What’s old is new again

Before I dive into discussing some of the compact camera options like the Sony Nex 7 and the Fuji Xpro1, I’m going to talk about some of the lenses I’ll be using.  I’ll be shooting with a bunch of old manual focus (MF) lenses including some Minolta Rokkors and a really cool Kiron Macro lens.  I’m a big fan of old manual glass – they’re a great combination of low cost, bulletproof construction and optical brilliance.  Back in the day lenses were all metal and incredibly well constructed.  Minolta glass was made in Japan with Swiss watch precision and top-notch optics.  You get a lot of bang for the buck.  Some of the more popular mounts such as Canon FD, Minolta and Olympus OM are no longer used, but the glass was produced for decades leaving tons of great lenses that are very affordable.

Kiron 105mm/2.8 macro lens in Canon FD mount on the Fuji Xpro1

Kiron 105mm/2.8 macro lens in Canon FD mount on the Fuji Xpro1

Manual lenses are great for video too, you can make aperture adjustments on the lens and the focus ring doesn’t spin forever so focusing is very accurate.  They even have a nice little distance scale on the lens so you can estimate your focal plane at any given aperture right on the lens.  My favorite thing about MF lenses – I can easily repeat rack focus moves.  The beauty of modern technology is that people way smarter than yours truly have figured out that you can make an adapter to mate all the brilliant MF lenses to pretty much any interchangeable lens digital camera on the planet.  So you simply buy an adapter that serves as a coupler between an old lens and a new camera mount, and it works beautifully.

I’m back to a Canon setup for paid work after a brief flirtation (more on this one soon) with a Sony A99.  Most of the time I’m carrying something compact in my messenger bag with my laptop.  My entire travel setup fits in a small shoulder bag and I’m losing nothing in terms of image quality (IQ).  I’ll cover how the lenses and cameras perform while shooting stills and video.  I’m not some obsessive pixel-peeper, so my tests will be images from trips and photo walks, not a bunch of test charts.  Thanks for stopping by.