Sony NEX with Legacy Lenses

I’ve already mentioned one unexpected side-effect of my recent acquisition of a Sony NEX-6 camera. It has set me off buying old lenses on eBay. Now, it’s time to introduce you to some of the needed parts, and to let you meet some of my new toys. Well – our new toys now, as Sam has now joined Club NEX with her own NEX-5R.

Adapters

Nikon

The first adapter I bought was for Nikon-mount lenses. I paid a bit extra to get one that can push the aperture lever on the back of the lens, so I can still have some sort of control of the aperture. It lets me use my Nikon lenses and my Nikon-mount Lensbaby kit.

The Nikon lenses probably won’t be used long term, as I gradually replace what they can do with other modern and legacy lenses. They’re worth too much to a modern Nikon user, so I’ll probably be selling them at some point. The Lensbaby kit will stay.

M42 Screw-Mount

I ordered one of these from eBay. It arrived, and worked with one lens and one 2x converter, but didn’t work with any of the lenses I most wanted it for. They’d fit on so far, but not far enough, and couldn’t focus on anything beyond around 3m away. I decided to hang on to it to use with a macro kit, as it had been cheap enough that I didn’t want to bother with returning it.

I ordered another one from Amazon. That arrived, and instead of an approximately 3cm thick adaptor, I received a tiny, approximately 5mm thick ring. It did look as though it might have the right connectors, but there’s no way it could work – the lens wouldn’t be far enough away from the sensor. Being in the wrong place by a couple of millimetres is a problem – being more than 2cm out really wouldn’t work. The picture was of a ‘real’ adaptor, so that one is going back.

I then ordered yet another from eBay, and this one works really well:

This one fits nicely at both ends, and looks good. I ordered another one of these for Sam to use too, and the second works just as well.

Lenses

Nikon

From my D90 kit, I had an 18-200 zoom and a 35mm f/1.8 prime. Both work ok on the Nikon adapter, but both make the camera really rather bigger than it ‘should’ be. The 35mm isn’t so bad, but the 18-200 and adaptor add up to a big heavy lens. It seemed a bit large on the Nikon D90, so it’s huge on the front of a NEX. It really makes it feel more like a lens with a camera hanging on the back than a camera with a lens attached.

Avoiding the size and weight was the main point of getting the NEX, so I won’t be using these a lot.

Lensbaby

I already have the Lensbaby Composer for Nikon, and it works well with the adaptor. Somehow, the addition of the adaptor doesn’t make the Lensbaby kit feel too big. The NEX can still auto-expose with the Lensbaby, which the D90 couldn’t, so it feels nicer to use too.

I haven’t really played with this kit much yet, but it works well, and will be easier (and so, probably, more fun) to use on the Sony than it ever was on the Nikon.

Carl Zeiss Tessar 50mm f/2.8

I got this one at a reasonable price on eBay. Possibly a bit cheaper than it would otherwise have been because it doesn’t say ‘Carl Zeiss’ on it – soon after the war, the Zeiss factory split when Germany was split up, and the original factory wasn’t able to sell lenses to some markets if they marked them as ‘Carl Zeiss’, so they’re marked as ‘Aus Jena’. Same lens, same original factory.

It works ok, though the focus ring is very stiff. Results are good – a bit of a ‘cold’ look, but nice and smooth in the out of focus areas (the almighty ‘bokeh’). I like it a lot, and it could see a lot more use if it wasn’t for…

Asahi Takumar 50mm f/1.4

It’s a Pentax from the days before ‘Pentax’ – back when they were the Asahi Optical Company. The coatings on the optics include radioactive materials. The same coatings go a bit yellow with time, and give all your images a slightly odd warm tint. It’s also gone a bit mouldy inside. Given the price I paid, though, I’m really very happy with it. It tends to do nice things with the photos I take.

At f/1.4, images aren’t perfect, but the depth of field is wonderfully tiny. I like tiny depth of field. Stopped down just a little, and the images become sharper, and can still have quite small depth of field. Either way, it gives a nice warm bokeh.

It’s still very early days of testing, but I think this one could be something of a favourite.

It cost me less than £20, including delivery – I got lucky with this one.

Others

Other lenses I’ve picked up on eBay, generally at very low prices:

  • Chinon 135mm f/2.8. Quite a wide maximum aperture for the focal length, and reputedly, almost all 135mm lenses are pretty decent. Not really tried it yet, but I’d expect decent results.
  • Hanimex 200mm f/4. Not a bad maximum aperture for the length, but I don’t expect good results from this one. Cheap 200mm lenses can be bad, and Hanimex were never renowned for their optical quality. Maybe it will surprise me when I get around to trying it properly, but a few quick test shots from outside our front door don’t make it very hopeful.
  • 2x Converters. I have two of them for m42 mount lenses. Both were very cheap. I’d expect really crappy results when adding them to pretty much any other lens, but they were so cheap I couldn’t resist the idea of stacking two 2x converters on the above Hanimex, to see how bad the results can get.
  • Cosinon 50mm f/1.7. Should be good, but I just got caught up in how good the Asahi was, and the interest of seeing how good a Zeiss lens really is, that this one got ignored.

So

Quite a bit of enjoyment so far, for relatively little money. Plenty more fun to be had trying out more of them. And not too much wasted if I end up only getting real use out of one or two. Cheaper than most modern lenses for the lot.