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05-02-2012, 04:14 AM   #1
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Thought on manual lenses: The "A" function has a little use on digitals

I love manual lenses. They're (often) cheaper, (often) better build, yet they (often) performs better than today's AF lenses. I also love the feeling of trying different 'old' lenses, it seems like experiencing history itself. It's our advantage as K mount user to have a huge pool of lenses out there in the used market. I might not have tried (owned) as many lenses as the great guys in this forum, but I think I've been trough enough to say that I think manual lenses with the "Auto" function seems to be rather useless on digital bodies. What I mean is, I uses M mode all the time, since the "A" function doesn't seem to work well anyhow, even in modes that suppose to take advantage of that Auto feature. Yes, I can compensate or find a perfect settings, but that is even more fuss needed than fully manual lenses. "A" lenses are (often) higher priced than the full manual counterparts, they are (often) lower in build quality -like the metal SMC-M series compared to the plasticy SMC-A series.

I take pictures for fun, not for work. I don't collect lenses, I collect stamps. So, I say: let those "Autos" go. I have just sold my A 28/2.8. Should I really miss it?

05-02-2012, 04:20 AM   #2
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Whatever floats your boat. More A lenses for me.
05-02-2012, 04:26 AM   #3
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Until one day you become a strobist
05-02-2012, 04:33 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Whatever floats your boat. More A lenses for me.
+1 on this. I've found the ability to control aperture from the camera body to be very efficient. I can look thru the viewfinder and change aperture to suit without having to count clicks on the aperture ring, or worse yet pulling the camera away from eye to check what aperture is set. Even when shooting in M (which I admit I don't do all that often with an A lens) I still find it easier to control everything from the camera body without moving my eye from the view finder. In addition, the A lenses work MUCH better with my flash.

NaCl(everything else being equal, I will always chose an A lens over a K or M lens)H2O

05-02-2012, 04:36 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Whatever floats your boat. More A lenses for me.


QuoteOriginally posted by hoanpham Quote
Until one day you become a strobist
I do use external flash once in a while, but my two flashes are also full manual
05-02-2012, 04:59 AM   #6
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Iíve got a bag full of manual M, K and one A series lenses I use all the time. I built this collection during my film days and stayed with Pentax as I was able to use these old lenses on their new digital cameras. You have to respect that commitment to backward compatibility. No question about the build quality of these lenses being first rate in every way. Image quality is superior as well if you take the time and effort to learn how to use them.

That being said time is the operative word here. It takes time, effort and knowledge to get these lenses to perform up to their capabilities. Like you I love the ďfeelĒ of the old glass. However, there is no denying the AE feature makes life a lot easier. I know I have missed a lot of shots while fiddling with exposure on my old lenses. Thatís why AE has been standard on all lenses since the late 1980s or so. Iíd be thrilled if I could install an A setting on all my old glass. I continue to use the old lenses as they work extremely well but there is a lot to be said for the convenience of the A setting not to mention AF.


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05-02-2012, 05:14 AM   #7
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Like many here i have a real bagful of lenses (50 at last count) out of which I have 7 AF lenses, and 3 of these are kit zoom lenses from one era or another starting with my PZ-1 and the FA-28-80 power zoom.

Of the remaining 43 lenses these are somewhat split between M42, K, and KA mount.

What I find is that when outdoor shooting, it does not really matter whether you have an Auto aperture or not, once you know your lenses, but for a newcomer, the various quirks of pentax metering, especially on the K10D and K20D can drive you mad. Many forum members know the efforts I have gone through testing to understand the how and why of manual metering with pentax, and the changes that have taken place along the path of *istD, K10D, K7D and now the K5D. While I have learned to cope with the metering irregularities, a newcomer may not have the patience at the beginning, and KA mount can resolve most of this. Just leave the lens in A and even if you use manual mode let the camera set aperture. It allows for the use of matrix metering among other things, along with All exposure modes and allows for example Tav mode with auto ISO. A lenses are quite useful if you want to do anything in any auto mode. If you stick to manual, the only benefit is more consistent metering.

