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Old Oct 1, 2007, 3:08 PM   #1
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I've read that DSLRs like the Pentax K10D (and many others) can take advantage of older, non-digital spec lenses. I'm curious if a few folks who are actually doing this could rattle off some lenses and compatible DSLRs that they have had good/bad experiences with, and also go into a little detail about any inconveniences. Like is it a lot more time-consuming to use something like a Nikkor-P f/2.5 105mm or a Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 on a D80 or othe Nikon DSLR when you want to capture a shot that can't be studied and composed for 5 minutes?

Nikon, Pentax, Cannon, Olympus... many of these manufacturers have made hundreds of different lenses for their 35mm products over the years. Are there any hidden jewels that can be picked up reasonably and why?

This thread could be a good read if we get some help .
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Old Oct 1, 2007, 3:46 PM   #2
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I've got a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D that I bought with the KM 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 (a rebranded Tamron). I have since purchased a number of Minolta autofocus lenses, including the stalwarts, the 50mm f/1.7 and the 70-210mm f/4.0 (affectionately known as the 'Beercan'.) These lenses are available in considerable quantities on eBay, and are selling for more than they didwhen new. And worth every penny! Minolta made over 16,000,000 autofocus lenses for film SLRs, and it seems most of them are being advertised on eBay.

There are some mass market lenses that go for $20 and aren't worth it, but there are lots of 50mm f/1.7sfor $70-$100, Beercans for $175-$250, and ocassional jewels like the 20 year old 85mm f/1.4 that goes for $900!

I have absolutely no complaints about using these autofocus film SLR lenses with my dSLR, and should the day come when my KM5D fails, I'll replace it with a Sony dSLR so I can keep my lenses. They are sharp and show little chromatic aberration, vignetting, or geometric distortion. You can have my 'Beercan' when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

A teleconverter, however, was a waste of money. I don't know if this is universally true, but my teleconverter turns every lens I've got into a fuzzy purple fringe machine.


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Old Oct 1, 2007, 11:47 PM   #3
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I love TCav's experience with his Teleconverter. I understand that there are good ones out there, but the one my father bought years ago worked about like TCav's did. It was the type that goes between the camera body and the lens, so I turned it into something useful - I took out the glass and it makes a nice extension tube for macro photography.

My cameras are Pentax, and I'm still using the M 50mm 1.7 that came with the Pentax ME my (then) boyfriend bought me in 1980. It's a fast and sharp lens that works quite well on the digital cameras. It's a manual lens, so I focus it just like I've always focused it. I set the aperture on the lens, then push a button on the camera to let it meter which sets the appropriate shutter speed (the only really extra step in the process). Pushing the button becomes second nature very quickly. These lenses can usually be found for well under $100.

I also have another manual lens, a24mm 2.8 lens, thatI bought a few months afterI bought the camera. It had too much distortion for my tastes on a film camera, so I only used it twice (lens was in mint condition). Because of the smaller sensor size with the Pentax digital cameras, there's far less barreling and I often use use it now when I want something relatively fast and wide. Now that Pentax has come out with the 16-50mm 2.8 lens, you might see more of these come on the market and be priced more reasonably. Up until recently they were hard to find (as were the 28mm 2.8 ).

It used to be relatively easy to find excellent quality Pentax lenses (either completely manual like my M lenses or auto exposure, manual focus) quite inexpensively. However, the popularity of the K100 and K10 has led to much higher prices for all lenses that fit Pentax cameras, especially the top quality ones. You can still find some good deals out there, but you have to know what you are looking at.
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Old Oct 2, 2007, 2:25 AM   #4
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Mmm, well I didn't have many lenses for my old film camera, in fact I only had the kit 28-90mm Canon lens that came with my EOS 50E.

When I got my 20D with 18-55mm lens I thought I'd check out the older lens for slightly more reach. Yuck! The super cheap and (if you believe the internet rantings and hysteria surrounding it) super nasty kit 18-55 Canon lens was much better than my old 28-90. So I sold it.

