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Archive 2021 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?

  
 
arduluth
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


Long time Sony + manual lens shooter here. After upgrading from an original A7 to the A7R2, I found myself drifting toward Fuji during the pandemic, mostly due to the the additional size and weight of the R2. I built an AF lens kit but have found myself moving back to MF lenses again for my "real" photography, concert shooting. I've found some lenses I really like, but I still miss the look I'd get out of my A7 with my favorite MF lenses at fields of view.

I haven't kept myself up to date on what the relative merits of Sony bodies compared to the Nikon and Canon bodies for manual focus lenses. I have used/tried enough different Sony, Fuji, Panasonic, Olympus bodies to know that how the body handles MF lenses can make a big difference in the usability of the platform for MF lenses.

So - what's the skinny on the Nikon and Canon FF mirrorless bodies when it comes to MF lenses? Do any of them hold promise for an even better platform than the Sony A7 series when it comes to MF lenses? Do any of them have the limitations that make them poor platforms for MF lenses? Any game changing novel manual focus aids, or other interesting features for MF shooters?

Thanks!



Dec 03, 2021 at 12:50 PM
trogdon
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


I think from a price perspective Sony has an edge over other manufacturers due to having a larger volume of used gear available. I like the a7r4 for manual lenses because of the high res EVF, which I think helps for focusing accuracy without aides.

The Canon R5 and R6 bodies do have better in body image stabilizers if that is important to your shooting style



Dec 03, 2021 at 03:04 PM
j4nu
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


IMHO, manual focusing aids are more interesting on Canon & Nikon side.


Dec 03, 2021 at 03:09 PM
arduluth
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


When I added an A7R2 into the mix, I definitely appreciated IBIS more than I expected. Still, it's not a big feature for me, the bodies I'm shooting most don't have it.

The EVF of the A7R4 sounds incredible! I hadn't realized they'd moved up to such a high res panel. A bigger, higher resolution EVF is definitely an aid in shooting with MF lenses for me, as well as better processing and a sensor to feed it. I definitely noticed a big jump EVF usability for MF when moving from the NEX-5R to the A7, and again going from the A7 to the A7R2 - despite the same 2.36 Mdot panel. MF on my X-T3 is easier than on my X-E3, thanks to that larger, higher res EVF.



Dec 03, 2021 at 04:06 PM
johnvanr
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


The manual focusing with EF mount lenses on the R5 is great.


Dec 03, 2021 at 04:11 PM
arduluth
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


j4nu wrote:
IMHO, manual focusing aids are more interesting on Canon & Nikon side.


What are the more interesting aids on each? How do Canon and Nikon compare on this? I think I default to the assumption that they're both a pain in the butt for MF lenses, fairly or not. It always seemed like Nikon went out of their way to make the camera harder to use for people who like MF lenses. Is that era over? You don't need to buy a Z9 just to get it to meter with MF lenses or anything?



Dec 03, 2021 at 04:41 PM
Planetwide
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


Its heavier, but I would go with a used Leica SL. 24mp and it plays very well with M glass. This opens up many used vintage options that the others don't offer without serious compromise. Great colour too.

Best of luck whichever way you go.



Dec 03, 2021 at 04:51 PM
j4nu
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


arduluth wrote:
What are the more interesting aids on each? How do Canon and Nikon compare on this? I think I default to the assumption that they're both a pain in the butt for MF lenses, fairly or not. It always seemed like Nikon went out of their way to make the camera harder to use for people who like MF lenses. Is that era over? You don't need to buy a Z9 just to get it to meter with MF lenses or anything?


Here's a quick demonstration for Canon:
https://youtu.be/VroBOF1B6jE?t=18

Basically it's the camera telling you if what you're pointing at is in focus (according to the camera of course).
Nikon, or maybe Canon too, has also a sort of eyeMF - where the eye is detected even in Manual Focus, so that when you press magnification it zooms in (or maybe even places the focus guide indicators) on the eye without the need to move the focusing frame manually.



