In Praise of Older Lenses


I've got myself another camera. Surprise. And I'm definitely going to sell all my old ones to pay for it (now that would be surprise). The bad news is that the lenses for my latest acquisition look to be rather expensive. The good news is that very old lenses for it are a lot cheaper. 

For around ten quid you can get an adapter that lets you fit lenses from yesteryear.  And it turns out that way back in the past they weren't just better at making music. They could make some amazing optics too. I picked up 55 mm Canon prime lens from Ebay that is a fraction of the cost of a modern lens, with image quality which is top notch. The picture above has been heavily tweaked in a way that tends to hide the sharpness of the lens, but take it from me this thing is pin sharp. 

My new/old lens doesn't have any of the new fangled features such as auto-focus or automatic aperture adjustment. But it turns out that I really like that. The camera viewfinder does a thing called "focus peaking" where it outlines the sharp parts of the picture in yellow. And adjusting the aperture manually means that I get to preview the depth of field in the picture and see how well the subject has been isolated from the background. 

It seems that you can get lots of adapters for lenses from way, way, back - even for old Leica lenses from the thirties. If you fancy testing your understanding of photography a bit and you have a camera that supports interchangeable lenses I'd say it was worth having a go with some old glass.