Vintage lenses rebooted
17/05/17If you love vintage lenses and own a Nikon, the news isn't good. You probably already know this: you've got the short straw. Of all the camera brands you could have, Nikon is the worst for vintage lenses. Why? Because Nikon has the longest distance between lens and sensor. This means you always need an adapter with correction glass if you want to use M42 lenses. It's like adding a cheap magnifying glass from your local hardware store.
So what's the solution? You can give up on M42 and buy vintage Nikon lenses. Or you can call a surgeon....
A surgeon is someone who takes apart vintage lenses and adds a new mount. The quality varies from one guy to another. My personal pick is The Bokeh Factory. This is a guy called Tom, who lives in Poland and has his own Facebook page. To be honest, I wasn't sure I could trust him, but his English is ok... and I desperately wanted a Flektogon 35mm lens. So I placed an order.
Tom was true to his word. My biggest hassle was PayPal (user friendly? my ass). Tom found a Flektogon in great condition and sent me a photo before getting it cleaned & lubricated. Then he set to work. I told him "no rush", so he took 2 to 3 weeks. I have no idea if he can work faster. When he was finished, he messaged me with a tracking number. What followed was 10 days of agonizing silence. Not because of Tom, but because I live in Australia and the tracking failed after leaving Poland. It reminded me of the radio blackouts that Space Shuttles used to get before returning to Earth. I sat there thinking 'has it got lost?' or worse... 'has it been smashed by the post office?'. Finally, my parcel arrived.
Crikey, look at the padding. This could survive a game of Aussie football. As for the workmanship, it's a beauty....
It looks great on my Nikon. The 80's retro look may not be everyone's taste, but the quality is legendary.
There's something about a Flektogon lens that makes photography fun. My copy is a bit soft on the right side. At first I was disappointed, but a sharp glossy lens is no fun if you're shooting decrepit buildings and dodgy backstreets. I can use the weakness to my advantage and create images that look intriguing, gritty or unsettling. The trick is knowing when and how to use a vintage lens.
If you need surgery, check out The Bokeh Factory. I don't get commission - Tom doesn't know about this article. Yes, it's a gamble to trust a stranger. But where's your sense of adventure?