Vintage Glass

shmitty

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I have a thread along these same lines but it seemed no one had any experience to share on the subject. I figured I'd share my own.
With the advent of mirrorless cameras vintage lenses are back in. I have an affinity for adapting old electronics for modern uses. I love my vintage receivers, amps, and speakers. When I started back into photography a few weeks back I was elated to see this trend. I did a little digging and found a couple telephoto lenses that fit my need for a longer zoom, they were under 30 bucks shipped and I couldn't decide between the two so I bought both. One ended up being broken and I received a refund. Here's what I was able to produce w/ the one that worked. It is extremely smooth and easy to operate. It looks pretty goofy on my little Sony NEX-3n body. Here's the best photo I was able to get last night. I'll do some more shooting this weekend. I don't have any lighting; know it's a little dark. It was shot at about 140mm f5.6 ISO was 800 I believe.
79208389_10157386052077489_5621404538767409152_o.jpg

Tamron Adaptall 80-210 f3.8-5.6 - cheap Olympus OM to Sony E-Mount adapter ($13.00) - Sony NEX-3n.

The beauty of this is how inexpensive it is (relative to modern lenses) to enjoy the nuances of every focal length etc. I've got a bid in on a 50mm f1.4 which is highly regarded in this arena. If I win it I will be in it under $60 to my door.
 
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UnknownSouljer

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Awesome! Keep snapping those pics. Vintage lenses are definitely something fun to play with.

I've definitely wanted to pick up some vintage lenses for fun, but right now I just haven't had the disposable income to throw at them. It's tempting though as it might make a lot of sense for the video work I do, if and when I finally move to a cinema camera and am using manual focus on everything anyway.

Some lenses to check out if you're interested is the entire Canon FD range. That was the lens mount before Canon EF. A lot of the EF L-glass is based around those old FD designs albeit with the different mount and of course focus motors (whereas FD lenses of course do not have focus motors). The FD 50mm f/1.2 and 85mm f/1.2 both have direct descendants as an example.
For you, paired with a speed booster, that would allow a "full frame" look on the cheap.

I know that previous gen Nikon lenses are also regarded highly, but I admit to knowing less about them. I've also started heavily looking into medium format, which is an entirely different ball of worms, but there are starting to be speedboosters for those as well, allowing for a medium format look on a full frame 35mm body. Which, from a cost perspective is bonkers. Mattias Burling is one of the few people talking about this, and I think it's going to shift the eBay market a lot, as cinematographers start hunting down old MF glass to place on their new FF cinema sensors (Sony FX9, Arri Alexa Mini LF, Canon C500mk2, etc).
 

shmitty

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Thank you for the recommendations. My father is a die-hard canon shooter. He took photographs professionally for about 10 years and has a pretty good selection of high end DSLR lenses. I've been looking at the FD glass for future purchases.
I plan to get a couple of more OM mounted lenses then look at either what's cheapest between Pentax and Canon on ebay. The adapters are so cheap I can't see any reason not to have multiples. If I get a lens I really like I could see myself getting a speed booster as you mentioned. It still makes for a relatively cheap high end setup. This is a hobby my wife is behind which makes dropping some real money on a body like the Sony a7r-4 or something along those lines pretty easy. I want to see how much I enjoy shooting before dropping 2k or more. I still haven't researched the canon offerings but will before I buy something should I decide to stick with it.
Here's a video that covers the adapters and viability of these old lenses.
 
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IdiotInCharge

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Mattias Burling is one of the few people talking about this, and I think it's going to shift the eBay market a lot, as cinematographers start hunting down old MF glass to place on their new FF cinema sensors (Sony FX9, Arri Alexa Mini LF, Canon C500mk2, etc).
Realistically, they're a little late -- they're competing with folks using ~MF mirrorless cameras too, some of which are actually competent stills cameras in and of themselves as well as coming with a modicum of video functionality.

It'll still be interesting to see what they come up with!


And on topic, I do have a couple Minolta MD lenses and an adapter to EF-M for my EOS M5 somewhere...
 

UnknownSouljer

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Realistically, they're a little late -- they're competing with folks using ~MF mirrorless cameras too, some of which are actually competent stills cameras in and of themselves as well as coming with a modicum of video functionality.

It'll still be interesting to see what they come up with!
Your response doesn't really make much sense to me. That's like saying u4/3 with speedboosters are late because s35 or FF exists.
But more to the point, currently I can get vintage medium format lenses for <$500 a piece, making an entire set viable for less than $2500+/- depending on what focal lengths are desired and how many lenses I want. There isn't any currently manufactured medium format camera system that is anywhere close in price.
To drive that point home the whole point of talking about speedboosters is being able to get the look of much wider glass at a slice of the price. I could buy an A7R3 for $2400 and the Mamiya 80mm f/1.9 645 with the speedbooster for around $3400 total. The cost of just the Hasselblad X1D-50C alone without glass is $9000. That's not remotely comparable. It's nearly 3x as much and missing lens to even be able to shoot on. Even if the Fuji GFX50s with cropped medium format was acceptable it’s $5000 or 2/3 more.

