Manual lenses, anyone?



Back in my Canon days, I bought a few adapters (Nikkor -> EOS, M42 -> EOS, &c) and managed to find quite a few semi-antique manual lenses from ex-East Germany, Ukraine, Japan…

When I bought my Fuji X-T1, all I had to do was to buy an EOS -> X-mount adapter and all my old manual lenses were good to go.

There are, of course, a lot of different reasons/rationale to use a semi-antique manual lens, but take an 50mm Industar 61 L/Z as an example: it has the very best focusing helix I have ever encountered :slight_smile:

Anyone else playing with manual lenses?

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden

(Ingo Weyrich) #2

Most of my lenses are manual lenses. All my manual lenses are primes, mostly Nikkor Ais. Nikon (Semi-)pro cameras allow to dial in the focal-length and max aperture of Ai(s) lenses in camera menu. That’s a very nice feature :slight_smile:

(Mica) #3

@CarVac does!

I haven’t used a manual only lens since I got a DSLR, but I’m doing a lot of manual focus with AF lenses and live view mode, zoomed in to a particular spot… this is the best way to focus landscapes and such.

(Sebastien Guyader) #4

I have and use 2 Samyang manual lenses: 12mm f/2.0 and 85mm f/1.4.
Nailing the focus with the 85mm gets really tricky as you open the aperture…

(Stefan Chirila) #5

I got a bunch of manual lenses; nothing remarkable but from the film age, that I use with my Nikon D700. Love them to bits. :heart:

Nikon Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8

Nikon NIKKOR 24mm f/2.8

Jupiter 8 This one I use on my Mom’s Sony A5100 with an adaptor :slight_smile:

(Ingo Weyrich) #6

I also use the 24mm f/2.8 on D700. It’s a nice lens. Fortunately RawTherapee raw ca correction corrects the ca of this lens very well

At 105mm focal length I use the Ais 105mm f/1.8 and the Apo-Rodagon 105mm f/4.0. Both are fantastic.

But my most used lens still is the Ais 50mm f/1.2. Full open it’s very soft, but starting from f/2.0 it beats other 50mm primes I used, and focusing is really nice.


Three of my semi-antique lenses (all with M42 thread), from left to right:
Mir-1B, 37mm, f2.8 in original case
Industar 50mm, f3.5
Industar 50mm, f2.8, macro lens with lanthane glass and a l-o-n-g, luvvely focusing helix.

In case you have a good enlarger lens that you would like to use on a DSLR, the V-NEX system is invaluable:

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden


I use my old Nikon 50mm f/1.8 series E and 70-210 f/4 on my M4/3 Olympus camera with a cheap adaptor. Focusing can be challenging, but I love them!

(Stefan Chirila) #9

@heckflosse Interesting. I don’t end up using the 24 very often to be honest. I also own a Nikkor 35mm f2.8 and I absolutely fell in love with the focal length feel. It just gives a lovely and ideal perspective with little distortion, unless one gets ridiculously close. Oh and to mention you can get really close with it too and it still focuses. I totally recommend it!

What you said about the 50 sounds amazing! I have the Nikon 50 f1.8, and it’s alright. Unfortunately nothing more than just alright. It’s neat for portraits because if the lack of distortion, and the bokeh at 1.8 if you can deal with the softness, but I end up backing up a few extra feet and going for the contrastier filmy feel of the Nikon 105 f2 micro. Knowing that the afghan girl (picture below) photo was taken with it makes me feel like I’m more likely to produce something useful with it (and every now and then it happens).

(Ingo Weyrich) #10

I also had the Nikon 50 f1.8 until I gave it to @Morgan_Hardwood. It’s a nice lens, but the Ais 50mm/1.2 really is much better from f2.0 upwards. It’s my most beloved lens on my D700.


Just sayin’.

(I also have a Hasselblad 80/2.8 C and 50/4 CF non-FLE, the latter of which is taking the photo.)


I have several old manual lenses: OM Zuiko 50/3.5 Macro, 135/2.8, 50/1.8; CZJ Pancolar 50/1.8, Nikkor Ai 200/4, Helios 44-2 58/2 (silver, with cyrillic letters). I also had (among other manual lenses) a CZJ Flektogon 35/2.4 and a Nikkor Ai-s 24/2.8 (they were excellent lenses, but I sold them since the focal length does not make sense on my new camera).
Today, I use the 50/3.5 Macro the most often, and the 135/2.8 - excellent lenses on MFT.
You can see many photos with these lenses on my Flickr photo stream:
Though recently, I mainly used the ultrawide lens. I do not always edit the exif with exiftool in order to insert the manual lenses name - so you need to guess the lens.
So I have plenty of experience with manual lenses. I can highly recommend them, especially the Zuikos and the Nikkors and the CZJs.


I too use have a good number of manual lenses, but since i’ve bought a Fuji with a cheap double kit (16-50mm 3.5-5.6 and 50-230mm 4.5-6.7) more for fun or depth of field control than for sharpness.

With focus peaking it’s also with easy to focus them.

I have submitted lensfun data for almost all of them.

(Flössie) #14

I used to own two Samyangs, too: the 16mm f/2 and the 35mm f/1.4. Had to sell the former when I moved to FF, but it was rarely used even before. The latter is my favorite lens which I take with me on every holiday. Most of my best shots were taken with it (also the panorama I shared in my first post ever here). A manual lens slows you down, this is why the shots are often better. I have no problems nailing down the focus with the 10x magnifier in LV (given enough time :wink:).


Be careful with the 35/1.4.

I had it at one time and it broke from dropping one foot onto my bed; the internals were not strong enough to support that large a mass of glass inside.

(Flössie) #16

Thanks, @CarVac. I know, the build quality isn’t stellar. As I’m finicky with my gear it has survived so far. :smile:

(Andrew) #17

I have a samyang 35 so thanks for the tip @CarVac.
I also have a 58mm (I think) f2 Helios from an old Russian “Zenit” SLR. Some of these are known for their bokeh which forms a swirl at the right apertures. Here are a few pics -

It would be nice if cameras allowed you to dial in the focal length and aperture into the EXIF when it was a manual lens.

(Ingo Weyrich) #18

Nikon (semi-)pro cams allow that. You can even store some presets und use a function key to quickly switch between them.

(Daniel Catalina) #19

Also the Fuji’s have this. But only for focal length, not for aperture values.

One idea I have seen somewhere was to keep notes of the aperture (and other data you want to save) together with the time and put them later in EXIF. Of course an app will be perfect for this, but I do not know of any yet that can do all of this.


The pro Canikons have voice notes. I haven’t actually tried this though with my 1Ds3.

I just always remember what lenses go with which photo just by look and from memory, even down to which aperture I used. And then I manually tag the lens on Flickr.