two lenses plus adapters
Gear Theory

A look back at a Return to Photography and Discovering Shooting Legacy Lenses – By Rock

June 20, 2020

When I returned to photography as a hobby after a fifteen year lay-off, my newly acquired camera was digital; it never occurred to me to look into film again. I did lots of research into a possible DSLR, second hand of course, and initially decided on Olympus Evolt. But every E-1, E-5, E-30 etc was just too expensive and in the end I settled on a Fuji S2-Pro, a camera hailing from 2002.

Now, this is an interesting camera that was built on the chassis of a Nikon F80/N80 and is a reflection of a time in DSLR development when manufacturers sometimes shared ideas and technology (think also Kodak DCS). Basically, a superb third generation Fuji sensor in a classic Nikon body. A harmonious Fuji Nikon marriage, if you like.

frozen berries on S2-Pro

Frozen berries – autofocus 28-70mm zoom with a no.3 dipotre close-up filter

My first experience with a so-called legacy lens came during a sustained period of macro photography. I had tried close-up filters on my Nikon 28-70mm zoom but wanted to get in closer. So I bought myself an adapting ring in order to reverse attach a 50mm Zuiko from an OM20 that had been left for me by a relative, but had long been languishing in a cupboard.

I was mesmerised! Shells, flowers, insects, frozen fruit – I shot them all. Next I got a cheap manual Sirius 28mm lens in F-mount. That way I could both reverse mount for macro photography and normally mount for more traditional stuff. Loving the tactile feel, from then onward, I pretty much stuck to old manual lenses, including some low quality optics like Super Ozeck.

close up of shells

Shell composition via reversed Zuiko 50mm – I was mesmerised

Begonia macro

Begonia detail courtesy of a reversed Sirius 28mm at f8 – wide angle lenses get in closer

close up of yellow flower

Close up of yellow flower – another legacy lens on the S2-Pro

purple wild flowers

Focus and sharpness not that easy with low quality manual lenses – Super Ozeck 80-210mm

capybara in water shot on S2 pro

Same telephoto zoom lens – this time at the zoo

I did move onto the Evolt system for a while (a very underrated set of cameras in my opinion), which utilised the 4/3rds mount and seemed the obvious choice for adapting old OM glass. However, it didn’t always go to plan. On one occasion when I was exploring local woodland to shoot close-ups of wild flowers, a deer appeared before me. Needless to say, having a manual wide angle lens fitted with a close-up filter is not the correct set-up for such a wildlife encounter. In a panic, I fired anyway! By the time I had changed lenses, it had bolted off.

blurred image of woodland

The deer shot on a Tamron SP 24mm fitted with close-up filter – it is there if you look!

duck on pond

A wildlife shot – Olympus E-450 with OM adapter plus manual 200m lens

poppy field

A favourite shot of mine with the 200 again – the slightly improved E-520

Highland Terrier pet dog

Mabel – at least my dog didn’t bolt off

I wanted to shoot more legacy lenses. I felt this would be achieved by switching to the new Micro 4/3s mount, as its tiny flange distance means that just about every retro manual lens out there can be adapted to fit, no matter what mount. Thus, I sold off my Evolt collection and invested into the Panasonic Lumix system instead.

two lenses plus adapters

There are all sorts of lens adapters for M4/3s – here we have Olympus OM and Nikon F

wild meadow photo

The Tamron on a Lumix GF1 – flexibility in both lens and picture ratio choice

Depending on your viewpoint, with the sensor size being crop factor X2, it has the ‘advantage’ of doubling the focal length of your lenses. So, my 28mm became a standard prime, a Helios 44 now a handy portrait lens and an OM mount 200mm transformed into a fab 400. I even obtained a L39/M39 adapter to try out Soviet lenses, and a set of extension tubes to continue my experiments in close-ups – works great with an enlarger lens attached to it, I might add.

row of classic cars

Family day out at classic car show in Kent – shot with a classic Soviet lens

bunting with sky

Bunting in Rochester – The Industar N-61 seemed made for the Lumix GF1

cross shaped grave

Outside the cathedral – the Industar did sometimes unscrew itself from the adapter

rusty metal

The Industar N-61 53/2.8 lens – supposedly meant to mimic a Leitz

corrugated metal

Shallow depth of field – possibly wide open at f2.8?

b/w close-up of gerbera flower

Lumix G10 and Autocrat 75mm enlarger lens – just add tripod, table lamp, adapters and tubes

A chance encounter with three vintage cameras sitting on a boot fair table changed my outlook to photography once again. All three for a fiver! Seemed to wind on and fire. Could not resist. After all, film was making a comeback. I could have a go!

One of the cameras in particular caught my eye, all gleaming in chrome. It was from Germany and called a King Regula RM. As primarily a b/w shooter in the past, I bought some mono film and I guess I never looked back.

three cameras

horses in field

An unspectacular b/w photograph – nonetheless it set me back on the path to film

I have fond memories of my time with the S2-Pro and am thankful it brought me back to photography. Weirdly enough, I have kinda abandoned the macro world. The other set-ups seem like merely transitions back into photography and eventually towards film. A natural progression maybe? I would certainly be interested if anyone else has a similar path.

Cheers, Rock website at www.rocksreflex.com but really needs updating and also thinking of getting an Instagram account

You can find more thoughts about lenses on 35mmc here, and more lens reviews here

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Simon Forster
    June 20, 2020 at 10:08 am

    Welcome to the classic lenses world, Rock!

  • Reply
    eric
    June 20, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    Simply : very great. BRAVO ! πŸ˜‰ Thank you

    • Reply
      Rock
      June 20, 2020 at 10:02 pm

      πŸ‘

  • Reply
    Lee
    June 23, 2020 at 5:24 pm

    I love adapting vintage manual focus lenses to my mirrorless Fuji X-E2. The way I look at it, it gives you a chance to get double the utility out of any lens you own if you can adapt it to shoot on a mirrorless camera. And why not do it if you have the chance? After all, there are many adapter options out there, costing as low as $10 for a cheap, generic, dumb lens adapter up to a couple hundred dollars for adapters that have focal reducer/speedbooster optics. Personally, I have dumb adapters for Nikon F-mount, Canon FD mount, Minolta MD mount, M39, and M42 mount manual focus lenses. Caveats for using them include dealing with the 1.5x crop factor for equivalent focal length, making my widest 28mm lenses a 42mm equivalent, and losing a bit of bokeh in the process.

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