Uncategorized |

Vintage Prime Camera Lenses

Vintage Primes Lenses

The standard lens for video cameras has nearly always been a zoom lens. They are very convenient, but zoom lenses are expensive and require a lot more light than primes. Primes are fixed focal length lenses, while zooms are variable focal length. There used to be an optical advantage with prime lenses which was why most feature films and commercials were shot with primes. But today that advantage has largely disappeared.

Vintage lenses are older lenses that had quality builds of metal rather than plastic. Compared to their modern equivalents, vintage primes costs pennies on the dollar. And they have a look that is different from today’s lenses. This look can be especially artistic when applied in the right circumstance.

All modern primes are not that expensive and can be a great value. See, for instance the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens.

Vintage primes can be found on eBay as well as in local pawn shops. You might post a “Lens Wanted” ad in Craigslist. While there aren’t many camera stores left, camera stores are likely to have lots of vintage lenses for sale. There are also websites such as KEH Camera which specialize in vintage camera gear. Some of the major video dealers also sell used equipment.

Here’s what Chris Watson purchased for his DSLR:

Standard Zoom: Tokina RMC (OM mount) 28mm-70mm f/2.8-4.3, $35 (shipped)

Telephoto Zoom: Vivitar Series 1 (OM mount) 70mm-210mm f/3.5, $90 (shipped)

50(ish) fast prime: Mamiya Sekor (M42 mount) 55mm f/1.4, $40 (local pickup)

Adapters: $20 x 3 = $60

Grand Total: $225


To buy the equivalent in new Canon lenses would come to over $2,700.

Modern lens technology has its advantages such as improved lens coating to reduce lens flare, image stabilization, and Automatic Focus (AF) controls. But if you can live without those, you can save a fortune and get some very interesting looks. Each lens has its own character and this is part of the art of cinematography – creating a particular look by using different tools.

In many ways the camera you use is less important than the lens. And DSLRs have finally given us a great opportunity to use a wide variety of fast prime lenses. There are many new and used prime lenses available specifically for each DSLR. In addition DSLRs allow shallow focus which is a powerful artistic tool.

Choosing The Right Lens

The most important quality is the optics. On older lenses check for scratches, nicks, dust or even fungus inside the lens. Choose a fast lens. That’s a lens with a smaller f stop so you’ll have better low light performance.

Adapters

Most vintage lenses will require adapters. Each lens-to-camera combination calls for a different adapter ring. An easy way to find the adapter for the lens you want is to do a keyword search on eBay. Since they are cheap, typically $10 – $30, it’s convenient to get an adapter for each lens so you just have to change the lens rather than the adapter also.

Keep Reading...

iPhone 5s shoots 120 fps slow motion

iPhone 5s Slow Motion Video At 120fps

Slow motion makes nearly everything look better. Apple’s new iPhone 5s can do something no other smart phone cannot do – shoot 120 fps. The Canon 7D, the Panasonic GH3 and G5, Sony NEX 5, 6, 7, as well as my own Sony Ea50 all shoot 50p/60p. Straight out of the camera it looks pretty […]

Read More
FAA files model pilot

FAA takes first legal action against model airplane pilot

FAA takes first legal action against model airplane pilot. Raphael Pirker was fined $10,000 for illegally

Read More
police body cameras

Time for Police Body Cameras

by Hal Landen This is a promotional video from Reveal Media, a company which manufactures police body cameras. Other manufacturers include Panasonic and Wolfcom. It’s Time for Police Body Cameras Body cameras also known as body worn video are typically used by law enforcement to record interactions with the public and to collect evidence at […]

Read More
Bob Dylan TV

Bob Dylan TV

Bob Dylan Video or is it TV. It has 16 channels.

Read More


Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • Forbes Magazine calls VideoUniversity one of the best business-to-business sites for digital video production.
  • WINNER
    Videography Magazine's
    "Website of the Month" Award
  • WINNER
    PC Magazine Online "Best Desktop Video Site" Award
  • WINNER
    CyberFilm School's "FOUR STAR" Award