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01-13-2011, 08:27 PM   #1
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Question About Manual Focus

So, I have found great deals on the K 135/2.5 and the M* 300/4. Both of them are in pristine condition. My only question that given the applications of these lenses that I'd be using them for, for example birding and graduations, would the manual focus be problematic? I don't really shoot outside the 15mm to 100mm much, so I'm trying to get older, quality glass in this range.

01-13-2011, 08:40 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I use my M100/4 macro and my M400/5.6 on my K10d. I am used to manual focusing without viewfinder aids, having used an original Asahi Pentax for some 17 years before the shutters gave out, but the stock screen in the K10D was not very helpful, and the exposure readings were not even across the exposure range. Based on suggestions from others in this forum, I ordered an LL-60 screen on eBay to correct the exposure issues, and as a bonus, discovered that the screen had the coarser grain of earlier matte screens, and made for easier manual focusing. There are others in the forum who have fitted screens with focusing aids such as microprisms and split focus, and like the manual focusing aids very much. I dislike these aids because they render the "spot" metering impossible to use, and much prefer the matte screens. Your choices will no doubt vary.
01-13-2011, 09:17 PM   #3
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I've used split prism screens and have relied on the camera's focus confirmation beep & green hexagon; I use the camera confirmation approach now. It should be fine for the subjects you mention.

Dave
01-13-2011, 09:23 PM   #4
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Have both M* and M400/5.6, added katzeye split-prism and as Albert says there
are issues with spot metering, Thats a personal choice for you baig,
for myself, use both those len's for birding quite a bit, when subject is static, benefits of
split-prism outweighed the issues of spot-metering. A bird in flight on the other hand,
one might be better off with a matte screen, what Albert mentions sounds very
interesting indeed,in addition, seems to me a matte screen has an advantage over
a split-prism when shooting macro. In thinking about your K135/2.5, assume that would be your go-to lens for portraits&people, if it was my situation, would go with the matte and something like a viewfinder magnifier for that particular application.
Its my opinion, in portraiture, if using split-prism, because of critical nature of subject
something along the line of hand held spot or incident meter required.


Last edited by BillM; 01-13-2011 at 09:38 PM.
01-13-2011, 09:43 PM   #5
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I see you use a K10, as Albert and I do, so we might have some insights for you regarding manual focus. The M*300/4 is a fine lens and you can certainly use it for birding. It is also a great length for sports. I used my K 300/4 for birding and was fairly successful with it. You will have to refine your stalking and manual focus skills but this can be fun as well as challenging. If you are really serious about your birding you will eventually want something longer, 400, 500 600mm, as they just make the hunt a lot easier. Like Albert I currently use an M 400/5.6 for birding.

Unlike Albert, I prefer the split prism KatzEye focusing screens. I find, speaking for myself, they are brighter (Optibright coatings)and remind me of my old MX screens from the film days. They are expensive but I leave mine in the K10 all the time whether I am using MF or not. In any case you will want to swap out the original screen at some point as they just aren’t very good for manual focusing.

The K135/2.5. is fast enough and long enough to be a good choice for graduations. I use a K 200/2.5 for events such as this and have had some success. I suggest you practice a bit before the event to refine your skills. It would be a shame to miss the big shot as you are trying to determine the exposure at your kid’s graduation.

Would using these lenses be problematic? I don’t think so if you are willing to take the time and effort to learn how to use these fine old manual focus optics. They are capable of great results but they require some effort and knowledge on the part of the user. They can also be a lot of fun.

Tom G

Last edited by 8540tomg; 01-17-2011 at 07:23 AM. Reason: typo
01-13-2011, 10:01 PM   #6
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shooting anything that move slightly, AF is gonna be your friend... do not drag around the MF lens and try to take picture fast, it simply won't work (well it does some what but not as efficient as the AF and spray method)...

