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Wednesday, 30 October 2019


I recently bought the OM 40mm and paid a fair amount for it. The reasons for getting it are rather prosaic. I like the 40mm focal length, I like pancake lenses and I love the OM system. I think the viewfinder is the nicest I’ve seen on an SLR. The 40mm on an OM makes for a light and compact combo. The fact that the lens performs well is almost incidental.

By the way, I think the 40mm Minolta Rokkor for the CLE is another lovely lens. It’s almost...magic...

So you're the one I have to thank for that. I spent more time trying to find the 40mm and the Zuiko 90mm f2 for my OM-2n than I care to remember and I never could afford them.

Well, Mike - if you can't be rich at least it's good to know your opinion is well respected.

I still have a Minolta CLE and think Gandy is correct. I bought it because it was more compact than a Leica and had a good metering system. (I had an M2 already, still do) and nothing Leica produced for film ever persuaded me it was worth upgrading - though I did add a nicely engineered third-party film rewind lever to it. The 28mm when new was better than the Leitz alternative, but unfortunately years later it became unusable because of a fungus problem. The CLE was a better camera than Leica made, but the Voigtlanders were certainly inferior.

The next real advance for using my M lenses was the Konica Hexar RF, with better metering, a flare-free viewfinder and autowind, but after several years of use mine shed a few bits. It was a camera so obviously more advanced that Leica buffs had to discredit by inventing lies about it. Of course it was bigger and heavier than the CLE which I also continued to use.

I also had several Olympus cameras, but never thought of buying the 40mm. My standard lens was the 35mm shift and I also had a 50mm (along with 21, 28 and 200) so I never felt a need for it.


Unfortunately the site does not seem to have a price for this lens. It must be relatively rare.

But I find the site very useful for pricing gear I'm trying to sell at fair current market price.

I Reckon that best bargain is probably the Pentax P30 series, great starter cameras that absolutely nobody seems to want right now. You can get between 2-4 of them for the price of an an AE-1.

Back when I shot film on Olympus, I worked my way up from an OM1n to OM2, to OM4 and OM4Ti along with a ridiculous collection of lenses and accessories. I had the 40mm and while the mists of time cloud memory, I do not recall it being high priced. I must have gotten it just after it was released. I sold the whole kit and kaboodle to move the Canon just before the OM film line was discontinued.

I liked the 40mm lens and recently picked up a Voigtlander 40mm for my Leica M7.

Well, Mike, now I know who to blame for the 40mm-f/2 costing almost five times more what I paid, some seven years ago, for the OM 50mm-f/1.4 - which, despite belonging in the "OK but not great" class and having horrid levels of barrel distortion for its focal length, is nonetheless a fast prime lens as well as an upgrade from the basic 50mm-f/1.8.
There's a lot of speculation around revivals; vinyl is suffering from the same kind of greed, with LPs costing substantially more than CDs would in the latter's heyday. It's scandalous.
This is something I don't see in the latest interest of mine: classic car prices are quite straightforward. The rarer a car, or the better condition it shows, the more it costs. Simple as that. No speculation, no greedy people attempting to get rich at the expense of fashion victims. (But please steer away from waxing lyrical about the Alfa Romeo GT; I said "please!")

The price seems to have come back down on the Nikon FAs. They were truly silly for a while. Though you can pick up an F100 with the 50mm/1.4 for less than $200. Crazy.

I've noticed that Kirk Tuck has the same effect on eBay prices.

"P.S. The best used film-camera bargain on eBay right now is...I ain't telling!"

Don't worry, I'll tell them for you, Mike.

It's the Koni Omega Rapid. Hands down.

With a modest amount of patience and a crisp $100 bill (virtually, in your PayPal wallet) you can get a mechanical masterpiece of a 6x7 medium format camera. Massive, robust body, but really no larger or heavier than an FF DSLR. Huge, bright rangefinder (with parallax correction!) with side dial focusing on the opposite side of its big pistol grip, for great ergonomics. Quick-change backs with rapid-fire ratchet action frame advance.

And usually the asking price will include a lovely, sharp 90mm/f3.5 Hexanon lens with built-in leaf-shutter. A lens which just happens to offer you a field of view not so far off the Zuiko 40mm f/2...

