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06-12-2010, 12:47 PM   #1
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What is good manual lens to learn the basics?

I have K-X and several DA lenses that i am really happy about.
However i feel that i need to learn the basics of photography in practice and good old lenses with lack of auto focus and no auto aperture sounds nice. Of course manual focus lenses for Pentax are not hard to find (all before A) , but i do not know if there is a K-mount lens that will force me to play with aperture too (M/K probably but i am not sure if those do not need adaptor).
So if anyone can suggest 20--->35mm completely manual quality lens it will be great.
Thanks in advance.
P.S - not sure if it is not beginner forum material so mods are free to move it of course).

06-12-2010, 12:54 PM   #2
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And of the M or K lenses will mount fine without an adaptor.
You can use an A lens as well ... just don't use the A setting on the aperture ring and force yourself to select your desired Aperture.

Although I made the decision to get a genuine Pentax K-to-M42 adaptor ... and I got myself a nice set of Takumar screwmount lenses ... and also allws me to select a very wide range of other M42 glass as well.

There's so much to choose from.
06-12-2010, 01:54 PM   #3
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it really depends on how much you want to spend.

a cheap and common one would be a basic M 50mm f2.0, for about $20 or you can upgrade to a M 50mm 1.7 for about $30-40. You'll notice the picture improved quality difference in the 1.7. If that is too long for you, try the M 28mm 2.8. Its not as fast but also takes nice pictures and its more of a portrait type lens.

If you want to go cheaper, then the old takumars are pretty common as well. however they are screw mount and you would need to buy an adapter.
06-12-2010, 02:02 PM   #4
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You know, you may not even need to buy any lenses.
If you're disciplined to flick the camera to M mode and manual focus mode, and keep it there, then you have yourself a fully manual camera and lens that requires you to do everything to get the exposure right.

Of course, if you want a lens that feels smoothly damped when manually focusing, then the way to go is the M series - only it's finnicky to adjust aperture because of the KAF2 crippled mount that requires you to use the green button after each aperture adjustment. A step beyond that would be to go with M42 lenses with an M42 to K mount adapter, which does away with the need for this step.

06-12-2010, 02:06 PM   #5
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.

Yes, in that Fl range, the M 28 f/2.8 is inexpensive and very good to learn on, and
it can create great images.

You can also set it to hyperfocal (with the M 28, f/8, and anything after a certain
number of meters is in focus) and snap away at landscapes, architecture, etc.
Use the green button to help with metering, and you can even shoot it in AV
mode if you shoot it at f2.8.

M 28 2.8 is a nice lens to start with, and stay with.

Shots from mine:








.

You may also want to pick up an M 50 1.7 or 1.4 and learn about real aperture/DOF
control, as well as play with the short telephoto applications, like candids
and portraiture.

I pretty much learned manual focus on the M 28 2.8, M 50 1.4 and M 135 3.5.
Still 3 of the most pleasing lenses I've shot when it comes to JPF (Just Plain Fun.)


.
06-12-2010, 02:31 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by fstdslrkx Quote
I have K-X and several DA lenses that i am really happy about.
However i feel that i need to learn the basics of photography in practice and good old lenses with lack of auto focus and no auto aperture sounds nice. Of course manual focus lenses for Pentax are not hard to find (all before A) , but i do not know if there is a K-mount lens that will force me to play with aperture too (M/K probably but i am not sure if those do not need adaptor).
So if anyone can suggest 20--->35mm completely manual quality lens it will be great.
Thanks in advance.
P.S - not sure if it is not beginner forum material so mods are free to move it of course).

Why not just change the camera/lens to manual focus, and use M mode? There is nothing to buy....
06-12-2010, 02:37 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
Why not just change the camera/lens to manual focus, and use M mode?
.

If you've ever shot the kit lens in MF mode, then tried the same thing with a Tak, K or M lens, you'd know why.

Also, it's tough to learn the effects of aperture control with a more limited aperture range.

For pure learning purposes, there's nothing wrong with shooting an AF DA zoom in manual, but if you want the tactile pleasure of shooting a nice MF Pentax prime to be part of the experience, there's nothing wrong with picking up a couple inexpensive good primes, either. I think you could get all three: M 28 2.8, M 50 1.7 and M 135 3.5 for less than $120.


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06-12-2010, 04:18 PM   #8
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Some basics: The 'normal' focal length for an APS-C camera like your Kx is 30mm, the diagonal of the sensor. 20-24mm are wide, 28mm is wide-normal, 35mm is long-normal, 50-58mm are short tele or close portrait, 85-105 are longer portrait, etc. Longer lenses and fast, wide-open apertures have thin DOF; shorter lenses and slower, stopped-down apertures have thick DOF. Different lenses will teach you different lessons.

A short lens lets you exploit thick DOF. My Lentar-Tokina 21/3.8 (US$23) stopped to f/11 and prefocused to 2m has sharp DOF from 1m to infinity -- I concentrate on exposure and composition. My Super-Tak 55/1.8 (US$7) or Helios-44 58/2 (US$20) wide-open and focused anywhere will have DOF of a couple inches at most, a fraction thereof at least; with any 135/2.8 it's even thinner. With those I concentrate on focus, slicing the subject away from its surroundings.

