pic from: http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-eos-crop-sensor-hd/484807-top-4-vintage-lenses-6.html
Saw an old Zeiss lens on ebay for 50 bucks ?? dont jump with joy just yet. Many photographers do that without realizing these lenses were made before computers were were used for manufacturing, because of which the elements may not be 100% aligned or there may be some loose bolts in the barrel that we dont know of, which may produce some strange results.
There is also the problem with dust and fungus inside the lenses. Cleaning yourself may not be an optionand not all technicians are capable or repairing/cleaning old lenses, and cleaning old lenses is also not cheap either.
pic from: http://www.dyxum.com/dforum/fungus-or-haze_topic64936.html
Another issue is the radio activity (yeah, the hiroshima, nagasaki kind) of certain lenses, but i read somewhere its not that big of a problem. On a serious note would yopu like to try ? before you lose half your teeth and all your hair? I don think so.
I am not trying to scare you or anything, but proceed with caution, you know better.
If at all you have to buy old manual focus lenses, buy minty or like new. The best bets according to me would be the lenses from the 80s and early 90s. As things improved much during this period.
Nikon still makes great manual focus lenses to this very day. Luckily enough they are not as expensive as a Leica or Zeiss. They are also a great entry point for budding film makers and photographers. Though this brand new manual focus Nikon lenses are not as cheap as say 50 bucks, but having a brand new, dust and fungus free lens beats any justification we give to ourselves for buying old lenses.
If you are buying pentax or nikon lenses and are using that particular system, it is fine. Otherwise there is whole another headache of finding adapters for these exotic mounts, lack of infinity focus on some lens/adapter combinations.
If you ask me, unless you are buying Leica, Zeiss, Hasselblad, Rollei or Nikon there is no point in buying old lenses. No old lens can beat modern manual focus lenses from Leica, Zeiss, Nikon or even Voigtlander. If you are so fond of old manual focus lenses just go buy a Nikkor 50 1.2 or a Zeiss planar 50 1.4 (superb lens).
The ridiculous thing these days is – these old crummy fungus and dust ridden lenses are costing as much as new lenses on ebay and elsewhere. Human greed has reached its zenith. Chuck this nonsesne and go buy a new lens. You wont regret it.
I request you earnestly to stop having this idea about yourself as a “lens collector”. It is for those rich, jobless photographers who dont need photography jobs to live. Not you. Dont try to be a fancy “lens connosieur”. Its consumerist. Instead be a “Utiliterean Proletariat”. Just buy/keep what you absolutely need. You dont need more than three lenses to make it as a photographer.
I personally only ever bought three lenses in my life. The Nikkor 18-70 for like 150 bucks used from a local photo goods retailer, the 50 1.8D I ordered online brand new for like 90 bucks and the 80-200 f2.8 (as the 70-200 f2.8 is still damn expensive) used from a online classified.
What I mean to tell you from this article is – if you find a minty Zeiss, or a Leica or a Nikon lens buy all means buy it, but remember there is no greatness in having a bunch of old fungus ridden lenses which you are not going to use much anyway.
I am saying this again, be a “Utilitarean Proletariat” not a fancy rich bourgeois “lens collector”. If you feel like buying new lens, remember we are all living in a bad economy and making money with photography and feeding your family is getting harder by the day.
Cheers and happy clicking...