If i'm moving, or shooting something's moving, i'm gonna go with AF, if i'm doing macro or shooting things that doesn't move, then i'll possibly go for MF (although it rarely happen haha).
01-14-2011, 08:27 AM   #7
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I have to say I'd go with manual. I've tried auto focus with moving subjects, mainly birds, and it does too much searching. Manual is more difficult, but once I got accustomed to it I find it quite capable for birds in flight. Since getting my K-x in June, I've switched over to all my older manual Pentax lenses from my film cameras, and bought a couple of longer manuals too, and the auto focus kit lens gets used maybe once every couple of months...

I use the standard focusing screen, it's not great but I've gotten pretty good with it once I got used to it, and don't really want the split screen because since I started wearing glasses, I've had trouble using my split screen Pentax film cameras. My Minolta SRT 101 with matte screen turned out to be my go-to camera before I got the K-x. The K-x screen is so close to that one it was little trouble at all to switch over to digital.

If you want to see what manual focus can do, take a peek at my gallery or Flickr page, and several other people on here are getting some incredible shots using all manual focus. Their shots will give you a good idea what manual can do too. some of them have replied to this post, I'm not too familiar with the others but I know BillM and tomg have both posted some great shots.
01-14-2011, 09:03 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by clockwork247 Quote
shooting anything that move slightly, AF is gonna be your friend... do not drag around the MF lens and try to take picture fast, it simply won't work (well it does some what but not as efficient as the AF and spray method)...

If i'm moving, or shooting something's moving, i'm gonna go with AF, if i'm doing macro or shooting things that doesn't move, then i'll possibly go for MF (although it rarely happen haha).
The biggest problem with AF and birds is that the AF will focus on the branch behind the bird rather than the bird. The human eye works much better than the mechanicals. For birds in flight (BIF) auto focus will work, but otherwise manual focus is best. I bought a Sigma 170-500 AF lens some years back, and sold it. I got way more keepers with the manual lens when the bird was in the bushes.

I also did not mention in my reply above that I have a focus magnifier on the camera, the Pentax 1.3X. It helps some, but not as much as the coarser screen. Both together are a nice touch. It took a while to get used to having to move my eye to read the data display at the bottom of the screen with the magnifier.

01-14-2011, 09:23 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by baig.sabeeh90 Quote
So, I have found great deals on the K 135/2.5 and the M* 300/4. Both of them are in pristine condition. My only question that given the applications of these lenses that I'd be using them for, for example birding and graduations, would the manual focus be problematic? I don't really shoot outside the 15mm to 100mm much, so I'm trying to get older, quality glass in this range.
You have some excellent advice in this thread. I can add my experience. I love manual focus, prefer it actually, so much so that even my AF glass often gets used in MF mode. But it did not start out this way. I found the stock screen in my K20d of little value for MFing, so I replacd it with a split prism and with a KPS U13 1.3x magnifying eyepiece. I have been happy ever since. I had the Pentax 1.19 X eyepiece first, but upgraded when a fourm member shared his experience here with the KPS. What I love about the KPS, is it offers a rubber eyecup, which completley enshrouds your shooting eye from extraneous light, thus allowing pupil dilation which, in turn, allows for best use of available light in the viewfnder. This is critical, for me, on APS-c because the viewfinders are so feeble when compared with the FF film cameras. Anway, I am happy with this setup, until an EVIL comes along in the future, taking MF to new possibilities.

QuoteQuote:
BillM: ..........in addition, seems to me a matte screen has an advantage over
a split-prism when shooting macro.
Bill, I love my split prism for Macro work---can you explain why the matte screen would offer "an advantage over a split-prism" in Macro? Thanks.
01-14-2011, 11:31 AM   #10
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since Albert and Tom have already responded, I guess it's my turn.

I use a K300F4 and also own the K135F2.5 (along with about 20 other old pentax and third party lenses).

I have put diagonal split image focusing screens in both my *istD and K10D for use with manual lenses. Both split images are from Jinfinance, the K10D has a singls split image, the *istD a dual split image screen.

Personally, I like the dual split image screen better, and they are relitively cheap. Neither of my bodies required shimming to get perfect focus. I have the impression shimming is more an issue with penta mirror finders than prism finders.

