There are times when I’ve really loved the look of a vintage lens but wanted the weather-resistance of a modern lens. Best yet, I know that I’m not alone here. The modern photography world offers lenses that are incredibly clinical. With that said, and if we keep going at this rate, every single lens will look the exact same. Why can’t we have variety? Why does everyone need to make their own version of the metaphorical spicy chicken sandwich but remove the spice? That’s why I believe that if someone rehoused vintage lenses the right way, they’d make a killing.
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Why Do This?
This idea really came to me when I reviewed the Funleader Contax 35mm f2 rehousing. That lens made me realize how wonderful it is to give old vintage lenses new life. Another one that made me realize this is the Yashica 45mm f1.7 lens taken from the GSN Electro. Both efforts at making rehoused vintage lenses are very good. However, I sincerely feel like there can be much more done! Here’s a bit more of a list:
- Keep them manual focus
- Add focus confirmation chips
- Add weather-resistance
- Give them all metal exteriors
I mean, wouldn’t you go crazy for this?
Manufacturing Rehoused Vintage Lenses
Just think about how wonderful it would be to have an old Voigtlander screwmount lens natively adapted to your Sony E mount camera? Alternatively, think about how awesome an old Zeiss pre-Milvus lens for Canon EF could be natively adapted to Canon RF. What’s more, it can be given weather resistance and much more. This isn’t necessarily difficult to do either. It would just require a bit more tinkering and work. But the potential image quality would stand out from a lot of the other brands out there.
There are lots of factors that can make this complicated. But a bit of trial, error, and research can fix any of those issues. Manufacturering these lenses isn’t at all incredibly difficult to do either. Advanced in 3D printing have made things come so far. Using recycled metal is the way to go with lenses like this. Photographers might want autofocus lenses, and if they do, then they could get them with what other manufacturers make. But these rehoused vintage lenses would be for a more careful, intentional, and arguably far more entertaining type of photography.
Who Would Want Rehoused Vintage Lenses?
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering who would want rehoused vintage lenses. Well, there’s a long list of photographers:
- Those of us who love shooting film and want the vintage aesthetic
- Photographers that are so sick of all the details that modern lenses render with portraiture
- Photographers that want character in their lenses.
- Photographers that want a different look
- Photographer who have never shot with or used these lenses before. Why can’t they be allowed to try these things out? What’s wrong with that? Did you, the older photographer reading this, try out all those ancient processes at one point? Did you not try to create a cyanotype at some point in your career?
If there are camera, repair, or lens companies out there reading this, please considering making rehoused vintage lenses. And more importantly, do them right for photographers.