OK, what's been your favourite historical lens?

philtaylorphoto Avatar
philtaylorphoto 22 334 2
22 Jan 2019 9:16PM
Today I was thinking back to all the kit I've owned over 45 years, and wondered which two lenses I would want back in my hands if they still worked.

OK here goes
1. My father's SMC Takumar 35mm f3.5 for Pentax screw mount. I used it so much that the paint came off it. By comparison to modern 'primes it was tiny, about the size of one of those little hotel marmalade jars.incredibly sharp, it confirmed my love of wider than standard angles (on the early 70s 28mm was ultra wide on an SLR).

2. Spinning forward to the 2000s. The Canon 20 to 35 f3.5/f4.5 HSM. Sold to me by a colleague at a local paper I joined as a freelance to go with my EOS1n. It took a hammering for years in rain. It became my standard lens on cropped sensor digital, as it hovered around moderate wide to long standard. Due to its close focussing it was great for food shots, it was compact and fast enough focussing in low light that I covered hundreds of night club features with it. I dropped it onto a hard floor whilst photographing a lobster, and it lay unused for years. I finally got it fixed this year. After a second attempt, which included removing fluff from the interior it went back into action on a new full frame camera. Finally, history and 20+ Megapixels had caught up with it. It did one last assignment before it was traded in for an L lens. Can't complain, it made the Daily Mail on its dying days, but ssshhh, it wasn't atmospheric mist, but dire flare.

So, what historic favourites have others used?
Paul Morgan Avatar
Paul Morgan 22 19.9k 6 England
22 Jan 2019 9:26PM
For me one of the old common place 50`s, Zuiko, Nikon, Pentax, etc etc that sold by the million.

Some are still good on digital today.
philtaylorphoto Avatar
philtaylorphoto 22 334 2
22 Jan 2019 9:32PM
Ah, do you mean a 'fast 1.8 50mm prime lens' or as an experienced photographer over 50 calls it, 'a standard lens', rather than something overpriced?

Just looking at a 50 1.8 Zuiko, and wondering what all the excitement is?
Paul Morgan Avatar
Paul Morgan 22 19.9k 6 England
22 Jan 2019 10:27PM
Yes just the standard 50mm f1.8.

These things, many of which were just as good as each other, even the cheap 50mm Pancake made by Nikon is still good.

Lots of the old lenses that performed well with film don`t seem to render quite as well with digital, they lost that magic.

The 50mm zuiko f1.4 being one of them for me.

I recently picked up a 135mm f2.8 E series lens because I like the way it outputs with digital (not bad for £6)
hobbo Avatar
hobbo Plus
12 1.8k 4 England
23 Jan 2019 8:21AM
Without a doubt my beautiful, treasured ........

.... Meyer-Optik Görlitz Lydith 30 3.5.....Vintage M42 Or M39 thread Lens....used with the appropriate adapter on my Panasonic LUMIX GX8 M 4/3 camera it can’t be faulted.
Just set it to infinity.....or ...if you wish to be more precise, just ...Zone within your chosen range.

Proof ? See my Pre December 2018 portfolio shots..... were taken from around October? When I acquired it.
It stays in my small lens bag together with my current favourite AF lenses...

Panasonic Leica 17 mm -1.8. .... and a.....25 mm-1.4... see my Kate’s portfolio shots fir results.

Yesterday and today, I have the loan of an Olympus Pen-F with a dedicated 35mm - 1.8 a slight change due temporarily.

