Fun with Vintage Lens

It’s been a long time since I get excited about photography. The last time that happened, was when I had my first DSLR (a Nikon D50) way back in 2007 (Which I bought for AUD$1657.. yeah expensive).  Whilst I had a lot of fun with it, the bulkiness of the DSLR body meant that it was sitting at home most of time when I went travelling. Eventually I sold it (For just $212.50 on eBay in 2013), with most photos taken with a digital compact instead. Until last year, it was when I decided to splurge on a Sony NEX 5R, which promised light weight body, with DSLR quality photos!

Naturally, I compared it to my ex-Nikon DSLR… except I was very disappointed. You see.. I used to use aperture priority mode (“A” on the camera), which I was incredibly happy with on my Nikon camera. With the NEX camera though, I just can’t seem to get the same result I wanted! It didn’t matter if I was using automatic or ‘aperture priority’ mode, most of the photos were underexposed and just plain dull! For months, even my new mirror-less sat idle with it gathering dust. Fortunately, I discovered… ‘Manual mode‘! It’s a lot more effort, with every snap requiring a careful balance between aperture, shutter speed, and various parameters like ISO and color balance. Yes, it’s slow enough that your other half will complain at how long each shot takes. But you know what? I haven’t looked back since. NEX is a completely different camera in manual mode.

It didn’t take long before I felt like the kit lenses were not enough. Seeing how others have been using 3rd party lenses on NEX (without mortgaging their kids to buy the ones from Sony!), off to eBay I went, and I got myself my first prime lens.. a vintage Minolta Rokkor-X 50mm F1.4…

Minolta Lens On Sony NEX 5R

.. at the grand price of SGD$125 (including postage).. a bargain! And guess what? The lens is all manual and made before I was even born! (in the 70s). As a lot of people will tell you, people buy these lenses for the super fast speed, great for low light conditions etc etc. Pictures speak a thousand words, so here’s a couple of photos I took with it over the weekend to show you what it’s capable of..

Coffee at Toby's Estate

Wife enjoying her latte

Afternoon Tea at Takashimaya Orchard

Walnut Carrot Cake @ Toby's Estate

View outside our 61st Floor Apartment

Another View out of our unit

Now, I’m definitely no professional photographer, and my photos ain’t going to win any awards anytime soon! To my eyes, they certainly look a little more ‘artistic’ than the ones I’ve taken so far on the NEX camera. The photos are sharp when I need it, and achieves some pretty impressive DOF (depth of field) shots that I never knew possible. If there is one catch.. it’s the 50mm focal length, which is actually 75mm on a APS-C camera like the NEX 5R. It’s really only good for portraits. If you want anywhere near a half-body shot like the following, you will find yourself standing more than 2-3 metres away to do that.

Shopping for Maxi

So there you have it.. it’s the best $125 I spent all year! I intended to get this lens in preparation for the little one, coming in about 2 months. But after this weekend, I think I need a 35mm though..

Oh no.. I hope this is not the start of me contracting G.A.S (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)..

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