Use Vintage Lenses with Your Mirrorless Camera: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace


Hi everybody welcome to another episode of Exploring Photography right here on AdoramaTV, I’m Mark Wallace in the streets of Bangkok, Thailand and in today’s episode we’re going to do something that’s really, really fun. We’re going to take some old lenses and put them on modern-day mirrorless cameras. So why would you want to do this and why are people doing this more and more now? Well there are a few reasons why you might want to do this. The first reason it’s just a ton of fun, you get this totally new experience of analog technology, analog aperture settings, manual focus, everything slows down. The experience is totally different and it’s a lot of fun. The second reason is well these older lenses they have some imperfections and so a lot of the things that we’ve corrected with modern technology and modern lenses, what we’ve eliminated things like chromatic aberration and vignetting and optic aberration, that kind of stuff and so a lot of the flavor of the old lenses has been lost but we can bring that back. We can add some really cool effects. The things that we’ve been adding with our Instagram filters we can actually do that in camera, so you get this really distinctive flavor of the lens, all these old lenses. When modern DSLR cameras came out, well the analog technology wasn’t compatible with the digital technology so these lenses have been laying around in closets and in old dark rooms and camera bags for years but with the mirrorless revolution guess what? We can now use all of these lenses and we can mix and match different brands and so for example on my Leica M10 here, I’ve got a Nikon 105mm lens so Nikon with Leica and over here on a Fuji we have an XT one with an old Russian Helios lens and so we can mix and match brands. You might have an Olympus lens on a Nikon, you might have a Fuji with the Helios, it doesn’t matter you can sort of mix all these things up. So we’re going to talk to you about how to do all of this stuff what to look for and how to get your hands on some of these lenses, so let’s start with where to find these lenses. We’ll do that right now. How do you find these old lenses? Well you know the cool thing about traveling a lot is, if you’re in Bangkok or Hong Kong or Berlin or Prague or only those really cool cities in every nook and cranny of this city, there’s a camera Club, a bunch of people that are buying and trading and selling these old lenses there’s this sort of everywhere. What if you’re not traveling all the time, most of us don’t do that. Well the cool thing is that you probably have some of these old Nikon lenses hanging out in an old camera bag or an old darkroom that you’re not using anymore. Maybe your dad or uncle or a friend has some old lenses that they’re willing to let you borrow or even sell to you and if you don’t have any of those things that’s okay because Adorama has a complete department of used lenses and cameras and you can check those out. The cool thing is that they are very inexpensive. You can get these lenses for just a few hundred dollars so it’s going to save you a lot of money and remember people are trading these all the time so make sure you check that out. Quite often because you can really find some cool stuff if you’re looking frequently. The experience of shooting with these older lenses is really wonderful and the results are very, very pleasing. Now this is a Fuji film with this old Russian Helios lens. This actually belongs to RJ who’s holding the camera right now. He let me borrow this as we walked
around and shot this video. I took a couple of snapshots of him. He was kind enough to be the model for a second. You can see the bokeh behind him it’s all swirly and interesting now I didn’t have this long enough to do some good work with him but RJ sent me some of his photos and you can see how pleasing this lens is. Now I also had some fun with this 105mm lens. This lens is great for shallow depth of field, for bokeh, for portraits but it’s also really good for compression and so I was able to stand on a bridge here in Bangkok and here’s what I got. One of the things I love about shooting with these old lenses is that it’s all manual and the experience is totally different. You have to slow down and be really intentional when you’re shooting and I love that so I love the compression of this lens so this is 105mm so I’m going to shoot this freeway and all the streets and stuff and I’m just looking through here taking my time getting everything measured up and I’ll take a couple of pictures so we can see what craziness is in Bangkok. Now that we know how much fun it is to shoot with older lenses, let’s talk about how we can mix and match those lenses with different camera manufacturers. Now normally you buy an old lens like this old Voigtlander it’s made for Leica you snap it right on or maybe you buy an old Nikon lens you put it on your old Nikon camera that’s great, but that’s really not what we’re talking about in this video. We’re talking specifically about using old manual lenses and then mixing and matching those with different types of mirrorless cameras. So why does this work now with mirrorless cameras and these old lenses didn’t work with DSLR cameras? Well there are a couple of reasons for that. The first one is the electronics and so on modern DSLR cameras the lens and the camera communicate via electronics and older lenses they they just don’t have any electronics there’s no electronic sensors pickups there’s no electronic focus there’s no electronic aperture control everything is manual and so some of those older lenses were just incompatible with newer DSLR cameras and because of the way that DSLR cameras are built and the way that lenses are built you can’t mix and match those cameras and lenses you can do that with mirrorless cameras well why is that well if I take this lens off of my mirrorless camera here this is a Leica M10 you can see that there is no mirror in front of our sensor thus a mirrorless camera and that means that instead of the lens mount being way out here it’s very, very close to the sensor itself and that’s really important because the back of a lens has to be a specific dense distance to the sensor to focus properly and on DSLR cameras because of that mirror mixing and matching an icon or a Leica or whatever when you put an adapter well the back of the lens and the sensor well they’re just too far away and that lens won’t focus it just won’t work but with mirrorless cameras you don’t have that there’s enough room to put an adapter so that you can put a Leica, put an adapter put an Nikon, put a Minolta, put an Olympus put a Pentax whatever on that camera and it works just fine. So how does this work? Well a couple of things you need when you’re doing this the first thing
