Vintage lenses

Modified Vintage Lenses

How to create unique and gorgeous underwater photos

High-magnification wide-angle and macro state-of-the-art lenses have long been the preferred types of lenses for underwater photography. If you want to capture the abstract beauty of the marine environment in a different way, however, to break away from the ordinary and to make your photos stand out even more, it’s worth considering the use of modified vintage lenses.

Rising from the deep
Flamboyant cuttlefish Metasepia pfefferi
Frowning lionfish
A Pumpkinseed
A nudibranch near the USAT Liberty Wreck
Semper’s armina nudibranch
Sea tunicate
Green barrel sea squirt
Dream reef

Comments on the images

Vintage lenses look ancient and nostalgic, which actually turns their optical flaws into advantages. The main disadvantage of using modified vintage lenses underwater is, however, the problem of correct focus (especially at f/2.0) and only the central sharpness of the images, which limits the composition… and this really annoys me. And the result, usually only one out of 200-300 underwater images is amazing. BUT, I realize that I’d rather have just 1 awesome shot out of 300 than 50 good ones out of 300.

Yellow perch in a lake
A lonely clownfish

The article belowOver and Under‘ on modified vintage lenses in underwater photography was published in the online and printed versions of the UK’s DIVE Magazine (Summer 2023):

They say photography isn’t about equipment, but sometimes you just get excited about a piece of equipment. For me, that (underwater) equipment is currently a modified vintage lens.


Cover photo of DIVE Magazine (Summer 2023) – Peacock Mantis Shrimp. The image was taken in Bali using a Helios 44-2 M lens and a SubSee +5 diopter (Canon 80D body)
My underwater camera (set up for macro shooting with modified vintage lenses)