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Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; lim...
  
 
igmolinav
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p.1 #1 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?



Hi,

I am interested to get one, perhaps two, manual focusing lenses
for a dslr. I am not used to manual focusing - (specially
with a Nikon mount, that focuses in the other direction I
was used to). The other thing, is that one, with time, may
get accustomed to focus faster everytime. My first camera
had autofocus. I have only manually focused medium
format cameras on a tripod. That was a while ago.
In the alt forum and in other forums here, people talk about
the amazing quality of some new and older manual lenses.
Some people say that the image quality these manual
lenses provide is better than that, that of any lens with
autofocus could provide.
In spite of the better quality provided by these lenses, do
you get tired of focusing manually or find limitations when
using manual lenses?

Because of the price of the manual lenses, I wouldn't buy any
lenses with AF at the moment. But will one need them?
My dealer has also made me an offer for a discount on a
AF lens of my choice, as long as it cover the focal length
of any manual lens I may purchase from him. Is it recommen-
dable to get the same focal length(s) with autofocus as
with manual focus?

Thank you in advance, I appreciate reading your comments : ) !!!

Kind regards,

igmolinav : ) !!!



Nov 14, 2013 at 02:22 PM
the solitaire
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p.1 #2 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


I use manual focus lenses a lot, but just as any tool in photography manual focus lenses have their place.

Personally I really enjoy using manual focus lenses. I own a few of them and image quality is good as well. For me there are two main reasons to use manual focus lenses.

On one side you donīt have AF so you need more time to get everything in the frame where you want it (focal plane, DoF, crop etc.) which makes you think more about your photography before pressing the shutter release.

On the other side, many of the older lenses render completely differently from modern lenses. Where many modern lenses are trying hard to be sharp all over the frame, some older lenses have very characteristic and typical qualities caused by a construction using far fewer lens elements, real glass and different coatings. Using these aspects in a creative process is another challenge that makes using manual lenses interesting to me.

In regards to focal lengths I can only speak for myself.

With manual focus I tend to use some focal lengths I use in AF lenses as well and some I never use on AF lenses.

My favorite AF lens is my AF 80-200 f2,8D. My favorite MF prime is a 55mm f1,2 S.C Nikkor. I do own both AF and MF 105mm lenses though and really enjoy using both.



Nov 15, 2013 at 10:16 PM
ZoneV
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p.1 #3 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


I avoid using AF lenses, and do more than 99% of my work without AF.
I like the build quality most old manual lenses have. And I enjoy the relative low price.

But there are also problems: On Canon EOS you have to stop down manual with most manual lenses. Zeiss ZE lenses for example are good manual lenses with EF iris.
As long as you donīt use programmed AF chips on the lens adapter adapted manual lenses donīt provide any EXIF data.
And some few old lenses are problematic with DSLR cameras - there is sometimes a hot spot in the image (like in an old Tamron 90mm macro).

With some cameras it is easier to manual focus, for example the EOS 5D is a good one. Especially with adjusted EE-S screen it works very good with faster lenses, like f/1.4 and such.



Nov 16, 2013 at 08:18 AM
the solitaire
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p.1 #4 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


An EF what?



EEeeessss screen?



You Canon shooters never stop to amaze and confuse me.

Putting things straight and simple.

Most older and some newer manual lenses (real manual lenses without fancy electronic gimmicks) have what is called an aperture ring. Iris is video terminology. Operating an aperture ring means using your right hand to turn the aperture ring and close or open the lensīaperture. Since your right hand already supports your lens itīs in the right place. Good quality manual lenses in good shape make a lovely clicking sound when operating the aperture ring. On Nikon cameras intended to be used with manual lenses you will still look through the wide open aperture but pressing the DoF-preview button will stop the lens down so you can judge DoF for the shot.

Nikon cameras that support the use of manual focus lenses have focus confirmation in the viewfinder. Some like the D700, D800 etc. have a more advanced form then others like the D300. Additional aid can be found by exchanging the stock focus screen with an aftermarket split prism focusing screen of the type older manual film cameras use.

