This post is why Vintage Lenses can bring something interesting to your photography. Shooting with Vintage lenses seem to gain speed nowadays, and their popularity is not limited to a select crowd of nerds. The reason for this increased popularity reaches much beyond what the irritating blog posts focuses upon with a statement that its for the photographer on a budget.For me using Vintage lenses started out with old Minolta Glass. What I really liked about these lenses was the quality of the glass, combined with the “Minolta colors”. Minolta made an effort to maintain consistency in color from lens to lens for the benefit of pro photographers. It’s not that I do not own any modern lenses, thus being almost over naturally sharp and fast, they tended to be somewhat boring to use, and not giving me the expressions that found so compelling when seeing the picture on the net. So I tried out an old Helios 77M-4 MC 50mm F1.8 Lens, and this big fish was hocked.
Technical development has turned everyone into a photographer, everything has gotten a million times easier and better. But is these new technical wins, with increased sharpness, focusing speed, aspherical, and extra-low dispersion (ED) elements, all going to make you a better photographer? it might aid you in making your results technically better, but it will not place you into the pack of good photographers. Is vintage lenses a guarantee for achieving fame, not likely. But chances are that you will be better at what you do, and that creativity will sparkel, simply because you are using more time on each photo, and due to the fact, that when using primes, composition is in your legs. Moving through the terrene seeking composition you want to achieve, simply makes you see and consider more options. That said not all compositions taken by amateur and hobbyist photographers is improved upon given a moment of additional consideration, but quite many are. So allow the pace to be a part of your creative process. You may be surprised at what that can offer.
The technical development has given us cameras with more megapixels, stronger ISO capabilities, lenses with higher MTF scores, and in many cases less charm. Vintage lenses tend to render images in unique ways. and obviously applying an inherently vintage look to your photographs. These expressions ranges from unexpected sharpness, deep colors, soft backgrounds, yellow tint, big colorful flares to the swirly cats-eye bokeh. Old lenses simply offers you something you will not find in your fancy modern glass, and the satisfaction of knowing it’s all genuine too.. These optical flaws, for that is what they are, is great to experiment and craft images with that stand out from what you usually see. This is also why I got quite a selection of 50mm’s, all different in expression. The combinations seems to be endless, some lenses has even achieved fame for their flaws, others just win your heart and easily becomes your go-to lens.
So choosing to go vintage is neither necessarily cheap, nor equivalent to shooting modern lenses. They are fun and satisfying to use, perhaps because they spark artistic photography and grows your creativity. The truth is of cause that they are difficult to use, and for some types of photography close to impossible to use. But as your keeper ratio increases, so will the sense of satisfaction in your photography increase just as well.
Even the pearls amount vintage lenses doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. I like the excitement of going treasure hunting in old second hand stores, and to flea markets. Now and them I am in luck to find bargain deal on a perfect condition lens, and to nearly no money. And should I be so unlucky, that the condition of the lens isn’t up to expectations and demand a Clean, Lube, Adjust (CLA), then I seek help among “the skilled” :). Giving them a CLA is a expert task, that takes a delicate approach. Plenty good people offers their services, and you can get a CLA at a very fair price, I got the impression that many is not in this for the money, but out of pure passion to the old glass.
To sum it all up there is plenty reasons to why I think you need to own a vintage lens.
- They give unique and creative expressions to your photography, making them very funny to shoot.
- They are often very compact, making up for easy travelling.
- They often looks really cool
- They’re often relatively inexpensive.
- They will most likely help you improve as a photographer
Finally, a word of warning! as demand of lenses is going up, so is the prices on collectors items. Many seems to be tempted to sell items with fungus, haze or cleaned to the extend where no coating is left, these defects CANNOT be mended for. I have even seen lenses on eBay, mostly from Ukraine, where they have been reassembled with inferior parts from scrap lenses to make up for more sought brands and mounts. I can only urge you to seek guidance, either by enthusiasts, or websites such as allphotolenses.com.