I’m very excited to share an amazing guide to vintage lenses (above), put together by really talented filmmaker and simply a cool dude, Khairil Bahar.
This one will be particularly interesting (but no limited) to Sony E-mount camera users, new to vintage lenses. Khairil talks a lot about how to get the best out of vintage lenses on modern E-mount cameras.
Myself and Khairil seem to share the love for the same lenses. Like myself he discovered the benefits of manual focus lens through Samyang primes. I absolutely love Samyang lenses because they offer image quality of more expensive modern competitors and also benefits of vintage lenses, like a smooth focusing rings and manual aperture adjustment. They are much cheaper than modern Canon, Nikon and Zeiss alternatives, but if you are on a tight budget and like lenses with a bit of character, then there are even cheaper options out there, which what this website is all about.
As far as value for money and interesting characteristics go(flares, bokeh, softness) nothing beats vintage manual lenses.
Same as Khairil I been using Canon FD lenses on my E-mount and M4/3 cameras a lot lately. My personal favorites at the moment are 50mm F1.4, 85mm F1.8 and 35-105mm F3.5. I still need to add some wider ones to make a whole set, while Khairil pretty much has everything he needs to shoot in any situation.
Canon FD lenses are designed for 35mm film, so they are not limited to crop sensor cameras and will also work with the latest full frame mirror-less cameras like Sony A7/A7r/A7s. You can also get close to full frame look on crop sensor cameras if you combine them with a focal reducer, like this one.
So let’s take a closer look at each of the Canon FD lenses Khairil mentioned in his video.
- Canon FD 24mm F2.8: Cheap wide-angle lens, especially good on full frame camera like Sony A7 series.
- Canon FD 35mm F2: Great walk around lens both on crop sensor and full frame cameras. On APS-C/Super35 sensor, represents the natural field of view, closest to what human eye would naturally see.
- Canon FD 50mm F1.8: One of the cheapest 50mm primes you can buy. You can pick one up on Ebay for under £10/$20 giving you a great value for money prime lens that produces very cinematic results both on full frame and APS-C/Super35 sensor cameras.
- Canon FD 85mm F1.8: Pushing the cinematic quality even further, 85mm lenses generally produce some one the most beautiful images, great for close up and “people” shots with a beautiful bokeh. One of the most affordable 85mm primes.
- Canon FD 100mm F2.8: Another affordable prime lens for a Canon FD set. Beautiful images, similar look 85mm.
- Canon FD 135mm F2.8: Again similar look to the lenses above, as cheap as 100mm and get’s you much closer than 85mm at the expense of just over 1 stop of light.
- Canon FD 35-105mm F3.5: Really like this zoom, nice range at reasonable, consistent F-stop. I’ve used for most of my GH4 slow motion test, coupled with a focal reducer and absolutely loved the images I got with it. Absolutely beautiful flares and great price too!
Khairil also mentioned some M42 lenses he has which are also very affordable and even more compatible lenses, that unlike Canon FD can also be used on modern Canon cameras. The lenses are:
- Pentacon 29mm F2.8: This was one of the first 2 vintage lenses I bought myself. Haven’t used it much myself, but as far as I know it’s a Meyer-Optik Orestegon 29mm clone. One of the cheapest widish lenses, atleast in UK, prices on ebay.com are not as great.
- Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm F2.8: This is what I call “Cheapest Carl Zeiss Lens”. It might be incredibly cheap with average specs for a 50mm prime, but this lens produces some very beautiful images. Feel free to check out my test video and review here.
- Carl Zeiss Jena 135mm F3.5: Another very affordable Zeiss lens, lovely multi-coated optics, great built quality. Same as the 50mm above it might not be a fast lens for a 135mm, but it’s much better than many 135mm F2.8 primes.
Big thank you to Khairil for producing and sharing his wonderful guide. At the time of writing his video only has 116 views, which is doesn’t reflect the amount of effort he has put into it at all, so if you liked his video, make sure to live a youtube comment and also check out his work at www.khairilmbahar.com
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