Changing screens on the D300 takes less then 10 minutes.

Not sure about the Canon camp. My D300 has an option to program EXIF information for up to 9 manual focus lenses. Thatīs a bit limited though. 8 of 9 "slots" are taken and Iīm not yet done buying MF lenses



Nov 16, 2013 at 09:33 AM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #5 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


I use a lot of MF lenses on my Canon cameras. But I prefer MF lenses that comes with Canon mount so I don't need any adapter. I mostly use Zeiss and Voigtländer MF lenses. They also have "electronic shutter control and additional electronic contacts to the camera. All existing exposure programs and the AF confirmation function of the camera are supported; lens information is passed on to the camera"


Nov 16, 2013 at 10:41 AM
e6filmuser
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p.1 #6 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


I use almost entirely legacy manual focus or fixed focus lenses (external focusing required) on my m4/3, mostly for macro. I have just started posting images shot with various such lenses in the Macro World forum.

I have two 4/3 AF lenses which give excellent images when (rarely) they lock focus in time. I expect they may be more useful when I get an E-M1

Harold



Nov 16, 2013 at 02:30 PM
ZoneV
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p.1 #7 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


the solitaire wrote:
...
You Canon shooters never stop to amaze and confuse me.
...
On Nikon cameras intended to be used with manual lenses you will still look through the wide open aperture but pressing the DoF-preview button will stop the lens down so you can judge DoF for the shot.

Nikon cameras that support the use of manual focus lenses have focus confirmation in the viewfinder. Some like the D700, D800 etc. have a more advanced form then others like the D300. Additional aid can be found by exchanging the stock focus screen with an aftermarket split prism focusing screen of the type
...Show more

Yes, the use of manual F-mount lenses with some Nikon DSLR cameras is great and easy for sure.
But the lenses one can use are so limited, and sometimes very expensive.
My most loved lens, the Meyer Trioplan would not have infinity on a Nikon, nor all the other M42, Contax/Yashica, Exakta and other lenses I use.
Only about 2% of my lenses have F-mount. Only these few lenses would get better with a Nikon DSLR. This is not worth it for me for the 20/3.5, 35/2, 50/2, AF105/2DC, 180/2.8.



Nov 16, 2013 at 07:14 PM
jimmy462
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p.1 #8 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


I always preferred a split-screen focusing screen for MF back in my film days. Looks like I'd have to upgrade to a 1D-series body to have that today, as Canon doesn't make an Ec-B screen for the 5D-series...rats. Hmm, I just read that it'll work on an EOS 3 film body...lucky me, I recently grabbed one off of the B&S board! I guess there will be some MF glass in my future after all!




Nov 17, 2013 at 04:00 AM
the solitaire
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p.1 #9 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


ZoneV wrote:
Yes, the use of manual F-mount lenses with some Nikon DSLR cameras is great and easy for sure.
But the lenses one can use are so limited, and sometimes very expensive.
My most loved lens, the Meyer Trioplan would not have infinity on a Nikon, nor all the other M42, Contax/Yashica, Exakta and other lenses I use.
Only about 2% of my lenses have F-mount. Only these few lenses would get better with a Nikon DSLR. This is not worth it for me for the 20/3.5, 35/2, 50/2, AF105/2DC, 180/2.8.


Register distance is indeed a limiting factor for using non-Nikon legacy glass on a Nikon camera.

The thing that amazed and confused me wasnīt as much that adapting non-Nikon MF lenses is easier on a Canon then on a Nikon (and easier still on mirrorless systems because of the even smaller register distance). Itīs just the terminology used to describe technology that has been around for over 100 years. To me an aperture is an aperture, regardless of whether itīs operated electronically (why would I bother with MF at all if not to be independent of as much electronic gadgetry as possible?) or mechanically. Same goes for a split prism focus screen. Has been around for the past 60 years so no need for names-calling there either. Giving stuff a fancy and flashy new name is not like re-inventing the wheel and I think that especially in a forum where we discuss all brands and types of cameras using the correct name for things is important to enable cross-platform conversations.

