Photography is an art form that has evolved significantly over the years. From the early days of daguerreotypes to the modern era of digital photography, the tools and techniques used by photographers have continually changed and improved. However, one aspect of photography that has remained consistent is the use of lenses. In particular, vintage lenses have a unique charm and character that many photographers find appealing. This is especially true in the realm of infrared photography, where the unique characteristics of vintage lenses can produce stunning results.
Understanding Infrared Photography
Infrared photography is a specialized type of photography that uses infrared light, rather than visible light, to create images. This type of photography can produce surreal and dreamlike images, with dark skies and glowing foliage. Infrared photography requires specialized equipment, including an infrared filter or a camera that has been modified to capture infrared light.
The Appeal of Vintage Lenses
Vintage lenses, often referred to as “legacy glass,” have a unique appeal for many photographers. These lenses, which were designed and manufactured decades ago, often have a distinct character and aesthetic that modern lenses simply can’t replicate. This character can be due to a variety of factors, including the type of glass used, the lens design, and the manufacturing techniques of the time.
For infrared photography, vintage lenses can offer several advantages. Many vintage lenses have coatings and designs that are well-suited to infrared light, producing sharp, contrasty images with minimal flare. Additionally, the unique character of vintage lenses can add an extra layer of interest to the already surreal nature of infrared images.
The 5 Best Vintage Lenses for Infrared Photography
While there are many vintage lenses that can be used for infrared photography, the following five lenses are particularly well-suited to this type of photography due to their optical characteristics and performance with infrared light.
1. Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AI-S
The Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AI-S is a manual focus lens that was produced from the late 1970s to the mid-2000s. This lens is known for its sharpness and contrast, making it an excellent choice for infrared photography. Additionally, the wide f/1.4 aperture allows for low-light shooting and creative depth-of-field effects.
2. Canon FD 24mm f/2.8
The Canon FD 24mm f/2.8 is a wide-angle lens that was produced in the 1970s and 1980s. This lens is known for its excellent sharpness and contrast, as well as its minimal distortion. The wide-angle perspective can add a dramatic element to infrared images, making this lens a great choice for landscape and architectural photography.
3. Olympus OM Zuiko 35mm f/2
The Olympus OM Zuiko 35mm f/2 is a compact, fast lens that was produced in the 1970s and 1980s. This lens is known for its sharpness, contrast, and beautiful bokeh, making it an excellent choice for infrared photography. The 35mm focal length is versatile, suitable for a wide range of subjects and styles.
4. Pentax Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4
The Pentax Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 is a fast, sharp lens that was produced in the 1960s and 1970s. This lens is known for its beautiful rendering and bokeh, as well as its excellent performance with infrared light. The Super-Takumar lenses are also known for their solid build quality and smooth focusing.
5. Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2
The Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2 is a high-end, compact lens that was produced from the 1970s to the 1990s. This lens is known for its exceptional sharpness, contrast, and bokeh, making it an excellent choice for infrared photography. The Leica M-mount also allows this lens to be used on a wide range of cameras, including modern mirrorless cameras with an adapter.
Infrared photography is a unique and fascinating aspect of photography that can produce stunning, surreal images. Vintage lenses, with their unique character and optical qualities, can add an extra layer of interest to these images. The Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AI-S, Canon FD 24mm f/2.8, Olympus OM Zuiko 35mm f/2, Pentax Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4, and Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2 are all excellent choices for infrared photography, offering a combination of sharpness, contrast, and unique rendering that can enhance your infrared images. So, dust off that old glass and explore the world of infrared photography!