Do you use MF lenses?


With the shift from analogue to digital photography, lenses with manual focus have gone out of style. Because of the recent increase of MF lenses and Focal Reducer/Speed Booster adapters being introduced to the market, I think it is appropriate to say that MF lenses are experiencing a little comeback. In the forefront and at the Photokina show alone a dozen new lenses without autofocus und stabilizers have been announced. As we’ve gotten used to by now, space in the lens body being freed-up by removing the AF motor and stabiliser modules, is being used for ever bigger lens elements, allowing these new MF lenses released in the past few years to reach aperture values which were very rare in the past. Modern AF-lenses with images stabilization are regarded as extremely fast if they have an aperture value of f/1.2, whereas MF-lenses with f/0.95 are nothing special and values between f/1.2 and f/1.4 are almost the norm. Another reason for the growing popularity is undoubtedly the technical progress of the last few years, which has occurred especially in areas like liveview, displays/EVFs, In-Body-Stabilizers and focusing aids (MF magnifier, focus peaking, splitscreen,…)

Manueller Fokus

Compared against models from half a decade ago modern cameras with large displays/EVFs and high definition, delay-free liveview streams make it notably easier to focus manually. With activated MF magnifier or focus peaking it is even easier to focus by hand than with old film cameras, despite the latter having large OVFs and special matt screens.

Despite everything written above, the question that keeps bugging me: Is that enough to go without autofocus und stabilizers? Do you use MF lenses and if so, for which kind of subjects?

  1. In my Sony R1 I just use manual focus because it’s easier to get infinite focus, and use the push button in the few occasions I want to override the automatic focus. But I do this because the AF is a bit poor.
    In my canon FD film mount I’ve just have the option of manual focus lenses.
    With the Fujifilm X-E1 the scale if hard to read because I’m not sure the distance it is focusing (clouds are impossible to focus) so actually the R1 have more useful AF and MF. I think that’s the reason I gift the X-E1 and conserve the R1.


    1. With the Fujifilm X-E1 the scale if hard to read because I’m not sure the distance it is focusing (clouds are impossible to focus) so actually the R1 have more useful AF and MF.

      I’ve heard that X-Pro1 and E-X1 have poor AF, but I never thought that they can’t focus on clouds.


      1. Perhaps I wasn’t skilled enough to manipulate the camera, but in the end I just focused the most distant object to force infinite, with clouds the af just gave me different lectures and the scale don’t help to say if I’m at infinite or just focusing long distance. I re-read Ken Rockwell’s review and he says the same.

      2. Doesn’t the camera have a distance scale? I don’t me the one on the lens, but the digital one on the display.

      3. Yes, it has. But it’s inadequate, instead of give a number (e.g. 1.7m; 5m; ∞, etcetera) it has a kind of rule with numbers from, let’s say, 30 cm to infinite, the problem is that the indicator is a rule (you can see it here and I cannot pre focus for example to 1.2 meters because the rule has just 1 meter and after that 1.5 meters, and at infinite it’s worse because the indicator moves in that rule between 10 meters to infinite but never makes a signal that it gets effectively to infinite. it just continue to advance a bit more and a bit more as in one of Zeno of Elea’s paradoxes.

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