/Z 50mm f2.8 - I hyperlinked samples to my Flickr.

Minimum close focus for the Pancolar ~ 14 inches and 12" for the Industar 61 L/Z

The Industar is easy to find in the $50-75 range, the Pancolar might be a bit more and scarcer.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
It sounds to me like you'd do well with a dedicated macro lens? I don't know squat about macro photoography, I take pictures of buildings and people, but I do have a fuji 60mm macro lens (about 85 on FF?) that's aces at doing that kind of close-up work. (?)
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
35mm is not the best format -- but it does have the widest selection of lenses I guess. Even though I only use 3 different ones these days. Would love medium format but finding a 1:1 or 1:2 would be tough as well.
If you want medium format, don't mind shooting film and want to do macro work one of these is kinda the bee's knees. It goes down to 1.6:1 natively, no extension tubes needed or anything. It also does tilt of the front standard for Scheimflug rule depth of field adjustment. Of course then there is the whole film thing...
_DSC2087.jpg
 
If you want medium format, don't mind shooting film and want to do macro work one of these is kinda the bee's knees. It goes down to 1.6:1 natively, no extension tubes needed or anything. It also does tilt of the front standard for Scheimflug rule depth of field adjustment. Of course then there is the whole film thing...
Oh man -- the look of that camera -- the look of operating that as well --yeah --- I wonder if there are any digital backs for these? Need to do some research,
 
It sounds to me like you'd do well with a dedicated macro lens? I don't know squat about macro photoography, I take pictures of buildings and people, but I do have a fuji 60mm macro lens (about 85 on FF?) that's aces at doing that kind of close-up work. (?)
Yeah, Macro-Prime is what I settled on for most audio sales work. The longer lenses are also really good for portraits...not so much buildings... I did not know "sharp" until I got into those... Canon 100mm Macro 1:1, Tokina 90mm 1:2, all metal 1960s Nikkor-P 105mm (no macro sadly) and assortment of vintage 50's -- for general I use the best 50mm I can find (some of those get close)..
The optics make a huge difference -- the 5D/6D only use 20mp's / 35mm
I have a very interesting 50mm "Micro-Nikkor, that is very well regarded --- but I was not wowed by it yet... it hits my old school mirror too.
DSLR's are getting old -- looking forward to some type of mirrorless!
 
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