This isn't a new subject for most digital camera users, and I'll assume you've already seen at least a couple of articles or posts on using them before now. What you may not have seen are a few twists on using an unconventional projector lens, meant for viewing medium format slides, and a way to mount a 50's classic projector lens for 35mm slides, by using it's original mounting hardware as a ready-made starting point. It allows anyone to easily get shooting these lens types without much effort or advanced and/or custom parts construction.
There is at least one name in photo gear history that probably won't ring any immediate bells. His name is Siegfried Franz Spira, or simply Fred, to those who knew him personally. I'm not among them, but I was certainly aware of his company as a kid in the 50's and 60's, with a head full of wishes for what he offered to all of us on the lower branches of the spending tree. If the company name of Spiratone is unfamiliar too, then I'll leave you to research that on your own. The company spanned a 50+ year timeline starting in 1941, and some of their gear was truly wild and wacky too.
Whether you frequent auctions online or off, you're mindful of the possibility that you may end up with a surprise after you've paid for your winning bid. I won't guess at a figure on what the good-to-bad ratio really is, but there's always a fair chance you'll be disappointed. I have to accept that as part of the process, and sometimes I'll get lucky - and sometimes I won't. This is one of those times where's it a little bit of both.
It's been a long time coming. A purchase I made nearly 40 years ago has recently propelled me back into a project that has been on a very slow simmer for decades. The purchased items were 2 small wooden boxes that were both filled with glass lantern slides. They were greatly appreciated, but their origins were entirely unknown - until now.
For anyone who's chosen to use legacy lenses on digital bodies, the initial lens choices would likely be any of the zillions of manual focus 35mm full frame types. They are plentiful, cheap (compared to their 'digital' versions), and have mounts that can handle cross-branded lens adaptions with matching adapters readily available. Whether these lenses were passed down from family or tucked away from previously owned film cameras, or something newly sought out from online sites or garage and yard sales... they are familiar to most of us and the obvious first choice. They are however, not the only choice.
While looking for some lenses in Contax/Yashica mount for both mirrorless and film, I happened across a buy now offer on eBay for a used Yashica ML 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro. These are scarce to locate and probably more sought after than other C/Y Yashica branded zoom lenses, as they have a reputation for edge clarity, color rendition, and sharpness. When they do show up for sale, they may not always be in the best optical and/or mechanical shape due to some inherent design issues.
This particular lens was listed at a good price but as noted from the seller, it was suffering from heavy hazing on the internal elements. Aside from that, it was fully functional and in reasonably good cosmetic condition. I clicked the 'Buy Now' button and had it in-hand several days later. This wasn't going to be my first lens tear down or cleaning, but it would be my first attempt with a zoom lens.
This article could easily start out as a kind of chicken and egg joke, like "Which came first... the camera or the lens?" I should add in 'legacy' or 'vintage' before the word "lens" to be more in keeping with the title.
Internal mirrors and pentaprisims started disappearing from cameras somewhere around 2008-2009, and makers offered lens mount adapters for their new mirrorless designs with the new mounts they used. Most of these adapters were produced by the OEMs themselves, and provided a quick path for brand loyalists to use their existing lenses on these new digital models, or even a conversion to a new body with a differently scaled sensor. Sony's full frame Alpha and SLT series and the NEX line offered this - or Nikon's D series (both FX & DX) when the Nikon 1's were introduced.
I knew nothing much about cameras when I was young. I got to push down the trigger on my Grandma's Brownie Hawkeye camera for the rare times I was allowed to take photos of the grown ups. This was a camera that the only thing you could do was to literally point and click. There were no adjustments to make before you took a shot, and just a quick wind of the film advance knob when you were ready to take another picture. The only thinking required was in keeping track of the frame number while winding. There wasn't a lot of photos taken in those days - other than birthdays and Christmas, or when a relative visited from another state.
After I made it to my teen years, something changed for me after seeing a camera that wasn't in the shape of a box; and with a few adjustments to its knobs and levers, it could do all sorts of things that no box camera could ever do. I wanted more than the Brownie experience and that meant I would have to do it on my own. My family wasn't cash-happy, so nobody was about to buy another camera setup for me.