Dec 03, 2021 at 05:06 PM
SlowDriver
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


j4nu wrote:
Here's a quick demonstration for Canon:
https://youtu.be/VroBOF1B6jE?t=18

Basically it's the camera telling you if what you're pointing at is in focus (according to the camera of course).
Nikon, or maybe Canon too, has also a sort of eyeMF - where the eye is detected even in Manual Focus, so that when you press magnification it zooms in (or maybe even places the focus guide indicators) on the eye without the need to move the focusing frame manually.


The focus guide on Canon is brilliant but it only works with electronically coupled lenses I believe, ie. RF and EF glass, not with other manual lenses.



Dec 03, 2021 at 05:41 PM
AmbientMike
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?



arduluth wrote:
What are the more interesting aids on each? How do Canon and Nikon compare on this? I think I default to the assumption that they're both a pain in the butt for MF lenses, fairly or not. It always seemed like Nikon went out of their way to make the camera harder to use for people who like MF lenses. Is that era over? You don't need to buy a Z9 just to get it to meter with MF lenses or anything?


I initially passed on the D70 going digital in part because I could get metering onthe Rebel XT. I think the newer bodies better? The canon RP is very lightweight and inexpensive. Haven't used though. I suppose the least expensive is older dslr + LV.

I liked m4/3 for my alt machine. Probably need to get another.



Dec 03, 2021 at 05:51 PM
j4nu
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


SlowDriver wrote:
The focus guide on Canon is brilliant but it only works with electronically coupled lenses I believe, ie. RF and EF glass, not with other manual lenses.


Hmm, I didn't know that. That's pretty disappointing to be honest. I hope when/if Sony implements something similar, it will work with any manual lens with full (distance information) EXIF data.



Dec 03, 2021 at 06:15 PM
Jorgen Udvang
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


If size and weight is important, it's hard to beat Sony. I would take a look at the Panasonic S5 though. It's rather compact, has excellent stabilisation, and Panasonic cameras in general work extremely well with manual focus lenses (full functionality except AF). It will even ask you what the focal length is when you switch on the camera so thatIBIS is correctly applied.


Dec 03, 2021 at 06:23 PM
Sauseschritt
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


Sony cameras are mostly just hard to hold, because they arent really designed for human hands in the first place.


j4nu wrote:
I hope when/if Sony implements something similar, it will work with any manual lens with full (distance information) EXIF data.


A camera cannot record information thats not available to it in the first place. A pure mechanical lens without electronic contacts cannot inform the camera about the focus distance. Also, why would you need that kind of information recorded in the first place.




Dec 03, 2021 at 07:27 PM
telyt
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


One advantage Sony has is the open spec lens mount so that third-party lens makers can offer lenses with compatible electronic communication with the body. The Voigtlander E-mount lenses, all manual focus, communicate with the camera so the camera can adjust sensor stabilization for the focal length and can magnify the viewfinder when the focus ring is turned.


Dec 03, 2021 at 08:36 PM
j4nu
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


telyt wrote:
One advantage Sony has is the open spec lens mount so that third-party lens makers can offer lenses with compatible electronic communication with the body. The Voigtlander E-mount lenses, all manual focus, communicate with the camera so the camera can adjust sensor stabilization for the focal length and can magnify the viewfinder when the focus ring is turned.


Exactly what I meant.
Come to think of it, I'd say this kind of focus guide could work even without electronic communication. It is based on the actual image after all and the EXIF information (focus ring movement indication, distance, etc.) is only secondary IMHO.



Dec 04, 2021 at 04:08 AM
freaklikeme
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


I've used the Canon RP and R5, Nikon Z5, Z7, and Z7II, Leica SL and SL2, and most of the Sonys (a1, a9II, and a7III being the exceptions) and, while they may have some advantages with their own branded and chipped or encoded lenses, none of them present a specific advantage with dumb-mount or adapted MF lenses so far as focusing aides. There's also little difference in three-axis IBIS on the bodies that have IBIS. If you're looking to upgrade the rII, I'd concentrate on EVF resolution. To me, that makes more of a difference than any of the focusing aides.