250 lenses is quite the collection. I admire you for such an extensive collection. The 20 f3,5 (UD or the later Ai version?) and 105 f2 DC sure are fine lenses. I would own a Nikon camera just for the two of them. If you ever decide to let one of them go Iīm interested.

What also has me wondering now is the above comment. Jimmy, why do you worry about focus screens not being interchangeable? Are there no 3rd party alternatives or is it just physically impossible to remove the focus screen on a Canon camera. Apologies for my ignorance on this topic but interchangeable focus screens is something I got used and accustomed to and a feature I would expect on every dSLR other then the entry level models.

Even though Nikon doesnīt offer screens for my camera I got a screen and some shims from ebay, used a file to get it to the right size, clipped out the screen on my camera and put the new to me (some 40 years old and cut to size) screen in. Checked focus with an f1,2 lens wide open, added one of the shims and it works like a charm.



Nov 17, 2013 at 12:44 PM
jimmy462
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p.1 #10 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


the solitaire wrote:

...

What also has me wondering now is the above comment. Jimmy, why do you worry about focus screens not being interchangeable? Are there no 3rd party alternatives or is it just physically impossible to remove the focus screen on a Canon camera. Apologies for my ignorance on this topic but interchangeable focus screens is something I got used and accustomed to and a feature I would expect on every dSLR other then the entry level models.
....


Hi the Solitaire,

To be honest, when I first purchased my 5D2 here off the boards I hadn't given too much thought to using the camera with MF lenses. I do remember looking into it along the way and saw that Canon did not offer this particular product for that camera...they offered the Eg-A Precision Matte, the Eg-D PM w/ Grid Lines, and the Eg-S Super Precision Matte for 2.8 and faster lenses...and I did not look into third party alternatives at the time.

Well, your comment got me curious and a quick search reveals that, indeed, one can find third-party split screen solutions for this camera! Some early readings indicate that accurate metering might be a concern...we'll have to see. And I did find this old thread here on the Canon Board with someone using such a beastie with their TS-E lenses...

micro prism focus screen for Canon 5D MK II - FM Forums:
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/913727

...Looks like I've got some homework to do! Maybe there's a preferred solution for me and my TS-E's beyond using, er, "Live" View, after all. Thanks for "rustling through some old papers on my desk"!


Jimmy G



Nov 17, 2013 at 02:19 PM
 

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the solitaire
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p.1 #11 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


I also read the comments (Nikon camera related in my case) about incorrect metering. It applies to spot metering when using the center 3-5% (containing the split prism bit). My camera seems to meter fine when using a 7% area for spot metering however. None of the other metering modes are effected in any way, at least for the D300.


Nov 17, 2013 at 04:59 PM
wuxiekeji
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p.1 #12 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


the solitaire wrote:
You Canon shooters never stop to amaze and confuse me.
Putting things straight and simple.

Most older and some newer manual lenses (real manual lenses without fancy electronic gimmicks) have what is called an aperture ring.


+1
I shoot Canon and I actually deliberately bought the Contax and ZF versions of Zeiss lenses (and Leitax conversion mounts) because I can't stand electronically-controlled aperture. Counting click stops is much more efficient than fiddling with buttons, accidentally starting up some menu, and having to read a screen to tell what aperture you're on.

It's also more future-proof in case I decide to shoot something other than Canon down the road.

I don't bother with EXIF, it's not important to me, I usually just delete all EXIF data anyway.



Nov 18, 2013 at 06:21 PM
44lefty
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p.1 #13 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


Not only do I use manual lenses, but one of my sharpest lenses is a Pentax 300/f4.
Close behind, in second, is a Spiratone 400/f5.6.

You need to be patient and work within the limits of the lens.

Larry



Nov 18, 2013 at 06:28 PM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #14 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


wuxiekeji wrote:
+1
I shoot Canon and I actually deliberately bought the Contax and ZF versions of Zeiss lenses (and Leitax conversion mounts) because I can't stand electronically-controlled aperture. Counting click stops is much more efficient than fiddling with buttons, accidentally starting up some menu, and having to read a screen to tell what aperture you're on.

