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Vintage Lenses & Lightroom Treatments

Photo Moment - June 15, 2024

Have you ever considered taking a vintage, manual focus lens for your travel photos? Check out this video for some cool samples, a description of the unique characteristics of many vintage lenses, and some awesome Lightroom tips. Then, download the Lightroom presets seen in the video for free right here!

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Choosing the Best Travel Lens: Modern Zooms vs. Vintage Glass

If you're traveling, you're taking a camera. And if you're taking a camera, then you're choosing a lens… or two, or three… to go with you. What do you do? Do you pack every lens you own, just in case? Do you pack one or two zooms to cover the basics? Or do you pack a catch-all zoom, like the new Lumix 28-200mm f/4-7.1 lens? Super lightweight, incredible range, not the fastest lens especially at length, but it'll cover all the bases. Perfect travel lens, right? Or! Do you go old school? Pack something vintage, something with its own character, something all manual?

Modern Zoom Lenses: Convenience and Versatility

When it comes to travel, modern zoom lenses like the Lumix 28-200mm f/4-7.1 are incredibly convenient. These lenses offer a broad range of focal lengths, allowing you to capture wide landscapes and zoom in on distant details without changing your lens. They're lightweight, making them ideal for travel when you want to pack light. However, while versatile, they often sacrifice speed, especially at longer focal lengths.

Pros of Modern Zoom Lenses:

  • Versatility: One lens can cover a wide range of focal lengths.
  • Convenience: No need to carry multiple lenses or change lenses frequently.
  • Lightweight: Easier to carry around during long travel days.

Cons of Modern Zoom Lenses:

  • Speed: Not the fastest lenses, particularly at the long end of the zoom.
  • Character: Modern lenses can lack the unique characteristics that give photos a distinctive look.

Vintage Lenses: Character and Creativity

On the other hand, vintage lenses bring a unique charm to your photos. With their manual focus and distinctive characteristics like vignetting, chromatic aberration, and specific bokeh shapes, vintage lenses can add a lot of personality to your images. For example, the Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lens offers a beautiful focus falloff and a soft, halo-like blooming effect that modern lenses often can't replicate.

Pros of Vintage Lenses:

  • Character: Unique characteristics that add personality to your photos.
  • Build Quality: Often built to last with robust, metal constructions.
  • Creativity: Encourages more thoughtful and deliberate shooting.

Cons of Vintage Lenses:

  • Manual Focus: Requires more time and precision to focus.
  • Weight: Often heavier than modern lenses.
  • Limited Range: Typically prime lenses, so you might need to carry several to cover different focal lengths.

A Real-World Example: Traveling with Vintage Lenses

I just got back (OK, months ago, but I'm finally publishing this) from a week in Bratislava and Budapest. Two ancient European cities packed with amazing architecture. It's still winter there, which means it's a bit cold and overcast most of the time. So; flat light, minimal shadows. Also, early sunsets, and with any luck, some pretty ones. To me, this called for vintage lenses with lots of their own character.

I have a set of Pentax Takumar lenses that I've built over the years, adapting from M42 screw mount to full frame L-Mount, plus, I've put a filter adapter ring on each lens to make them all 67mm and added follow-focus gears to each one for filmmaking. I actually like the geared rings for manual focus too; it makes it easier to find the focus collar when looking through the lens.

My favorite of these is the Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4, although I debated bringing just the 35mm and making that my only lens, but ultimately decided on the 50/1.4 and 24mm f/3.5. I brought a polarizer for shooting in the day, and very importantly, I brought a 1/4 Pro Mist for shooting at night. I really wanted that “cinematic” diffusion on any light sources in the shots.

Editing Vintage Lens Photos

Editing photos taken with vintage lenses can be a bit different from editing those taken with modern lenses. For one, the focus falloff and blooming effects need to be handled carefully to maintain the lens's unique characteristics. Here's a look at some of the unique traits of vintage lenses and how to enhance them in post-production.

Defocusing and Focus Falloff:

Vintage lenses often have a distinctive focus falloff, where the image starts sharp in the center and gradually becomes softer towards the edges. This can give photos a dreamy, almost otherworldly quality.


Heavy vignetting is common in vintage lenses, which can add a dramatic effect to your photos. While some might see this as a flaw, it can be used creatively to draw attention to the center of the image.