Ugly as anything, though. Small price to pay, along with the small price you pay to own the thing.

I’ve always been surprised by the low prices on the used market for Nikon F4’s. A few years ago, it seemed like everybody was writing an article or making a video singing its praises. Prices seemed to climb a bit but only by $50 or so. The market has long since fallen back down and it’s a piece of cake to find a nice one for under $200. Try looking for an F3 in similar condition and you’ll easily add $100 minimum. Probably more. The F4 does everything the F3 did plus throws in slow but accurate autofocus, matrix metering and onboard film advance in a more ergonomically friendly body. Why it doesn’t get the love of the rest of the professional Nikons is something I’ll never understand. On the bright side, I picked up my F4S for a song and really enjoy using it when I get the bug to shoot 35mm.

Too funny.

This and "bokeh". How many more sea changes have you caused that you're not telling us?

Eolake Stobblehouse

There must be some kind of magic to a 40mm to start with, a bit tighter than the 35mm and nicely wider than the 50mm. I’m shooting with the relatively inexpensive old Konica 40mm/1.8, and it seems a decent landscape lens. But digitally it doesn’t seem worth the trouble with the adapters. People keep wanting to drive the price of this lens up...

The best used-camera bargain on eBay now is any Konica SLR which works. You need one, to use the wonderful Hexanon lenses. I have the 24, 40, 50, 100, and 200mm lenses, all wonderful. Don't take my word for it, read about it here: https://www.buhla.de/Foto/Konica/eKonicaStart.html

[A Konica T3 was my first "real" camera, and my father owned and used several of them (he liked to take European vacations and wrote articles for travel and gourmet magazines to defray the expenses / justify the trips). As a teenager I was a proud owner of the infamous Hexanon Varifocal lens. --Mike]


Don't knock yourself out. During my OM4Ti phase (c.1996) the 2nd hand price of the 40mm f2 here in Blighty was already out of reach. I bought a 35mm f2 for much less and was glad that I'd had the difficulty of choice removed (and I came to prefer the extra bit of width).

It's difficult to see why it achieved this exalted position over the bog-standard 50mm F1.8. It might have been a touch better optically, but not nearly so much as the price inferred. A bit like Pentax's 'legendary' 43mm f1.9 (which I also used briefly, and which didn't strike me as in any way superior to the 50mm F1.7 'A' lens - although it did have a noisy motor and the word 'limited' inscribed, so I suppose ...)

Old lens consumers are an interesting lot. They seem to be looking for a certain "magic" that somehow can not be purchased new. I should know. I have owned and sold more obscure supposedly "magic" optics than I should ever admit.

These days I've found an interesting seam of fun to be mined. No lens enters the Vault of Optical Happiness unless is has neutral or undercorrected spherical aberration behind the point of focus (that's the kind of "magic" I prefer) _and_ costs less than 50USD.

Imagine how thrilled I was to recently pick up a box of 8 lenses at the cost of 7USD each. Half were "keepers" and the rest were quickly sold at a small profit and keeping the old man in beer.

Nothing like living on the edge, is there? Being retired and living on a fixed income can do that to an old guy.

You touched on one of the better 40mm lenses in your blog Mike, but by far the best bargain is the Leica 40mm Summicron, which is usually less than a third of its Leica contemporaries and what is more it renders very nicely.

The only advantage of the camera though, whether it be the Minolta CLE or the Leica CL, are the 40mm framelines.

More than once you’ve sung the praise Asahi’s 50 mm f/1.4 lens, on T.O.P. and as the Sunday Morning Photographer. But so far this darling hasn’t been affected by your Midas touch. With some patience & luck one can still find a fine copy for 50~100 €/£/$. Blessed are the Pentaxians.

[Yes, and many times I've excoriated the use of the word "image" when "picture" is a better, stronger word. But no one pays the least attention—and yet that Leica lens they were talking about is STILL called the "King of Bokeh," which was a passing reference I wrote, under deadline, in a caption to a picture in a magazine. Some things catch on, other things don't. I'm not saying I cause anything, but I've been an instigator from time to time.

