At the moment I’m testing some vintage lenses with the Techart module on the Sony A7RIII, there were several updates and I have to be honest I’m beginning to like working with those vintage lenses more and more. You might wonder why?
Well first of all they look cool of course, but that’s not it.
Working with a vintage lens, means you’re thinking more about the process, instead of just pressing the shutter you have to think about setting the aperture correctly, manual focusing (or AF with the Techart) and the whole process is just slower, but also a lot of fun, and that’s I think the most important thing, you’re having loads of fun. Plus it sometimes makes great conversation pieces with people on the street, which makes it easier to photograph them.
In this blogpost some quick shots I took on Urk with the Helios 44-2.
Now the Helios 44-2 is a very special lens, it’s a russian “version” of the Carl Zeiss Biotar which has a really cool swirly bokeh (the out of focus areas look very funky and swirly). The cool thing about this lens is that it’s literally razor sharp, build like a tank and has not chromatic aberration, one could say that if you buy it now new for app $400.00 you actually get what you pay for. Seeing these lenses can sometimes be bought online for less than $50.00 it’s an amazing value for money. In fact it’s one of my favorite lenses at the moment.
The only thing some first time users will run into is the confusing aperture.
The lens has two rings.
One is a preset ring that is pretty stiff, this is where you set the smallest aperture you want to use. The other aperture ring is very smooth and is step-less (great for video), this is used to turn the aperture wide open for focusing and composition and as soon as you have focus you just turn it all the way to the end (preset on the aperture you wanted to use) and press the shutter (or release the shutter with AF). Do remember that AF on a lens works best with the maximum amount of light hitting the sensor so working with a so called preset lens is absolutely awesome.
A modern lens will always focus on wide open aperture and will close down as soon as you press the shutter, vintage lenses will mostly be set to an aperture (for example f8) and you have to focus with f8 which for some cameras can be a real task and will result in hunting in most cases or very slow AF, when you focus wide open it’s actually very fast, it will surprise you have fast the Techart for example nails the focus on the a7RIII when you shoot a lens wide open. Loads of negative reviews online are I believe due to people shooting these lenses on f16 or f11 and wondering why the focus is slow… well try to focus a modern lens with a 5 stop ND filter and see how fast/slow your lens performs.
Anyway long story short, the Helios is a real must buy if you’re into vintage lenses.
So let’s take a look at some of the shots. This was a very short visit so don’t expect anything spectacular but I did wanted to show them in connection to the Helios story.
All tinting was done with one of the vintage presets from my brand new (released yesterday) Lightroom preset pack, you can get it here www.frankdoorhof.com/presets