Faster glass tends to be softer wide-open; slow glass or stopping-down usually make sharper images. My Meyer Telemegor 180/5.5 (US$27) and Tele-Tak 200/5.6 (US$29) aren't real fast but are deadly sharp. Most lenses are great at f/8. That's the old photojournalist's rule: f/8 and be there.

Then there's close focus. Despite having a couple good cheap manual macro lenses, I find myself using non-macro glass that lets me get in close. My Meyer Oreston 50/1.8 (US$45) focuses to within a foot and gets used more than my great FA50/1.4 (now around US$350) which only focuses to 1.5 feet. The 18-55 kit lens goes even closer. Shorter, wider lenses usually focus quite close; most everything 28mm and shorter focuses within a foot. Many longer teles don't focus too close, but that's fixable by adding a little extension (macro tubes: US$6 per set).

So what are good lenses for learning the fundamentals? Something short, something long, and something normal. Something fast, something slow. In PK bayonet base: Vivitar 24/2; Takumar 28/2.8 and 35/3.5 and 50/1.7; almost any 135/2.8. See the lens reviews database for details.

06-12-2010, 07:20 PM   #9
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Go for something with an auto aperture. There is a difference between learning basic photography and doing unnecessary work. Make use of depth of field preview and take advantage of open aperture metering.
I've always been a proponent of learning [photography with a "standard" lens, which on your DSLR is ~30mm.
If you can find one, the A35/2 is an excellent "standard" lens. It's a little long, but not overly so.
Technically, the 28 is almost precisely standard by the classic measure, but I prefer something a little longer.
06-12-2010, 07:22 PM   #10
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Pentax-M 50 F2

You can ask someone to give you one
06-12-2010, 08:47 PM   #11
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The last shot I got into PPG was acytually a test shot with a MF /ME Sears lens that cost me about $5.00. There are a bizillion Kmount MF/ME lenses out there that cost less than a pack of cigarettes. If I named them as good lenses the guys on Fleabay would start selling them for BUY IT NOW only $1,000 rare lens!
06-13-2010, 11:39 AM   #12
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Original Poster
Wow, thank you guys for tons of info (and great photos) .
There are two reasons for me to look for new lens with lack of auto-control
Lesser reason - technical:
I tried to go manual on kit lens, but i just do not seem to get along with it. Despite all the praises it gets in its class. DA 40 is awesome but aperture manual control is a,well, problem. 55-300 is very good, but i find that messing with long tele-zoom is too bothersome for me right now since i do not use most of its range. And the jewel of my lens collection - DA 12-24 is also the heaviest one so i feel awkward playing with its controls. Which brings me to main reason - eliminating excuses for not doing it the hard way.
Main reason - psychology on an individual:
So i figured that prime that was developed for manual handling will be comfortable enough to make it fun ,and also will not allow me to do things the easy way.
So i have to say, 28/2.8 sounds just right. I have nightmares about infinity focusing and stuck M42 adaptors so earlier lenses are scaring me. Now is it M or K 28/2.8...
Just kidding.
Thank you for your informative and kind replies,it is a great forum.

Last edited by fstdslrkx; 06-13-2010 at 11:44 AM. Reason: forgot to add something
06-13-2010, 11:54 AM   #13
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I applaud this idea. I got myself a K55mm lens when I just had my camera and I taught me so, so much. Putting your camera on manual everything just isn't the same. Modern lenses are a royal pain to manually focus (most of them) and the stop down metering really makes you think about your choices.

I would suggest a 28mm lens, as I love that focal length on digital (it's a perfect normal, 28mm is the diameter of the sensor). Also, if you can afford it I would suggest a 50mm as well. They're nicer to manually focus (the focus ring is stiffer), are awesome for portraits and allow you to play with the depth of field much more than a 28mm will.

In any case, this is a great idea, don't let anyone tell you otherwise!
06-13-2010, 12:11 PM   #14
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I'm biased, being an m42 Tak guy myself, but considering that you can get a 55 1.8 for $30 to $50 bucks, and the Pentak adapter is $30 and change, if you want the true manual experience--while working a lens built like a tank--that's the way I would go.

Once you have the adapter, you might get lucky like I did and find a Russian Helios 55 2 for 15 bucks.

The m42s are rapidly rising in price, but there's still time to get in on some bargains. The feel and build of the old Taks can't be explained.
06-13-2010, 02:22 PM   #15
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Good Luck - It is a Lot of Fun

I have learned a lot by using older manual focus lenses. It is liberating to select a focus spot and not worry about getting it in the autofocus zone on a modern lens.

It has also helped me with exposure. On a modern dslr camera you can get instant feedback and dial in the exposure that works for your tastes through a few test shots. I find the manual focus lenses makes setting the aperture straightforward.

I think the choice of a 28 or wider is a good start. I find a wider lens has a more forgiving depth of field and assists with getting more of the image in focus.

Below is a shot taken with an old Vivitar 28 2.0 lens at a childrens triatholon last weekend.

Good luck!

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