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Building up a (unique) vintage lens set from 24mm to 400mm

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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I a working up an interest to build a vintage lens set for my Sony a7C. And there are 2 reasons for this: one is I want to have a vintage lens set that I can adapt to any kind of mirrorless system (if/when I change camera brands so I don't end up having a focal range set that I would miss if/when I need to change the native glass) and the second reason is I am looking for interesting, unique, intriguing or fun lens/IQ output that is different from modern glass. So I don't have a priority for the best sharpness (maybe the only exception being a telephoto lens that is decently sharp wide open in the center) or the most optical defect correction (be it flare, lateral, or longitudinal chromatic aberrations, coma, etc). And I am looking for some advice, from your experience only (not what you read somewhere on the interwebs) what lens I should look into or try ... within a budget reason, which is up to 150 £, I know there are a lot better lenses out there with higher costs but I am not willing to pay to much for something that is not a daily driver.
The focal lengths I am looking for are:

1) Maybe Ultra-Wide Angle, something between 17mm and 21mm, I know a lot of vintage lenses are less effective in this range with the technology limitations they had, and getting an interesting look is more difficult, all I would need is to be sharp at around f 8 to f 11 and maybe a warmer color tone for the images.

2) Wide Angle lens, 24mm, pretty much as the one above, not looking for something very fast, maybe between f 2.8 and f 3.5/4 ?

3) 28mm and I have my eyes on Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Lydith 30mm f 3.5 for the potential of soapy bubbly bokeh balls or the Pentacon clone;

4) A Wide-Angle 35mm lens, something around f 2 to f 2.8, something with a character to the rendition of the image or bokeh. I haven't found anything interesting so far myself. Maybe something with very close focusing capability?

5) A 50mm Macro lens, I got enough nifty fifties but a Macro capable lens would be nice, even if it's only 1:2;

6) In the short telephoto I am looking at Helios-40 85mm f 1.5 for the swirly bokeh, which seems to be more intense than (my current) Helios-44M 58mm f 2, and I intend to replace it;

7) A telephoto lens in the range of 100mm to 135mm f 2.8 for portraits, maybe something with a softer/dreamier rendition or just a straight-up sharp macro lens;

8) A 200mm telephoto lens, f 2.8 or something odder like f 3 / 3.3, mostly of portraits and larger wildlife.

9) A 300mm or 400mm telephoto lens, f 4 would be nice for low-light, just of wildlife lens, until next year when I can look into getting the Sony FE 200-600mm f 5.6-6.3 G OSS.

I know prices can vary, especially on evilBay, I may try to stalk some lenses for a while to see if I can catch a bargain. I don't mind any type of brand and with brand variety, I will have more adapters to carry but I won't have to mount and dismount adapters too much. I always wanted to make a collection of lenses based on character and design, grouped as Japanese, Russian and German lenses as they seem to have different philosophies on what rendition of images they want to bring.
 

bdbits

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If I was building a vintage set today, I would probably base it on the Leica M mount. The short flange distance means you will be able to adapt such lenses to just about any mount available now or in the future. There is a very large set of excellent optics to choose from - Zeiss, Contax/Yashica, Voigtlander to name a few.

I started out using vintage lenses, but I don't have a wide range of experience with different brands. I used a lot of Minolta, which I enjoyed, and they are noted for color and rendering consistency across the line., which matter if you need it for a "look" to your photos. The best I ever used were Contax G lenses. I had the 45mm and the 90mm. They are a bit of a pain to adapt but worth it; some people replace the mount. I had a few others, and wanted to explore Zeiss further and Russian glass next (e.g. Helios). I moved to native mount instead (mostly Voigtlanders).

We definitely have some vintage experience here on the site. Hang around a bit and I am sure they will chime in.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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Thank you, this is very educational and useful information. I will try to put it to good use.
 

Brownie

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I know you said you're set for 50's, but if you've never shot a Minolta 58/1.4, you should. They are fantastic lenses and reasonably priced, anywhere from $25-75 US. Better yet a 58/1.2. A lot more expensive ($300-500) but beautiful color and contrast.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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I know you said you're set for 50's, but if you've never shot a Minolta 58/1.4, you should. They are fantastic lenses and reasonably priced, anywhere from $25-75 US. Better yet a 58/1.2. A lot more expensive ($300-500) but beautiful color and contrast.
I am very tempted to try the f 1.2, for any brand, at least to experience that kind of output firsthand. The reason I wasn't looking to much into the 50mm range is that once I have my native 50mm f 1.4 (be it Sony or Sigma) there would be little reason to use it if there's nothing on outstanding about it. I'll see if any of the camera climb members has that lens that they might burrow it for me for a few days or a week.
 

