Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
06-19-2012, 01:37 PM   #1
Forum Member




Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 72
IQ of Legacy Lenses

Hi All,

First proper post on the forums and it's a post likely to promote debate ...

I've long been an advocate of Pentax's partially due to the ease of which legacy lenses on modern bodies. From my point of view the use of lenses like the classic f1.7 50mm manual focus lens is a no-brainer and the images produced are excellent...

Unsurprisingly I got into a bit of a debate (which sadly turned heated) on another non-photography forum.. when someone posted this contentious statement :-

QuoteQuote:
Can I remind people that not only has technology improved the quality of cameras over the years, it's also done the same for lenses.
followed quickly by

QuoteQuote:
Well the lenses I currently use are 100000x (At least) better than the lenses I used when I first started photographing - nearly 40 years ago. There may be some old lenses which are better than their modern counterparts, but it's a some rather than your implied norm. Improved quality of manufacture improves optical and mechanical components.
Given the popularity of many legacy lenses my experience and research would indicate that many old lenses are at least as good as their modern compatriots.. but I wondered what peoples actual experience was?

06-19-2012, 02:04 PM   #2
Pentaxian
Lowell Goudge's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Toronto
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 15,396
You will get similar debate here too. But note many of the beloved characteristics of the legacy lenses may not have been deliberate. Specifically bokeh. Lens designs have evolved and materials have improved but many old lenses still get used because they a) still out resolve the sensor and b) have a differen look to them. Most of the advances that I see in new lenses are in the area of chromeric aboritions and coatings, not outright sharpness, but then I'm biased. I have 18 M42 lenses and 14 K mount MF lenses
06-19-2012, 02:04 PM   #3
Veteran Member
joe.penn's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Maryland (Right Outside Washington DC)
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 2,902
Many legacy lenses do not produce the same on Digital as they do Film. Advancements in coatings has helped modern lenses perform "AS GOOD ON DIGITAL" as legacy lenses perform "WITH FILM".
06-19-2012, 02:09 PM   #4
Veteran Member
GhoSStrider's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: 14er Country
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 323
It depends what he or she is referring to. Modern lens design has improved the performance of optics like ultrawides and zooms dramatically. Lenses like the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 or Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS Mk II would blow away anything close to them from 40 years ago. The same is probably true of super speed lenses.

However, a lens like the M 50mm f1.7 should hold up very well against modern medium speed fifties. The new Nikon 50mm f1.8G is probably a little better than the M 50 f1.7, but it's definitely not "100000x" better. Shooting wide open, the new lens will probably be a little better in the corners and such. I'd be willing to bet that discerning difference between the two lenses at anything smaller than f2.8 would be almost impossible.

As for me, I shoot about half and half with modern optics and classic optics. Sometimes the latter offers advantages that newer lenses simply can't no matter how good they are. For example, no modern 135mm can compete with my M 135mm f3.5 in size and weight. Some of them may be slightly better, but that doesn't earn them any points for me. When I want to take a 12 mile hike in Colorado's back country, I'll reach for the M 135 every time.

It's all a matter of perspective I guess.

06-19-2012, 02:10 PM   #5
Senior Member




Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 119
My understanding (via forum wisdom) is that zooms have progressed a lot in the intervening years, and primes have not changed a whole lot in terms of quality.

QuoteQuote:
From my point of view the use of lenses like the classic f1.7 50mm manual focus lens is a no-brainer and the images produced are excellent...
I agree.

QuoteQuote:
Improved quality of manufacture improves optical and mechanical components.
Is this person implying that construction quality has improved over time?
06-19-2012, 02:20 PM   #6
Pentaxian
TaoMaas's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Oklahoma City
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 3,195
I'd take that "100000x better" comment with a grain of salt. The lenses I use today are vastly better than the lenses I started out with 38 years ago, too. But that's mostly due to the fact that I couldn't afford much of anything besides cheapo lenses when I was 20 yrs. old.
06-19-2012, 02:22 PM - 1 Like   #7
Veteran Member
RioRico's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Limbo, California
Posts: 11,264
I have a zillion lenses. Most are old. Some are quite new. The differences I notice:

* Newer zooms and ultrawides and even fisheyes are better optically.
* Older glass seems to have 'character'; newer glass is more uniform.
* Newer lenses tend to be made of lighter and more resilient materials.
06-19-2012, 02:24 PM   #8
Forum Member




Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 72
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
I'd take that "100000x better" comment with a grain of salt. The lenses I use today are vastly better than the lenses I started out with 38 years ago, too. But that's mostly due to the fact that I couldn't afford much of anything besides cheapo lenses when I was 20 yrs. old.
Oh I did - I just got rather annoyed when he threw "I've been taking pictures for 40 years and after 0.5million photos do know the difference"..

then his rattle quickly followed out of his pram!!!

