My name is Vitaliy Kostenko. I am living and working in Prague, Czech Republic and have been active in vintage camera and lens business for more than 10 years. Through doing so, I have been lucky enough to have over 40,000 items of second-hand, vintage and antique cameras and lenses pass through my hands.
Most of my customers are collectors who asked me to find specific items for them, and I always did. Somewhere however, during this process I became a collector myself. There was a moment in time when I got very passionate about rare vintage and cine lenses, and I remember my first time using a vintage lens on a modern digital camera. I was surprised by the ‘magic’ that the vintage lens could do in terms of depth of field, colours and beautiful bokeh.
When I was a small boy I was collecting stamps, coins, badges, even liners from chewing gum wrappers. Now, many years later getting the same feeling again through these old lenses.
The lenses were hard to find, but the beautiful images that these lenses produced made the search worthwhile. Modern lenses are very clean and clinical and lacked the characteristics of these old pieces of glass. This gave me a lot of joy, so I decided to keep the good lenses for myself.
Getting the most desirable and rarest lenses is the most difficult part of this process. We all know how hard it can be to find a Dallmeyer Septac or a Som Berthiot Flor 1.5/55! I am also lucky enough to live in Europe where you can find some great maker’s such as, P. Angenieux, Boyer, Dallmeyer, Meyer, Som Berthiot, Leitz, Zeiss etc.
Collecting can be addictive, and collector has to know where to search to find the best lenses. I search literally everywhere; private collections, camera fairs, auctions (and paying crazy prices!), estate sales, camera shops etc. Knowing the right people who may have rare examples is also important, but often just being patient is best and waiting for the lenses just to emerge. Sometimes there is no other way other than waiting but be sure, it will come to you one day. Even when you find what you are looking for, condition is still everything. It is very difficult to find a good example of something that was produced more than 50 years ago.
Finally, what are you going to do with your treasure once you have found it? Most probably re-mount it. My choice is remounting onto the Leica M system. However, should the lens be bigger and have a much later coverage, like Kinoptik 100mm f/2, then I would re-mount it onto the Leica S System or even Fuji GFX.
Collecting and taking pictures with vintage lenses is a lot of fun for me. My collection grew bigger and bigger, so I thought one day why not share my collection and what it can do with the world. I want to share with you my experience and photographic results with these vintage lenses and look forward to seeing your comments.
I will be posting pictures produced with my lens collection on this blog. There will be a photo of the lens accompanied with the results that I could achieve with it. You will see all the different kinds of magic that vintage lenses are capable of. This blog will be updated on a regular basis and I hope this project will find other enthusiasts in the vintage lens community.