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12-22-2013, 02:27 PM   #1
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About That Aperture Ring

So I'm shopping around the used lens places, and double checking ratings and prices with the Forum Lens database as a rough guide, and I keep wondering what is so great about that aperture ring on the older primes? Because the best older lenses still command a fairly pretty penny - that is, unless one gets lucky - and their cost is so much so that I figure I might as well just buy a good new DA lens. Somebody told me they are popular because they are fast and they have an aperture ring. So what's not to like about setting the aperture electronically, as opposed to doing it by a ring around the lens? Maybe Ricoh Pentax should consider making some "retro primes" with DA coatings AND aperture rings? Would that be cool?


On a side note, is it really true that some of the older lenses have slightly radioactive elements, and this leads some people to avoid them?


Last edited by DavidSKAF3; 12-22-2013 at 02:43 PM.
12-22-2013, 02:32 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I don't have an answer, but I'm anxious for a thoughtful reply. For whatever reason I have an apparently deeply-rooted psychological romance with the aperture ring. I'm terrified to buy a lens without it. I look forward to having these fears soothed...
12-22-2013, 02:44 PM   #3
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For me it is not the A ring vs electronic adjustments... It is the feel of the old lenses... It is build quality, IQ and price that had me going for the old glass. I have a FA 50 1.4 sitting on a shelf that hardly ever got used again after getting an SMC 50 1.4 and a Helios 44M . That I got for a total of $65

And yes there are some of the old lenses that have radioactive elements in them. Not sure people really avoid them because of that. I know some are quite liked among the MF crowd.

And the older lenses should for the most part cost 1/4 to 1/2 of what the DA lenses do... maybe with the exception of the 50 1.8 that is pretty cheap
12-22-2013, 02:49 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by davids8560 Quote
What's unsatisfactory with setting the aperture electronically, as opposed to doing it by a ring around the lens?
Having a camera that does not do that? Older film cameras do not always allow setting the aperture electronically.
Also, if you are adapting the lens, for example to use on Sony or Canon, the aperture ring is needed in most cases.
Also, if you are going to use extension tubes, bellows or many TC's you need the aperture ring because many of those things are older and do not have the contacts to pass the aperture info along to the camera. Some do, of course but many don't and the ones that do are more expensive.

But there is nothing magical about having an aperture ring on the lens, if you have a modern DSLR and don't use manual accessories then it really does not matter. The high value of the older lenses is not just because they have an aperture ring. The construction and feel is highly valued as well as the older rendering. Also, the long focus throws of older manual focus lenses is highly valued for video.

12-22-2013, 02:58 PM   #5
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Aperture ring is very important if you are wanting to adapt a lens to a camera other than Pentax, especially for video*. As noted above there is also the matter of compatibility with K-mount film cameras and accessories such as extension tubes and bellows.


Steve

* Adapters do exist that have their own step-less aperture ring...$$$
12-22-2013, 03:02 PM   #6
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Yeah, if you shoot with older film cameras, you need an aperture ring. You might also need an aperture ring for certain types of photography, like if you use bellows or extension tubes, even if you reverse mount a lens. And I think videographers also often use the aperture ring (though, they sometimes de-click it).
The other thing is, an aperture ring indicates that the lens was built in a previous era, one where lenses were made of durable plastic and plenty of metal parts. Built to last. Unlike today, when many lenses are made out of thin plastic with almost no metal parts. Older lenses were probably also easier to disassemble than modern lenses (for cleaning, repair).

About radioactive elements.. yes, some older lenses have radioactive elements. I think there are some websites about it. And some people do avoid them, but other people search them out! I dont think the radioactivity of those elements is dangerous. However, I think it has optical effects. Well, not the radiation itself, but the element that is radioactive
12-22-2013, 03:02 PM   #7
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As jatrax says and also if you want to reverse mount the lens (for macro use), you will probably need an aperture ring.

The only time I have used a A / FA lens with aperture ring not on A position was when using them on my ME Super (Film camera) but thats very rare for me.
12-22-2013, 03:06 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by kiwi_jono Quote
As jatrax says and also if you want to reverse mount the lens (for macro use), you will probably need an aperture ring.

The only time I have used a A / FA lens with aperture ring not on A position was when using them on my ME Super (Film camera) but thats very rare for me.

Are there any threads or pictures of what you guys are talking about anywhere on this site? I mean like of a reverse mount and "bellows" and "tubes" you mention? Is this stuff things that have no modern equivalent? Thanks

12-22-2013, 03:14 PM   #9
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And some of us just dont want to lose control! Give us back the aperture ring with A setting! Give us back the DoF scales! And the longer focus throw with a smooth, prominent focus ring! And focus limiters, AF/MF switches on lenses for CiF!

12-22-2013, 03:17 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
And some of us just dont want to lose control! Give us back the aperture ring with A setting! Give us back the DoF scales! And the longer focus throw with a smooth, prominent focus ring! And focus limiters, AF/MF switches on lenses for CiF!

Yes to all!
12-22-2013, 03:54 PM   #11
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The Camerapedia wiki on radiactive lenses, includes a list of reported radiactive lenses.

Radioactive lenses - Camerapedia

It's not a complete list, and some of the testing methods are questionable...there are some I don',t agree with at all, like the Tak 55s and Super Tak 35/2 (67mm threads).
12-22-2013, 04:02 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by davids8560 Quote
Are there any threads or pictures of what you guys are talking about anywhere on this site? I mean like of a reverse mount and "bellows" and "tubes" you mention? Is this stuff things that have no modern equivalent? Thanks
Take a look here: Close-up and Magnification Accessories - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database Will give you some idea. And yes there are modern equivalents though Pentax lags in this area. Other brands have better access to these things that are modern. But in most cases the old ones work just fine just that you need to use manual focus and manual exposure which is just fine with macro anyway.

None of this stuff is for general use, you know if you need it. So in almost all cases, unless you have very specific needs, there is no need for the aperture ring anymore.

Reverse mount means turning the lens around and pointing the camera end at the subject, there are adapters that do that.
Bellows are used mostly in macro to add adjustable extension to move the point of focus closer.
Tubes are essentially the same as bellows although not adjustable. But to confuse things even more there are also adjustable tubes.

And since there are very few extension tubes with contacts many folks buy a teleconverter with contacts and take out the glass to make an extension tube. One of the drawbacks of shooting Pentax is that a lot of these accessories that don't have a big demand are no longer made and only available on the used market.
12-22-2013, 04:08 PM   #13
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https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/54-pentax-lens-articles/152336-cheap-macr...lose-work.html
12-22-2013, 04:33 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
And some of us just dont want to lose control! Give us back the aperture ring with A setting! Give us back the DoF scales! And the longer focus throw with a smooth, prominent focus ring! And focus limiters, AF/MF switches on lenses for CiF!

So it sounds like my "retro prime" suggestion is indeed relevent here. And I'm just a dense knucklehead having ideas based on what you guys say! Surely Pentax product developers know this demand exists too? You'd think they'd be monitoring a site like this!

BTW You guys brought up a couple of new terms for me:

Limiter?
CiF?

Thanks
12-22-2013, 04:38 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Aperture ring and live view, a marriage made in heaven.
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