• Legacy Lens Chart

    Posted on March 18, 2012 by in Tech Rant

    Legacy lenses are just old, manual focus lenses that are comparable to modern optics.  If you take a simple outlook, lenses were already sharp enough by the late 50’s.  Speed, better zoom ranges, and fidelity on digital sensors are advantages contemporary lenses have, but they are not necessarily sharper.  For stills, old lenses are prone to abberations and light fall off- aa and other low pass filters on motion cameras alieviate some of these issues and because you are not printing so big you tend not to notice if they are there.  In fact, spherical abberation can look quit nice for motion film because a really sharp lens on a well built sensor can be unpleasantly sharp- although you can soften it in post.

    Legacy lenses can look softer because of spherical abberations and since they are slightly softer because they resolve to 10 micron instead of 5… which really isn’t sharpness just adjustment to sensors… they look kinda nice.  And they are cheap.  Some are very fast.  And there  are whole sets that can have similar optical quality, so good for a prime set for cinema, and they all fit full frame sensors so they can be universally adapted, and on top of that the best of them have awesome focus rings for pulling focus.  They breath nicely- nothing to an Arri Ultra Super Speed, but 1/100th the price :).  So I compiled a list of some different legacy lenses, mostly Nikon since those are usually considered the best, their prices, f/stops, focal ranges, and optical quality rating along with focus-ability.  I have also included some new lenses from Voigtlander which some have great focusing and others have awful.  There are also some random other things on there, but whatever- this is casual and whoever stumbles on this has to take it with a grain of salt.  I definitely need to include more Canon FD glass and Minolta.  I will update it from time to time.  So far I organize by focal range and have a lose rating system with crappy instructions on the bottom.  We can thank long render times and having to listen to audio for pops for this, I am bord and trapped on Google.

    lens list


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2 Responses so far.

  1. Ari says:

    I’m really hivang a hard time choosing this one. The Tokina 24/2,8 in manual Nikon-F mount is currently my all-around widest lens and therefore I cannot relate to it as a minor lens, at all. Then there is the Tamron 17-50/2,8 in Pentax mount doing a superb job as my standard walk-around lens on my K20. Even the first seen as a bit flimsy lens shade just doesn’t seem to get loose after short of 3000 actuations with it on the camera. Lens hoods losing their posture is another story with my Pentax 55-300 and these otherwise well-made el-cheapo kit-lenses really. But when it comes to feeling good with some piece of gear in the hand: Kino Precision 70-210/4.5 manual focus automatic aperture sliding zoom that actually made me go Pentax rather than Canon just because it was there waiting to be used. Handling-wise it is not so easy-going as a modern lens. Shooting with manual focus on cropped frame in dim light is a bit of a challenge tbh. Any cheap AF-lens will handle with less hassle and produce just as good a picture if not better. Another thing to consider: good modern lenses don’t rotate their filter-threads when focusing. But this heavy metal feel of this nicely damped mechanical beast is just something different in a good way!My pick: Kiron 70-210/4.5(although I only to use this with respect and time to spare)

    • Evan says:

      I love the way Pentax digital camera’s pictures look. I like them more than both Canon and Nikon, which I have had to use a lot more for work. The lens line up is good from all companies and I have actually used any of the lenses you mentioned- but I totally hear you on the metal feel of those classic lenses, it just makes them a pleasure to use compared to the toilet paper rolls that Canon and Nikon like to put out. I don’t know why everyone wants a lighter lens too, the heavy guys really help me stabilize. I would like to correct you though, most new lenses also rotate the filter threads with focusing. Most of my old Nikon and Minolta Primes don’t and my Panasonic lenses don’t either. All non-L Canon lenses I have used do though, shame

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