Lenses so good you have to buy a body for them?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jt_rieck, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. In any system, which lenses are good enough that its worth hunting down a body just to use them? To put it another way, what are the legendary manual focus lenses out there, the ones with great IQ, or wonderful out-of-focus rendition, or interesting focal lengths, or excellent low-light performance, or just all-around wonderful?
  2. Probably not what you had in mind, but
    I bought a Canon 5D so I could put my PC-Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 back into service. Love that lens, but if I had known that within a week Canon would announce their 17mm TS-E lens, maybe I'd have done differently and stayed with the APS-C bodies.
    I also have the legendary Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 lens and use it on my Nikon film cameras (F, Nikkormat FTn and EL) as well as on my 5D.
  3. I'm with JDM on the Nikkor 35mm PC lens.
    My first one was single coated, and set a new World Redord for flare! After it was stolen, I got the Multi-Coated lens, and it's the finest piece of 35mm glass that I've ever owned (including various models of 35mm Summicron-M). Since it is both manual focus and aperture, using it with adapter on other cameras such as Canon EOS is a natural.
    I also keep my old Leica M3 just to use the DR Summicron, but without Kodachrome II and 25, it lacks that certain synergy of perfection.
  4. I'm with JDM on the Nikkor 35mm PC lens.
    My first one was single coated, and set a new World Redord for flare! After it was stolen, I got the Multi-Coated lens, and it's the finest piece of 35mm glass that I've ever owned (including various models of 35mm Summicron-M). Since it is both manual focus and aperture, using it with adapter on other cameras such as Canon EOS is a natural.
    I also keep my old Leica M3 just to use the DR Summicron, but without Kodachrome II and 25, it lacks that certain synergy of perfection.
  5. I also vote for the Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 AI MF lens. A little gem !
    Got an F2AS for it.
    Best regards,
  6. The ones I use/used and know about: Nikkor 105mm f/2.5, Nikkor 45mm 2.8 (my GN is great, but some think the new non-GN is better), Nikon 50mm f/1.8, Nikkor 300mm f/4 IF-ED AF, Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux, Canon 50mm f/1.4 FD mount (probably newer ones too), Canon 85mm f/1.2 EF. Schneider 210mm f/5.6 Apo Symmar MC, Schneider 150mm f/9 Claron (for close field work), Hasselblad 110mm f/2 for F, Hasselblad 120mm f/5.6 (if you want to do close up work), Hasselblad 100mm, Hasselblad 60mm, Hasselblad 350mm SA, Hasselblad 250mm SA. Nikon 1000mm f/11. That's just a quick list off the top of my head. If I thought about it longer, there would be more.
  7. Not Classic Manual, but I got a Contax G1 based purely on the reputation of the 28/45/90 set. Can't say I've been disappointed.
  8. A third vote for the Nikkor 35mm PC f/2.8 (mine has the silver knob). But the real gem, if you can find one, is the Nikkor PC Micro Nikkor 85mm f/2.8. Optical quality that stuns. Beats my Zeiss G 90mm f2.8 hands down. It's a lens you could build a system, or a career, around.
    Canon FD offers some fantastic (and inexpensive) glass like the nFD 50mm f/3.5 Macro, the nFD 100mm f/2 and the miracle zoom the nFD 80-200mm f/4 L. If you can find the old breech lock, radioactive 35mm f/2 pre-SCC with the concave front element, consider yourself blessed. Sometimes they yellow so be aware. Luckily, Canon FD bodies go for a song so this is a great way to get started with some nice optics.
  9. olympus om4 body to go with zuiko glass, in my case the 100mm 2.8 lens!
  10. Yeah, I should have mentioned that I actually bought a Canon AE-1 program, just so I could tap into some of the bargains in glass in that mount. The FD 50mm f/1.4, for just one example, is a wonderful lens for sure. I got a great price on mine because the filter ring was dented. Got out my lens vise and it's now practically as good as new.
