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Context

I've purchased an older 400mm f6.3 t-mount lens and I'm considering buying a Helios 44-2 2/58 M42-mount lens. I've used the 400 for a week on my Sony a6000 and I don't see any problems with my copy, outside of me failing to manually focus correctly. The images look fine and the boken isn't the best, it does work. I know that manually focusing a lens is an art that will determine the sharpness of an image so I'll improve that over time.

Question

Is there any downsides of using older lens, specifically the ones I mentioned, in terms of image quality compared to say a modern Nikon 400/2.8 or Sony 55/1.8? (Ignoring auto focusing and EXIF data.)

References/Related

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I did experiment with different manual lens (in total of 23 M42 lens of various makes and f numbers) and I can say a few things about manual lens, these are:

  1. Older lens doesn't have many modern coatings such as anti-flare which is very important in night photography. If you like flares, then no issues here.

  2. Older objectives may have lower have lower light transmission ratio as well. This has to do with resolution of the lens (in mega pixels).

  3. As far as Bokeh is concerned, older lens may have better Bokeh (I like Bokeh from Asahi Takumar lens better than my Canon AF lens)

  4. Some manual lens may have yellow color tint (especially those radioactive ones, I know some Takumars). You need to correct color tints in the software or leave these objectives in sunlight for some days or weeks.

I have many manual lens, they works great for portraits or shooting movies, for others I don't use them as it is great hassle to focus manually (especially lower f number lens which I like). Once the moment is gone, it is gone.

Helios is a good lens and also has nice Bokeh. If you can find Ashahi Takumar, even better.

  • Are all Ashahi Takuma all T/m42 mount? I see a few on ebay without the mount type listed. – unsignedzero Nov 9 '15 at 17:32
  • I think the Pentax Asahi Takumars are T mounts and Asahi Takumars are m42. Sorry for such a late reply. – Nitin Kumar Jan 27 '16 at 19:51

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