I've lived the Legacy - Dreamstime

I shoot micro four thirds.

Unlike many, I'm not a DSLR to m4/3 convert.

Although they fascinate me, especially full frame, I know little to nothing about cameras using APS-C,APS-H or full frame sensors except what I have read on the internet.

My decision to go micro four thirds was mostly borne from the fact I bought into a brand and to save cost remained there. Other than my long since broken 35 mm film camera, my experiences with anything that allowed the ability to be creative, with adjustable aperture and shutter speeds began with my Panasonic FZ100.

I loved that camera.

Fourteen megapixels, twenty-five to six-hundred mm zoom, 11 fps continuous burst and an articulating screen, all features that, at the time, made this the camera for me.

I thought that camera would die with me...until I was introduced to microstock.

Although I was successful and able to get a bunch of shots accepted into microstock using that camera, it quickly became apparent through rejections due to quality, that something better was required. I needed a slightly bigger sensor, and so, after six months of joy with my FZ, the hunt began for my next camera. A serious proposition for me since I usually let cameras die before I invest into anything shiny and new.

Having bought an expensive (for me) external flash for my FZ100 I searched for cameras which could utilize this flash. I was already going to loose some money selling my FZ. I didn't want to loose more having to sell the flash as well. I'm just too cheap.

Thus 'buying the brand'.

After days and days of meticulously reading internet reviews and owner opinions, I went with my current camera, the Panasonic G3.

At the time, very highly rated in the m4/3 world.

I have to say, I LOVE the G3's articulating screen and ability to touch focus, better IQ and so much more. It just works the way I work and has the features I like.

However, this blog is more about another feature that fascinated me about the G3, and micro four thirds in general...the ability to use legacy lenses via inexpensive adapters.

Yes, other camera brands can use legacy lenses but from my reading on the matter, it seemed that micro four thirds was particularily suited to and infinitely versitile in this regard.

Imagine, instead of having to buy expensive, native lenses for my G3, I could pickup inexpensive old lenses with varying focal points and apertures and complete my desired focal range at a fraction of the price of new. I could, as I did, visit garage sales, flea markets, ebay and local buy and sell websites/papers and find lenses dirt cheap.

And I found many.

A Vivitar Series 1 70-210, Soligor 400, Soligor 60-300, Olympus 500mm mirror, Canon FL50 1.8, Asahi 28mm 2.8, Takumar 50 1.4, Asahi 55 F2, Schneider Kreuznach Xenar 50, Canon FD 50 3.5 macro and a few more...all incredibly cheap.

In total, I spent a total of about $350 on legacy lenses and adapters! A real bargain! A lot of weight!

With all those lenses, my camera bag was real, real heavy! lol

Here's some of what I found...

*Yeah, it's fun to shoot with them.

*They feel great in your hands. Solidly built, smooth focus rings. Nice click to the aperture rings. But damned heavy. I especially had problems with the long lenses. Couldn't keep camera steady and without tripod rings on the big lenses, forget it.

*There's a lot of people looking for them. Forget Ebay, in general too expensive. If you're gonna do it, buy them locally at garage sales, flea markets and so on. I got almost all the lenses for between $10 and $25.

*I was used to manual focus with my old film camera, that didn't bother me but I just couldn't nail the focus with these lenses. Especially for fast moving subjects. I was often off just a little bit on the focus and ended up trashing a lot of shots. Perhaps it was my diopter on the camera (don't think so) or I have bad eyes, I dunno.

EVF doesn't have the nice split screen viewfinder that my film camera had. Using the manual focus, magnified view on an EVF is ok but think would be better on a glass viewfinder for these lenses.

Perhaps having focus peaking, like on the upcoming G6, woulda helped.

*You would think that since you're using the center part of the lense (so I've read) with micro four thirds that the image should be sharp across the whole frame. I found that not to be the case most of the time. To be fair, I might not have been using the lenses at their sweet spots.

*Most of my shots with the shorter lenses were not as sharp as my kit 14-42 zoom lens. Many folks on the internet had boasted higher or equal sharpness, especially with the Asahi's and Takumars. I can't say that's what I experienced. Didn't work for microstock.

*Bokeh this. Bokeh that. Bokeh what? None of these come close to the creaminess of my Panny-Leica 25 1.4. Not even the Takumar 50 1.4.

*Soligor 400 F6.3, Schneider Kreuznach Xenar 50 were total and complete waste of time. I got the Xenar for ten bucks at a flea market off an old Pentax. I was thrilled as I had read much about the sharpness of Xenars. Not so thrilled anymore. At least about that one.

*I had a fair amount of chromatic abberation with some of these lenses. Left me feeling blue...and magneta.

*Flare is a problem with some of the lenses. They just don't have the modern coatings.

*Some of the lenses have a 'softness' to them that would be nice for portraits.

*With the 2X crop of m4/3 your nice Takumar 50 1.4 becomes a 100mm. Nice range for portraits but a little long for walkaround or indoors in general. A wide angle 28 becomes a just- over-normal 56 mm lens. You'll never get a super-wide angle legacy lens for cheap.

There will be many who will vigourously object the the next comment...In the long run, I found my experimentation with legacy lenses to be disappointing.

That's just my opinion. Your experience might be different.

All in all, it was an experience. An experiment. I can say I did it. It was worth a try.

I'm keeping my Olympus 500mm, haven't decided yet on that one.

I am definitely keeping my Canon 50mm F3.5 macro, I really like that one. At least until I can afford the Oly 60 2.8 or maybe the Kenko tubes.

