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Legacy Lenses Discuss the use of older lenses, using adapters, from the Olympus OM system, Leica M and R-series, and the millions of others too.

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Old 19th June 2009
michaelavis michaelavis is offline
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So really, what's it all about using these legacy lenses?

First, I'm a "gear-head", I admit it. Understanding, evaluating, sourcing and selling gear is as big a thrill for me as taking and sharing images. I know that can be irritating to people on a forum like this.

Now that's out of the way, to my questions which I hope make some sense so that I can nail this once and for all. I would like to get into close-up/macro photography of insects, bugs, plants, flowers, everyday objects etc. I've done the research and from the contemporary line-up it would seem that there is somewhat of a gap in the Olympus Zuiko range, they need a 100mm macro to satisfy the photogapher who loves the Zuiko IQ and handling but wants relatively easy working distance/magnification as well.

Because they don't have such a lens, the Sigma 105mm or 150mm macros look very tempting and people on the forum are obviously getting great results with these lenses. For me, the 105mm is especially tempting as it's not too big and I already have an EC14 I can pair up with this lens for greater reach. Trouble is, there's something about a Sigma that is preventing me from shelling out 375, I want to pay 200 2nd hand, but they just don't come up.

I read a lot about the "legendary" Tamron SP 90mm macro and I can see that this lens can be had off eBay for about 80 and that a extender or screw-in magnifier can be had for another 20. Obviously to mount this lens on my E-3 requires an adapter or two adding another 20, but its still a lot less to pay for a lens that many people seem to think is every bit as good as the 350-390 Sigma 105mm.

I'm no expert but I can see that using the Tamron does take a little more thinking about than a modern 4/3rds lens in terms of AF and aperture control. Also, what about my EC14?

Therefore I have these questions that I'm sure many people know and undersatnd the answers to:-

1. How would an E-3 react to such a lens, would any settings need to be changed?

2. I understand manual focus, but I don't really get how to deal with the aperture not being communicated to the camera. I'm not sure what the "focus wide open, stop down the aperture" really means? So if anybody could explain how to corectly focus/expose/compose a shot that would be great.

3. to increase focal length, would I be able to add my EC14 into this situation even though there is a Tamron adaptall/Om to 4/3rds adapter situation already in play?

Sorry of these are slightly stupid questions, but I would like to see the wood from the trees if I can.

-Michael.
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Last edited by michaelavis; 20th June 2009 at 08:54 AM.
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  #2  
Old 19th June 2009
mas
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Re: So really, what's it all about using these legacy lenses?

Well, If the E3 behaves like the e1 or the e510, you can use it in aperture mode as you would any lens. However rather then using the camera control to set aperture you use the lens ring. The camera will then set the shutter speed based on the metering. As an alternative you can shoot in fully manual mode. Really the only thing you cant do is shutter mode. (//purist snob mode: I'll disregard the fancy picture modes and auto as being irrelevant and consider P to be a special case of Aperture mode)

Focus and stepping down? Because the manul alens doesnt have any input from the camera you need to focus and set the aperture for depth of field yourself using the lens rings. With the aperture that you want selected you might find that the viewfinder is so dark that its difficult to focus easily, or alternatively that its difficule to get the focus exactly where you want it. Hence people focus wide open (minimum dof, maximum light in the viewfinder), then step down to whatever aperture they want for the shot. How straightforward/easy/realistic you find this is an individual thing I suppose. People sometimes had to do this on film cameras anyway if the aperture they wanted to shoot was too dark for the focusing screen on the camera. Remember that differnt focusing screens were available they used to quote a minimum aperture for the split prism to work?
Remember on film slrs there was a dof preview button that would close the aperture up? That typically worked by the body pressing a pin or tab on the lens. That isnt going to happen with a digital body but, the manual lens->4/3 adapters do that pressing of the pin or lever all the time. So as long as the manual lens is on the digital adapter then the aperture dialed into the lens will be seen in the iris position. (preset lenses are different, but lets leave that for the moment)