Finally, I mentioned the reason why I was interested in speedboosting is for film. There aren't any medium format cinema cameras that exist on the market, save for the Arri Alexa 65. Which even if I could afford it, it's not for sale. Arri is strictly rental only on that camera. But if the regular Alexa is of any indication it would be near $100k on the body only without any glass or any of the accessories necessary to make it work.
Medium format mirrorless cameras don't make it in this market. They don't have professional level ins/outs, they don't have any video assist features (false color, focus peaking, waveforms, etc, which isn't necessarily so bad because third party monitors can make up for this), their ergonomics are terrible to be used as full time cinema cameras, and finally they lack the serious file types and codecs necessary. None of them can shoot RAW or have access to things like Prores XQD 4444.

Speedboosting FF to medium format is likely the only cost effective way to get this look for sometime. It will take 10 years or more for MF to get to any level of ubiquity on the cinema side. It took over a decade to move from s35 to affordable FF. It will be at least that for MF. This generation of cameras (the ones I mentioned in the last post) is finally just making FF affordable. And by affordable, I mean $10k.

tl;dr: In the mean time, getting an MF look on your FF stills camera is still something that can't be replicated any other way. And if you're buying vintage glass that can't be autofocused anyway, why wouldn't you consider something that will give you the most unique look?
 
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IdiotInCharge

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Your response doesn't really make much sense to me.
That's probably... because I likely failed to communicate my point :playful:

Essentially, the used MF market has been picked pretty clean; that's not to say that there isn't availability, but that demand for better glass -- and better copies of such -- has been on the uptick for a while now.

Now on to speedboosters.

But more to the point, currently I can get vintage medium format lenses for <$500 a piece, making an entire set viable for less than $2500+/- depending on what focal lengths are desired and how many lenses I want. There isn't any currently manufactured medium format camera system that is anywhere close in price.
To drive that point home the whole point of talking about speedboosters is being able to get the look of much wider glass at a slice of the price.
This is a point I'd challenge: the medium format 'look' is mostly just higher resolution coupled with lenses that are less assed-up by design and by copy variation. Typically, due to the larger format and less sensitivity to size and weight of the customer base, distortion and CA were top control priorities for MF designers when dealing with wider focal lengths, in contrast to smaller formats generally working to keep size under control and apertures wider. It's a different set of compromises, not really better or worse, as your typical 16-35/2.8 event lens translated to medium format would be gargantuan, largely defeating the purpose of the lens in the first place!

The balance is that lens manufacturers have gotten better at dealing with aberrations at the consumer level, and that software correction has come a long, long way as well. Essentially, the medium format 'look' isn't really a thing. Technical advantages aside, when shot equivalently, there is no difference in output. Where medium format still maintains its niche is for those situations where equivalence cannot be attained.

So the real question then becomes: why speedboost medium format lenses? Are there not faster vintage equivalents in your format of choice, or modern options that provide better in-camera correction?

There aren't any medium format cinema cameras that exist on the market, save for the Arri Alexa 65.
There are a few > ~24x36 that have arrived lately, but point taken here -- it's not like any of them are affordable, or any of the 'affordable' options configurable to purpose!

In the mean time, getting an MF look on your FF stills camera is still something that can't be replicated any other way.
Every time I've tried to quantify 'MF look', I've come up short, as I alluded to above. Medium-format systems do separate themselves from smaller formats, but mostly in that they do things differently as systems. The lenses themselves, other than generally being pretty decent optically, are typically not special outside of the systems they may be attached to. When that system is a 135-format camera and speedbooster, in general you're adding more optics to the path just to simulate what could be done natively with lenses that are at least as well corrected in terms of output while bringing all the modern electronic niceties that an adapted fully manual lens lacks.

Do you mind sharing what you're getting that can't be had natively?
 

UnknownSouljer

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Essentially, the used MF market has been picked pretty clean; that's not to say that there isn't availability, but that demand for better glass -- and better copies of such -- has been on the uptick for a while now.
I would say you haven't been looking and/or you didn't watch the previous video or you're less familiar with the market. They are plentiful. I can currently find basically any lens for the Mamiya 645 system for <$500. A lot of them can be had for ~$300. If you want the Contax Zeiss 645 lenses, they are there, but they're a much worse deal as there were far fewer produced and people like their voodoo. Some even larger size lenses like Pentax 6x7 also can be had for a song.


