A Beginning Guide to Retro Photography Techniques

Written by  on September 13, 2013 

Retro Photography is not simply about playing with the Photoshop effects. People who claim them to be vintage photographers by employing Photoshop effects are actually not retro specialists in the first place. To become a retro photographer, you will need to have vintage lens. If you are planning for learning the vintage methods of taking photographs, then it is really necessary that you go through the following points –

Retro Photographs taken with Vintage Lenses - A Beginning Guide to Retro Photography Techniques
Retro Photographs taken with Vintage Lenses

It is always necessary for every beginner to first know and acquire knowledge about the general physics of the camera and lenses. You will need to be expert in changing the lens according to the systems. Manual lenses can bring out great result for conventional vintage photography. Of course, you will need one digital SLR body, along with an adapter ring and vintage manual focus-lens. You can easily get hold of adapter rings through any online e-commerce website.

Fixing the Lens

Manual lens are very inexpensive, compared to today’s lenses. So, it won’t be very difficult for you, is you are still in high school to get some of those lenses. The distance between the mounting flanges of the body of the camera to the sensor is known as register. You don’t always need corrective optics for modifying a lens for mounts with large register to a one with small register.

However, if you do find adapter exclusive optics, providing you with short registers than what your camera is, and then those lenses won’t be able to focus to infinity and would be of no use than macro lenses. An optical adapter will definitely help you to adapt the lens to a shorter register, but it might affect the image quality and introduce focal length multiplier.

Manual Lenses for Vintage Photography - A Beginning Guide to Retro Photography Techniques
Manual Lenses for Vintage Photography


Functionalities that will help

A small image circle will help you to get a faster light drop that too towards the edges, thus, creating a vignette quality image. You can definitely use the specific manual lens functions such as stop-down metering. The procedure is quite simple; however, it will definitely take a while to get used to the technique.

First you will need to place the aperture ring upon the lens at the widest optional aperture. Thus, the viewfinder do gets dim and the camera starts meter to compute exposure and even functions like depth of field sample. Now, you will just need to take the shot. Do remember that you set the lens like this every time you attempt for a new shot.

Retro Photography used as Wall Decor Elements - A Beginning Guide to Retro Photography Techniques
Retro Photography used as Wall Decor Elements



Vintage or in a better sense retro photography is very amusing and intelligent work of art. There are many ways in which you can use the photos, for example you can use them as a means of home decor item, for beautifying your blank walls and using grey scale colors to make them look retro and periodic.


It is really essential for you as a beginner in photography to know the camera and brands that work well to capture the right kind of vintage photographs. Nikon DSLR cameras work outstandingly with Nikon vintage lens. However, these lenses do not work well with other brand cameras. Cannon and Olympus are not so good with vintage lenses; however, they work fine with other brand lenses.

Summary: Vintage Lenses are mostly used for getting retro effected pictures. Manual lenses are required to get the desired effect of vintage and periodic times.

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