MalcolmS Avatar
MalcolmS Plus
18 1.2k 13 England
23 Jan 2019 10:30AM
My old Canon FD 70-210mm F4 lens. Cracking lens, very sharp beat everything out of sight at the time.
seahawk Avatar
seahawk 16 1.4k United Kingdom
23 Jan 2019 11:42AM
When I had the Nikon D7000 my favourite lens was the Nikon 16-85mm. Optical quality was fantastic for a zoom. Now I'm using a Lumix G80 and have just acquired the Leica 12-60mm. The IQ blows me away.
pink Avatar
pink Plus
20 7.4k 11 England
23 Jan 2019 11:47AM
2 Tamron SP lenses for me, both manual focus with adaptall (can be changed to suit most camera makes) mounts, the 70-210 was huge but the images were superbly crisp, and it was bulletproof, the 90mm macro was another favourite.
I still own both with mounts to Minolta Xseries cameras, I have the X700 and a X300, both still work even after 30 plus years.
philtaylorphoto Avatar
philtaylorphoto 22 334 2
23 Jan 2019 12:10PM
The 70 to 210 f4 Canon FD was one design that got taken across to the 'new' EF mount.

Some of the 'wrong' side of the Iron Curtain stuff was excellent, being based on quality older Zeiss designs, e.g. the Flektogon. The Zeiss Biotar standard lens is the 6 element basis for all those 50mm f 2ish lenses, including the now obsessed over 58mm Helios 44 on the Zenith.
philtaylorphoto Avatar
philtaylorphoto 22 334 2
23 Jan 2019 12:46PM
The 70 to 200 has become one of those lenses that is now hard to get wrong nowadays, a bit like 85 mm f1.8 and standard lenses.

Of course the secret to its success was that unlike the later 70 to 300 lenses, plenty of times it could be hand held. This gave a perception that they were sharper, as they were less prone to shake. To this day, you won't find a tripod mount on a consumer 70 to 300, but a fixed 300 will always have one.

Now, wouldn't it be great if the Adaptall idea returned. If you had a load of lenses for say Canon EF, moving to Canon R would be easier, but that's not going to happen.

Surely someone will say something nice about the Vivitar Series 1 zooms of the 70s and 80s
Dave_Canon Avatar
Dave_Canon 17 2.2k United Kingdom
23 Jan 2019 4:43PM
Well now you mention it Phil, I did have the odd Vivitar lens and Soligor zoom lenses in the 70's & 80's. The image quality was not that good but both lenses failed due to poor build quality. Well they were cheap! I had a Praktica lens that also failed. Interestingly from around that time, I started to invest in genuine Canon lenses for my Canon cameras. While, I now have a more modern set of Canon lenses, none of my Canon lenses has ever developed a fault. My current lenses are far better than those old lenses of the past so there are none that I would want back.

altitude50 Avatar
altitude50 19 23.9k United Kingdom
23 Jan 2019 4:54PM
In the 1980's I used to have a very modestly priced Hoya 70 - 150 zoom which I used on a Canon AE-1 it was not particularly sharp, but there was a certain quality about it that I liked.

I also have a Tamron Adaptall SP 35-80mm model 01A which was considered very good in it's day and I have an original Tamron Adaptall 90mm Macro. Both work well on digital.
philtaylorphoto Avatar
philtaylorphoto 22 334 2
23 Jan 2019 7:11PM
Soligor, now there's a blast from the past

Along with Paragon they had the cheaper interchangeable lens market tied up. They seemed to do everything, 300,400,500 as presets and auto. There are those moments when every now and again a one trick pony lens is useful.

One time I had to photograph a murder scene on distant moorland. The 200 with 1.4 didn't really do the job. I bought an old Sigma 400 f5.6 Apo that spent ages rolling about in the car boot- never had another distant murder scene to photograph. Canon changed something in their firmware, and it refused to work with anything after a d30. Wish there was a replacement.
bornstupix2 Avatar
bornstupix2 6 131 1 France
23 Jan 2019 8:34PM
I loved my 180mm f2.8 manual focus nikkor which I used on my nikon f3`s.
Paul Morgan Avatar
Paul Morgan 22 19.9k 6 England
23 Jan 2019 10:12PM
I still have a few Tamron Adaptall lenses and a few old Vivitars, all primes, never much went on the old zooms.

One of my old favs is the vivitar 200mm f3, I don`t often use long lenses these days but I hang on to it anyway, a little soft and loads of ca wide open but it has that something.

Its good to see some modern designs on old favs, these things don`t need adapters.



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