Photographers like to speak about gear. Dialogue concerning the newest and best digicam tools is widespread. That’s fantastic to give attention to in the event you assume you may enhance your images, or in the event you like speaking about new shiny issues. And you’ve got the cash to fulfill your needs.

Image: Taken using a 55mm Micro-NIKKOR-P manufactured in about 1970 © Kevin Landwer-JohanImage: Taken using a 55mm Micro-NIKKOR-P manufactured in about 1970 © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Taken utilizing a 55mm Micro-NIKKOR-P manufactured in about 1970 © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Photographers who can’t afford to maintain upgrading their gear have a tendency to not discuss it a lot. It may well change into miserable. A few of them additionally perceive that buying the newest digicam gear might do little or no to enhance their images. Generally utilizing older gear invokes extra creativity.

What’s it about previous, guide focus lenses?

I’ve been taking photographs for a very long time. It was years earlier than I had a digicam able to autofocus, not to mention any autofocus lenses. I needed to be taught the quaint means.

This was my first digicam and lens – a Nikkormat FTN with a 50mm f/1.four connected. I continued to make use of this lens for 27 years till it lastly was not in focus on a regular basis. I feel it’s worn out; the glass parts are slopping round inside.


Taken with my telephone 🙂 © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Handbook focusing is just not so troublesome. It’s like studying to drive a guide shift automotive. It takes some follow. As soon as you may, you always remember how. It’s possible you’ll get slightly rusty in the event you haven’t accomplished it for some time, however earlier than lengthy, you’ll be driving alongside and never interested by it.

Outdated lenses have been constructed extra solidly and really feel totally different in use. Due to their construct high quality, they will last more. A lot of them are as sharp, if not sharper, than trendy lenses.

Have a look again at a few of the well-known photographers of the final century. Photographers together with Sebastião Salgado, Don McCullin, Henri Cartier-Bresson and others didn’t depend on trendy autofocus lenses.

Image: Taken using my Nikkormat FTN and 50mm lens. Scanned from a slide. © Kevin Landwer-JohanImage: Taken using my Nikkormat FTN and 50mm lens. Scanned from a slide. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Taken utilizing my Nikkormat FTN and 50mm lens. Scanned from a slide. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Utilizing guide focus lenses will help you enhance your images

It’s a must to decelerate and assume extra about what you’re doing whereas utilizing a guide lens. Effectively, initially, you do. After some follow, you’ll discover guide focusing comes fairly naturally.

A lot consideration in images is on doing issues quick. Handbook focus has a foul rap as a result of it’s slower than autofocus. I don’t understand that this all the time must be a destructive factor.

Slowing down will help you see extra and to assume extra about what you’re doing. Utilizing a guide focus lens can encourage you to change into extra engrossed in your images. With out counting on autofocus expertise, it’s important to use different technique of capturing the photographs you need.

Image: Taken using a manual focus 20mm. © Kevin Landwer-JohanImage: Taken using a manual focus 20mm. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Taken utilizing a guide focus 20mm. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Inventive considering turns into extra to the fore if you don’t have autofocus lenses to make use of. You should take into account extra rigorously what you need to give attention to. That is by no means a foul factor to grasp.

Studying to prefocus so your topic will likely be sharp when it’s time to take the photograph is a superb talent to have. With a guide focus lens, this turns into much less elective.

Any of those strategies, when practiced sufficient, will change into second nature. You’ll end up utilizing them it doesn’t matter what lens you will have in your digicam.


20mm Nikon Lens © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Diversifying your lens choices doesn’t need to be costly

Outdated lenses can be found secondhand virtually all over the place at cheap costs. When you have a brand new digicam with a package lens and need to add one other lens or two, take into account shopping for used.

Choosing up an older 50mm lens is not going to set you again as a lot as a model new lens. Relying on what model digicam you will have, you may additionally have to buy an adapter. This can assist you to mount older lenses to your digital digicam. Nikon customers have the benefit right here.

I used to be in a position to hold utilizing my authentic lens on every digicam I upgraded to as a result of Nikon by no means modified the lens mount. Any older Nikon lens will connect to each Nikon digicam. Some very previous lenses might lose some metering performance however in any other case, work very properly. Some may want slight modification.

Adapters can be found for nearly each digicam and lens mixture. When you’ve purchased your first previous guide focus lens, it might pay to stay to purchasing the identical model. That means you should use the identical adapter.

Image: Taken with a 105mm manual focus lens manufactured around 1973 © Kevin Landwer-JohanImage: Taken with a 105mm manual focus lens manufactured around 1973 © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Taken with a 105mm guide focus lens manufactured round 1973 © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Handbook focus lens construction and construct are a lot easier than autofocus lenses. The upper high quality older lenses are sturdy and sturdy. There are three most important issues to look out for in second-hand lenses:

  1. Indications that they’ve been dropped or in any other case mistreated. Dings and heavy scratches on a lens usually are not a great signal.
  2. Fungus within the lens is one other factor to observe for. Dust on the surface is straightforward sufficient to scrub off. A lens with fungus on the surface or any of the interior lens parts might be costly to scrub and might be broken past restore.
  3. Thirdly, the focusing ring can change into stiff and onerous to show, notably if the lens has not been used for a very long time. You may restore it, however repairs can change into costly, relying on the place you reside.
Image: Taken using a manual focus 85mm. © Kevin Landwer-JohanImage: Taken using a manual focus 85mm. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Taken utilizing a guide focus 85mm. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

I picked up a bag of digicam gear at a normal family public sale years in the past. In it was a Nikon FM2 physique with an MD4 motor drive. I knew I may promote the drive for $400. The digicam had a 135mm lens on it with a lot mould you couldn’t see via it. That was nugatory. Additionally within the bag was a 55mm micro Nikkor in beautiful situation.

I purchased the lot for $250, then offered the digicam and motor drive and saved the lens. I made round $350 on the deal, plus I received to maintain the lens, which I nonetheless love utilizing. If what you’re shopping for you might be fortunate sufficient to finish up with one other lens and it not value something.


Taken utilizing a 55mm Micro-NIKKOR-P manufactured in about 1970 © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Essential downside of older lenses

Construct high quality and glass usually are not typically an issue in good-quality older lenses. Coatings of lenses have improved over time. Fashionable lenses have coatings developed to be used with digital cameras.

Chromatic aberration, also called purple fringing, is extra prevalent in previous lenses. It’s because the lens coatings are totally different. Nevertheless, post-processing software program can typically repair the issue fairly properly.

Lack of sharpness at extensive apertures can typically be a problem with older lenses. Avoiding utilizing the widest aperture setting can typically alleviate this drawback.


© Kevin Landwer-Johan


Diversifying your gear choices with older guide focus lenses is price contemplating. When you’re a pupil on a price range (or anybody else on a price range!), choosing up a second-hand lens or two will make it easier to in quite a lot of methods:

  • You’ll be saving cash
  • You’ll have to be taught to make use of guide focus
  • Second-hand lenses hold their resale worth greater than new lenses
  • Working extra slowly will assist your {photograph} in different methods too

When trying to purchase older lenses, it’s greatest to do your analysis rigorously first. There’s no level shopping for a lens that received’t work along with your mannequin of digicam. Get on the web and particularly seek for the digicam and lens you need to mix. If it may be accomplished, somebody has possible blogged about it or posted a video to Youtube already.


Do you employ previous, guide focus lenses? What’s your expertise with them? Share your experiences and pictures with us within the feedback!

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