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billdoubleu

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As I'm still fairly new to the addiction of camera gear; I'm curious of what everyone does when they get a new lens.

If you're someone who buys cheap Chinese or vintage lenses, like me, the odds a getting a lemon seem high. What's your process after receiving a lens to make sure you have a good copy?

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Sometimes a Good copy is not what you want. But the biggest risk is Fungus and that usually is a bummer. Not really easy, or maybe impossible to repair. Some of it really doesn't show up as much as you think. But it could contaminate the rest of your good lenses. I keep my old stuff in a separate bag from newer stuff. I don't even put newer lenses in an old camera bag I have bought or found used.

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I'd suggest that you put it on the camera and:

  • check the connection to the camera is mechanically sound
  • turn on the camera and if the lens is electronic then check that the connection is working
  • hit record
  • focus to infinity and check that you can get the horizon in focus (it might not be exactly at the infinity mark on the lens)
  • change the focus all the way to its nearest position and point the camera at something that distance away
  • do a similar test with testing the full range of the aperture from wide-open to fully closed
  • if it's a zoom lens, do a similar test with the full range of the zoom
  • then point it at something plain (a blue sky is useful) and close the aperture completely and do a full pass on the focus from near to far
  • if it has OIS or other buttons on it then test those functions
  • also test whatever automatic focus modes it has

That should test the lens mechanically and electronically, and to check it optically you need to then review the footage on a decent sized display. Pay particular attention to spots (that's what the sky test is for) which might indicate dust or fungus inside the lens (or on the sensor) and then look for vignetting, colour shifts, or anything else that stands out to you.

Then just use it a bunch to get to know it, and how it handles flares, skin tones, how soft it is wide open and how much you have to stop it down before it sharpens up, etc.

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@webrunner5, can you elaborate on why one wouldn't always want a "good" copy? Meaning you would want old coatings or something along those lines?

@kye, I appreciate the response! I know a lot of this probably seems obvious to the experienced folks, but I've been trying to learn cameras, shooting, editing, etc. as a hobby for two years now and I still feel like I have no clue what's going on.

 

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Well I think one of the main reasons, at least to me is I want a lens that has character. Most new lens are squeaky clean and near perfect edge to edge. I know that is in now but if you are shooting women, especially older women you really don't want it razor sharp. I sort of like the Russian lenses. Cheap and kind of poor Zeiss copies with a lot of, dare say...problems, but still they have a unique look to them.

It depends on the shoot, but some people like stuff crystal clear and some like things a bit hazy. But truthfully it depends on the camera you have. Soft lenses on a soft camera, not so good lol.

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6 hours ago, billdoubleu said:

 

@kye, I appreciate the response! I know a lot of this probably seems obvious to the experienced folks, but I've been trying to learn cameras, shooting, editing, etc. as a hobby for two years now and I still feel like I have no clue what's going on.

No worries!  

This field is absolutely huge and is a never-ending challenge for everyone.  It's got all the great ingredients: it's hugely technical with a fast pace of change so you're always learning to keep up, it's almost always a team activity and involves working with people both behind and in-front of the camera, and is an art-form not a science so there is no final answer and there is always something more to learn.

Here's my advice - learn as much as you can, but learn by doing.  Make films, learn from them, and then make more.  Lots of people are all talk or all tech and don't actually create anything, don't fall into that trap.

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