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Lens Reviews

SMC Pentax M 40mm F/2.8 Pancake Lens Review

Lilliputian. Svelte. Teensy and weensy, and of course, teensy-weensy. All words I’d never expect to write in a lens review, yet here we all are and I might as well get these silly synonyms for tiny out of the way. Because today we’re talking about one of the smallest legacy lenses I’ve ever used, and the smallest SLR lens that Pentax ever made – the Pentax-M SMC 40mm F/2.8. Produced from 1976 to 1984, this full-frame lens offers an incredibly…

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Nikon Nikkor N 35mm F/1.4 – the Fastest 35mm Nikon Lens Ever

Today we’re looking at a super-fast Nikon lens that no one really needs, yet many shooters covet. The Nikkor-N Auto 35mm F/1.4 from 1971 (along with its newer AI and AIs versions) is the fastest 35mm focal length lens that Nikon ever produced for their F mount cameras. Even today there’s no faster 35mm bearing the name Nikkor. This alone is enough to make photo geeks drool, and after shooting it for more than a month I can confidently affirm…

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How to Buy a Used Lens Without Getting Burned

Lenses are expensive. But used lenses are cheap. And thanks to their adaptability to today’s amazing mirror-less cameras, legacy lenses are becoming an ever more popular option for photo geeks looking for top quality at a fair price. But vintage lenses are inherently old and used, and finding one in great shape can be a tricky proposition, especially if you don’t know what dangers to look out for. Running an online camera store has helped me sharpen my shopping skills to a rapier point.…

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Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm F/4.5 Aspherical III – M and E Mount Lens Review

Super wide-angle lenses are unique. By their very nature, they’re specialized, uncommon, and expensive. So to go searching for a capable, versatile, and inexpensive super-wide seems like a fool’s errand indeed. But what if I told you that I spent the past month with just such a lens? You’d be interested, right? Good. Because B&H Photo recently loaned me both versions of Voigtlander’s most recent 15mm, the Super Wide Heliar 15mm F/4.5 Aspherical III, and I’ve been really putting it…

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Minolta M-Rokkor 40mm F/2 – Lens Review

I shoot a lot of old cameras, archaic machines that in some cases recall a time when the United States was comprised of only forty-eight such distinct territories, and it’s not unusual to find a lens of similar vintage mated to my Sony a7. So it goes without saying that much of my experience in photography comes with considerable compromise. A slower-than-useful maximum shutter speed, poor optical coatings, or cumbersome weight and size, for example. With one eye on the…

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Minolta M Rokkor 28mm F/2.8 – Lens Review

The end of a tiresome week found me weary, disheartened, and worn out. It also found me stuffed into a small, German sedan with my wife, our one-year-old daughter, and enough bags, totes, and rucksacks to brave it for three weeks in Patagonia. But we weren’t going to Patagonia. We were going to Chatham, a coastal town protruding like a ganglion cyst from the elbow of Cape Cod, to see eroding beaches and million-dollar homes and lighthouses and fog. And…

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Minolta MD W. Rokkor-X 24mm F/2.8 Ultra Wide Lens Review

I think that every photo geek should have a wide-angle lens in their bag. With a dedicated wide-angle prime we’re able to make images that are simply impossible to make with any other lens. For me, there’s no better way to add instant dynamism and visual interest to photography than by shooting the world through a wide bit of glass. Today we’ll be taking a look at one of the very best wide-angle legacy lenses. This lens offers a near-perfect blend of optical ability, build…

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Helios 44 M – Lens Review

The recent surge in popularity of mirror-less cameras coupled with affordable lens adapters has effectively elevated a handful of mostly-forgotten legacy lenses to a new level of popularity that they’ve not enjoyed in decades. One such lens bears the name Helios, and the Helios 44 models in particular are regarded by many photo geeks as being among the greatest legacy lenses to come from the long-departed U.S.S.R. But why does this lens enjoy such cult status these days? What makes it so desirable compared to its German and Japanese contemporaries? Is…

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Canon FD 24mm F/2.8 S.S.C. – Lens Review

Not long ago, we penned an opinion that every photo geek should own a wide-angle lens. In case you missed it, we heralded the incredible ability of wide-angle lenses to present a vision of the world that just can’t be captured by a standard or telephoto lens. Taking our own advice, we spent the past few weeks shooting wide, and today we’ve got a review of a pretty fantastic wide-angle lens. It’s Canon’s FD 24mm F/2.8 S.S.C., and whether you’re shooting a vintage film Canon or a new mirror-less…

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