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08-03-2008, 10:52 PM   #1
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SMC Pentax-M 50mm f2.0

I acquired one of the above from ebay for a very modest sum (sufficiently modest that a filter at Fry's would cost me more than the lens), and received it thursday. This is my first prime lens, as well as my first manual lens. I bought it because I wanted to experiment with a relatively fast lens, and it was cheap and small. I knew I would have to deal with manual focus, but I wasn't prepared to also deal with manual exposure settings.

It's fair to say that I am incredibly frustrated with this lens so far.
It might have to do with the fact that I don't have an exposure meter. I only get about 1 out of 5 shots properly exposed after tinkering for a few seconds each time. And then only 1 out of 3 of those are in sharp focus. So overall, about 1 out of 15 decent shots.

This is pretty bad compared to what I get with my DA 18-55 AL II at 50mm where closer to 90% of the shots come out decently exposed and in focus.

What's everyone's technique for manual exposure settings ? Do I have any prayer of getting it right without an exposure meter ?

What about manual focus ? Despite 20/20 vision, I can't seem to get it quite right. The K200D viewfinder is somewhat small. And the optical DOF preview, even optical, doesn't seem to help me any.

08-03-2008, 11:08 PM   #2
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I shoot with manual lenses about 95% of the time and I'm not quite sure what to tell you. haha.

With manual lenses, the dSLR drops to Partial or Spot metering only. I'd say point the camera at your subject, hit the green button, and then recompose. As for the focusing, its a bit of a pain because you wanna trust the AF indicator but you can't always. I usually move the focus ring fast to begin with so I can see the difference in focus and where to 'squint' at. Its a combination of that and checking the AF indicator. Its not perfect but it helps.

I'd order up a Katz Eye or any other split screen focusing screen. That does marvels for manual focusing. I had one in my K100D a while back before I traded it.
08-04-2008, 12:04 AM   #3
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I use two old manual lenses regularly and you get used to them.

Once you work out where the "green" button sets the exposure you can adjust yourself easily.

I find with mine that whatever the "green" button returns, I just adjust the shutter speed by one stop to the left.

Focus can be hard but again you tend to get used to looking around the viewfinder a bit more (as you should be :-) )
08-04-2008, 01:11 AM   #4
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Don't worry you'll get there.
As for metering, I'd follow Pete's advice, I do it the same way, but sometimes I adjust time selected by camera's meter if needed. And for fucusing, well he's right again
Anyway, it takes some practise, especialy if you are used to fully automated shooting with DA18-55. But if you are patient enough, you'll get there... sooner or later
Good luck
BR

08-04-2008, 03:32 AM   #5
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Hi,

I was just working on a response but it disappeared. sigh.

QuoteOriginally posted by FotoPete Quote
I shoot with manual lenses about 95% of the time and I'm not quite sure what to tell you. haha.

With manual lenses, the dSLR drops to Partial or Spot metering only. I'd say point the camera at your subject, hit the green button, and then recompose.
Thanks ! That helps, but not for the indoor shots I was trying to take where I need flash.

When I use the green button, it doesn't fire the flash. And thus it gets the shutter speed all wrong. In my case at f2.0 it tells me 2 seconds. Which I know is all wrong, since the flash can't be used slower than 1/180 . I tried setting 1/180, but I still got a nearly all-white picture.

Obviously in this case, I should change the aperture to a smaller one, but just how can I figure out which one ?

I can figure it only through manual experimenting so far. Anything f/11 or smaller seems OK with 1/180 shutter speed. But it takes me several shots to figure that out. Hence my very low rate of properly exposed photos.

QuoteQuote:
As for the focusing, its a bit of a pain because you wanna trust the AF indicator but you can't always. I usually move the focus ring fast to begin with so I can see the difference in focus and where to 'squint' at. Its a combination of that and checking the AF indicator. Its not perfect but it helps.