Also, it's tough finding a practical camera for M42 screwmount lenses. Most of the available cameras have stop-down metering, which is primitive to people used to modern cameras; dim, slightly cropped viewfinders; and they use mercury batteries that are now banned. There are substitute batteries, but sometimes the meter circuits have to be modified for them to be linear with the newer batteries. All in all it's a bit too much of a PITA even for energetic youngsters. --Mike]

"that had no affect whatsoever"...

Come on, admit it, either someone else is writing these posts under your name, or you're deliberately setting mines for us pedants... ;)


[I wood never due that. Pedants are valuable...your services are of grate help to other's. (innocent grin) --Mike]

I've always wanted the Zuiko 40/2 and never been able to afford it. Thanks, Mike. Thanks a lot.

Uh-oh. I just searched on eBay for "Koni Omega Rapid" (per Andrew) and found they're in the $200-300 range. The TOP inflationary effect again.

Mike, a great deal on a 40mm is staring you in the face... the Fuji 27/2.8 (40.5mm eq.) Its one of my two favorite Fuji X-mount lenses.

Prices of manual lenses have been interesting for a while. Olympus is a good example in that most lenses are pretty cheap and then there are the very expensive ones. I should have the 28 I have CLA'd, but I could get another for so little that it may not be worth the effort. On the other hand 90 macros have been expensive for years. And don't get me started on the prices of certain Zeiss glass.

So it is your fault. ha ha

I have and OM-1n, OM-2n and OM-2SP. Mostly use my oly lenses on digital these days.

OK, the best used film camera is the Mamiya 7 with the 80mm lens. At any price a bargain. In excellent condition sells for as much as new!

Leica CLE? A camera without manual metering? Always a non-starter for me. I had (and still have) the CL, a nice travel camera. But I will respectfully disagree with you and Steven Gandy about the CLE. The M6 and M4 are the ones to have.

And I am pretty sure I would like it's 40mm Summicron better than the Oly, I have both the Rokkor and Summicron, very sweet lenses IMHO. Their character was essentially similar to the 6 element 35mm Summicron I had for 30 years and many thousands of frames. They were the reason I bought a full frame Sony A7, and it's my only compact lens on my Nikon Z6 (a pretty disappointing camera I must say) Nikon had a chance to make the world's best digital camera for manual focus lenses and didn't bother to do it. Just lazy I guess.

The persistent hype around the Summicron 35mm v4 is one of the biggest mysteries to me.
Having held 3-4 samples of the lens, I found that they all felt loose and cheap, not at all like the predecessor or successor - event the Elmar-M 50/2.8 (which you ridicule for build quality on occasions) feels more solid.
The 35/2 v4 may benefitting from a good optical design but obviously cost cutting must have played a major role: https://www.photo.net/discuss/threads/plastic-king-of-bokeh.432072/
Additionally; seemingly everyone owning the 35/2 v4 feel they have to shoot it wide open to get full return on their bokeh investment.
I scratch my head and wonder what I am missing.

[As I think I have mentioned elsewhere in this post, I sold mine because of quality issues. --Mike]

I have been away from the blog and the internet, so only now I read this post.
Yes, you have already caused price increases in the photographic market worldwide!
Until the early 1990s the photographic equipment market in Brazil suffered from import restrictions, except in Manaus, where I lived.
I had already purchased 3 contax models, my GAS in this area, when I knew the little Aria would be available soon at a local store. I asked the salesman to reserve the first camera for me, and he told me the price.
I was warned that the camera was already available and I was shocked to hear the new price, far above what I had been previously informed.
I complained to the vendor, who was my friend, and he, with a copy of PT in his hands, showed me the article "25 Best Cameras" and said: "You see here the Aria, is one of the best in the world, a little gem, according to Mike Jonhston".
And I paid more for this exclusivity!

Mike, I don't want to make you cry but here in the UK in the late 1980s, dealers just could not sell Minolta CLEs. The late Vic Odden had a bunch in his store at London Bridge: the red leather case with camera body, three lenses and a flash unit.

One of my colleagues at the time bought a kit. Memory is now hazy on the price but it was somewhere between £500 and £650, I think. Could be wrong on that.

What I do remember is that a year or three after that, when all the new ones had been gone a while, the price of secondhand ones doubled and tripled.

Twenty years later, a similar thing happened here with Mamiya 7iis and the lenses.

Now I'm crying. :-(

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