Photographing with Vintage F Mount Camera Lenses
Rather than confining yourself to only using lenses produced by your camera body brand, you have a wide variety of options at your disposal when it comes to third-party and vintage lenses. The F mount is one system harnessed by multiple manufacturers, including the Soviet-built Helios, which was often supplied with some M42 mount cameras. While some just lock on, others may require the use of an adapter, which you can easily find for a variety of combinations.
What Is the F Mount?
The F mount is a style of interchangeable lens created by manufacturer Nikon for its 35mm single lens reflex (SLR) camera bodies in 1959. It utilizes a three-lug bayonet-style mount and a 44mm throat, with variations of the mount still used on its digital SLRs to this day.
- The F mount has backward and forward capabilities, with many modern autofocus F mounts still compatible with vintage cameras while you can use old manual-focus models of the 1960s on modern digital SLRs.
- In addition to those produced by Nikon, a number of other brands also produce equipment that uses the F mount and M42 systems, including the 44-2.
What Are the Features of F Mount Lenses?
F mount lenses lock in place by turning the lens counterclockwise while the zoom and focusing controls rotate in the clockwise direction to increase focal length and focusing distance.
- Most cover the standard 36x24mm area of 35mm format, although industrial F mounts have varying coverage.
- You can find F mounts with a range of different features, including autofocus (AF) and aspherical elements for reducing chromatic aberrations and vibration reduction (VR) for reducing the visible signs of hand shake. They are available in a wide variety of apertures for creating beautiful bokeh effects or maintaining depth of field.
What Should You Look for When Buying F Mounts?
As with buying any vintage equipment, it's important to carefully check the lens for any signs of external damage, including scratches or markings on the glass as well as fungus or corrosion on its interior.
- Always check that the shutter is still working at its optimal level by pressing the shutter release and listening to how responsive it is.
- One of the most favored F mounts produced was the Helios 44-2, a fast 58mm often included as a kit lens when buying Soviet cameras. The 44-2 featured a 49mm filter thread and aperture of f/2-16 for achieving bokeh effects with a minimum focusing distance of 45cm.
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