Luckily, I've sold the other lenses for more than I paid and moved on. I was able to score with everyone's interest in legacy lenses.

I took that money, saved up some more pennies and then choked spending it all (and then some) on a couple of native lenses.

The modern, native glass just seems to be better (for me and microstock) and I have to say, I'm lazy, I LOVE autofocus!

So that's where I'm staying.

Some of you will shake your head and say, "Daddio's full-a-crap" and continue using legacy lenses.

If they work for you, terrific. If they work for you in microstock, even better.

However, for the most part, I'm done with them.

I've 'lived the legacy'.

Photo credits: George Kroll.

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June 09, 2013


I did get the 50mm used, and there is a great deal on a lens in town that I thought the adapter would be used for as well, so I sort of consider it as half the price :) That said, I was happy with the tubes, and love the ability to carry a tiny 10mm tube with me and get macro ability. I've got some shots that way. But you basically need a few lenses with the tubes to be able to frame how you want - distance is not very flexible. Why I got the 50mm is just because it is such an amazing lens. Everyone raves about it for good reason, and at f/2 it is nice and bright and capable of sharp images wide open. It does focus slowly, but in many circumstances it still works just fine - even for sports if you prefocus, and not big deal in the studio as you are manually focusing on a tripod anyways for close up work.

The main difference with the macro lens is that is can focus anywhere in the range without switching lenses, and it great for stock. For under $500 all in it is probably one of the sharpest lens you can find... I couldn't really find anyone that really convinced me that the 60mm macro was as good, and focus speed was really the only pull of the 60mm for me. Turns out I love the heft of the 50mm for studio work, it feels built like a tank... Plus I'm holding out hope Olympus will add phase detect on chip in the next body or two :)

June 09, 2013


You're probably right with your summary - I also tried a few things lately - luckily I bought myself on ebay a Canon IS 70-300 (not the L) instead of a manual 300mm - where I did have a few favorites in mind. Full function with IS and AF - instead of manual in everything but a "more solid" feeling - at the end I want to take pictures with it and have results. Tele means usually you need to be quick and haven't got all time of the world to play around and miss the opportunity. Still, I'm glad that Canon and co build lenses who do give us a bit of nostalgic feeling - my Tamron 2.8/90 or my Canon 2.8/20 - both perform great but look like out of the 80's to 90's.

June 07, 2013


In reality, macro is something i don't shoot a lot right now so tubes or macro lens are a something I'm considering a little longer down the road. I have my Canon macro which seems to play for the time being.
The thing about tubes from what I read is light loss, so as a lightweight solution sounds great, except maybe for that. I'm not sure about how well autofocus works with them either, hence my thinking about a dedicated macro like the oly 60.
If you're using the 50 4/3, then you're using the 4/3 to m4/3 adapter.
Adapter is kinda pricey from what I've seen.
Although it, and the 50 4/3 might be a little cheaper now since 4/3 has basically disappeared.
Do you see light loss with the adapter?
I've read the autofocus with the adapter is quite slow?

Anyway, like said, the macro further down the road.
My current goal is getting myself a Panny G6.
Although my G3 is perfectly fine, the idea of looking thru the viewfinder while touch focusing with thumb on the rear screen by itself is a feature I can see myself using all the time and drool for.
There won't be any improvement in IQ moving to the G6 but the improved features alone make it something I want!
Almost there, I think another month and I'll have made enough here to actually buy it!

June 04, 2013


If you are seriously considering the tubes shoot me a message and I'll tell the long tale from tubes to the 50mm 4/3 macro lens, which is fantastic!

June 04, 2013


Yeah, it was a feature I thought was pretty neat going in as well.
Thought I could save a pile of money using old lenses.
I suppose it comes down to what you're going to do with the camera.
For most of my purposes, the inexpensive legacy glass didn't play for me. Like they say, I guess you get what you pay for.
I would expect if you spent the big bucks on high-end old Leica (or other high end) glass might be different experience but were I to spend that kind of money, i'd just buy the new native glass instead.
Now that I have m4/3 covered with native glass from 9mm to 200mm (18-400), i'm pretty much set lens-wise...except for the macro or tubes and maybe the 100-300...or more primes....or.......lol
Just not legacy glass anymore.

June 04, 2013


I hear you on this one! I tried a bunch of Pentax and Tokina zooms, a Canon 50mm FD lens, and so on, but at the end of the day I can't imagine spending much money on legacy lenses. Unless I knew up front that it was a special lens, I really don't find it worth the extra manual focus effort! I really had a hard time understanding the joy of legacy glass everyone professes. This 'feature' of mirrorless cameras seems to always make everyone's top 5 list, yet I find little use for the option to adapt old lenses. I will say that the Olympus OM-D helps a lot over the Panasonic bodies, as I find the viewfinder easier to MF with, and you can stabilize the old lenses for video, shooting, AND viewing in the viewfinder due to the sensor IS.

There is one exception, and mainly because the lens in question (a Konica Hexanon 52mm f/1.8 prime inherited from my wife's grandmother) is actually sharp wide open. As you say, it has a really nice feel, heft, and quality to it, but even so it doesn't get out much. I have the excellent 45mm f/1.8, which is way lighter and focuses amazingly fast, as well as the 4/3 50mm macro if I really want to get out a heavy lens that feels great and delivers great results. In the end the Hexanon mainly sits on the shelf! Here is my singular effort with that lens to date: Practice Makes Perfect

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