Are Film Camera Lenses Not Really Suitable for Digital SLRs?

Mike Johnston, The Online Photographer, doesn’t think so. And the reason has to with the way lenses are coated.

He says lens coatings are relatively more important to lens performance than most photographers realize. Digital SLRs require different lens coatings than film SLRs.

Coatings are used to protect the lens from stray light, chiefly from light that bounces back to the exit pupil of a lens; not much light bounces back from a piece of film while there’s more from a digital sensor. And here lies the difference.

“This is the reason why you may be naggingly underwhelmed by the optical performance of, say, that older AF 28mm Æ’/2.8 you bought to use as a “normal” lens for your DSLR,” Mike writes.

But it’s also the reason that sometimes film-camera lenses work better for digital if they were made to a higher standard in the first place. For example, film-era Leica lenses are already “coated for digital” just because they were well-coated, period.

Is Mike right? What is your own experience with using film SLR lenses on digital SLR cameras?

[Via: TheOnlinePhotographer]

Chris Malinao

About Chris Malinao

Chris teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF, Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. He also teaches smartphone photography.

Vintage Soligor Camera Lens Zoom Macro 37mm-105mm 1:3.5 No. 8780577 MC picture
Vintage Soligor Camera Lens Zoom Macro 37mm-105mm 1:3.5 No. 8780577 MC
Soligor 135 Mm F 3.5 Tele Prime Lens Excellent Condition T Mount T2 Nikon Nf picture
Soligor 135 Mm F 3.5 Tele Prime Lens Excellent Condition T Mount T2 Nikon Nf
Vtg NEW NOS SOLIGOR 28-50mm F-3.5-F-4.5 MACRO Camera Lens CANON Mount - In Box picture
Vtg NEW NOS SOLIGOR 28-50mm F-3.5-F-4.5 MACRO Camera Lens CANON Mount - In Box
Vintage SOLIGOR 135mm F:4.5 TELEPHOTO LENS for ARGUS C3 & C2 BRICK RF camera  picture
Vintage SOLIGOR 135mm F:4.5 TELEPHOTO LENS for ARGUS C3 & C2 BRICK RF camera
Yashica TL Electro, M42 mount Soligor 80-200mm F/4.5  C/D MC  Macro Zoom Lens picture
Yashica TL Electro, M42 mount Soligor 80-200mm F/4.5 C/D MC Macro Zoom Lens