  11. 100 2.8 APO for Leica R , 180 2.8 APO, 280 4.0 They put all my Nikon lenses to shame
  12. Spotmatic F or ESII body to go with the screw-mount SMC 50/1.4
  13. This has happened to me a few times. When my Contax 139 developed an expensive-to-fix shutter problem, I bought a Yashica FX-3 Super 2000 so I could use my Contax 50mm f1.7. My dad gave me two Olympus primes and two Konica primes so I picked up an OM-G (later added an OM-1) and a Konica TC-X. My latest addition was to pick up a used Nikon FE-2 to go with an 'orphaned' 50mm f2 Ai Nikkor. Liked the FE-2 so much I later ordered a Tamron Adaptall mount for it and a Nikkor 28mm f3.5 Ai. Whew.
  14. I remember when I was a kid, watching my Dad using a Hypergon with two rubber bulbs connected to it. One to spin the star diaphragm, and the other to control the shutter he had mounted behind it. I can still hear him counting out his exposures and flipping the blades down and keep counting. I, to this day, think this was the most unusual and unique lens I have ever seen in my lifetime. I sure wish I had gotten it from him.
  15. The 180 mm Zeiss Jena Sonnar, in P-6 mount. I guess the Zeiss Oberkochen version in Contarex mount would be at least as good.
  16. I bought a couple of Hassy SWC bodies for this reason: they came with 38/4.5 Biogons attached. 8*]
  17. The Zeiss Jena Flektogons, whether 20mm, 25mm, or 35mm, are worth getting a camera for. Your choice of M42 or Exakta. And pick up a Tessar 50/2.8, a Pancolar 50/2, and a 58mm Biotar while you're at it!
  18. There are many legendary lenses for cameras other than 35mm, which everyone seems to be stuck on here.
    I would like to hear about some, other than the Goerz Hypergon with it's spinning star diaphragm, that I mentioned above, for formats other than 35mm. Like the Sutton Panoramic Water Lens made by Ross, that needs a special body with a curved plate. If I had one of them I would buy a body for it.
  19. I really like the Canon FD 50/1.4 and the FDn 100/2 as well, both of which make me glad that I have my F-1 and have also caused me to consider picking up an EF to use them on. I'm also quite impressed with the Yashinon DX 50/1.4 and Minolta's MC Rokkor-X PG 50/1.4. The Super Takumar 50/1.4 works impressively well too...perhaps I'm easily impressed. The Minolta lens was one I got on the 'bay that came with a completely refurbed XE-5 attached to it; not a bad deal.
  20. The Super Takumar 50mm 1.4 and my Fujica ST 605 is a sweet combination.
  21. The first time I did this was when I got a 90/2.5 Vivitar Series 1 macro. It was in Canon FD mount and came in good condition but without the 1:1 adapter for $50. I think I got a Canon TX body for it. When I wanted a higher top shutter speed I got a black FT QL. Both were overhauled. My Minolta collection started when I found an Auto Bellows III at a good price. After using it with adapters for a while on my Konica cameras I got an SR-1s. Now I would use the bellows with one of my X-700s. Other lenses I have and which are worth getting a body for include the 28/1.8 Konica UC Hexanon, 28/2.5 Vivitar Fixed Mount, 35/2 Canon FD SSC (1st version), 55/1.8 Takumar SMC, 55/1.8 SMC Pentax, 55/3.5 Nikkor PC, 100/2.5 MC Rokkor, 135/2.5 Canon FL, 135/2.8 Vivitar Close Focusing, 200/3.5 MC Rokkor-X.
  22. Pentax 35mm f/3.5 SMC-A for 645 format. Bought a P645N body for it.
    Kept looking and sorting through used Pentax LX's to replace a 20 year old worn-out LX, to continue to use my SMC-A 100mm f/2.8 macros and SMC-K 24mm f/2.8.
    Nikon F5, D200, and D300 to use with the 200-400mm VR. A lens so versatile as to be worth jumping systems if one is into North American wildlife. Hanging onto the F5s now for use with the 17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S, as I don't have a spare $8K laying about for a D3X just now.
  23. My five-element 50/1.5 Canon rangefinder lens (from about 1954) is a copy of Zeiss's Sonnar. I think it's worth keeping my Canon P, or another rangefinder camera, juar to be able to use it. At f/2 or f/2.8, it makes beautiful smooth pictures of people, particularly women. I don't know another lens that draws quite like it.
  24. I found my Bushnell 200mm f/3.5 to be just that lens. When I bought it, it was absolutely spotless like new condition, I mean the threading on the mount still had the black paint on it, I soon found out why. The person I bought it from had bought it some years ago only to find out it did not fit his Minolta XG-1 (also for sale at the time). It was an M-42 mount lens...obviously not going to fit the bayonet of the XG-1 that had almost no use on it at all as well.