You could use the EC14 I guess - and it would have its usual effect. Its a very expensive bit of kit to use when the electronics in it would be totally ignored and there are manual equivs for 10-20. I'd leave the EC14 safe in its case somewhere. The screw in extender that you mention is the equiv of this (although most of the ones I've seen for sale are 2x rather than 1.4x)

You'll need a OM->4/3 adapter. And if you go for the tamron adpatall then you also need to have the adaptall-> OM - There is an issue with some adaptall->OM adapters that causes a problem with OM3/OM4 bodies - something to do with a pin? I've no idea if that is an issue with the om-> 4/3 adapters. All I know is that my AD2->OM and OM->4/3 adapters work fine.
I have seen an adaptall ->4/3 offered on ebay but I've never seen one in the metal.
If you go with a chipped Om->4/3 adapter then you will get the indication that you have focus.


I hope that isnt too confusing - I know what I mean to say but I probably havent presented it too clearly.
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Old 19th June 2009
Rod Souter
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Re: So really, what's it all about using these legacy lenses?

If you are shooting hand-held, you can set the focal length in the menu system and benefit from IS.

Live view can be used for critical focussing, but I find I need to then use a tripod.

HTH

Rod
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Old 19th June 2009
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Re: So really, what's it all about using these legacy lenses?

There's certain advantages to using legacy lenses for macro work -

1. Manual focus - can actually be of benefit as long as the subject is slow moving/still, as the auto-focusing of say the 50m macro can start to hunt, and/or focus on what it regards as the point of focus not what you want. You are working at close distance and the light gathering starts to be a issue, with the low light causing hunting, and lack of contrast causing missed/wrong focus. And with manual focus you can focus on a point that's not at the centre of the lens.
A good view finder, and/or liveview will help here (E3/E-330?).

2. VFM - as already noted, you can get high quality glass at a reasonable cost. I have used the 90mm Tamron, a 90mm OM, and a 105mm Nikkor - all at good cost, and all with good quality glass and great build quality. 2x field of view factor gets you right in there.

Using a Zuiko 1.4 tc can be done but you'll lose even more light. The Nikkor has a matched 1.4 tc, and the Tamron has a matched 2x converter, which will give better quality I think, again at good cost.

The EX-25 is worth experimenting with, rather than the 1.4 tc, but expensive - again, the OM tubes might be worth looking for as an alternative.

You might want to try spot- or centre weighted metering instead of esp, for slightly better results - not critical if you shoot raw.

Mark
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Last edited by mlc; 19th June 2009 at 09:28 PM. Reason: spelling!
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Old 19th June 2009
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Re: So really, what's it all about using these legacy lenses?

All of the above is accurate and true :-)

Here's one I use myself.. this had an adaptall/nikon and nikon to 4/3 adapter fitted by the look of it.



One point to add is that a good legacy lens (like this first series all-metal SP90) is a real joy to use: A thing of beauty if you like.. I would admit that my Zuiko 50mm macro is sharper than my SP90 (that zuiko is sharper than any lens I have owned) - but the SP90 feels nicer to use :-)

Pete

Oh BTW, when you get a matching set (L-R 200mm 10 135mm 25 SP90 28 but faulty) :



... it is actually possible to grab the wrong lens as you leave the house in a hurry.. I once found I had the 135mm with me when I thought I had picked up the 90mm.
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Old 20th June 2009
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Re: So really, what's it all about using these legacy lenses?

I purchased the 135mm Vivitar "close focus" because I was starting a plant and flower image library and with the chipped adaptor I could get results as good as the Sigma fo a third of the price. But remember I use this on slow - breeze moving plants and flowers, anything quick and in flight forget it.

Great lens though.

Regards
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Old 20th June 2009
michaelavis michaelavis is offline
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Re: So really, what's it all about using these legacy lenses?