As for uses of the lenses, the 135 is a great outdoor portrait and medium tele for sports and is embarrasingly sharp even wide open. IMO it is the best 135 ever.

the 300F4, I use almost exclusively with the SMC-F 1.7x AF TC to give me a 500mm lens that is hand holdable (about 2 pounds) and has autofocus within preset limits. (you manually focus to get close then let the adaptor do the rest.

The only issue I have with the 300F4 and full manual focus is that the lens has a rather long focusing throw, at about 270-300 degrees, and therefore takes a little practice to use while birding. You need to preset the focus to be close to where you think you will need it, otherwise you can mis some shots because it is a little slow to go from minimum focus to infinity or visa versa. This is an exxperience issue, so don't be put off streight away if you find getting focus a little tricky.
01-14-2011, 11:35 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jewelltrail Quote
can you explain why the matte screen would offer "an advantage over a split-prism" in Macro? Thanks.
not Bill, but I think I have an answer.

My experience with macro, as you approach 1:1 especially is that the magnification and relitively slow macro lenses can reault in a darkening of the split image, making it really hard to focus. Additionally, even if the split does not darken, the DOF in the split image is much greater than the actual DOF of the shot, as seen on a matte focusing screen. The matte screen, although the image gets dim, gives you a real feel for what is and is not in focus.

Years ago, I bought a KX (not K-x digital, the real film body) with a matte screen simply to avoid these issues,
01-14-2011, 11:44 AM   #12
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Most of my lenses are manual.

I tried to shoot birds in flight a couple times with my AF lens; it didn't work out too well; I don't have a steady hand though.

Probably takes practice.

With my manual lenses on the other hand - I can focus my newborn with ease. My soon to be wife wants to keep it simple, not go into MF terriroty when she is just trying to capture a couple quick photos of our baby. I have no problems with it though, I can get the little guy quick and easy.

That I know took practice, and I know I still have a long way to go before I master our MF lenses.

birds in flight with a manual lens? maybe some day; they are much faster than a baby that can't even crawl yet.

point: birds? maybe with practice. Graduations? you should be able to handle that with no problem.
01-14-2011, 06:35 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jewelltrail Quote
Bill, I love my split prism for Macro work---can you explain why the matte screen would offer "an advantage over a split-prism" in Macro? Thanks.
Lowell articulates better than I would ever be able to Jewell, but in general terms,
split-prism "kind of gets in the way" of viewfinder image
other than cleaning , my Katz-eye stays in. my work around is to move entire rig
some times so that area of interest is in matte portion, then return to desired composition.

Last edited by BillM; 01-14-2011 at 06:40 PM.
01-14-2011, 09:57 PM   #14
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QuoteQuote:
Lowell Goudge: My experience with macro, as you approach 1:1 especially is that the magnification and relitively slow macro lenses can reault in a darkening of the split image, making it really hard to focus. Additionally, even if the split does not darken, the DOF in the split image is much greater than the actual DOF of the shot, as seen on a matte focusing screen. The matte screen, although the image gets dim, gives you a real feel for what is and is not in focus.
Virtually all of my Macro is done with the Tamron 90mm 2.8. It always has my viewfinder enjoying that large aperture, only stopping down when I trip the shutter button, so there is no significant darkening of the prism, even when I get close enough to do 1:1 shooting. Also, my spilt focus screen has a matte section surrounding the diagonal split, which handles anything the split can't. This, coupled with the KPS eyepiece, is near Nirvana for manual focus with Macro. I have no complaints, not even with judging DOF on the screen. This shot here is, I believe, 1:1 macro, and only @ f 6.3. It was done handheld & a small crop.

01-14-2011, 11:02 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by BillM Quote
Lowell articulates better than I would ever be able to Jewell, but in general terms,
split-prism "kind of gets in the way" of viewfinder image
other than cleaning , my Katz-eye stays in. my work around is to move entire rig
some times so that area of interest is in matte portion, then return to desired composition.
Well, as stated above, I love the split with Macro, but since you both say the matte will be even better, then I can't wait to try it sometime. Thank you both, or taking time to explain this to me.
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