The utility of Vintage Glass and the Challenge of Zooms

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.

View attachment 35748
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.
JE, you too? , Haha -- Cool!! Thanks for the suggestions -- for video/stills. ...I am such a manual lens trier ... these days -- would you believe I did use one of these --- agreed -- I love, love the simple and smooth, "lighter" feel of the Russian lens focus.

This Industar -- I had some version of this 61 -- it was indeed very fun for video. For stills -- it was totally "out there" tone wise with a reddish cast..pretty darn good lens....and on both this one and the Helios 44 (which was a little sharper for me) -- my versions were setup as "presets" so the aperture ring was factory declicked -- that made these Soviet classics perfect for video....

On the Zeiss Jena .. I had the Flektagon 2.8 like this -- I think I had the weird east german version... it had very nice colors, but was probably not the best version of the Jena series --a little soft- I sold this one because it was a "Hot Lens' -- it was not on the list, but our old Geiger counter buzzed out 120 counts very quickly ---- many of the old Pentax -- etc with the old yellow glass with thorium lens also have that extra "feature"! To date, it was the only -- even mildly -- radioactive glass I tried....

From a "does everything just right" has nice colors (and allot of vintage glass misses on color), and ALSO sharp -- it's a hard combination to find..... my current favorite for general photography is this one:
50mm Nikkor H (I have the -C, coated version) F2
Not a well known lens at all... from the early 1970s.. I picked one up just because it was clean -- and whoa on my Canon -- super rich "almost Zeiss" colors..
I googled it and found this review several years back....


As it turns out -- the formula is actually a copy of a Leica lens....
They are very inexpensive last I checked...
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
JE, you too? , Haha -- Cool!! Thanks for the suggestions -- for video/stills. ...I am such a manual lens trier ... these days -- would you believe I did use one of these --- agreed -- I love, love the simple and smooth, "lighter" feel of the Russian lens focus.

This Industar -- I had some version of this 61 -- it was indeed very fun for video. For stills -- it was totally "out there" tone wise with a reddish cast..pretty darn good lens....and on both this one and the Helios 44 (which was a little sharper for me) -- my versions were setup as "presets" so the aperture ring was factory declicked -- that made these Soviet classics perfect for video....

On the Zeiss Jena .. I had the Flektagon 2.8 like this -- I think I had the weird east german version... it had very nice colors, but was probably not the best version of the Jena series --a little soft- I sold this one because it was a "Hot Lens' -- it was not on the list, but our old Geiger counter buzzed out 120 counts very quickly ---- many of the old Pentax -- etc with the old yellow glass with thorium lens also have that extra "feature"! To date, it was the only -- even mildly -- radioactive glass I tried....

From a "does everything just right" has nice colors (and allot of vintage glass misses on color), and ALSO sharp -- it's a hard combination to find..... my current favorite for general photography is this one:
50mm Nikkor H (I have the -C, coated version) F2
Not a well known lens at all... from the early 1970s.. I picked one up just because it was clean -- and whoa on my Canon -- super rich "almost Zeiss" colors..
I googled it and found this review several years back....


As it turns out -- the formula is actually a copy of a Leica lens....
They are very inexpensive last I checked...
In the line of 50mm LTM lenses I have to say I'm in love with the Serenar (Canon) 50 f1.8 I have. I gather that at this point in time internal glass condition with them is sometimes becoming an issue, but mine is in fine nick. I'd love to try a 50 f2 Nikkor, but they've become a little rich for my blood these days...
 

je2a3

Senior Member
In the line of 50mm LTM lenses I have to say I'm in love with the Serenar (Canon) 50 f1.8 I have. I gather that at this point in time internal glass condition with them is sometimes becoming an issue, but mine is in fine nick. I'd love to try a 50 f2 Nikkor, but they've become a little rich for my blood these days...
Just in case you need to Clean/Lubricate/Adjust your Canon Serenar you might find my tips handy. :)

Yes @hifitown, I've dabbled a bit with cameras.

