I know it. You know it. Everyone knows it. Technology moves fast–almost frustratingly fast. Everyone also has that one story about their new and ludicrously expensive computer, TV, or camera, only to find out that within six months it isn’t all that new or expensive. We can’t all keep up with the rat race. In fact, you shouldn’t keep up with the rat race. I will give you three reasons why investing in old lenses is not only a great idea, but also a fun one:
1. People want to talk about ’em.
This may sound a little funny but it’s true. The number of times I have been asked about my old lenses, especially by other photographers, has been shocking. This has been a great way for me to meet some great people, have some great conversations, and meet other contacts in the same field. Not many people consider using old lenses, but when you tell them why you do it (after you read this article) and show them the quality you are getting, they will laud you for your ingenuity.
2. They are inexpensive.
Companies love to release their new, expensive equipment with the promise that it will completely redefine your life. This is especially true with photography. Want to work for National Geographic? Well, not with that cheap glass you bought from us last year! The truth is that only 10 percent of a good photo is due to equipment. I recently started buying Canon FD lenses that were produced in the 70s. I am ecstatic with the quality I am getting from these, considering I paid between $30 and $100 on eBay. They outperform my $900 lens. These lenses have become a mainstay in my camera bag when I go out and shoot. Bonus: accidentally dropping a $30 lens in the ocean isn’t as heart-wrenching as dropping a $900 lens.
3. They make you a better photographer.
I believe that in order to become better at a craft you must constantly challenging yourself. These lenses don’t have a lot of the “comfort” features to baby you along. With Autofocus and image-stabilization, many photographers will just “spray-and-pray”, hoping for a quality photo from the bunch. This doesn’t make you a better photographer if your camera is doing all the work. Unless it is an absolute necessity to use these features, like for sports photography, you should be controlling everything manually. This allows you to gain a profound knowledge of how your camera works, how to focus properly and quickly, how to set proper exposures for the utmost creative control, and a whack of other benefits.
There you have it: my advice on why you should be buying old lenses. A fun and creative way to explore photography in a new way, whether you are a brand new photographer working on the basics or a seasoned one looking for a fresh new approach, this pursuit will unlock a new world of opportunity.
About the Author:
Bryce Humphrey is a photographer based in Windsor, Ontario.