I spend some time looking at portraits on a FB page dedicated to using "vintage" lenses on modern digitals. Many use full frame cameras, others M43. Some nice work from all over the world.
What is amusing to me is the veneration of some lenses that were, at best, considered "OK" in the 70's. I'm talking about Vivitars (not Series One), Russian Helios 58's, Chinon 50's, etc. Takumar 50 f.1.4s prices went through the roof. Of course, these lenses must be manually focused and the aperture stopped down manually. But many are just shot wide open to get the elusive bokeh.
Others are discovering using projector lenses and enlarging lenses.
I'm not knocking it, as I have fun with some TV lenses on my M43 camera and a couple of the "7 Artisans" lenses. And I do have an adapter for some screw mount lenses. But I'm not using them full-frame.
Loc: American Free States -- Montana
Pro level pre digital era Nikon lenses still deliver excellent results in Nikon FX DSLRs.
Some of these older lenses have an unique optical characteristics which are difficult to recreate with digital editing. I don't know about "prices through the roof"; you can often find them at flea markets and yard sales for pocket change. That's where I get mine.
I sold a couple on eBay for a lot more than they would have been even 10 years ago. Mostly Takumars.
If you are interested in PORTRAITURE with older or vintage glass, consider the ones that were actually designed for portrait photography.
There are SOFT FOCUS lenses that are very specialized. They are not the same as using a soft-focus filter or diffusion filter on a sharp lens. These lens designs with controllable degrees of spherical abberations, superimpose a soft image over a sharp image. The resulting image is not degraded and therefore, will make for brilliant large portraits with an ethereal effect. The Rodenstock Imagon is one such formula.
Many of them were designed for large format usage but there are models that are intended for medium format in the 100mm range that will work well with a full-fram digital camera.
Mamuya makes the 150mm SF Sekor which works on a similar principle to the Imagon.
Another oldie but goodie is made by Taylor, Hobson and Cooke- it too is a variable soft-focus formula.
Many of these lenses are soft working when wide open and sharp when stopped down.
Minolta made a 100mm variable soft-focus lens that wors on a floating element principle.
The fun and challang are hunting these lenses down and creating adaptations but it can be done.
If you want something less exotic, an old Nikor 105mm is a great portrait lens.
[quote=E.L.. Shapiro]If you are interested in PORTRAITURE with older or vintage glass, consider the ones that were actually designed for portrait photography.
There are SOFT FOCUS lenses
Wow. I did not know about those, thanks, something to investigate!
I spend some time looking at portraits on a FB pag... (
I have adapters to fit my 30's;40's; 50's Leica (39mm screw) lenses to my Sony a 7111 body, manual focus and manual stop-down of course. But interesting results.
If you shoot mirrorless it really makes those vintage lenses easier to use. You can stop the lenses down and see the scene in full brightness and manual focus is much easier with focus peaking and magnification.
I once bought a 'very used' 12" Kodak portrait lens. It looked like a shutter without the glass, but it had two elements behind the shutter--a giant Illex shutter with only a few positions and all of them very slow. I imagine it fit a 5x7 film the best, but would cover 8 x 10. Unfortunately if you stopped it down a couple of stops, it got too sharp for me.
My next attempt at a DIY soft lens was buying a junker bellows (T mount) and attaching a #10 closeup lens. I made a few F stop masks with fogged film with various sized holes (T stops?), so that was fun to play with. At one time if you bought a car shortly afterward you'd get a plastic seat cover sample in the mail--Finger Hut I think. That little sample with a few holes punched through made an excellent soft focus filter (very similar to the Rodenstock portrait lens)--too bad I lost it!
Loc: North Carolina
I have an early 70's Minolta 300mm (all manual) lens that my wife has used on her Sony A7 III with excellent results.
I've used 40+ year old Zeiss lenses adapted to my digitals with exceptional success.
I spend some time looking at portraits on a FB pag... (
Bob Werre wrote:
I once bought a 'very used' 12" Kodak portrai... (
The Kodal Portrait Lens is a classic. It could be used for creating both soft and very sharp portraits. The way many of the classic variable soft-focus lenses worked was based on control over the purposely build in optical aberrations. The aberration enabled the softness "live" on the edges of the lens. Weh the aperture is stopped down the film or sensor does no "see" that part of the lens- the center of the lens is sharp. The problem with many of the older modes is that they were designed to cover the 5x7 or 8x10 formats. Weh used on medium formats and 35mm gear, the edges of the lens do not come into play as much and the results at too sharp because the format can not fully take advantage of the optical effect.
The Kodak Portrait Lens has a conventional iris diaphragm so as you stop down the change from soft to sharp is rather abrupt. The Inagons have a set of interchangeable disks that look like black sink dran strainers with a hole in the center. The size of the little holes surrounding the central aperture is available. This enables a wide range of effects and the transition from soft to sharp is more nuanced. The models intended for medium format will work well on full-fram digital gear. Those perforated discs are not diffusion disks- they won't convert a sharp lens to a soft-focus optic. The work as per the aforementioned principle with the appropriate lens construction.
My rig- 250mm Imagon on Digitized RZ
As long as you happy with the results a lens produces, does it really matter if it is a few years old
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