BUT all that changes when you go indoors, and use flash. Unless you kept (like me) the *istD, or you go back in time 30-40 years and use "AUTO" mode on a flash that supports it, you dont have flash metering without a KA mount lens.
05-02-2012, 05:15 AM   #8
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I have an Image A 28 that meters correctly at 2.8 and overexposes at smaller apertures. I corrrect with EC, half a stop at f4, a stop at f8. My Sears A 135mm 2.8 macro and Pentax A*300 f4 expose correctly at all apertures. I have a fully manual Kiron 28mm 2.0 that meters correctly wide open. When I stop it down and use the Green button, it overexposes by varying amounts. To get around this, I meter wide open and count stops.

I won't be buying any more M lenses. I am often tempted by A lenses, especially short ones, where MF is easier to nail.

05-02-2012, 05:22 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
What I find is that when outdoor shooting, it does not really matter whether you have an Auto aperture or not, once you know your lenses, but for a newcomer, the various quirks of pentax metering, especially on the K10D and K20D can drive you mad.
You can add the K100D Super and K-x to that list, they both meter my lenses the same as the K20D.

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Just leave the lens in A and even if you use manual mode let the camera set aperture. It allows for the use of matrix metering among other things, along with All exposure modes and allows for example Tav mode with auto ISO. A lenses are quite useful if you want to do anything in any auto mode. If you stick to manual, the only benefit is more consistent metering.
I'm reasonably certain that A lenses only allow spot and CW metering. I love TAv mode.

As I mentioned in the post above, I do not get consistent metering with the manual Kiron unless I count stops, which is pretty slow and sometimes very annoying.
05-02-2012, 05:46 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
I'm reasonably certain that A lenses only allow spot and CW metering. I love TAv mode.
Nope. A lenses allow for all metering modes. Lenses without the A setting only allow for CW or spot.
05-02-2012, 05:50 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote

I'm reasonably certain that A lenses only allow spot and CW metering. I love TAv mode.

As I mentioned in the post above, I do not get consistent metering with the manual Kiron unless I count stops, which is pretty slow and sometimes very annoying.
No, one of the big reasons for people doing modifications to pentax lens bases started because it allowed matrix metering. For example, page 292 of my K7 manual (english version) shows a chart of functionality with different lenses, and there is clearly a checkmark in multi segment (matrix) metering with KA lenses
05-02-2012, 06:43 AM   #12
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SMC Pentax -A 1:1.4 50mm
Av mode, spot metering, meter where needed and AE-Lock
its a dull flat light here in Michigan today
f/13
https://www.box.com/s/abfbaa59f08b9b5c50e8
f/2.8
https://www.box.com/s/5ed9aab75cd3c182ed38
05-02-2012, 06:54 AM   #13
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No arguing that Auto lenses are in fact an improvement over the full-manuals. I got into manual lenses only a few weeks after my first body. My third lens is M 50/1.4 -the first two are basic AF kits- still keeping the 18-55. I've been shooting mostly in M mode, even with the AF kit lens, rarely in the AF mode. I do shoot events or things that needs faster action, like weddings and graduations, but that's about it. What I do the most with my camera is taking pictures of flowers, cats, mountains, lakes, girls -occasionally, stuff like that, and they usually stays still long enough for me to compose, meter, and shoot, and I enjoyed the process. I think that all-manual lenses can do just about anything. Auto-aperture lenses in my thinking are just sort of a 'crippled' AF lens. If I want a 'no-brain-needed lens' for a 'okay, I'll take my camera and take your picture' occasion, I'll reach my 18-55 or 28-300
05-02-2012, 07:21 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
No, one of the big reasons for people doing modifications to pentax lens bases started because it allowed matrix metering. For example, page 292 of my K7 manual (english version) shows a chart of functionality with different lenses, and there is clearly a checkmark in multi segment (matrix) metering with KA lenses
Thank you for pointing this out. I had not realized the opposite - that my m42 lenses cannot use multimode metering.
05-02-2012, 07:24 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by MSL Quote
Thank you for pointing this out. I had not realized the opposite - that my m42 lenses cannot use multimode metering.
There is a commonly used expression on the forums RTFM

Although the manual is almost useless on guiding you as to how to make adjustments, and what those adjustments really do in your photos, some of the technical data on lens and flash compatibility and options is actually quite good.
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