    After doing some research on the Bushnell I ran out and bought a Pentax H2, and later a Chinon CS (when I discovered I really did not like the Pentax.) So I ran out and bought not one but two bodies, Just so I could use that lens.
    Here is the Pentax and the Bushnell together, the only photo I have of the Pentax:
    See it bigger here - http://www.photo-lucidity.com/pic-1029.html
  25. Jeff beat me to it. I bought a Vivitar 90mm/2.5 Series One Macro (w/o the custom adapter) back in the day for my Minolta SRT102. Then I scored the adapter. More recently, but still a few years ago, I bought a second copy of that lens in M42 mount so I could mount it onto a Canon AF body. Wow does it feel nice. This lens is the embodiment of a smooth focusing ring.
    I just did extensive testing on the Vivitar and a Nikkor 55mm/2.8 micro and a rented Sigma 150mm/2.8 macro. The vivitar stood its ground well as one of the sharpest, if not the sharpest lens I have ever used. I will admit that it loses out on color and contrast to the modern design (coatings) Sigma. But that is easily solved in Photoshop.
    I'm keeping both of mine and plan to use them more now that I have refreshed my familiarity with them. Especially the adapted one since I bought a Katz Eye focusing screen to work with it. I thought about buying the Sigma or any other modern lens for that matter. Instead, I am going to go out with a two lens kit the next few times: My EF 17-55mm/2.8 IS zoom and my Vivitar 90mm macro.
  26. Well the only time I ever really did this was recently... I wanted to try the Helios 44-M. The only M42 mount camera I have/had was a Pentacon FM with see-through shutter curtains. I'd been watching
    a Zenith 11 w/ lens in the second-hand shop for the last year. I got a portable DVD player for X-Mas last year that I really had no need for.... so I deceided I'd offer it for sale and if he offered less than 50,00€, I'd offer to exchange for the Zenith w/lens. Well he only wanted to offer 30,00 so I proposed
    the swap. He was interested, only the Zenith had a problem .. the film advance, if not carefully double stroked, tripped the shutter. I was considering settling for it.. ie just for the lens. But I remembered he
    had a Pentax SP500 body for a little more than he was asking for the Zenith w/lens. I proposed
    the Pentax with the Helios... he though this over (not long) and said Ok. While I tested the SP500. He wrote me a receipt for the exchange and realizing the Zenith was probably worthless gave me that body too! So in a roundabout way ..just for a lens.. I did get a body too!
  27. A classic 50 mm : the kern makro switar (for alpa) 1,9/50 (the last version, the first was the 1,8/50).
    Another lens, the skopagon 2/40 for voigtlander's bessamatics/ultramatics.
    And the last, for me, the Leica elmaron M 2,8/35 (with eyes for use with the M3)
  28. From what I've heard and seen samples from, the Bronica RF645's 65mm lens is absolutely stunning... not really a classic but it's no longer made! Other than that, I honestly absolutely love the 80mm f/2.8 for the Mamiya TLR's. Every time I see images from that lens I'm impressed with the clarity and beautiful OOF areas.
  29. My all time great lens until it and the equipment were stolen was the Voightlander 50mm F1.5 Nokton for the Prominent leaf shutter rangefinder camera. I had two lenses like this and two bodies and 35mm,100mm and 150mm lenses also- all were stolen in Washington DC in 1968. Have never replaced it. Now I note that you can buy neat adapters for this lens to use on Leica SM etc. Shows how valued they are. I got almost 3d popout images with that lens (and I have owned Leicas with Summilux etc. and never equalled it.
    Another superb lens is the 50mm Mamiya Press which I own-unparalled in MF. Also had a Schneider Xenon 50mm f1.9 in Exakta Mount that was awesome and an Isco 24mm WA for same that had beautiful contrast.
    So many beauties, so little time!
  30. the arsat zodiak 30mm fish eyefor p6/kiev.
    If for no other reasontna that the only other 6x6 alternative costs you about ten times that price.
    Word to the wise: once you're there you are lost as you ended on that slippery slope to the CZJ Sonnar and the hartblei rotators.
