Using old lenses on new digital camera?
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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    Default Using old lenses on new digital camera?

    I have an old 35 mm camera that over the years I've bought a lot of lenses for. The camera is, I think, from about the 1960's or '70's, and it always took great pics, film pics of course. Because of the lenses, I'd like to be able to buy a digital camera body that I could use the lenses with, but I don't know if that's even possible. And if it is, of course I would like to make the switch as economically as possible.

    Does anyone know anything about the potential of such an idea?

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    Registered User Brat's Avatar
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    I will be watching this post..I would like to know if there is a way to do it too..Thanks for the post..

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    Super Moderator Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    I did some more research and it looks like the answer is 'maybe'. It depends on the lenses and the new camera. I don't know enough about photography to really understand it all.

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    Registered User photogal06's Avatar
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    Your old lenses won't talk to the camera the way new ones do. As far as I know, things like auto-focus and auto-metering won't work, so you'll need to do those manually. Also, the optics of lenses are very much improved these days. You may not be able to get the quality of photos you're expecting when using old glass. I don't have any personal experience using old lenses on new bodies...this is just what I've gleaned from various camera forums over the years. Depending on the brand of lenses you have, you might poke around on one of their forums, because I know the question gets asked quite a bit. For Nikon, NikonCafe.com - Powered by vBulletin is a great one, and I'm sure there's something similar for Canon. I always got the impression that if you like to play with photography, it's fun to experiment with old lenses, but that it's not easy to get good shots with them.

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    Super Moderator Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    I'll probably just end up sticking with my reliable cheapo point and shoot. The pics I get from it are good enough for publication in a national magazine, so maybe I'm looking for a solution without a problem.

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    Registered User low-1's Avatar
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    Hey spirit deer. It depends on the lens and camera. I know older Nikon lenses work very well with newer Nikon bodies, almost fully functional. Different brand lens on different bodies will require adapter plates (cheap on eBay) but yes you will lose communication between lens and camera. Doesn't make it unusable, just means you have to know what you are doing, and be comfortable working in manual.

    Some older lenses have phenomenal optical characteristics. For the most part, the lenses are the investment, the camera body itself is more or less disposable. If you have decent lenses, it might be worth giving doing, or at least researching and putting them up for sale. Good lenses will actually appreciate in value.

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    Super Moderator Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    I don't mind doing things manually. I always sort of liked that part, and had good luck with it.

    I was reading online that the old lenses sometimes have much better optics than the new ones.

    My old camera is a Minolta. Just a quick look at eBay makes it seem like I could sell my old outfit for much more than I paid for it. I have the camera body, three lenses, two leather lens cases, a leather case for the camera itself, flash, bag, filters, and all sorts of accessories. I thought I had more lenses but I guess not. It's been years since I've looked at this stuff. Now I'm debating if I should just sell the whole works and put the money toward something new. It looks like I could make quite a bit. I only paid $60 for the camera, cases, flash, and lenses back in the eighties at a garage sale. I bought some of the small accessories later, but could possibly use the filters on a different camera if they would fit.

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    Spirit Deer, That's exactly what I did. I bought a lot of manual and AF lenses thru the film years and seldom used them. I was lucky to buy the Nikon brand. About 8 years ago I bought my first digital SLR., a D700. It was an expensive camera back then, but I was able to use all the manual and AF lenses with very little limitations. I am active in camera clubs, and in show and tell, I can tell that most of my shots are better if not the same as the newest system zooms. Infact some of the lenses are still rated high is image quality. The old prime lenses are priceless and amazing when compared to zooms.

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