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04-07-2017, 03:44 AM   #1
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Buying old lenses

I'm looking into getting my first DSLR and settled on Pentax. The best deals seem to be body only and I can jump straight to better lenses rather than spending extra on kit lenses.

With that in mind, any tips on thrift store/pawn shop lens hunting? To me part of the appeal of Pentax is the ability to collect older manual lenses but I'm not sure what to look for in terms of lens condition. People advertise no haze, fungus etc. online but are they visually obvious? I suppose that applies to any brand but you guys presumably have the most experience with k mounts and adapters.

Manual should be fine since I want to play around with macro and landscape mostly.

04-07-2017, 03:53 AM   #2
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I think this is what you are looking for.

and...

Here is how you work them once you've got them.

ETA:
and

This one is also useful, but his language is extremely crude and politically incorrect:

Last edited by pathdoc; 04-07-2017 at 04:05 AM.
04-07-2017, 04:12 AM   #3
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Old lenses are fine piece fo mechanics so all must be in perfect working condition (i.e.: diaphragm blades,lens barrel and filter thread, the metal mount, diaphragm ring, focus ring, etc). The rings have to move without obslacles .
As the optics, check for signals of internal lens separation . Check well for signs of drops or tumbles (tyfically deformation of the filter thread or heavy scratches on the lens barrel). Tumbles are insidious because they can involve a disallgnment on the optics that's impossibile to see whitoout testing the lens on your camera.

Always prefer trusted people (like in this Forum ) and/or physical stores. If it's impossible to test the lens, let the seller give you some detailed photos of the item. If possible, use Paypal.
04-07-2017, 06:13 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cagey Beatrice Quote
I'm looking into getting my first DSLR and settled on Pentax. The best deals seem to be body only and I can jump straight to better lenses rather than spending extra on kit lenses.

With that in mind, any tips on thrift store/pawn shop lens hunting? To me part of the appeal of Pentax is the ability to collect older manual lenses but I'm not sure what to look for in terms of lens condition. People advertise no haze, fungus etc. online but are they visually obvious? I suppose that applies to any brand but you guys presumably have the most experience with k mounts and adapters.

Manual should be fine since I want to play around with macro and landscape mostly.

Thrift shop purchasing can be fruitful if you check with the shop owner if you can return it, here in England the shops I have used just give a store credit though and only give you a short time to return it. I bought a Helios -44M at one with a loose A/M switch. Tightening the screws gave me a great lens for £5.00! I could have been unlucky, it's a chance you take until you have the experience to avoid the less obvious clunkers.
If you use old Pentax K mount lenses, look out for "A" on the aperture ring, they make them easier to use, no green button metering required....But beware the lenses with the Ricoh pin, this can be problematic.
Make sure you are aware of what to do to enable green button metering on your DSLR.
If you buy M42 mount, having a manual stop down switch or pre-set apertures may be better than having one without and having to perform surgery on the auto pin to enable manual stop down. The M42-K adapter most likely to be recommended is the Pentax original. For macro work, a flanged adapter can be fine.
If you are into tubes for macro, buying a fungus infected teleconverter that includes the "A" contacts and deglassing it is a cheap way of getting a tube with auto.
If you buy lenses with black anodised K mounts, beware that some of the more recent Pentax DSLR's will not stop down when green button metering. Scratching away the anodise should enable use. Earlier DSLR's like the K20D will stop down these lenses. My K-5 does not.


Don't despair if you find there is a lot to learn, almost every question that might arise has been answered in this forum at some time or other and the members are helpful.
The other posters have given you a fair introduction into buying lenses but you will find there is more to learn!
Enjoy.

04-07-2017, 06:15 AM   #5
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Good advice so far. Just a couple of things:

1. Primes rather than zooms, particularly the older they are.
2. Top of wish list IMO: i. fast "nifty-fifty" - for pentax the smc-a 50mm 1.7 is my recommendation; ii MF macro (real macro lens - 1:2 reproduction or better eg vivitar 90mm, tamron adaptall 90mm, takumar 100mm macro, vivitar 55mm etc all sorts of generic zooms are labelled "macro just because they offer a bit of closer focus);
3. Don't be hung up on blemishes eg wee scratch(es)/dings on the front element, dust, dust mite, tendril or two of fungus, slight element separation visible around the edge (rainbowing), spots... You won't notice any effect on IQ from these. Ken Rockwell's perspective is appropriate;

The Flashlight Test

Haze and coating loss may also be merely blemishes, but are more often problematic. Haze can be difficult to spot - I have a tokina atx 28-200mm, superficially LNIB, that produces foggy pics, I finally tracked the problem down to a barely visibly hazed element near the rear of the lens.