I admit to being pretty skeptical about the nostalgia for old lenses. Of course there are some really great ones out there, but on most objective criteria newer lenses are better. They are also less likely to suffer from those things that plagued digital capture using older lenses in the early days of digital; reflections, vignetting, etc.

That is not to say that there is not a great deal of pleasure to be had from using or discovering older lenses that work with ones camera. Just that one needs to be realistic about their objective performance.

Heck I've been taking a lot of pictures with my brand new Holga for a couple of weeks now and enjoying it tremendously. :-)


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Old Oct 2, 2007, 7:06 AM   #5
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I have a couple 'digital only' lenses, a KM 18-200 f/3.5-6.3, and a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8. Either of them costs more that all the used lenses I've got. I just haven't gotten around to unloading the 18-200, though I'll probably only get half what I paid for it. Compare that to my film SLR lenses. I could get as much or more for any of themas I paid, which is more than they sold for new.

So in my experience, half my 'digital only' lenses don't perform as well as any of my film SLR lenses. The 18-200 has more distortion, and is the dimmest, softestlens I've got. Don't tell me how 'digital only' lenses are better for dSLRs.
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Old Oct 2, 2007, 9:23 AM   #6
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I only have one digital only lens and it hardly ever gets used. lol

These are lenses I have for use on a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D and Sony Alpha 700 (a.k.a., DSLR-A700): Minolta 28mm f/2, 50mm f/1.7, 100mm f/2, 135mm f/2.8, 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5, 35-70mm f/4 Macro; Konica Minolta 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6; Tamron 20-40mm f/2.7-3.5, Tamron 35-105mm f/2.8; Vivitar 70-210mm f/2.8-4. All Autofocus (and all are stabilized on the Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D and Sony DSLR-A700).

The only "made for digital" lens in the bunch is the 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6, and it rarely gets used since my Tamron and Minolta zooms designed for film cameras outperform it from an Image Quality perspective.

More often than not, you'll find me using a Minolta 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5. It's my favorite walk around lens. I've got some images taken with one using a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D in this thread (note that they're straight from the camera, so they'd sharpen):

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fo...c.php?id=94653

You can pick up one of these lenses in excellent condition for about $100 - $150 if you shop around (look at keh.com for examples), and it's a very decent lens from my perspective, giving me roughly the same angle of view I'd get using a 36-127mm lens on a 35mm camera model, within a stop of most of the brighter 24-70mm or 28-75mm f/2.8 zoom models in a smaller and lighter lens (and brighter than most consumer grade lenses with it's focal range).

You can find an MTF chart for it at photodo (and keep in mind that you don't use the entire image circle so ignore the last part of a chart on the right away from center if you're using an APS-C sensor). IOW, you get the "sweet spot" of most lenses designed for film on this type of camera. The 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 grades at a 3.5 on their tests (which is not bad for a zoom lens with it's focal range, especially one selling for as little as you can buy one for).

http://old.photodo.com/prod/lens/minolta.shtml

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Old Oct 2, 2007, 10:03 AM   #7
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So MtnGal seems to be very happy with her setup. And as I understand it, the minor inconvenience is basically manually focusing the lens (a throwback I can live with), picking your aperture (possibly for effect/available light), and then engaging the meter. My gawd... its a step back in time when everyone carried a decent lightmeter like a LunaPro, Pentax, or Minolta AutoMeter to get it _just right_.

Well, I'm selling off the Nikons (two zero cases full) and then I have to decide whether to Nikon or not, and if I'm feeling courageous... maybe it'll be a Pentax, Olympus, or Sony DSLR that I'll look for. I'm definitely not buying new, bleeding edge stuff, but having seen some nice bargains on gently used DSLRs on Craigslist... I might look at the K10D or a Nikon D80.

