Oldies but Goodies

A while ago I bought a film camera. I have no intention of ever using it, as it would cost me a fortune in developing costs. It was for sale on eBay for under £50. Now to me that was a bargain. Not for the camera, as I have no use for it, but due to the 2 lenses that came with it. They are both Nikon Manual Focus Primes. A 50mm f1.8, and the one I was really after, a 28mm f2.8.

I hadn’t used them, but thought it was time I did. So I took them with me to Cardiff, to see how good they performed.

Nikon D750 - Nikon 28mm f2.8 Manual Focus - f5.6, 1/800sec, ISO100
Nikon D750 – Nikon 28mm f2.8 Manual Focus – f5.6, 1/800sec, ISO100

As I came out of the train station I put the 28mm on my D750. This is the view. Well a raised view. The bus station has been knocked down and the new BBC TV studios are under construction, so there is boarding all the way around and I had to shoot over that. I was standing in shadow from the station behind me and the sun was blasting over the top and hitting Stadium House, BT’s offices in Cardiff and one of the supports for the Millennium Stadium. (Sorry I stand corrected there. It is now known as The Principality Stadium, the name of its sponsors. I think it will be a good while before people start calling it that.) This was the first shot I took with the 28mm. I left it in colour so you can see the beautiful colours this lens picks up.


From the station I walked along the boardwalk next to the Millennium Stadium. The boardwalk overlooks the River Taff, from the name of which, any Welshman in another country gets their nickname “Taffy”. Not somewhere I usually walk as it is quite deserted on a normal day when there are no events. However as I find my style of shooting is changing, going to places like this is becoming so enjoyable. I took a couple of shots of the flag poles as I waited for the two guys to get closer.

Nikon D750 - Nikon 28mm f2.8 Manual Focus - f5.6 1/500 sec ISO100
Nikon D750 – Nikon 28mm f2.8 Manual Focus – f5.6 1/500 sec ISO100

As I walked on, the tones of the Stadium supports in the sunlight looked fantastic.

Although these are manual lenses, that is just for focussing. The camera takes care of the exposure. When attaching the lenses to the camera they do not show any information, the aperture shows as f0.0. However with the D750, as with most other newer Nikons, you can put the lens on and set the camera to recognise it, by inputting the focal length and maximum aperture. The details of the aperture then show correctly in the viewfinder.

Nikon D750 - Nikon 28mm f2.8 Manual Focus - f8 1/400 sec ISO100
Nikon D750 – Nikon 28mm f2.8 Manual Focus – f8 1/400 sec ISO100

As you get passed the Stadium you encounter the hoarding that is at the back of the Arms Park. So many people think that is what the old Stadium was called before they demolished it and built the Millennium Stadium. The truth is that it was actually called the National Stadium. The Arms Park is the ground right next to it and the home of Cardiff RFC.

I hadn’t seen this Street Art before as I usually stick to the other side of the ground where the centre of the City is. I had to get this shot for my friend Tina, otherwise she would have been annoyed at me.

Nikon D750 - Nikon 28mm f2.8 Manual Focus - f8 1/200 sec ISO100
Nikon D750 – Nikon 28mm f2.8 Manual Focus – f8 1/200 sec ISO100

This is the last shot I got with the 28mm. I must say I am very pleased with the results of these shots, and will be putting it in to my bag to take out with me more often in future.

Nikon D750 - Nikon 28mm f2.8 Manual Focus - f8 1/160 sec ISO160
Nikon D750 – Nikon 28mm f2.8 Manual Focus – f8 1/160 sec ISO160

As I got to the end of the Boardwalk I swapped the 28mm for my usual 85mm, and headed along the road to my usual hunting ground.


After an hour of shooting with the 85mm, I thought I should try out the 50mm. I was on The Hayes, the area where, as I have mentioned in the past, the Gestapo Security Guards come out and move people along.

I must say the clarity of this shot is superb. It was hard looking for subjects here as I’ve seen it all, but I focused on the two guys talking and had the aperture set to f1.8.

Nikon D750 - Nikon 50mm f2.8 Manual Focus - f1.8 1/1250 sec ISO100
Nikon D750 – Nikon 50mm f2.8 Manual Focus – f1.8 1/1250 sec ISO100

Another shot in the same area with the big flower pots. This time focusing on the guy with the phone and the aperture set to f5.6. The sun had disappeared by this time so the light wasn’t as good as when I had the 28mm on. I can’t wait to use it in good light.

Nikon D750 - Nikon 50mm f2.8 Manual Focus - f5.6 1/160 sec ISO220
Nikon D750 – Nikon 50mm f2.8 Manual Focus – f5.6 1/160 sec ISO220

The one thing you really notice after shooting with modern auto focus lenses is how hard it is to capture the movement in the street. I believe this would get better with practice, but you are so used to the camera adjusting your focus, that with the manual focus you have to pre empt what people are going to do even more. Also turning the focusing ring until you see that little white dot in the viewfinder. It is many many years since I have used manual focus, and you forget how skilful those photographers who use it are.

I did take a few shots of people moving, but found that by the time I got the focus spot on that the composition was lost as they had moved in the frame. However I was pleased with this one.