So, in summary, I'm getting the following points out of this:-

1. lecacy lenses can provide great quality, great fun at great value for money

2. the body would need to be set for MF and spot/centre weighted metering

3. the legacy lens has its own aperture dial and this needs to be used as there is no aperture reading on the camera given there is no electrical contact with the body (with the exception of an adaper with focus confirmation chip)

4. if there is not enough light coming through, then focus is best set with the aperture wide open and then stopped down to actually take the shot

5. my E-3 with its big bright view finder would help with that and of course live view would be a great help, especially the articulating screen and even better an adapter with an AF confirmation would be helpful here

6. specifically for macro (insects, butterflys, flowers) a Tamron SP 90 mounted on my E-3, (possibly with a Tamron 2x converter or screw-in achromatic) would be a high-quality alternative and provide similar 8-10" working distance at a third of the money of a Sigma 105mm macro.

7. If I went the Adaptall to OM, OM to 4/3 adapter route, I'd have access to other great lenses from the OM range.

(reason I only mention the Tamron as opposed to the Vivitar is that there seems to be more of them around)

Have I got this right?!

-Michael.
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Last edited by michaelavis; 20th June 2009 at 09:51 AM.
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Old 20th June 2009
Xpres
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Re: So really, what's it all about using these legacy lenses?



You won't regret it!

The pin thing on adapall OM mounts is nothing to worry about unless you use an OM4, in which case you need to use OL mounts (the screw which fouls the pin is moved). So Tamron OL or OM are fine with a 4/3 adapter.

The 90 also came with an extension tube which is quite useful.
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Old 20th June 2009
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Re: So really, what's it all about using these legacy lenses?

I would happily recommend using the EC-14 with a macro lens. It works very well with my favourite, the OM Zuiko 90mm f/2.0 giving you a 125mm f/2.8 which sits nicely between the two Sigmas. Here's an example taken with the E-1 but it works just as well with the E-3, probably better since you can use IS.



E-1 + MF-1 + EC-14 + OMZ 90mm f/2.0, slight levels and sharpening plus crop to portrait and resize using Olympus Master.

Go for it! As Xpres says, you won't regret it

Cheers,

JohnGG
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Old 20th June 2009
michaelavis michaelavis is offline
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Re: So really, what's it all about using these legacy lenses?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnGG View Post
I would happily recommend using the EC-14 with a macro lens. It works very well with my favourite, the OM Zuiko 90mm f/2.0 giving you a 125mm f/2.8 which sits nicely between the two Sigmas. Here's an example taken with the E-1 but it works just as well with the E-3, probably better since you can use IS.
JohnGG
Now there's a thought, Olympus OM lenses, would save an adapter compared to using a Tamron too. Nice image, great colours, thanks for sharing it.

Ah, there's a catch though. That is not a cheap lens, I'm sure deservedly so, but that sort of money is out of my league for this particular project!
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Old 20th June 2009
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Re: So really, what's it all about using these legacy lenses?

I agree with John re use of the EC14 if you have it, in preference to aquiring one of the 'matched' convertors. I have both and the ECs win everytime.

Not sure what you mean by saving an adapter - the Tamron's are pretty much all Adaptal and you will often get an OM adapter with the lens.

Quite frankly if you have the EC14 I would just get the 50/2 and use it both alone and with the convertor.
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Old 20th June 2009
michaelavis michaelavis is offline
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Re: So really, what's it all about using these legacy lenses?

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Originally Posted by photo_owl View Post
I agree with John re use of the EC14 if you have it, in preference to aquiring one of the 'matched' convertors. I have both and the ECs win everytime.

Not sure what you mean by saving an adapter - the Tamron's are pretty much all Adaptal and you will often get an OM adapter with the lens.

Quite frankly if you have the EC14 I would just get the 50/2 and use it both alone and with the convertor.
I thought I had this worked out
My assumption on the adapters is that Tamrons require an Adaptall adapter and from what I can see they don't all come with one, so assuming I'd need to buy a adaptall 2 OM adapter, I would need a OM to 4/3rds making it two adapters needed, compared to buying an OM lens for my 4/3rds camera which would need one.

