Legacy Lenses – time to move on?

Legacy lenses are by one definition an old lens which can still fit on a current camera. Nikon actually use the same fitting from 1959 in their F mount lenses. The same physical fitting that is. A lot of people who had 35mm SLRs  may have kept the lenses and use them in some form or another on a more modern DSLR. Eventually though these legacy lenses will cease to exist.

Why? Because technology will dictate that newer bodies will require different functionality and maybe even different physical size. As sensors get better will it be worth using an older lens that may not be able to give the best performance? Are we already at the stage where manufacturers want to move on but are worried of losing customers?

Take Nikon. We have the full frame FX, the cropped sensor APS-C DX and their 1″ CX. That’s three different types although the DX and FX use the same physical F-mount. While you can use DX lenses on FX bodies because of the smaller image circle your back to a cropped image. The CX mount had to be physically smaller for the 1″ sensor. With it came a chance to redesign the interface as well. The physical connections for aperture and focussing were removed and everything went electronic.

Now if when Nikon release their mirrorless cameras will they keep to the F-mount dimensions or will they do something different?

Thus we get to the stage where we can say ” Is it time to move on?” It gives them a chance to hit the reset button and start again. Maybe even future proof the design a bit. Will Nikon change to a brand new mount? I think we all know the answer and it contains the words ‘stuck’ and ‘ways’.

Lets use computers as an example.

While changing anything we are familiar with can be disruptive for a while eventually people come around. Think of computers. Remember the original floppy discs? Mine were 5.1/4″. Then we had 3″, 3.1/2″, zip disks and a slew of others. These gave way to CD’s which gave way to DVD’s which gave way to cloud storage. Now we dont get external storage drives on computers. As internal storage got better DVD drives were removed to save space.

We have accepted all the technological improvements the computer industry have thrown at us sometimes moaning along the way. We have mobile phones that are more or less connected mini computers in their own right. Modern cars not only use computers to control the managemnt systems but you need a computer to perform diagnostics. Self driving cars are not that far away. I won’t even go into the ‘ Internet of things’.

Technology has provided us with the jump to digital cameras. Although improvement is slowing slightly we still expect generational changes between models not incremental. And we expect all this in a cheaper package on a refresh rate similar to smartphones.

So…

So why the hell do we still want to use old lenses on modern cameras?

Providing it is beneficial and not just a marketing ploy it might be time to release our hold on legacy lenses and … move on.