    In the distance I can all ready hear the siren of the asylum ambulance ;-)
    they're coming to take me away haha, hihi,haha
  31. The 180mm Sonnar f/2.8 was mentioned. I bought it for the camera (Pentacon 6TL), but it is flat out one of the sharpest, nicest lenses I have ever used. The center part of it when mounted on a Canon EOS body is just unbelievably good. The only fly in the ointment is that I (and many others) have had problems keeping the aperture mechanism working.
  32. The 300/2.8 Topcor R lens I got to use all of once and got some great action shots. Friend offered to sell it to me, but even though he was dumping his Topcon stuff I still couldn't afford it. A year later I could've. Ah well.
  33. the only reason i still have my SRT202 is to use the 58mm f/1.4 Rokkor
  34. I did not buy a camera to suit the lens, but, I had the lens mount changed to suit one of the cameras that I already owned.
    The lens is an Olympus 24mm f3.5 Shift. The camera is a Nikon FM2N. Modification was carried out by S K Grimes.
    The reason for this is that Nikon did not make a manual focus, manual aperture shift lens of that focal length.
    The Nikkor 24mm f2.8 Tilt Shift has an electronic aperture that only works with certain Nikon cameras.
    I came to the opinion that the Nikkor 28mm f3.5 Shift lens is not wide enough for narrow laneway type architecture photographs. This was discovered by using a 20mm f3.5 lens with a TC-14A teleconverter attached (equivalent of a 28mm lens), to determine the Field of View before proceeding to acquire a wide angle shift lens.
    The conversion was a lot cheaper than a used F5/F6/D700/D3/D3x.
  35. The 250mm f5.6 Reflex Rokkor: I bought this for my Minolta XD-7 and when I went over to digital I ensured that my dSLR would be one that could mount it. (I went with the Olympus E-410.)
    Like Brian Grossman I still treasure my 58/1.4 Rokkor and use this on the Oly digital too.
  36. Hi Larry H,I have a Tamron SP90mm f2.5 c/w SP extender for my various Pentax bodies.You mentioned the Katz eye focusing screen,could you point me to where I may obtain one of these?.tks Chris shaw.
  37. Chris:
  38. For me these Nikkors would include the 35mm f 2.0, 50mm f2.0, and the 105mm f 2.5.
  39. My mention goes to the Zeiss 120mm ApoMakroPlanar on the Contax 645, which many have confessed to buying for this lens alone...maybe it's not a classic manual camera, but can be used as one, and the crying shame for photographers that its makers orphaned it at such a tender age would deem it a classic before its years.
    Zeiss' response to an enquiry was that it outperforms both their fabulous 100 and 120mm lenses for 6x6 and at any distance the mtf curves corroborate this. Plus you have 1:1 at the twist of a wrist. What versatile performance! I am still holding on to mine because of a few shots that have a look of realism I've not seen with anything else I've used.
  40. The Canon FD Chrome nosed 35mm f2 Thorium lens is a killer.
  41. As this one hasn't been mentioned yet: I'm keeping a couple of Contax RF bodies alive just to be able to use my Biogon 4.5/21. And I love all of my Contarex lenses, which are the only reason for me to own two C'rex bodies.
  42. Hasselblad F 110/2
    Pentax 645 35-55 AF
    Mamiya 7 43/4.5
  43. Konica Hexanon 50mm f/1.4
    Contax Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8
    Contax Zeiss Planar 45mm f/2
    Pentax Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4
    Minox Complan 15mm f/3.5
    Leica Elmar M 50mm f/2.8
  44. Let me ring in with yet another vote for the Vivitar 90mm f2.5 Series 1 Macro lens. Just a spectacular hunk of glass, and the smoothest focusing mechanism I have ever experienced.
  45. So far the best lenses I've ever used are the Leica R 50 Summicron, Leica R 90 Summicron, Voigtlander 105 Heliar, Agfa Isolette 75 Apotar and Solinar, and the Rolleiflex Schneider Xenotar 80 2.8. If I ever get the money for a Summilux I may add to this, but these would keep me busy for several lifetimes. If I had to pick the best I would probably go w/ the Heliar, but the difference between it and the R 50 Summicron is very small. In fact, I probably should remove the Agfa lenses from this list. They are very, very good but don't have that jaw dropping effect like the others.

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