This is a point I'd challenge: the medium format 'look' is mostly just higher resolution coupled with lenses that are less assed-up by design and by copy variation. Typically, due to the larger format and less sensitivity to size and weight of the customer base, distortion and CA were top control priorities for MF designers when dealing with wider focal lengths, in contrast to smaller formats generally working to keep size under control and apertures wider. It's a different set of compromises, not really better or worse, as your typical 16-35/2.8 event lens translated to medium format would be gargantuan, largely defeating the purpose of the lens in the first place!

The balance is that lens manufacturers have gotten better at dealing with aberrations at the consumer level, and that software correction has come a long, long way as well. Essentially, the medium format 'look' isn't really a thing. Technical advantages aside, when shot equivalently, there is no difference in output. Where medium format still maintains its niche is for those situations where equivalence cannot be attained.

So the real question then becomes: why speedboost medium format lenses? Are there not faster vintage equivalents in your format of choice, or modern options that provide better in-camera correction?
The super short answer is the look isn't the same. If it was, and all things were equal it would make the absolute most amount of sense to have the smallest size sensor possible in order to cut cost, especially considering "all things are equal." But, unsurprisingly you'll find that when shooting on a cellphone as an example, even a cellphone like the iPhone 11 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S10+, you'll find that creating any form of seperation or bokeh (two different things) is nearly impossible. So much so that it had to be emulated using depth map trickery. Increasing the resolution 10 fold or speeding up their already fast f/1.4 won't ever make a phone sensor look like 35mm (short of, I suppose even more trickery). It's like the idea that there is "no replacement for displacement" in the car world. There is an argument that power is power regardless of it's a turbocharged 4 banger or an NA v8, but you can't emulate certain things, only size gets you there. The question is are those costs associated with the size worth it or not.

Medium format I would say is least about resolution. I'd gladly shoot on a 6 year old Phase One IQ140 (40MP) over a brand new Sony A7R4 (>60MP) for the look. If I only shot studio stills and "the cost was the same" or whatever (it's obvious the A7R4 is a more practical carry around camera... the Phase in general is very studio purpose built). Just to get that separation, focus falloff, and micro contrast. But then also dealing with a vintage set like the Mamiya also gives a focus falloff that no 35mm lens offers. Which, I guess to your point would be more an argument surrounding lens design than sensor size.


There are a few > ~24x36 that have arrived lately, but point taken here -- it's not like any of them are affordable, or any of the 'affordable' options configurable to purpose!
36x24 IS NOT MEDIUM FORMAT. I hammered this home multiple times. If you would have fully quoted my post, those FF cameras are just starting to become affordable at $10k+. To repeat myself it will likely take another 10 years for Medium Format on cinema to become remotely reasonable in price.
If you want to get an MF look on those camera's you would have to use a speed booster with MF glass.
Unless you can rent an Arri Alexa 65 (so named for being 65mm). Which to reiterate is the ONLY digital medium format camera in existence. Otherwise you're using the similarly sized 70mm IMAX which is still film.


Every time I've tried to quantify 'MF look', I've come up short, as I alluded to above. Medium-format systems do separate themselves from smaller formats, but mostly in that they do things differently as systems. The lenses themselves, other than generally being pretty decent optically, are typically not special outside of the systems they may be attached to. When that system is a 135-format camera and speedbooster, in general you're adding more optics to the path just to simulate what could be done natively with lenses that are at least as well corrected in terms of output while bringing all the modern electronic niceties that an adapted fully manual lens lacks.
That would be true if inherently adding things to the optical path was and or is bad. Or if it altered things enough to make a difference. The fact is that things are added the optical path daily in the cinema world with zero effect (or zero negative effect). Filtration is used all day at the front end, and newer cinema cameras have ND filters built in on the back end (inside the camera). Properly designed and corrected speedboosters aren't an issue.

I'm obviously not the only person who feels this way. The Mamiya 80mm f/1.9mm that I've brought up more than once was one of the primary lenses used to film Interstellar (strapped to an IMAX camera obviously). Whether you like the film or you don't, the images produced in it are stunning to say the least. Modern niceties or no, things cannot be emulated. As a result, the original Contax Zeiss Superspeeds that were made in the 70's still cost between $10k and $30k each (if you can ever find them on sale... which... well good luck with that). Clearly this market and myself is far more concerned with output than modernity.