Brownie

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AlwaysOnAuto

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I a working up an interest to build a vintage lens set for my Sony a7C. And there are 2 reasons for this: one is I want to have a vintage lens set that I can adapt to any kind of mirrorless system (if/when I change camera brands so I don't end up having a focal range set that I would miss if/when I need to change the native glass) and the second reason is I am looking for interesting, unique, intriguing or fun lens/IQ output that is different from modern glass. So I don't have a priority for the best sharpness (maybe the only exception being a telephoto lens that is decently sharp wide open in the center) or the most optical defect correction (be it flare, lateral, or longitudinal chromatic aberrations, coma, etc). And I am looking for some advice, from your experience only (not what you read somewhere on the interwebs) what lens I should look into or try ... within a budget reason, which is up to 150 £, I know there are a lot better lenses out there with higher costs but I am not willing to pay to much for something that is not a daily driver.
The focal lengths I am looking for are:

1) Maybe Ultra-Wide Angle, something between 17mm and 21mm, I know a lot of vintage lenses are less effective in this range with the technology limitations they had, and getting an interesting look is more difficult, all I would need is to be sharp at around f 8 to f 11 and maybe a warmer color tone for the images.

2) Wide Angle lens, 24mm, pretty much as the one above, not looking for something very fast, maybe between f 2.8 and f 3.5/4 ?

3) 28mm and I have my eyes on Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Lydith 30mm f 3.5 for the potential of soapy bubbly bokeh balls or the Pentacon clone;

4) A Wide-Angle 35mm lens, something around f 2 to f 2.8, something with a character to the rendition of the image or bokeh. I haven't found anything interesting so far myself. Maybe something with very close focusing capability?

5) A 50mm Macro lens, I got enough nifty fifties but a Macro capable lens would be nice, even if it's only 1:2;

6) In the short telephoto I am looking at Helios-40 85mm f 1.5 for the swirly bokeh, which seems to be more intense than (my current) Helios-44M 58mm f 2, and I intend to replace it;

7) A telephoto lens in the range of 100mm to 135mm f 2.8 for portraits, maybe something with a softer/dreamier rendition or just a straight-up sharp macro lens;

8) A 200mm telephoto lens, f 2.8 or something odder like f 3 / 3.3, mostly of portraits and larger wildlife.

9) A 300mm or 400mm telephoto lens, f 4 would be nice for low-light, just of wildlife lens, until next year when I can look into getting the Sony FE 200-600mm f 5.6-6.3 G OSS.

I know prices can vary, especially on evilBay, I may try to stalk some lenses for a while to see if I can catch a bargain. I don't mind any type of brand and with brand variety, I will have more adapters to carry but I won't have to mount and dismount adapters too much. I always wanted to make a collection of lenses based on character and design, grouped as Japanese, Russian and German lenses as they seem to have different philosophies on what rendition of images they want to bring.
1) For an ultra-wide, the Minolta MC/MD (W.Rokkor) 4/17 is quite nice. It's not super-sharp, but it retains its sharpness well across the frame; I think it'll work well on a 24 MP camera, I found it lacking on the A7R4. It's in fact the only Minolta wide-angle that doesn't suffer unduly from the infamous "mid-zone dip", i.e. a lack of sharpness between center and corner due to curvature of field. The Minolta 2.8/20 is really awful in this respect, the 2.8/24 is slightly less afflicted and most Minolta 28's are tolerable.

3) The Carl Zeiss Distagon 2.8/28 (Contax/Yashica mount) and Pentax K 3.5/28 (non-M) are quite good in my experience. The Zeiss is already useable at f/4, the Pentax needs stopping down to f/8 or f/11 to get really good. Wide-open there's nothing special, just degraded image quality.

5) Almost any 50mm legacy macro lens will do, as they are generally high-quality. I have the Minolta MD 3.5/50, which is fine from f/5.6 and good close-up as well as further out; f/3.5 isn't nice. The Micro-Nikkor 3.5/55 AI is really excellent for close-up, not so much at longer range; like the Minolta it needs stopping down to at least f/5.6, f/3.5 is just there for focusing with the SLR's of yesteryear.

Hope this helps or at least won't add to any confusion :).
 

davect01

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Buying older vintage lenses is a great way to build up a nice selection of lenses without having to sell a Kidney. Some are much better than others and if you are not happy with them, they are easily resold. I caped myself at $75 for these. They can get quite a bit more pricey, some almost costing the same as good as a good auto focus lenses, which seems to defeat the point.

I went through about 30 lenses before keeping these 4. I still have 3 native E-mount lenses for when it really matters to take advantage of the Auto Focus but whenever I am just goofing around, the Manual Focus on the Sony's is pretty good.

I went ahead and stuck with the MD Mount, plenty to choose from and it keeps the adapter juggling simple.

1- This little 28mm Sigma. Quick and solid with a descent closeup range. I don't use it a lot but it never fails me. Very lightweight and easy to use.
https://www.digicamclub.de/showthread.php?t=8842


2- This 50mm Minolta Macro is solid and gets me great results. I usually use it without the adapter, with the adapter it can go full Macro.
http://erphotoreview.com/wordpress/?p=1433

3- This 45mm Minolta. It is my easiest lens to nail focus with and is quite good at f2.
https://casualphotophile.com/2017/07/21/minolta-md-rokkor-x-45mm-f2-lens-review/


4- The Vivitar 70-150mm, the first Manual Focus lens I bought and my only manual focus zoom. It's pretty lightweight for a 70-150mm and has a solid close-up range.
https://www.techtheman.com/2009/04/vivitar-70-150mm-f38-from-plus-kiron-2x.html.
 
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