I suspect GhoSStrider is probably pretty close to the truth, although even then 100000x better is probably not true, but given legacy primes can be had for a bargain, who wants a legacy zoom?

06-19-2012, 03:45 PM   #9
Site Supporter
boriscleto's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Liverpool, NY
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 12,760
If you really want to stir things up just mention Full Frame.
06-19-2012, 04:00 PM   #10
Veteran Member
photocanadian's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: capital city, the land of eh (Ottawa, Canada)
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 327
Here is my friendly comment regarding the newer lenses being 100000x better ... not. If they were indeed, 40 year old lenses would fetch 100000x lower prices ... which they do not.
Zooms aside, most vintage lenses (Takumars, for example) in 28-200mm range hold their own against their modern counterparts.

Vintage zoom do, however, suck (for the most part, anyway) in my experience.
06-19-2012, 04:11 PM   #11
Pentaxian
Sagitta's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Maine
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,929
I only own one zoom that would be classed as 'vntage' and it definitely doesn't hold up to the newer stuff optically.

That said, it has this wonderful retro funkiness to it I love.








06-19-2012, 04:16 PM   #12
Pentaxian




Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: GMT +10
Photos: Albums
Posts: 10,760
It would be handy to have a site that did technical reviews of older glass.

Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of 'modern' reviews of old glass (complete with MTF, distortion and CA tests etc) about. A useful one however is Photozone's test of the K 135 /2.5.

In a test result that would probably be typical of many older primes, the old glass holds up decently when tested today, certainly on build quality, distortion, resolution and vignetting. Where it falls down optically compared to modern glass is CA, which modern glass and coatings deal with better. But balancing that downside of old glass is the fact that modern software like Lightroom is excellent at eliminating CA...and can also help fix up a lot of other issues that might crop up with older glass too.

Personally I find a lot of my older glass performs very well compared to my modern lenses. Sometimes however the convenience features of modern glass - AF, full AE support etc - may trump any optical properties of the older glass, since sometimes it's important to just get the shot (or shots). After all, if you don't get the shot it doesn't matter how great the lens may be, old or new.
06-19-2012, 04:26 PM   #13
Forum Member




Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 72
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
If you really want to stir things up just mention Full Frame.
*giggles* I see your Full Frame and raise you a MF!!! :-D *chuckles*
06-19-2012, 05:13 PM   #14
Veteran Member
RioRico's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Limbo, California
Posts: 11,264
QuoteOriginally posted by photocanadian Quote
Vintage zoom do, however, suck (for the most part, anyway) in my experience.
For the most part, yes. I've kept a few that don't. Vivitar Series 1: Kiron 70-210/3.5, Komine 70-210/2.8-4, Cosina 19-35/3.5-4.5. Vivitar-Kiron 80-200/4.5. Samyang-Sears: 70-210/4, 80-200/4. Schneider Betavaron 50-125/4-5.6. Sears-Tokina 55-135/3.5. Tokina SD 35-200/4-5.6.

QuoteOriginally posted by Katier Quote
*giggles* I see your Full Frame and raise you a MF!!! :-D *chuckles*
I raise you an LF, and call. Show yer cards, pardner. [/me whips out dad's old Conley Model XI 8x14cm view cam]
06-19-2012, 05:36 PM   #15
Site Supporter
Aristophanes's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Photos: Albums
Posts: 3,859
I find some have lower contrast and wider ones suffer from flare. Former can be fixed in post, latter, not.
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
debate, experience, k-mount, legacy, lenses, pentax lens, post, quality, slr lens
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Legacy lenses: legends and lemons DanielT74 Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 29 01-17-2011 07:47 AM
Newbie Which DSLR accepts legacy lenses? jrdhooghe Troubleshooting and Beginner Help 5 08-02-2010 08:13 PM
Tron Legacy Trailer xs400 General Talk 5 07-29-2010 04:11 PM
K100d super with Legacy (MF) Lenses dimebag Pentax DSLR Discussion 12 10-06-2009 02:03 PM
Legacy lenses and K10D K100D woof Pentax DSLR Discussion 6 02-17-2008 07:22 PM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:46 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top