Do you mind sharing what you're getting that can't be had natively?
I think like all art forms it just comes down to what you see and what you can't see. But then to counter you, can you explain why bother moving to FF? Why not use u4/3 or even smaller if possible? If there is no advantages to larger sensor sizes, you're left with a better camera that's smaller and lighter which is surely a greater advantage if equivalence is possible. I'd argue that it's not.
If you want a primer and also want to see the look, you can check here:
It's long I admit. But I think informative to say the least.
That link in previous posts with Mattias Burling is also a good video to watch as those photos of his dog with paper thin DOF that looks dreamy can't really be attained any other way.
 

IdiotInCharge

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Depth of field is a function of focus distance and aperture diameter (not f-stop); 'compression' is a function of focus distance; and background blur a function of field of view.

None of these depend on sensor size, except that larger sensors necessitate longer focal lengths for the same field of view. The math works out from there.

So yes, aside from sensor size which gains medium format dynamic range and resolution at the same level of technology -- bigger pixels are also sharper! -- everything else that makes medium format 'special' is found in the differences of the system, absolutely including different approaches to lens design.

Now, mentioning phone cameras or 4/3 and so on, these could be tuned to provide a similar 'look', however, doing so goes against the prevailing design conventions. 4/3 in particular relies heavily on software corrections, something that we've seen quite a bit in all mirrorless systems save the medium format releases. Obviously depth of field would require smaller apertures on the larger system for comparison, but that's why I used 135-format as it's not as big of a leap.

And for a counter-point in lens design: Zeiss Otus. Stack the 55/1.4 up against that 80/1.9, shoot at any DoF-equivalent aperture on equivalent sensor technologies, and then try to find the difference on normalized output. Where I start agreeing with you is the cost :D.

That would be true if inherently adding things to the optical path was and or is bad. Or if it altered things enough to make a difference. The fact is that things are added the optical path daily in the cinema world with zero effect (or zero negative effect). Filtration is used all day at the front end, and newer cinema cameras have ND filters built in on the back end (inside the camera). Properly designed and corrected speedboosters aren't an issue.
The challenge with speedboosters -- which are essentially flipped teleconverters -- is that unlike filters, they are designed to alter the light path being captured where filters are only meant to filter, not affect the path of the light. A good teleconverter or speedbooster implementation can be almost optically transparent, but generally speaking, those don't exist. Examples like the 200-400 1.4x from Canon and Nikon's 180-400 equivalent are about as close as you're going to get with respect to matching the teleconverter both to the specific lens formula as well as tuning specific teleconverter assemblies to the lenses they'll be used with.

The third-party speedboosters I've seen are... alright, at best, when speaking to the optical capability of modern sensors for stills. For video, this is much less of a problem as resolution lags by almost an order of magnitude, and I totally get the use there, even considering one for my EOS M5 for use with EF lenses.

36x24 IS NOT MEDIUM FORMAT.
There's a greater than [ > ] symbol there, I get you.

I would say you haven't been looking and/or you didn't watch the previous video or you're less familiar with the market. They are plentiful. I can currently find basically any lens for the Mamiya 645 system for <$500. A lot of them can be had for ~$300. If you want the Contax Zeiss 645 lenses, they are there, but they're a much worse deal as there were far fewer produced and people like their voodoo. Some even larger size lenses like Pentax 6x7 also can be had for a song.
Left this for last -- there is some availability, undeniably, but it isn't likely to last long, or at least, the lower pricing isn't likely to last long, as demand skyrockets. As you say, the cost for entry is getting very low -- a $500 lens and a ~$100 metal flange and you're off to the races with the camera of your choice. I do recommend getting while the getting's good, because you're not the only one interested ;).
 

Blue4130

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Depth of field is a function of focus distance and aperture diameter (not f-stop); 'compression' is a function of focus distance; and background blur a function of field of view.

None of these depend on sensor size, except that larger sensors necessitate longer focal lengths for the same field of view. The math works out from there.

So yes, aside from sensor size which gains medium format dynamic range and resolution at the same level of technology -- bigger pixels are also sharper! -- everything else that makes medium format 'special' is found in the differences of the system, absolutely including different approaches to lens design.
.
This^

I shoot 35mm, 6x7, 4x5 and 10x12. The 10x12 has by far the least "medium format" look despite being by far the largest of the bunch. Reason? The lens is a 400 f10. I get far more separation and "look" with a 50 1.4 on 35mm (but most with a 216mm f3.5 on 4x5)
 

MN Scout

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I have a Mamiya TLR camera. 6x6 format. I love the look of the 80mm and 65mm lens. There is a compression to the image, that is easy to get on the large format. With 35mm or APSC, I'd have to use my telephoto lens and stand way way back to replicate the compression look, but I still wouldn't be able to replicate the depth of field difference (I don't own a 85mm F1.4 lens, even my 50mm 1.8 doesn't give me the same look.).

I can pick out and notice the compression on my old Brownie cameras also. They just have a nice look.
 
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