If you're nostalgic for the a7, you should look at the Z5. It's the older style CMOS sensor (front-side illuminated, I guess) so the output is closer to the a7/II than the BSI-equiped cameras. You get a 3.6m dot EVF, which doesn't sound like significantly more, but it looks like significantly more. If you don't mind sticking with a BSI sensor and want the resolution you get out of the rII, either the rIII or Z7 would be a nice step-up, with both cameras going for great prices used.



Dec 04, 2021 at 04:27 AM
AdaptedLenses
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


I liked the S5ís Picture in Picture focus zoom, but itís EVF panel was probably the most noticeably pixelated. The Z5 is a great platform, and the best cheap full frame with a higher res EVF (3.6M). The Z5 with a Techart is also actually better than a Sony for Sonyís MF lenses, you get the focus point selector turning green when it reads focus. Sony still has the most compact bodies though. Never used a manual lens on the R6, but it did nothing to sway me from Canon being among my least favorite bodies.

All that said, not all MF lenses are created equal and some might be full manual yet benefit from some electronics like Zeiss ZF.2 or ZE lenses. So a bit of info about what manual lenses you want to use might make the decision easier.



Dec 04, 2021 at 08:19 PM
Steve Spencer
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


I have used Sony A7 II, A7r II, A9, the Nikon Z7, the Fuji GFX 50s, and Leica M10 extensively for shooting MF lenses and I like all of them in different ways.

I like the Sony's for the Voigtlander and Loxia lenses that are built for the system. Those lenses all work so well. What I don't like is having to worry about selecting the focal length for lenses without electronic and having to worry about what shutter mode I am in with fast lenses. I hate it when I forget one of these. Also, IMO, have a joystick to move the focus point around is a big plus, so I actually like the later cameras better for this feature. If the OP can stand the small EVF of the A7C, then he might well appreciate its very small size. If not I would recommend the A7r III for the bigger EVF (over the A7 III) and joystick (which the A7r II does not have).

I like the Nikon Z7 for the EVF and the quality of the sensor. I also like that Nikon has a nifty list for selecting the focal length and aperture of the lens to make IBIS work properly. The Techart adapter also works surprisingly well for adding electronic contacts, but make sure you have the firmware up to date as early versions messed up the IBIS. I don't like that you can't specify the aperture of certain lenses if there isn't a Nikon with that aperture and focal length. I think the Z7 is a steal now, as is the Z5, but for the concerts that the OP shoots I might be drawn the the Z6 for the better high ISO performance.

I also really like the Fuji GFX 50s for manual focus lenses, but you really need to look to Medium format lenses to adapt. There are some great ones, but the OP probably should only consider the GFX 50r, which is fairly small and with lenses like the Mamiya 55 f/2.8 isn't as expensive as one might think. It probably doesn't offer wide enough lenses for all the concert work the OP wants to do.

Finally there is the Leica M option. I really prefer rangefinder shooting for MF lenses, and with some excellent Voigtlander lenses at pretty reasonable prices the cost hurdle is really the camera, but keep in mind Leica cameras hold there value typically for longer than other brands. This means they really tie up your money rather than cost more to own in the long run. For your concert shooting ultimately I think a Leica kit would be ideal and with Voigtlander lenses the price might not be as much of a stretch as you might think.



Dec 04, 2021 at 11:39 PM
Lukacs
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


I have A7III and several Voigtlander lenses (15 4.5, 21 3.5, 40 1.2) and the overall shooting experience like a dream. I've no doubt with higher res EVF is even better, but I don't find any trouble with A7m3's EVF.


Dec 05, 2021 at 03:22 AM
Geoff CB
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Best (affordable) platform for manual lenses in 2021?


Lukacs wrote:
I have A7III and several Voigtlander lenses (15 4.5, 21 3.5, 40 1.2) and the overall shooting experience like a dream. I've no doubt with higher res EVF is even better, but I don't find any trouble with A7m3's EVF.


The A7III is a step down in EVF and Sensor from the A7rII so would not suite the OP.




Dec 05, 2021 at 06:35 PM
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