I'd order up a Katz Eye or any other split screen focusing screen. That does marvels for manual focusing. I had one in my K100D a while back before I traded it.
Thanks, I'll look into that. But really I had my vision checked 3 months ago and it was 20/20, so shouldn't I be able to focus without this extra screen ?
08-04-2008, 08:53 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by madbrain Quote
Hi,



When I use the green button, it doesn't fire the flash. And thus it gets the shutter speed all wrong. In my case at f2.0 it tells me 2 seconds. Which I know is all wrong, since the flash can't be used slower than 1/180 . I tried setting 1/180, but I still got a nearly all-white picture.

Woah woah woah, 1/180 is the FASTEST the flash can be used at. The actual burst of the flash bulb is like 1/1000th of a second, and if you try to run it faster you'll black out a portion of your frame (unless you use high speed sync on an external flash, but let's not go there.). If you 'green button' a scene in manual mode, it will expose for the ambient lighting, which can be into the 2 second range indoors. If you're shooting in manual, consider boosting the ISO rating to get a faster shutter speed. Default is probably 100. You can do this, and the PTT-L flash will correctly expose for the subject, but I'm not sure about M-series lenses and flash (they lack any electronic communication with the camera)



As for focusing, try looking through the big, bright viewfinder of a manual focus SLR from the 70's or 80's. The dim little mirrorbox in the K200D doesn't hold a candle to them. When you have a split screen, it's easy to line up the scene, as the halves move left or right as you turn the focusing ring.
08-04-2008, 10:07 PM   #7
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I really do empathize with you. My first shooting with a Pentax DSLR was with the M 1.7. I was more frustrated than I can say. You will get it, it just takes time and practice--like eveything. You will also develop your own preferences for overcoming the obstacles of obtaining correct exposure with these older lenses.

Focus, now here is a challenge for all of us shooting manual focus. First of all, always try to focus your subject at your largest aperture, then recompose the shot and fire away. Pentax also sells an eyepiece which magnifies the screen by a factor of 1.2. I got mine at Adorama for about $35. You can pick up a split prism focus screen at Ebay, if you do not have the cash to purchase the Katz Eye. Many members here are happy with their Chinese split-prism screens and they can be bought for around $30.

But even with this bag of tricks focusing still takes patience and experience. You just need to stick with it. Your success rate will climb with your confidence. But I do not think you will ever reach the %90 success rate of your kit lens. Best of luck to you.


Regards
08-05-2008, 01:32 AM   #8
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Hi csoars,

Thanks for your response. Comments inline.

QuoteOriginally posted by CSoars Quote
Woah woah woah, 1/180 is the FASTEST the flash can be used at. The actual burst of the flash bulb is like 1/1000th of a second, and if you try to run it faster you'll black out a portion of your frame (unless you use high speed sync on an external flash, but let's not go there.).
Sorry, fastest is what I meant.

QuoteQuote:
If you 'green button' a scene in manual mode, it will expose for the ambient lighting, which can be into the 2 second range indoors. If you're shooting in manual, consider boosting the ISO rating to get a faster shutter speed. Default is probably 100.
Yes, the default ISO is 100. If I raise the ISO, I will just get more noise. I would do that if I didn't have a flash or if I what I was shooting was out of flash range. But that's not the case when shooting indoors. I just experimented with ISO 800 and 1600 with no flash. The color is off because of the lack of light. I really need to use the flash.

QuoteQuote:
You can do this, and the PTT-L flash will correctly expose for the subject, but I'm not sure about M-series lenses and flash (they lack any electronic communication with the camera)
Unfortunately no, the built-in P-TTL flash just does not work with the Pentax-M lens. With the Pentax-M lens, the green button gives the same exposure settings whether the flash is popped up or not ...

I also tried with my external Digital concepts 952 AF flash. Things are a little better because I can set 5 different flash power levels - 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 . It also displays the ASA, focal lens, and I can input the f-stop manually, which tells me what distance will be covered by the flash. For example at f2.0 and 1/16 power level it is 6m / 20ft.

But it does not help me set the camera's shutter speed, unfortunately.

Also, one of the points of the Pentax-M 50mm is its compact size. It makes the K200D more compact and thus stand out much less. I don't want to pair that combination with an external flash. I might as well take a zoom with me.