When you say you would just get the 50/2 and use it with the convertor, I'm assuming you mean the current Zuiko 50mm f2 macro. I had originally been looking at that, but was put off by what people said about the small working distance/magnification ratio given I want to capture insects and butterflies as well as static objects. The 50/2 seems to offer a working distance (WD) of approx 50mm to fill the majority of the frame with something the size of small flower head, i.e. a field of view (FOV) of 30-50mm??

Even with the EC14 + 50/2 combo, I'm led to believe the WD would be about 150mm for a 30-50mm FOV?? In using a 40-150mm (at 150mm) + Sigma AML I know that I prefer a WD in the 250-300mm range that offers a FOV in the 30-50mm range. In addition I'd would like good light whilst doing so (i.e. more light than the 40-150mm could offer).

That's where thoughts of the Sigma 105mm f2.8 came in, because it should be able to operate in the 250-300mm WD/30-50mm FOV zone that I would like, with a good reputation for sharpness too. I thought this was my only route until the legacy Tamron SP 90mm f2.5 (with adaptall 2 OM/OM to 4/3rds adapaters) was pointed out to me which could also operate in the 250-300mm WD/30-50mm FOV zone.

Within these choices is price as I'm not likely to get into close-up photography so much as to be able to justify the same kind of investment as I was prepared to make for the SWD lenses that I have already got, both of which are very capable of producing great portraits, so its just for closeup/macro that I was looking for a good solution, something I could add to my existing bag, so I didnt want anything too big and heavy either.

Fact is, the Oly 50/2 and the Sigma 105mm are both 300+ lenses and the best Zuiko OM macros seem to be even more expensive, whereas the used Tamron SP 90 solution is quite comfortably less than half that. If I could land a mint used Sigma 105mm for around 200, I'd do it, but they seem to be rocking horse excretion.

If I'm wrong about any of this I would be very happy to stand corrected and I appologise in advance if my slightly confused state has confused others
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Last edited by michaelavis; 20th June 2009 at 07:36 PM. Reason: grammar and spelling
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Old 20th June 2009
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Re: So really, what's it all about using these legacy lenses?

I'll continue using my Tamron 90mm until Olympus release the 100mm macro that keeps getting pushed back on the lens roadmap.

I also use the DZ 50-200 with EC-14 for close ups and have used the legacy OMZ 350mm with various combinations of extension tubes and the two OM tele-convertors for close ups.

Taken with the 350mm and an unremembered combination of ext. tube/TC's on an OM body. The damselfly was probably five of six feet away;
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Old 20th June 2009
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Re: So really, what's it all about using these legacy lenses?

If price is an issue then I think you have already identified your answer.

Completely unscientific, but the OM 90mm goes for c. 400 and up, the micro -Nikkor 105mm anywhere between 250 and 550, but the Tamron, maybe 100!

Here's one now - http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/TOP-QUALITY-TA...3A1%7C294%3A50
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Old 20th June 2009
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Re: So really, what's it all about using these legacy lenses?

no - you are right about the adapters but every (Tamron) lens I have bought had an adapter with it. I do notice an increasing habit of people splitting them but the lens prices reflect this.

WD (to sensor) is a function of FL and magnification - WD to lens element factors in the lens length. The 50/2 does well in the latter being a small lens.

As a 70 mm with the 14 it's WD/mag isn't hugely different to the 90mm, but of course you can add the (a) tc to the 90 to improve (by your important factors) this in favour of the 90.

SH 50s appear on th emarket quite a lot in the UK and certainly aren't 400 - I paid 250 from LCE.

Speed only impacts the image for focusing - I rarely actually shoot closeups at under F8 and normally find myself wanting to go more that 16 but knowing it will show (with the 50 or combinations).

As Mark points out - the Vivitar or Tamron 90mm lenses are the only realistic options as 'value' calls with that working distance and magnification.They are however increasingly in demand from FF enthusiasts.
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