Nikon D750 - Nikon 50mm f2.8 Manual Focus - f1.8 1/800 sec ISO100
Nikon D750 – Nikon 50mm f2.8 Manual Focus – f1.8 1/800 sec ISO100

The final image using the 50mm before switching back to the 85mm. The woman had so many bags and was so engrossed in her phone that she didn’t know I was there, but the woman who was coming out of the shop to the left of me did see me and kindly waited whilst I got the shot.

Nikon D750 - Nikon 50mm f2.8 Manual Focus - f2.8 1/500 sec ISO100
Nikon D750 – Nikon 50mm f2.8 Manual Focus – f2.8 1/500 sec ISO100

Summing up on the two lenses, they worked beautifully as the shots above show. With more practice I am sure the results would become even better.

As I said earlier I bought these on eBay. They were originally made around 1983. The optics are so clean, with no dust or scratches, which is excellent for lenses that are over 30 years old. I suggest you get onto eBay and see what you can pick up.

A little tip, don’t go searching for the lenses, but for Film Cameras. People selling lenses hike up the price, but people selling the film cameras, to get rid of them and make a couple of pounds in their pocket, forget the value is in the lenses not the cameras.

11 thoughts on “Oldies but Goodies

  1. Hi Wayne
    The use of the 28 and 50mm lens gives a totally different way of shooting. Plus you have to focus manually. I don’t know if I would be able to do it. I also did it a loooong time ago 😉
    Street photography needs to capture the good moment. If you take your time to focus manually, it can be very frustrated.
    The result is beautiful. The shots with the sun and shadows are just great, graphic and clear.
    I also like the one with the man near the big flower pot. You should thank him for staying unmoving !
    I let Tina write a comment about street art…

    • The manual focus was the hardest to use as I always just lift the viewfinder to my eye and I am there. It was a lot easier with the 28mm as the location was quieter, whereas with the 50mm I had to be a lot quicker.

      I was lucky with the sun when using the 28mm. We haven’t seen much of that over the last few weeks.

  2. I will definitely leave a comment about the street art, Esther. 😀

    I love it, Wayne. Thanks for thinking of me. 😀 I like the eagle the best but they are all interesting and took a lot of talent to make.

    It seems you definitely had a good day with your new lenses. I used to use manual focus when I first started out and then you suggested using autofocus and I’ve never looked back. I tried it one time, just out of curiosity, and it is difficult to get the focus right in such a short space of time. I really like the shot of the man on the phone. I can’t explain why I like the “sale” sign in the background but I just do.

  3. MisterGC

    I bought a Canon AE-1 with 3 lenses (28mm, 50mm and a zoom lens I think a 70mm – ?? can’t remember) for €37 on ebay.
    I intended to buy an adapter so I could use the canon lenses too on my Sony A6000 and make use of the focus peaking, but instead I opted for a Nikon adapter so I could use my 35mm & 50mm 1.8 lenses. I still haven’t tried them out, but after reading your post, you’ve got me in the mood.
    I think what is holding me back is spending time manually focusing and missing some shots or not getting them in focus. But as you mentioned, with a bit of practice the results should come.

    The woman with the graffiti background is certainly ‘explore’ material. That 28mm lens is a sharpy that’s for sure. The two guys walking along that I first seen on Flickr is also a fantastic shot.
    I can already see your photography heading in another direction. Looking forward to seeing more shots with old glass on your Nikon.
    Very inspiring post Wayne. Thanks.

    • Grant I was looking at buying a Nikon adapter for the EM5. It is a minefield what to get as the cost is so wide ranging, and also they only work manual focus. I understand there is the option to buy an adapter to work the auto focus lenses with Auto Focus but they are quite expensive.

      It was fun using the manual focus, but I think in future will only use the 28mm as I have an autofocus 50mm. Still looking on eBay though if something is cheap enough as it is fun.

      I think the manual would work with a lot better with a lot of your style than mine, so go for it, it is fun.

      It is a change in my photography, and you are one of those who has assisted in this with the challenges you give me, and I thank you for that.

  4. Julián del Nogal

    Enjoy your new toys Wayne…happy new year.!
    Best.
    Julián

    • Thank you Julian, and a Happy New Year to you too.

  5. I would just warn you that I nominaded your blog at the Liebster Award 😉
    http://www.justalook.net/liebster-award-nomination-surprise/

  6. Nice post and shots. Interesting for me as I’m waiting for an Olympus OM4 that I’ve bought off off ebay (I couldn’t resist the price) with a 28mm and 50mm. I’ve got a bunch of out of date black and white film that’s been sitting in a bag and really needs using. You can’t use it without a camera. I just hope I haven’t forgotten how to do things manually! Did you scan from negatives or print?

    • Thank you Miles.

      I hope you have a great time with your Olympus OM4, and get to use up those old rolls of film.

      I bought similar to you but it was a Nikon. However as I pointed out, I have no intention of ever shooting Film, I just bought it for the lenses. Shooting Manually, well only focus for me as the exposure was dealt with by the camera, was a doddle, but would be no good for me and the way I shoot Street.

      I think you may have misunderstood somewhere, but I was shooting digitally, so I can’t help you with the final part.

  7. Ian Clark

    Best way to use your 28mm manual focus lens Wayne is to set the focus to around 10 or 12ft. I assume it will have a focus scale on it and use an aperture around f8 or f11 and just about everything will be in focus (google hyperfocal distance). Bring it along next time we shoot and I will show you.

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