QuoteQuote:
As for focusing, try looking through the big, bright viewfinder of a manual focus SLR from the 70's or 80's. The dim little mirrorbox in the K200D doesn't hold a candle to them. When you have a split screen, it's easy to line up the scene, as the halves move left or right as you turn the focusing ring.
Yes, I have seen some older manual SLRs . My father still has an OM-2. The viewfinder is better, as is the DOF preview with the circle in the center. I wish the K200D had that. I'm not sure if it's worth the $105 starting price that katz eye wants for it, but I'll consider that option if I am going to use any more manual lenses.
It may also help with focus with the teleconverter I just got.

08-05-2008, 01:39 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jewelltrail Quote
I really do empathize with you. My first shooting with a Pentax DSLR was with the M 1.7. I was more frustrated than I can say. You will get it, it just takes time and practice--like eveything. You will also develop your own preferences for overcoming the obstacles of obtaining correct exposure with these older lenses.
Out of curiosity, how long did it take you before you stopped cursing ?

QuoteQuote:
Focus, now here is a challenge for all of us shooting manual focus. First of all, always try to focus your subject at your largest aperture, then recompose the shot and fire away. Pentax also sells an eyepiece which magnifies the screen by a factor of 1.2. I got mine at Adorama for about $35. You can pick up a split prism focus screen at Ebay, if you do not have the cash to purchase the Katz Eye. Many members here are happy with their Chinese split-prism screens and they can be bought for around $30.
I have a right angle finder eyepiece which does either 1x or 2.5x magnifying. Maybe I should try using that

QuoteQuote:
But even with this bag of tricks focusing still takes patience and experience. You just need to stick with it. Your success rate will climb with your confidence. But I do not think you will ever reach the %90 success rate of your kit lens. Best of luck to you.
Regards
Thanks !
08-05-2008, 11:03 AM   #10
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QuoteQuote:

Out of curiosity, how long did it take you before you stopped cursing ?



I have a right angle finder eyepiece which does either 1x or 2.5x magnifying. Maybe I should try using that



Thanks !


1) I still have not stopped cursing, however, there was a significant level of drop off in foul words used after 4 or 5 separate learning exercises.

2) I would try the right angle magnifyig piece, but I am more comfortable with the straight-on magnifyer Pentax supplies. Yes, experiment and success is more likely. Never be afraid to try new methods in your style--it will make you a more learned shooter, even when you abandon some methods which lack utility for you.

3) You are very welcome. Once you have reached a level where you are happy with some of your shots, please post them. Thanks.

Regards
08-05-2008, 04:25 PM   #11
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my technique was to double check visually and use the focus indicator like you'vementioned. usually it works pretty well, i was fairly competent with this technique at f1.4. with a bit of practice, you should be fine.

however i sold my M50 1.4 due to the same frustrations you had. fine lens it was, but couldn't use the built-in flash or the automatic metering modes which are handy.
08-05-2008, 05:30 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by madbrain Quote
Hi csoars,
Unfortunately no, the built-in P-TTL flash just does not work with the Pentax-M lens. With the Pentax-M lens, the green button gives the same exposure settings whether the flash is popped up or not ...

I also tried with my external Digital concepts 952 AF flash. Things are a little better because I can set 5 different flash power levels - 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 . It also displays the ASA, focal lens, and I can input the f-stop manually, which tells me what distance will be covered by the flash. For example at f2.0 and 1/16 power level it is 6m / 20ft.

But it does not help me set the camera's shutter speed, unfortunately.

Also, one of the points of the Pentax-M 50mm is its compact size. It makes the K200D more compact and thus stand out much less. I don't want to pair that combination with an external flash. I might as well take a zoom with me.


The problem with M lenses and the built in flash is that it's p-ttl only, and without having any way to know what the chosen aperture is, it cannot correctly expose the scene. This is a shortcoming with the KAF2 mount, as it lacks the the mechanical linkage to allow it to read a manually set aperture.


This is where an A series lens would have been a better choice, but alas, it's too late. (I'm actually awaiting my own M 50 1.7, but to use on my MX film slr).
08-08-2008, 10:40 AM   #13
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Well, I decided that I just don't have the patience to manually expose, so I put this lens for sale at https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photographers-marketplace/34141-smc-penta...mm-f2-0-a.html .
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