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12-26-2012, 11:53 AM   #1
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Legacy Lenses

Hello,
am a new user. I just wanted to ask in general about the characteristics of the old manual lenses (primes) in comparison to the more current lenses in terms of image quality, color rendition, contrast. There are lot`s of really nice shots done with old lenses on this side, so is the quality as close to the current lenses as it appears ?
Stefan

12-26-2012, 12:36 PM   #2
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It's close, especially when it comes to sharpness. The thing that older lenses generally have more flare and aberrations compared to more modern lenses that are optimized for digital.

Adam
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12-26-2012, 12:44 PM   #3
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Answers will be personal. Speaking for myself, I use AF zoomlenses when shooting in a certain hurry, e.g. during weddings and the like.
Older mf zooms don't work for me, as they don't have the advantage of being fast ( to work with) like the af zooms, nor fast in aperture like my 35, 50 or 85 lenses.

For fixed focal length I like the smooth focussing of the older K and M lenses. Colour and sharpness are generally good to excellent (with some wide angles being the odd ones out).
I suppose the AF fixed focal lenses might be even better in some ways. But the don't have the same feel.

All well, I am starting to talk nonsense. Buy a cheap 50mm or 135mm and try out for yourself. I just would leave the old zooms alone.
12-26-2012, 01:08 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by wpvv Quote
Answers will be personal. Speaking for myself, I use AF zoomlenses when shooting in a certain hurry, e.g. during weddings and the like.
Older mf zooms don't work for me, as they don't have the advantage of being fast ( to work with) like the af zooms, nor fast in aperture like my 35, 50 or 85 lenses.

For fixed focal length I like the smooth focussing of the older K and M lenses. Colour and sharpness are generally good to excellent (with some wide angles being the odd ones out).
I suppose the AF fixed focal lenses might be even better in some ways. But the don't have the same feel.

All well, I am starting to talk nonsense. Buy a cheap 50mm or 135mm and try out for yourself. I just would leave the old zooms alone.
Not all older zooms are unappreciated. I have both the A35-105 and the A24-50, each of which is well-regarded here (particularly the 35-105) and neither of which is expensive. Admittedly, I don't use either much these days, but only because they I bought them with my film cameras and I have the DA*16-50 and DA*50-135 for digital.

Having said that, if you're new to MF, you'd be well advised to start with primes. Any of the Pentax 50 or 55 lenses will be good, and the M24/2.8 is a very good MF lens on film or digital. If you like longer FLs, then either the 135/2.5 or the 135/3.5 is good, and you can get them in M42 (with an adapter) or K-mount at reasonable prices. Just about any Pentax lens will be sharp (though there are exceptions reported, but I've never had one) and their colour rendition is regarded highly by most people. Older lenses can flare with digital, so beware the cheaper non-SMC K-mount Pentax lenses branded as Takumars, in particular. Even the SMC lenses exhibit some flare, due to sensor reflections off the uncoated or non-SMC rear element, so be prepared for extra PP to reduce that effect.

Notwithstanding anything in the above, MF primes are instructive, useful and cheap, and can be a lot of fun!

12-26-2012, 01:17 PM   #5
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Legacy Lenses?

Hello Stefan, Welcome to the Forum!
First off, I agree with Adam, legacy lenses are very close to modern lenses in quality, sharpness, I.Q. and contrast. What you will find (depending upon the actual age of the lens) with legacy lenses is slightly softer, less vivid color rendition, digital lenses tend to "Pop" colors out, in some cases they're hyper-real or garish, depending on your point of view. This is most apparent in brighter colors like red and orange.
Also, Wpvv has a good point, manual focus zooms don't seem as sharp and sometimes lack contrast compared to A/F and digital zooms. Perhaps there was more room for improvement as the technology moved into the digital age.
In any event, Pentax has a real advantage because virtually any P-K or M42 lens from the past will work with DSLR's, with certain limitations. Very few other camera manufacturers can make this claim.
I'd suggest looking at the lens reviews and Lens examples here on PF to judge for yourself. Many times you can find an older lens of high quality for much less than the price of a newer lens. You may have to live with manual focus, manual aperture or perhaps both. For purposes like scenics or portraits, macro or still-life photos, this wouldn't be too much of a disadvantage. For fast-moving subjects, changing scenes or wildlife, you (generally) would be better off with an A/F prime or zoom.
So part of the choice depends on what you like to shoot, your taste in color rendition, your budget and how important the modern features are to you.
Good Luck!
Ron
12-26-2012, 01:35 PM   #6
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The good major brand MF primes I have are for the most part great. You do have to watch them a bit more for flare but they render color exceptionally well and are pretty sharp sometimes even sharper I think than my digital zooms. To me what sets them apart though is the character they impart. I can't speak for digital primes because I just cannot afford them but the MF primes I have really do have something I think my digital zooms just lack. There's a warmth, a depth of color that I think the AF lenses just don't always have. They always seem to add more character somehow to the same shots than my AF Tamron lenses do. AF lenses are not immune to flare either. 20 of my Tamron AF lenses are actually a lot worse than my MF lenses are for that supposedly superior coatings not withstanding. I hardly ever have to worry about fringing on my Taks or my Viv's but I'm always battling it with the Tamron AF lenses so there you go...
12-26-2012, 03:19 PM   #7
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Just wanted to say thank you to you all for this valuable information !!!
Stefan
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