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I'm looking into purchasing some fast primes for my Olympus E-M5 Mark II. But rather than stick to modern lenses, I'm looking into adapting those from the film era or early digital years.

I'm looking for fast primes around f/1.8, give or take. Nothing slower than f/2.8 unless it's a macro or wide, as I'm mostly looking for standard focal length options.

Besides the above "requirements," I would prefer to stick with low-cost, great IQ, lenses, so the "gems" of the industry. Hopefully there are some around the $150 mark.

closed as too broad by mattdm, scottbb, inkista, Philip Kendall, Dan Wolfgang Jun 15 '16 at 22:51

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Hate to say it, but you're unicorn-hunting. There is no such beast.

Understand that you're shooting a camera with a 2x crop factor. So, a "normal" lens is 25mm. And if you're looking at all classic film-era lenses to adapt to your camera, you're also looking at lenses from an age when 24mm was an exotic super-wide lens. And when f/2.8 was pretty much the fastest most lenses got, so anything wider is also an exotic, and is therefore liable to cost quite a bit more than the $150 you want, even in the "abandoned" mounts, such as Minolta MC/MD, Canon FD/FL, or Olympus OM.

If you have to have f/1.8 or wider, and you can only spend $150 or so, you're pretty much going to be limited to one type of lens, and one lens only, and that would be a 50mm f/1.8 or f/2 kit lens. Which was normal on 135-format cameras, but is going to be a telephoto on a micro four-thirds camera.

Also understand that in adapting your lens, you're going to lose all aperture control from the camera, autofocus, and lens EXIF information (see: Can I use lens brand X on interchangeable lens camera brand Y?). You'll also want to add in the costs of the adapter ring (not some $20 cheapie, if you actually want one with any accuracy of manufacture and decent performance), and the costs of a good CLA for your vintage lens (and you're willing to ignore the whole µ4/3 sensor stack issue). At which point you've probably doubled your budget.

Quite honestly, as someone who adapts manual focus-era lenses to her Canon dSLRs and micro four-thirds gear with wild abandon, it's simply not worth it to save a bit of cash, particularly if you want to go wide-to-normal focal lengths. You do this if you already have collector head and know the ins and outs of condition/repair/restoration (I.e., you laugh hollowly and translate the words "mint condition" on eBay listings to "well I think it's a lens"), and are determined enough to ignore all the myriad inconveniences to get something to work just because they can. You don't do this to get bargains, or to get better glass. You do it to get different glass. But there are so many compromises, you need to be a little nuts to enjoy it. Welcome to the club of crazies if you are.

Honestly? I think you'd probably be best off simply saving the pennies, doubling your budget, and getting the m.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, so you'll have a lens that's designed for your camera that does everything you want, rather than sacrificing on max. aperture of focal length, and being weighed down with a full-frame sized lens and adapter ring.

  • Thanks @inkista. I adapt a few old film lenses I had to my Olympus (and previously Canon) cameras, but didn't have any idea what to look for (especially brand-wise) in the future. I suppose I'll stick with m4/3 lenses until I gain a bit more knowledge. – T Corin Jun 5 '16 at 6:41
  • @TCorin Adding that to your question might have netted you a different answer. :) But you know how the 1.6x crop factor means getting normal/wide/fast for cheap on Canon was a pain? It's worse on mft, because of the 2x crop. Far more mounts can be adapted, because registration distance is so thin. But it's not like Leica M-mount lenses are ever cheap, or "affordable" M39/LTM lenses are faster than f/2.8. – inkista Jun 6 '16 at 0:30
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Inkista's answer is comprehensive. That being said:

I have an Olympus E-P5 MFT camera from 2013, and I have bought an adapter for my old OM-mount lenses that I use occasionally. Initially, my thought process was similar to yours.

Experiences:

  • Good adapters cost as much as a new kit lens.
  • You can buy cheap adapters on Ebay.
  • No matter what, a full-metal adapter is heavy,.
  • The old lenses are also heavy.
  • They are so heavy they can deform the MFT camera body which is not designed for such heavy loads. You need a tripod and/or work carefully.
  • the old zoom lenses are not that sharp, you need to get the manual focus exactly right (digital focus indicator helps but still)
  • used lenses from the 1980s are of dubious condition, risky to purchase
  • exotic and weird OM lenses are rare, overpriced

What do I use them for?

  • as learning tools
  • for video. manual continuous focusing is "real work" on an older lens
  • for still pictures. they have a legacy look-and-feel, sometimes interesting for creative work
  • old say 200mm prime lenses are cheap, sharpness is okay, lens become a 400 mm equivalent, good for very remote subjects
  • in harsh conditions, or when I must leave the camera unattended for some reason. Old lens + retro Olympus design makes the equipment look old + not worth stealing.
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You'll need an adapter. The best option is to use Olympus adapter for Zuiko classic 4/3 lens. If you can live without some automatic functions, then you may also use other vendor's lenses and one of good but not cheap solutions is Metabones speed booster which will even make your lenses faster (and wider).

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