The Path of Legacy Lenses

Doing a web search for legacy lenses turns up thousands of hits. It would seem there is a wealth of information available for anyone trying to get started using old lenses on digital cameras. Unfortunately appearances are deceiving. As with many topics on the web these days there are a handful of original articles driving thousands of derivatives. Not much choice for all those hits. No judgments but it seems like lots of people are taking the easy way out.

Much of what you do find is either high end rangefinder stuff or examinations of the same dozen or so SLR lenses. There are endless postings comparing old lenses shot wide open against other old lenses. It is the photographic equivalent of discussing the number of angels that will fit on the head of a pin. Maybe legacy lenses are only good for test shots of people with one eye in focus or dreamy over saturated flowers. Do people really shoot that way? I’m not sure about that.

Since getting into mirrorless cameras I’ve played around with legacy lenses a few times. Mostly using Micro Four Thirds cameras and OM mount SLR lenses. None of my cameras made using manual lenses easy. As a result the old lenses stayed in the bag most of the time. Now my interest is once again kindled by the availability of the Sony A7 series cameras.

The decision to use manual focus lenses for at least the next several months is to advance my photography skills. Whenever I find myself in situations that require me operate the camera manually my skills improve. It is amazing what thinking can do for you instead of relying on digital intelligence.

So down the road I go with my half dozen legacy lenses in hand. Only a couple of the lenses are considered by those in the know to be worthy of use for anything other than a doorstop. Being contrary by nature makes me always likely to test conventions. You never know, once in a great while things work out in my favor. Fortunately being a non-professional photographer I can fail without much consequence.

Gear Anxiety Syndrome

Gimme that thing!
Gimme that thing!
You hear people bragging about self professed Gear Acquisition Syndrome all the time in online forums. It seems mostly to be a way for non-photographer photographers to justify new gear purchases. I always thought it was an activity for amateurs but many blogs run by photo professionals seem also to be GAS driven. I guess it happens to some degree to anyone who admires picture taking machines.

My Gear Anxiety Syndrome is closely related in the sense that I have a strong desire to buy new photographic gear. The difference, if there is one, is that I’m selling all my current gear. The act of divestiture is causing a great deal of anxiety. I’m experiencing a sense of loss just knowing that I will be without a dedicated camera for the first time in at least fifteen years. To be stuck with just a mobile phone camera is a cruel fate indeed.

If ever there was an invented marketing driven problem it is the tyranny of excessive choice. Compounding the loss of my old gear is anxiety that I will end up with a new camera system that is less satisfying to own than the one I just got rid of. Last week I was sure that building a Sony full frame system was what I wanted. Now … doubts have started to undermine that decision. There are too many options available. Each with a certain something to make photography more exciting or provide some exotic must have feature. How about huge pixel count wiz bang sensor shift capture? Now that is a feature I’ll use all the time. Not really.

As I consider my options it is clear that I really need several cameras to meet my extensive requirements. I’ve become such a sophisticated non-professional shooter that no single camera can get the job done for me. It is a burden.

If you think long enough about consumer goods you can talk yourself right into a serious mental health issue. I’m buying Sony even if it chaps the pope. You know, he is a hands-on guy. I wonder what he shoots?


Adobe Ruin, Study Butte
Adobe Ruin, Study Butte
Once a gleaming adobe plastered white with tin roof shining in the desert light. It was visible for miles across the valley. In this place such a home was the unmistakable sign of prosperity. Generations of fortunate families lived within the walls on a foundation of stone. They were owners of things.

Across the valley were jacals of more humble families. People as tough as the world they lived in raising generations on faith and hope for the future. They left a mark on the land as deep and enduring as anyone who lived hard against the Rio Bravo. Perhaps they worked for those living in the white house.

Time marks everything as adobe slowly melts back into earth. But even abandoned and neglected the white house maintains dignity in ruin. A hundred years has not been able to erase this home.