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5 Reasons to Pick Up a Vintage Macro Lens

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Photographer and YouTuber Mark Holtze has put together a quick video that offers some advice for beginners or other photographers on a budget. Specifically, he shares his top five reasons why you should go out and buy a vintage macro lens.

Despite this being pretty obvious advice, we haven’t actually heard it too often. Most people trying to get into macro on the cheap will pick up some extension rings, or hack something together, but there are advantages to picking up a dedicated macro photography lens… even if it’s several decades old. Sure, it’ll cost you more than a $10 extension tube, but the performance is hard to beat.

In short, the tips/reasons that Holtze mentions in the video are as follows:

  1. Low Price of Entry – As with all vintage lenses, you can find great condition old macro lenses for very cheap online.
  2. Easy to Adapt – It’s easy (and cheap) to find adapters for these old manual-focus lenses that will let you attach them to most modern cameras.
  3. Great Focusing Experience – The lack of AF isn’t a drawback in Holtze’s opinion, and the smooth mechanical focus mechanisms on many vintage lenses make them a joy to use if you’re just learning to rely on manual focus.
  4. Sharpness – When stopped down—as you will be for macro photography—older lenses are typically just as sharp as modern glass, at a fraction of the price.
  5. Versatility – It’s “hard to get bored with a macro lens,” since most play double duty as fantastic portrait lenses as well.

An un-categorized point #6 might be that, especially for mirrorless shooters who have access to in-body image stabilization, high-res EVFs, and in-camera focus aids, many of the drawbacks to an older manual focus, unstabilized lens are easy to deal with. And while you could pick up an extension ring or two, or reverse-mount your kit lens, a cheap dedicated macro lens from 40 or 50 years ago might end up being one of your favorite pieces of kit.

To hear more from Holtze or dive into each of the above points in more detail, check out the full video up top.

(via ISO 1200)

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