Chromatic Aberration:

High contrast areas often show chromatic aberration, especially with older lenses. While this can be reduced in post-processing, sometimes it adds to the charm of the image.

Using Filters:

As mentioned, I used a polarizer during the day to enhance the richness of the skies and water and a 1/4 Pro Mist filter at night to add cinematic diffusion to light sources. These filters, combined with the unique traits of vintage lenses, created a distinctive look for my travel photos.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best travel lens depends on what you're looking to achieve with your photography. Modern zoom lenses offer convenience and versatility, perfect for those who want a hassle-free shooting experience. On the other hand, vintage lenses bring a unique character to your photos, encouraging creativity and deliberate shooting.

What's your favorite travel lens? Would you shoot a trip with vintage glass like this, manual focus? Let me know in the comments what lens you think is the best for traveling. If you haven't subscribed to the channel, be sure to do that while you're commenting. And I'll see you in the next video.

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📄 Full Video Transcript

This video was recorded months ago and I finally edited and published it — so, no, it’s no longer winter in Bratislava and Budapest 😅 But it was when I shot this!! Waddaya think? Vintage lenses FTW??
Team Vintage! 😅
Now Bratislava on the other hand, there's no substitute. It's the "real" deal. Hard to manufacture or make that up.
Living in the former empire of Kodak Inc. (Roch-cha-cha NY :^), I say vintage optics man. It's all just glass that, transmits and refracts light, metal coatings on all lens/air surfaces. The photons don't care and quite frankly neither do the sensors. As you say another tool in the tool chest, another color on the pallet for "expression".
Nice! I´m the kind of novice who takes all of his lenes whith him when traveling, only to end using 1 or 2 of them. I do have vintage lenses that easier to use now thanks to the focusing help one gets from newer cameras.
Pls make a vedio on comparison Lumix S5iix vs Lumix Gh7 please
Very few differences other than sensor size. GH7 has timecode input and the fully articulating LCD. Um… that’s all I can think of off the top of my head. I’ll dig deeper though. Maybe it’s worth comparing. EDIT: oh yeah; ProRes raw ha ha that’s a big one. Also ArriLog support and 4K modes without cropping.
I only take my iphone with me. All the cameras are too heavy
I get it!
Hedging my bets, Takumar 50 f1.4 AND 24-105 f4 lumix on the road again 😁🤷🏼‍♂️
@@photojoseph I usually do too…but seeing if one lens can do it all…save time not switching and sensor dust issues but give up beautiful renditions of faster apertures…
Haha fair. The 24-105 is a great lens but it’s BIG. Personally I prefer smaller for travel.
That shot with the column and the hot air balloon looked like a vintage postcard. Lovely pics.
Thank you 😌
Is 1/4 strength enough or would u use 1/2 or 1/8 or even 1x?
@@photojoseph I tried 1/2 I find that it is amazing when you want a dreamy look 👀 but…. I find the auto focus hunts more

When you are using manual focus it shouldn’t be a problem tho! I might switch everything to 1/4 like you suggested !
@@photojoseph ahh got it it’s kinda like anamorphic lens unless there’s a light source you can’t see the blue streak
No, it shouldn’t. ⅛ is subtle. You’d really only see anything around direct points of light.
@@photojoseph does focal length impact it, or does it have no difference? I have 1/8 and I barely see anything in my wide angle lenses
For this lens the ¼ is enough. On clean lenses I think ½ could be good. 1 is too much, in my opinion.
Nah just go 28-200 so you can get all ranges
Fair enough!
Would u have done anything different? I’m about to travel and I’m very excited but overwhelmed with what to bring
@@LouisLuzuka nope!
@@photojoseph also did you miss autofocus
@@photojoseph I agree, did you bring anything else? I’m tempted to bring that everything zoom for the in between but it’s big snd heavy
Honestly, no! This was a perfect combo. Going 35mm only if you want to carry just one lens is certainly a good choice, but I’m glad I had the two to swap between.
I love this lens😮
(I have an affiliate search link in the description — start there)
They’re cheap on eBay!
💯 really had some great food on that trip!
@@photojoseph yes sir, I was born and raised in Budapest and I been in Bratislava on the family vacation back in the early 1980's. I pretty sure you enjoyed your trip over there and you didn't miss out on the goulash and Langos, lol...
Haha glad you like it!
Well done, sir!
Thank you kindly!
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