I restored a Leica II with missing bits using Fed/Zorki parts many years ago.


before


after
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Just in case you need to Clean/Lubricate/Adjust your Canon Serenar you might find my tips handy. :)

Yes @hifitown, I've dabbled a bit with cameras.

I restored a Leica II with missing bits using Fed/Zorki parts many years ago.


before


after
How does it perform after all of that? I was very close to picking up a Leica II two years ago with a bunch of accessories but the shutter curtain was getting hung up, and I didn't want to take a chance though I think it was repairable. Part of me really wanted to use it and part of me suspected that its novelty would wear off soon. I have a Zorki and haven't ever shot with it, and my father has a different German camera from the '30s that shoots really well that I could probably snag.
 

je2a3

Senior Member
How does it perform after all of that? I was very close to picking up a Leica II two years ago with a bunch of accessories but the shutter curtain was getting hung up, and I didn't want to take a chance though I think it was repairable. Part of me really wanted to use it and part of me suspected that its novelty would wear off soon. I have a Zorki and haven't ever shot with it, and my father has a different German camera from the '30s that shoots really well that I could probably snag.

I have over 500 pics in my Flickr taken by the camera. The shutter needed attention while I was in Manila due to the tropical weather I suppose. But since I returned here, it's worked every time I loaded it with film. It's a beater that I can take anywhere.

A properly adjusted Fed 1 or Zorki 1 will work just as well. But the controls feel rougher and shutter sound isn't as refined. Like classic/vintage audio and cars, IME, to enjoy classic cameras, a bit of DIY is part of the fun. ;)
 
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JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I have over 500 pics in my Flickr taken by the camera. The shutter needed attention while I was in Manila due to the tropical weather I suppose. But since I returned here, it's worked every time I loaded it with film. It's a beater that I can take anywhere.

A properly adjusted Fed 1 or Zorki 1 will work just as well. But the controls feel rougher and shutter sound isn't as refined. Like classic/vintage audio and cars, IME, to enjoy classic cameras, a bit of DIY is required.
What’s held me back from pursuing a lot of these whims is how much I love my Canonet QL17... I don’t shoot a lot in film and that camera works so well and has such outstanding image quality that I get to this point where I think I’m going to try something else, but never do. Plus it meters really well, removing a step for me (I’m not great at exposure settings)
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
What’s held me back from pursuing a lot of these whims is how much I love my Canonet QL17... I don’t shoot a lot in film and that camera works so well and has such outstanding image quality that I get to this point where I think I’m going to try something else, but never do. Plus it meters really well, removing a step for me (I’m not great at exposure settings)
One thing that some find off-putting about the early rangefinder cameras is the "squinty" finders - you probably already know that. If you're accustomed to the Canonet's big, bright finder something like a Leica II might be annoying. I grew up with rangefinder cameras with tiny finders and find them more charming than annoying, but that's just me. I owned a few "Barnack" LTM Leicas back in the 80s and enjoyed them, moved on to M series and then sold off the lot to buy my first house (priorities, ya know...). I now have a "Leica copy" Canon IVS that fills the role and has the advantage of having a combined rangefinder/viewfinder (with magnification) rather than the separate ones in the early Leicas. All good fun. Mine came with the lovely 50 f1.8 Serenar attached.

Having said all of the above - my favourite of the "squinty"-finder rangefinders I've owned is still my Contax IIa. After 35+ years together it still makes me want to pick it up and get shooting more than any other 35mm and I've owned a few... photo taken on film just about 35 years ago.
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fiddlefye

Senior Member
I posted this in another thread already, but glass doesn't get a whole lot more "vintage" than this. "Adapted lens" isn't just for digital! The Rolleiflex SL66 was doing it back in the 1960's already. The Taylor Cooke Hobson 5.15" (130mm) f6.5 Series III triplet came off a Glasgow-built J. Lizars "Challenge" rollfilm camera from around 1900. The kicker is that Infinity focus works out to within a part of a millimetre of identical to that of the SL66. Now to see how the image quality works out. Things look rather nice in the finder, if a bit dim - f6.5 and all that.
 

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