Legacy glass on digital Part 1.

Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8 Lens.

I do like the quality and feel of the old legacy lenses created for the old film cameras. To my mind they are built to a higher standard than the modern lenses made for the consumer market.

I recently saw a Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm lens advertised on ebay and was tempted and was surprised that no one else bid on it. So, I got myself a nice lens of good condition for £31.

There is a lot written about the company of Zeiss Jena and the fact that it was situated in the Eastern part of Germany after the second world war. The company Zeiss originated in Jena but after the war the Americans moved most of the staff and manufacturing to Oberkochen in the West of Germany. Optics were continued to be manufactured in the original factory in Jena and in some cases using the original technicians who chose to stay. Some would say that the quality of the Jena lenses doesn’t match that of the ones produced in Oberkochen but I think there is an element of snobbery in that statement. It may be that the quality control was a bit more relaxed at the Jena works but if you get a good example they are certainly good lenses.

Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8.

You are, of course, stuck with manual focus when using these lenses on a digital camera but that doesn’t bother me at all. I often use manual focus with my digital lenses. On a Micro Four Thirds camera the focal length for this lens is 58mm which is a good focal length for Street Photography. The lens also has a close focus distance of 0.25m which is better than my Leica 25mm digital lens. I also like the way these old lenses have all the distance scales etc etched on the lens. It’s very handy for when you’re doing zone focusing, again, not something easy to do on a lens with no distance markings.

The lens fitting is the 42mm screw fit so I had to purchase a new adaptor for my micro four thirds cameras (Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Lumix GX8).

K & F Concept M42 – M4/3 adaptor

I chose the K & F Concept adaptor as I had purchased others in the past and some had been problematic and fitted the Lumix camera but not the Olympus. The one I chose was the Pro version which is a couple of pounds more expensive but was of excellent build quality and finish. It fitted both cameras very accurately without any play.

K & F Concept M42 – M4/3 adaptor

The lens and the adaptor look very good mounted on my Olympus OM-D.

Olympus OM-D M1 fitted with K & F Concept adaptor and Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8 lens.
Olympus OM-D M1 fitted with K & F Concept adaptor and Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8 lens.

I mounted the lens to my Lumix GX8 and went out for an afternoon photographing in a small town called Saffron Walden in Essex. These are some of the results. All jpgs straight out of the camera with no post processing:

Chasing shadows in Saffron Walden.

DECEMBER. 03, 2019

Monday 2nd Dec 2019 – A cold start to today with temperatures just above freezing. A nice clear blue sky though which bode well for some high contrast photography. I decided to take a drive up to Saffron Walden in Essex, a nice town just north of where I live.

I thought I’d try capturing some street photography with people walking through shafts of light which should be achievable with the low sun at this time of year.

Just to make it a bit different I also thought I’d use one of my old film camera lenses on my Lumix GX8 so I would be using manual focus. The lens I used was a 35mm which gives an equivalent on 35mm of 70mm, f2.8 Olympus OM series.

A suitable shaft of light.

One of my Olympus film cameras was still loaded with Ilford HP5 rated to 800 ASA so I thought I’d take that with me too.

After taking a few shots on the digital around the Cross keys pub where I found some suitable lighting I ventured on up to the Old Sun Inn and St Marys church.

Some great light inside the church.

After taking a few shots my battery gave out on the GX8 and annoyingly, the battery that should have been charged wasn’t.

I thought that was a good opportunity to use the film camera so started shooting with that. After some shots the normal click – clunk of the mirror and shutter just went click. That meant that the mirror was stuck up, normally caused by not enough battery power. So, I thought ‘time for a coffee break’ whilst I changed the batteries in the OM40.

The Old Sun Inn.

With me and the camera refreshed I then went over to the older streets of Saffron Walden to finish off the film before returning home.

35mm Ilford HP5 rated at 800 ASA.

35 mm Ilford HP5 rated at 800 ASA.