Since joining the Fujifilm mirrorless eco-system, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most is using vintage manual focus lenses on the system. The amount of affordable, yet good performing, lenses out there is staggering. Not only are most of these old lenses cheap, but they also add a ton of character to the images that you simply can not get by using the newer optically perfected, ultra sharp lenses.
Sharpness really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in my book. I’d rather look at an image with soft gloomy highlights with aberrations all over the place, than a clinically perfect super shot. It’s the same with human beings. It’s our flaws that makes us unique. Its these flaws that enhance beauty by giving us immediate reference through presence of the less-than-perfect. You might not hold the same belief. I won’t hold that against you 😛 – Promise!
From going through the archives of this site you can clearly see that I love myself a good ol’ vintage lens. (There are plenty!) Now, my buying habits have changed a bit. I got hooked on that Leica feeling! Not the newer aspherical perfect stuff, rather the older my characterstic offerings. So this blog post will indeed contain images taken with gear that will set you back much more than a bargain. But there are some pretty affordable ones in here as well.
So, what does the X-Pro2 bring to the table in all this vintage lens madness?
A couple of things really stand out to me.
1. The new hybrid viewfinder.
We already had this in the X-Pro1. But we were restricted to using the EVF since unlike a proper rangefinder there is no “coupling” from the lens to the optical viewfinder. So you cannot see if you’re in focus. X-Pro1 at the beginning did not have focus peaking, and although added in firmware later on it is still quite weak and restricted to white as the only highlight color.
Things changed in the X-T1. The huge EVF made it very easy to nail focus with the different peaking colors, dual image side by side mode etc. but one thing was still missing! That OVF!
Now with the X-Pro2 Fujifilm took the little “center EVF overlay” thingie from the X100T and put it in the X-Pro2 interchangeable lens body. Et voila! You can now have OVF while having focus peaking/ focus confirmation in that tiny EVF center representation. In the beginning I found it a little hard to manoeuvre, but I forced myself into using the mode instead of just switching to full EVF, and now it feels fluid!
2. The new Acros filmsimulation.
Designed to mimic old black and white film with everything from exposure dependent grain control over Highlight preservation to Highlight/shadow differentiation of noise reduction. It’s a beautiful simulation that is only enhanced further by using these older lenses and their inherent character.
This new film-simulation is tightly bound to the Sensor and Processor of the X-Pro2 and according to Fujifilm is very unlikely to be coming to the older X-series models. There is an Acros profile in the new Lightroom, but from my experience it doesn’t have the grain control/highlight dependent noise reduction that is made in-camera.
These are the two mainpoints why I think the X-Pro2 is perfect for my venture out into photography using vintage lenses
I have divided the galleries below into lens specific sections. As usual they have been processed to my liking. A lot of the B&W are Acros jpegs that I tweaked further with contrast and curve.
Helios 44m-4 58mm f/2 M42-mount
I used the Lens Turbo II focal reducer to get full frame DOF as well as that lovely swirl. I have written about this lens a couple of times before, and I still love it to death. It’s characteristic signature is the “swirly bokeh” Great for portraits, and nature shots.
Leica Summicron-c 40mm f/2
An incredible little lens! – For street photography this thing is very fun. It’s very very tiny, and the M-adapter needed is only 1cm thick so the combo is really small. It has this crazy flare that shows up from f/2.8 and downwards. Wide open its sharp in the middle, a bit of CA but very well controlled.
Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.5 ASPH
This is not really a vintage lens. It was modelled after the original Voigtländer 50/1.5, but the optics are brand new, and it includes aspherical elements that is not present in its predecessor. The reason why I still include it in this little write up is the fact that I love its rendering. It has amazing colors right off the bat, and it goes great with the Velvia type images. It has some amazingly smooth bokeh, and it is dead sharp. But it still has some gloominess in the high contrast transitions. A definite favourite of mine.
In Acros simulation this lens produces some gorgeous black and whites. The little triplet of my niece below is SOOC jpegs. No editing. Look at that substance. Fantastic.
The Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 Pre-ASPH
This lens! – Wow! – Classic rendering all the way! Bokeh has that almost oil painting-like quality. Not smooth, but very characteristic. It’s very sharp where, and ONLY where, you nail focus. It melts into blurry mosh quite rapidly so it can look very gloomy right next to the in-focus parts of the image.
It even has swirly bokeh potential that exceeds that of the Helios under the right conditions.
When you stop it down to f/2 it becomes sharp. Almost as sharp as the Summicron-M 50mm f/2.
I use it with an M-FX helicoid adapter, so I can get as close as 30cm from my subject. It easily fills the frame with a face, or you can do close-up macro’esque type stuff.
The Leica Summicron 35mm f/2 and Summicron 50mm f/2
Two lenses that in many ways share the same characteristics. They’re both very sharp, even wide open. They render some sub-par bokeh that when used right can look fine, but can turn your image into a mess if you’re not careful. They’re both very small, the 35 being almost as small as the Summicron-C 40mm.
They’re great allround lenses, and they do great on the streets.
Of course there are many other lenses that I could write about. And I feel rather sad that I didn’t find the time to include images with the Canon LTM 50mm f/1.4. It’s a true gem of a lens, but I’m thinking that it’ll get a post of its own.