is you need a mirrorless camera so you can use the Fuji you can use Fuji film
like this you can use a Sony you can use a Leica you can use whatever you have
Micro Four Thirds a full-frame camera they all work but you also need one of
these things this is called a lens adapter now on one side of this is the
adapter that mounts to the camera so you have to have something that mounts to
your specific brand so it has to be a Fuji specific or a sony or like a
specific mount and on the other side that’s the side that mounts to the lens
it has to be specific to the lens that you’re using so this is a Nikon lens and
so I have for this one a Nikon 2m mount an amount is for a Leica camera so this
pops on here so I’ve mounted this now I have a lens that will mount right onto
my Leica camera so that pops on just like this if I line it up correctly
there we go all right so now that we have we’ve got our mirrorless camera we
have our lens adapter and we have our lens the exact same thing is true of our
XT one right here so we’ve got our camera we’ve got our adapter we’ve got
an old Russian helios lens and this adapter is specific for Fuji to Helios
we’ve got something else here we’ve got an Olympus lens and this Olympus lens
has an adapter on it and this adapter if I can take this off really fast there we
go this adapter here is specific for Olympus which is what this lens is and
then this goes to a Fuji camera so Olympus to Fuji so that’s the thing that
you have to really make sure that you get right once you have your old lens
you need to have an adapter that mounts your camera and that brand of lens there
are billions of these out there so it’s really easy to find the adapter that you
need I put a description and a link and put a link in the description of this
video of all the lens adapters on Adorama comm so you can find the one
that’s specific to your needs so whatever lens you have that brand
whatever camera that you have that brand get the adapter that goes from this
brand to this brand it’s all going to work now
which lenses work well there are a couple of things that you need for the
lens to work number one is you have to understand
that these lens adapters well they have nothing no there’s no electronic
contacts going on there and so there’s nothing that’s going to focus the lens
there’s no auto focus there’s nothing to control the aperture all of that needs
to be manual so make sure that you have a manual focusing lens and a lens with a
manual aperture adjustment those two things you absolutely need you can see
that on this Olympus lens here we’ve got manual focus and then we have a manual
aperture adjustment same thing on this old Helios manual aperture manual focus
once you have that then you can dial in the aperture that you want and then you
can manually focus so let’s talk about focusing because focusing these lenses
can be a little bit tricky there’s no auto focus you have to sort of slow down
that’s part of the fun experience of using these lenses so how can you make
sure that your focus is crystal clear well almost every mirrorless camera has
a couple of features that will help you focus
the first one is magnification and so when you’re auto are when you’re
manually focusing you can push a button and the live view or your electronic
viewfinder will automatically zoom in to just a section of what you’re seeing and
then you can make sure that you’re really focusing really nice and clearly
but if you want even a little bit extra focusing help you can turn on something
called focus peaking what focus peaking does is that once something is in focus
the lines around those things stand out they’ll turn red or they’ll start
glowing or they’ll have a little marching ants around them and you can
really clearly see exactly where the focus plane is and using those two
things magnification and focus peaking when you’re using your electronic
viewfinder you can make sure everything is absolutely in focus and it’s really
really simple that’s all there is to it once you get your lens your lens adapter
you learn how to use focus peaking and focus magnification you can have a lot
of fun using all these old lenses now again why would you want to do this well
these lenses have characteristics that newer
don’t have and so a lot of the flaws and a lot of the joy of the old lenses with
vignette amother really bad bokeh it’s actually looks great these are the
things that we’re doing when we’re adding filters on all of our social
media apps now we can do them in camera and they look wonderful
so I really encourage you to take your new camera and use some old technology
to get some really great results and save a lot of money because these lenses
aren’t that expensive thank you so much for joining me for this episode of
exploring photography don’t forget to click subscribe so you don’t miss a
single episode and remember all the stuff that we’ve been talking about in
this video and all the other videos you can see that in the description of this
video you can click on the links for things like lens adapters and lenses and
the adorama used store you can see all that stuff all of our videos have the
products in the description of the videos and also if you want to see sort
of what these lenses look like and what I’ve been doing with my vintage lenses
check out my instagram feed you can see what I’ve been doing and you’ll see that
over the next few weeks so check that out thank you again for joining me and I
will see you again next time.

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