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.

Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic F  picture
Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic F
Vintage Honeywell Pentax Camera 35MM Spotmatic With Multiple Lenses, Accessories picture
Vintage Honeywell Pentax Camera 35MM Spotmatic With Multiple Lenses, Accessories
Pentax Spotmatic TESTED w/ Super-Takumar 1:1.8/55mm Lens and Hard Case - EXC picture
Pentax Spotmatic TESTED w/ Super-Takumar 1:1.8/55mm Lens and Hard Case - EXC
ASAHI PENTAX SPOTMATIC F CHROME, 55/1.8 TAKUMAR (HEAVY DUST), ISSUES/196976 picture
ASAHI PENTAX SPOTMATIC F CHROME, 55/1.8 TAKUMAR (HEAVY DUST), ISSUES/196976
ASAHI PENTAX SPOTMATIC F CHROME, 55/1.8 TAKUMAR (HAZE, DUST), ISSUES/196855 picture
ASAHI PENTAX SPOTMATIC F CHROME, 55/1.8 TAKUMAR (HAZE, DUST), ISSUES/196855