There are lots of folks who wonder what it’s like to use new lenses on film cameras. And unless you’re shooting Leica M, many of those lenses are probably for mounts that are kind of dead now. Nikon F mount’s latest lenses don’t really support their older cameras. With Canon EF mount, Canon’s newest lenses can still work with the older EF cameras. And then you have to think of all the 3rd party new lenses on film cameras. What are those like? Well, we’ve got answers.
The Phoblographer has been in the business of reviewing cameras and lenses for over a decade. And we realized early on that lenses are a major part of the reviews we should be doing. Hence, we’ve got the largest database of real-world lens reviews around of any standing publication.
In fact, there was a period where we decided to test lenses on both digital and film camera bodies. And this was a really fascinating thing to do. I wish that it were still that easy, but it oftentimes isn’t.
Here’s some insight:
- When reviewing the new Fujifilm Acros 100 film, I used it with modern Leica M-mount lenses. And it performed really well.
- In our Leica M6 review, we used it along with modern lenses and film.
- In our Kodak Ektachrome 100 review, we used it with modern Leica lenses.
- Our Kodak TMax P3200 review was done with various Leica lenses
- Our Fujifilm Velvia 100 review was done using modern lenses.
- Our Ilford FP4 review was done using new lenses on film cameras.
- Our Leica M4P review used new lenses.
- Our Nikon N80 review used new lenses
- Our Kodak Portra 160 Review used new lenses
- Our Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art review used film
- Our CineStill 400D Review was done with new lenses on film cameras
- Our CineStill 800T Review was done with new lenses on film cameras
- Our Minolta Maxxum 7 review used new lenses on film
By and large, I think that Leica M mount cameras are the best options to test this with. But Nikon F and Canon F are a close second place. Sony Alpha/Minolta mounts are okay, but there are sometimes problems between the lenses. I wouldn’t throw a lot of faith in Pentax when it comes to working with new lenses. And otherwise, that’s really all that you’ve got. So if I hate to rate any of these I’d say that you should go for Leica M mount, then Nikon F, then Canon EF, and finally Sony Alpha. The thing is though, that Canon EF lenses can be had pretty cheap right now. This is especially the case for older L glass.
No matter what, I also believe that you should check out the newer stuff from 3rd parties. Zeiss Milvus and Otus lenses are technological marvels when it comes to using film cameras. Sigma’s lenses are also quite good in the form of stuff like their 40mm f1.4 and others. But they’re very big and insanely heavy. Tamron, on the other hand, perhaps is doing the best of many worlds.
When Tamron announced their 35mm f1.4 for DSLRs, things were starting to come to an end for the mirror and pentaprism. I’ve heard rumbles that this lens design was originally supposed to be sold to Nikon, but they pulled away at the last minute. Tamron, however, knew it was too good to not sell. And indeed, I thought it was incredible. If you end up getting it, it will do so well with your film camera.