I grew up with film and a K1000. While I missed out on learning darkroom technique as a kid and young adult, I still feel a strong connection to the Pentax SLR that my Dad gave me for my 16th birthday (it’s looking over my right shoulder from its perch on a shelf behind my desk as I type this, while its 20+ year old, plain black strap now resides on my X Pro 1).
As a photography enthusiast for much of my life, I’ve managed to retain much of the joy and escapism that comes with walking around with a camera and capturing images. Now, that’s not to imply that professionals do not love what they do and how they do it, but rather that my pursuit to this point has been purely approached as a hobby and as a form of creative recreation that occurs in tandem with other activities. I get to pick up an obsolete lens for next to nothing and be giddy about it. I get wait with a 9 year-old’s anticipation for an adapter to show up in the mail for a new lens mount. I get to set aside time to go out and capture images.
Photography scratches an itch that nothing else can.
Over the past several years, I’ve managed to collect more than a few low cost manual lenses in a variety of focal lengths. Mainly I bought these to see what I could do with them in a creative sense, to see what is frequently referred to as ‘the film look’ on digital. Curiosity also drives me to pick up these ‘obsolete’ lenses to see how they perform rendering images on digital sensors, and perhaps most pragmatically because my budget does not allow for dropping a thousand or more dollars on a new lens whenever the fancy strikes me.
Granted, some have been duds: One leaked light and was returned (Tokina 24mm/2.8 RMC). One wouldn’t focus on anything at any distance and is now an out-of-work, $20.00 paperweight (Samyang 18-28/f4).
Over the next week to ten days I’ll be posting photos taken with my X Pro 1 through a few of my favorite manual lenses.
This isn’t meant to be any sort of scientific comparison, grueling imaging test (or even a testament to my skill as a photographer) but rather is simply an illustration that this old glass is still enjoyable to use and can produce pleasing images. Personally, the process of shooting with these lenses is a wonderful experience that takes me back to a time when all those dials and numbers didn’t make any sense to me at all.
The first in this series is a Meyer Optik Lydith 30mm/3.5 that I nabbed from eBay almost three years ago. At that time I was still shooting with a Canon 40D and wanted to try some different focal lengths and, ideally a prime. This lens jumped out at me for having a decent reputation and was in a ‘wide-standard’ focal length.
This lens is more than capable of rendering sharp images when I do my part. Soft wide open with smooth bokeh and nice and sharp at 5.6 or so. It also looks good bolted to the front of the X Pro 1 via the appropriate M42 to X Mount adapter. The images below were captured using this combination.
Rose and picket fence
Bistro Jeanty, Yountville, CA
Fort Point, bricks and bridge