Vintage Macro Lenses

Estimated Cost: 80-200€

If you have decided you don’t need autofocus (see Modern Macro for that) but you want really good quality without too much sourcing of adapters and focusing mechanisms (see Reproduction Lenses), then this category might be for you. A lot of the 50-60mm macro lenses made by various manufacturers are relatively affordable but also extremely high quality. Some of these will need a short extension ring because they are not made to focus to 1:1 magnification, but these are available and affordable. Most of the time you will also be using them with an adapter, as Nikon F is the only mount that has survived from the film era to the digital era.

Keep in mind that these lenses to vary - some are better than others. 

 

When buying used lenses, always look out for their optical condition - they might have bad scratches and a lot of dust or haze, in which case they will not be suitable for high-quality reproduction like we are aiming at.  

Pros

More affordable

These lenses will generally cost you much less than a modern macro lens. Expect to pay between 80 and 200€. 

Easily adapted

These lenses will generally just need a single adapter from one system to another, such as Nikon F to Sony E mount.

Wide range of options

There is a wide range of options in different price ranges. Keep in mind that the best ones are more expensive, but even the lesser ones will be quite a bit better than using a normal photographic lens. 

High quality

Some of the lenses here will bring you all the way to some of the best scans you can make with easily available equipment. For many, this is all you will ever need.

Cons

Manual focus

Manual focus takes a bit of time and careful focusing. This is the main drawback of these lenses

Quality

While a lot of vintage macro lense are really good, there are some stinkers. Stay away from 'zoom' macros, for example.

Wear

While you will probably be able to find a copy of your lens in good condition, there is a danger that you will get one with optical or mechanical problems. Buying from a proper dealer such as Kamerastore.com will fix this problem. 

 

Suggested Lenses

In no particular order

Nikon Nikkor 55mm f2.8 - Nikon Nikkor 55mm f3.5 - Komine/Vivitar 55mm f2.8
7artisans 60mm f2.8 - Olympus Zuiko 50mm f3.5 - Canon FD 50mm f3.5

The Nikon Nikkor 55mm f2.8 is a special lens - it is, by quite some margin, the best vintage macro, and one of the best macro lenses overall. If you want quality but don't care about autofocus, this is a fantastic deal - often selling between 120 and 180€.

 

The 7artisans 60mm f2.8 is not a vintage macro - it came out just a few years ago - but it is a macro that has gained quite a lot of traction and that some in the community really like. It is more expensive than the others, by virtue of being new, but if you want something flawlessly new, this might be a good manual focus macro with similar quality to the Nikkor mentioned above.