It's also more future-proof in case I decide to shoot something other than Canon down the road.

I don't bother with EXIF, it's not important to me, I usually just delete all EXIF data anyway.


When reading your post it's like you never have used a camera/lens that have electronically-controlled aperture I don't use any buttons on my 5 different Canon bodies when changing the aperture. Or start up the menu? And I don't have to read on a screen, it's in the viewfinder.
And I can also count click-stops in the same way when changing the aperture. Every time I change the aperture with the wheel it give me the same click-stop sound as I got with my old manual lenses for film bodies.



Nov 18, 2013 at 06:39 PM
DontShoot
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p.1 #15 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


OP - Go for it! I have several MF Nikkors and they are fun to use. The manual focusing is very smooth and in some situations, even addictive.


Nov 19, 2013 at 12:21 AM
wuxiekeji
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p.1 #16 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


Lars Johnsson wrote:
And I can also count click-stops in the same way when changing the aperture. Every time I change the aperture with the wheel it give me the same click-stop sound as I got with my old manual lenses for film bodies.


Sure, but you don't get hard stops at either end, and if you accidentally hit some menu button, the same wheel starts tweaking settings rather than changing aperture. You could look in the viewfinder's aperture display but I prefer to keep my eyes on the subject ...

If they had dedicated wheels for all controls I'd be happier, but that's also just a roundabout method to get to something which is done so simply with mechanical means.

Electronic aperture also fails when you use non-electronic extension tubes, macro bellows, or want to shoot the same lens on another company's camera.

Also I just happen to like stop-down metering and seeing my picture through the desired aperture rather than making guesses about DOF. Also helps when you have lenses that have focus shift.



Nov 19, 2013 at 02:28 PM
Two23
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p.1 #17 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


igmolinav wrote:
That was a while ago.In the alt forum and in other forums here, people talk about
the amazing quality of some new and older manual lenses.
Some people say that the image quality these manual
lenses provide is better than that, that of any lens with
autofocus could provide.
In spite of the better quality provided by these lenses, do
you get tired of focusing manually or find limitations when
using manual lenses?



I reject the idea that older manual lenses offer better image quality. Just as cameras have changed over the past 40 years, lenses have changed just as much. The newer lenses have more than precision AF. They also have far better coatings, elements, design, and internal baffling. I haven't even mentioned VR yet. Even my $100 Nikon 18-55mm VR kit lens outperforms the old lenses in terms of saturations, resistance to flare, and sharper edges.

That said, I am a collector/user and own lenses going back to 1845, which I shoot on my 4x5. I have mounted a a lens from the 1870s in F-mount so I can shoot it on my D7100. It is very slow and difficult to focus, and I have to use live view to get it right. I use a variety of lenses made from 1845 to the 1920s on my Chamonix 4x5, but when it comes to my Nikons I want the best and quickest lenses available. My only 35mm camera is a Leica IIIc, made in 1942. I have four lenses for it, 1940s vintage. It is fun to use (I only shoot b&w film in it,) but make no mistake the images from it are quite different from what you get from modern lenses.


Kent in SD



Nov 19, 2013 at 02:42 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #18 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


Two23 wrote:
I reject the idea that older manual lenses offer better image quality. ...


Too bad, you're missing out on some great glass.

In my particular experience, these 'older' lenses offer "better IQ", even in comparison with the 'best' contemporary 'modern' lenses,

Contax Carl Zeiss Distagon 28mm f/2.8
Contax Carl Zeiss Sonnar 100mm f/3.5
Contax Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 35-70mm f/3.4
Leica Apo-Telyt-R 180/3.4 E60
Voigtlander APO-Lanthar 180/4 CF ED
Mamiya 645 A 120/4 Macro
Mamiya 645 A 200/2.8 APO
Mamiya 645 A 300/2.8 APO

In other cases, older lenses don't always show so well. For example, the highly-regarded Oly 21/3.5 on a 6D is obviously not as good as an XF 14/2.8 on X-Pro 1.

