Using ancient lenses as a backup

Recently I've been using a very old manual lens on my Sony A7iii, and to be honest, I shot some of my best images from the last few months with this lens.

I want to tell you why I'm using this lens and why gear is important, but not holy or something. Better an old lens than no lens at all. But first a little story about what happened!

Broken lens

A while ago I was filming a test video before I started my Youtube Channel and I broke my Sony 70-200 f4 lens. I hadn't tighten my camera good enough on the tripod, so it fell down on the soft ground. I was actually relieved because it fell on a bunch of leafs, but when I picked it up there were small cracks in the glass.

And since I'm using the 70-200 lens a lot, I had to find a replacement while the Sony lens would be in repair for two months. Luckily my girlfriend has a Sony camera with a 55-210mm lens. A crop lens, but it's better than nothing.

Pentax adapter & Takumar

After a few days I remembered that I also have a Pentax to Sony e-mount adapter, which I've used with an old Pentax 50mm manual lens. But I also have a Takumar 70-200mm F4 lens in my little camera museum. So I took the Sony 55-210mm and the Takumar 70-200mm and did some little tests. And I was surprised the Takumar performed very well.

I can use all the 24 megapixels instead of only 10 megapixels with the Sony lens. Crop lenses will set your camera automatically on 10mp. So I could see a lot of detail in the photo, and especially in landscape photography this is pretty important.

Taking it with me

So the next thing I did was take it with me into nature. The first thing that was annoying was the zoomring, because it's way too loose. Luckily we don't have mountains in the Netherlands, because I would not be able to take a picture of it.

In my first two videos I had the Takumar lens with me and took some photos with it. I used a tripod and set it on F8 with the aperture ring. Took my time to get the right sharpness and took the photos.

Focussing & Technique

And about focussing, I already had been playing with focus peaking in the Sony cameras, and this works great. Especially in landscape photography we most of the time have plenty of time to take a photo. So focus peaking isn't that much of a hassle.

Ok, to be honest, the sharpness on F4 isn't that good, but on F8, used on a tripod (which I always use) it's perfect, except for the corners, but I'm not too bothered by that. Also when used incorrectly it handles flare not very well, so be careful with certain lighting situations.

Wrap up

So when you have old lenses, get an adapter, and you'll have a backup if your main lenses fail or fall. ;-) They are not better than your main lenses, but will not disappoint you, especially in landscape photography.

Written by Aljan Scholtens