Teaching Old Lenses New Tricks

Let me start out by saying this post is a little nerdy. Nerdy, but fun. Maybe even practical.

I have a few Mamiya 645 lenses sitting in the cabinet and seeing as there are adapters for mounting almost any lens on almost any body, I bought one to use these large medium format lenses on my Sony A7ii.  Traditional big glass meets new tech sensor.  Why not?

I set out for a hike in Garland Ranch Regional Park near our home in Carmel Valley with just the set of Mamiya lenses to see what I could find.

I was mainly thinking macro but would also see how the setup behaved doing general purpose shots as well. It’s a crappy time of year for macro work around here right now (January).  Almost no flowers yet but I was confident I would find something to shoot.

The macro rig consists of a Photodiox Pro M645 – Sony E adapter, a Mamiya Auto Extension Ring 2, and the Mamiya 645 80mm 2.8 lens and a Manfrotto BeFree tripod with their video head.

My motivation for this approach goes something like this: (1) You can buy nice, clean lenses like these on eBay for minimal cost (2) Extension rings are a great way to get macro shots, again for minimal cost, and my thinking is that the less pieces of glass you put in front of a sensor, the better, and (3) I’ve always had an affinity for these Mamiya 645 lenses somewhere in my soul, which echoes in my head as I set up a shot; the gratifying idea that breathing new life into these older lenses is a good thing to do.

Oh, and nice, new, modern digital lenses are absolutely amazing.  And kinda expensive.

Admittedly, having a dedicated macro lens (like the Sony 90mm or 50mm) is handy, where you can jump from a standard lens setting to macro in seconds, but I found that a 90mm or 50mm lens in standard, non-macro setting isn’t a useful lens to shoot with, so I end up changing lenses between setups anyway.  For the kind of shooting I like to do I’m always jumping from a wide lens for landscapes to macros (for flowers for example) all day long.

So here’s what I captured.  By design, the only adjustments I made in Lightroom were for exposure, which was just about a 1/2 stop up. The A7ii has the ‘Creative Style’ set for Vivid and I shot at iso 640 at 16×9 RAW uncompressed. The macro shots are an 80mm 2.8 Mamiya 645 lens + Mamiya Auto Ring #2 + Fotodiox adapter.  The other shots were made with either a Mamiya 645 35mm lens or the 150 mm Leaf shutter lens.

I also shot video at the same time, which I will post in a few days.