BTW, how 'old' is 'older'? My EF 200/1.8L was designed in the mid-eighties.



Nov 19, 2013 at 02:57 PM
wuxiekeji
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p.1 #19 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


Two23 wrote:
I reject the idea that older manual lenses offer better image quality. Just as cameras have changed over the past 40 years, lenses have changed just as much. The newer lenses have more than precision AF. They also have far better coatings, elements, design, and internal baffling. I haven't even mentioned VR yet. Even my $100 Nikon 18-55mm VR kit lens outperforms the old lenses in terms of saturations, resistance to flare, and sharper edges.


To each is own. But as a 100% manual lens user here are some points to be aware of:

- Photography isn't always about image quality in terms of sharpness and resolution. Many times I find vintage lenses are not only sharp enough for 99.99% of my purposes, but have character that is largely absent from modern lenses that are built for technical merit rather than artistic merit. For example, there are times I would even shoot deliberately with single-coated or uncoated lenses because I want to achieve a particular artistic look. When not shooting landscapes, I also love shooting wide angle lenses with field curvature for added subject isolation. And when shooting portraits, softness is often a good thing.

- The image quality of modern lenses being better doesn't necessarily hold true if your budget is limited -- for certain price points you can get used, professional, well-constructed lenses of the vintage world instead of amateur lenses of the modern world and end up with better image quality.

- While some vintage glass is subpar, not all of it is. There are a number of astounding performers that easily match up to DSLR sensor resolution or at least more than enough resolution to make the largest prints you would ever want to. Several Zeiss and Nikkor lenses are capable of doing this, if not many others.

- Of course, newer lenses have precision AF but there are many reasons for preferring MF, and with LiveView or shooting landscapes in the dark, my manual precision easily beats the precision of precision AF, but only when I have good quality, smooth, dampened focus rings. AF lenses don't offer good hand feel, lack precision distance scales, and are terribly hard to use for people who actually prefer MF.

- Most MF lenses are made of solid metal. When I first used DSLRs I tried a couple of AF lenses and ended up breaking them (several times!) because of pressure and bumping around in my bag from hiking and cycling trips. I decided to abandon those lenses and shoot MF vintage glass only and never had a problem again. Stuff was just built better before the age of throw-away plastic consumerism.

- Some MF lenses are easy to take apart. These are the lenses I use in the rain and harsh weather, since if I get water in them I can just take it apart and clean them myself. No electronics to get spoiled, no plastic to break while disassembling. With AF lens I would be afraid to take it outside and end up missing the shot!

- MF lenses are fun for me and many people. I find AF lenses not fun. Fun is an often-underestimated component for what makes good photography. If it's fun to shoot, you'll actually get out and shoot more and you'll get better photos simply because you got out. (And if AF is what's fun for you, then by all means you should shoot AF so that you end up getting out.)

Of course I'm not making any "right or wrong" statements. Modern AF lenses have their merits and if it suits your shooting style you should absolutely go ahead and use them. Above are just some of the thoughts in a MF user.



Nov 19, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Greg Campbell
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p.1 #20 · Do you use manual lenses; tired of it; and autofocus; limitations?


Achieving crisp manual focus may or may not be difficult if you're shooting a camera with a 'crop' sensor. Most of these bodies have a rather small viewfinder, sometimes making it a bit tough to see if your subject of interest is sharp, particularly in low light conditions.

I think you can get adapters for most MF mounts that enable the camera's AF confirm function.

Shooting the sky at night, a MF lens is wonderful. Turn the lens 'till it stops, and you're done. No need to search for a distant target, squint, or fiddle with live view.

As ^^^ explains, if you're on a budget, an old OM, MD, C/Y, etc. lens of superb mechanical and optical quality can be had for the price of lunch.

Edited on Nov 20, 2013 at 06:32 PM · View previous versions



Nov 20, 2013 at 06:23 PM
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