4. older, simpler, eg t-mount preset lenses are pretty easy for a bit of diy lens cleaning/CLA. Get a lens spanner and you are set to to do a quick clean of the most commonly affected lens elements on most lenses - the ones at the front. But going in deeper esp. with zooms, is serious commitment!

5. the tamron adaptalls are a proven series of quality MF lenses.

6. web searching is the essential tool for a quick bit of research to decide if a lens is of interest. As well as the reviews here, dyxum.com has an extensive review section, and web searches will usually pull up threads on forums like mflenses.com and example pics on eg flickr. Having said that, there are actually not that many BAD lenses IME - most will do ok stopped down a bit.

Last edited by marcusBMG; 04-07-2017 at 09:46 AM.
04-07-2017, 07:55 AM   #6
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One thing I have noticed, certainly with UK adverts on Ebay, is that some sellers have very little idea of what they are selling. The descriptions are sketchy, inaccurate or just plain ludicrous, the items are mis-labelled as to manufacturer and/or camera mount, the photos are atrocious and the prices tend towards the over-optimistic. Then, when checking their 'Other Items' link, one finds that they appear to be dealers in all kinds of general items, not just photographic gear. I have never bought from one of these - no doubt some are genuine, but they do not inspire confidence.
04-07-2017, 08:34 AM   #7
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Do your research first

Good advice from previous posts. In general get lens with an A pin. Makes the camera so much easier to use. Don't always think about the lowest price you can find. Look at the prices of a new near equivalent. Usually a minimum of three times the price, can easily be 10 times the price.

I suggest, keep away from old Sigma lens. Check out the name of the lens, often it is the same lens sold under different names. You will almost certainly buy the odd 'duff' lens. Don't let the experience put you off, haunt Ebay until the lens you are after turn up. Don't try and rush it, if good ones are not there, then so be it. Good luck.

Last edited by fb_penpho; 04-07-2017 at 09:03 AM.
04-07-2017, 03:50 PM   #8
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Old lens buying strategy . . .

Some pointers from my experience--for users, not collectors:

1. Research the old lenses, particularly those that are reviewed here in Pentax Forum, and determine which lenses are of particular interest.
The lenses of interest, of course, should be the ones that are appropriate for your kind of photography.

2. When you see a lens listed which is of particular interest, go back to the reviews to study it again and make sure it offers what you are looking for.

3. Try to buy from knowledgeable sellers, as evidenced by the quality of their lens photographs and descriptions.

4. Concentrate mostly on prime lenses rather than zooms. There are some excellent old zooms, but they are rarer than good primes.

5. Don't be afraid to buy from Japanese eBay firms. I have found these sellers to be extremely reliable, and a good source of lenses that are in excellent condition.

6. Have a general idea of what you want your lens collection to include, and decide whether you want to buy a "place setter" while waiting to purchase a similar but better lens in the future.
Example: I purchased and used a Sigma 30mm f 1.4 while saving for the Pentax-FA 31mm, then sold the Sigma when I was able to afford the FA 31.

7. Determine which features you require of a lens: automatic focus, an "A" pin (in order to access the various camera modes), build quality, sharpness or other image quality variables, etc.
Recognize that your preferences for these various lens features may evolve over time as you gain greater experience in your photography. Some Pentaxers love the Pentax-M lenses
because of their excellent build quality, while others insist upon automatic focus for various reasons including personal vision traits. You may find, as I have, that AF is not very
important for certain types of lenses--particularly lenses intended for macro, landscape, and portraiture applications.

8. Don't be afraid to buy the best lenses you can afford. Top quality lenses historically have held their value very well, and there is an active market for high quality glass.

These have been my personal guidelines, and I am sure that others will have quite different priorities, so consider carefully what you want and need, what you hope to achieve in
photography, and shop accordingly. Good luck!

04-09-2017, 10:32 AM - 1 Like   #9
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Hi!

For macro and landscapes: don't be afraid of Manual Focus lenses. Kids, pets and sports need AF but you have the nice catch in focus feature that helps with MF.
I have never bought anything useless second hand. My only new lenses were the DA14 and a NOS (new old stock) F35-105.
The rest (15+ since I sold a few that I did not need) were all in good shape and fully functional. I always check the pics.

Seb
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