One other question. What about the 1.5 factor? Does anyone feel its a negative or positive in any way (using a 35mm film camera lens on their DSLR)?
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Old Oct 2, 2007, 10:26 AM   #8
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drgrafix wrote:
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One other question. What about the 1.5 factor? Does anyone feel its a negative or positive in any way (using a 35mm film camera lens on their DSLR)?
The same thing applies to digital only lenses. If you use a smaller sensor, you'll get a narrower angle of view (more apparent magnification) for any given focal length lens compared to the same focal length lens on a 35mm camera. It doesn't make any difference if it's made for digital or not in that respect. It's just that a lens made specifically for an APS-C size sensor can use a smaller image circle. That's not always a good thing (for example, vignetting can be more of a problem versus using a lens designed for a 35mm camera) with some lens designs.

In order to see how angle of view compares using a Nikon, Pentax, or Sony dSLR model with an APS-C size sensor, you need to multiply the focal length of the lens by 1.5x to see what focal length you'd need on a 35mm camera for the same angle of view. Use 1.6x for Canon DSLR models with an APS-C size sensor. You need to do that for digital only lenses, too.


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Old Oct 2, 2007, 12:04 PM   #9
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drgrafix wrote:
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One other question. What about the 1.5 factor? Does anyone feel its a negative or positive in any way (using a 35mm film camera lens on their DSLR)?
Film will react to light it receives from any direction, but digital image sensors don't react well to light they receive at oblique angles. When light is projected onto a pixel at more than 15 to 20 degrees from perpendicular, that pixel will receive less light and so that portion of the image will be dimmer, and since that happens most often at the periphery of the image, that's vignetting. Telephoto lenses don't do this as much as wide angle lenses, but images created from digital image sensors will generally contain more vignetting when using'made for film' lenses than 'made for digital' lenses, for the same size exposure. A simple way to avoid this problem is to use a smaller image sensor, since, by definition,vignetting only occurs at the periphery of the image. By reducing the size of the image sensor, dSLR manufacturers eliminate that portion of the image that will be vignetted (?) the most.

That's why most dSLRs have APS-C size image sensors. Well, that and 'full frame' image sensors are really expensive.
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Old Oct 2, 2007, 1:39 PM   #10
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TCav wrote:
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That's why most dSLRs have APS-C size image sensors. Well, that and 'full frame' image sensors are really expensive.
I honestly believe the expense part is the real reason. Canon's top of the line camera is full frame. Think they'd do that if aps-c was better? Their top of the line sports camera is APS-H (1.3 crop sensor) - again, think they'd do that if aps-c was better?

Nikon appears to be jumping on the full frame band wagon too. Think they'd do that if aps-c was better?

The vignetting is an issue but at least right now I think anyone whose owned a full frame or aps-h sensor camera will back up that the IQ they get is better than what they got wth an aps-c sensor. Now that isn't only due to sensor size but it plays a part.

Again, I'll reiterate what I've said before: There are an enormous amount of professional photojournalist, sports, wildlife, wedding photographers out there using DSLRs. In most cases they're using lenses designed for full frame cameras not aps-c cameras. Their livlihood depends on the image quality. Let's take the Canon system for instance since they've had aps-h and full sized sensors for several years. Ask Eric if he wants to trade in his 600mm f4 because the vignetting is out of control

Ask a pro sports shooter if they want to give up their 400mm, 300mm or 70-200mm 2.8 lenses because the vignetting is so poor.

Most professional grade lenses in Canon & Nikon systems are still produced for full frame - not aps-C.

Even at the wider end: Canon's 16-35 II and 24-105L are both full frame lenses - not designed for APS-C. Although maybe they're designed differently???

Bottom line, IMO, a high quality film based lens is still a high quality lens. In many cases still better than made-for-digital lenses to date - simply because made for digital lenses have so far been targeted at low to mid range price point. Haven't seen many pro grade digital only lenses announced (and in Canon at least you won't - since their pro grade bodies don't use aps-c size sensors).
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