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11-11-2017, 01:04 PM - 9 Likes   #1
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Old lenses and modern sensibilities

I've been a pentax user for close to a decade now (a tadpole compared to some lifelong members here) My first Pentax camera was a used K20D, amazing in all respects apart from the aperture lever issues which hit soon after. In that moment I reluctantly made the the transition from the safety of autofocus into full manual. I cut the focusing screen from an old ME body to fit my K20D, hit every salvation army in the area for old M42, K, KR mount lenses, from old Takumars and Tessars, to Yashica’s and Fujinon’s. At times I cannibalized Minolta, Exacta and Rollei mounts to test non-compatible lenses out. As a novice photographer out of my depths the Pentax Forum was instrumental in helping me better understand photography and the characteristics of the old lenses.
With the new bodies and modern lens lineup sometimes there’s a bit of tunnel vision, the conversation turns to looking for the fastest, sharpest, fastest focusing lenses our biceps and checkbooks can support. Although I’m excited for the new D-FA* and DA* lenses I hope we keep things in perspective and not forget about the brand’s long pedigree and all the little gems out there...

Here’s two of my favorite old school (adapted) lenses, Tessar T 50mm f2.8 and Rollei 50mm f1.8 Planar
Tessar 50mm Flickr Album Tessar 50mm f2.8 | Flickr
Rollei 50 Planar album Rollei HFT 50mm f1.8 | Flickr

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Last edited by Stavri; 11-15-2017 at 10:38 PM.
11-11-2017, 01:25 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Great article.

Sometimes I wish my Taks were WR to go with my K-5 and K-1, but other than that I feel my old glass needs no improvement to deliver results far better than I am capable of getting out of it.
11-11-2017, 02:47 PM   #3
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Thanks for post and enjoy sample shots too.

While I have enjoyed using MF lenses (especially Takumars) for a few years, I have in recent years taken to using AF more that MF - not sure why (maybe my eye sight is not as good?).
Recently quite a few larger better lenses (for example Sigma Art, latest announced DFA* 50 & 85 etc etc) have been released. These lenses have more complex designs which will certainly perform better but at the expense of size.
If all you are interested in is IQ and you have the budget then thats perfectly fine but for me I like a balance between IQ and size (portability). While the build is lacking compared to the lovely Takumar lenses (BTW I'm particularly fond of my SMC 55 f1.8 Takumar), the FA 28, FA 35, FA 50 (and FA 20 which I don't have sadly) lenses all strike a great IQ to size ratio while still having AF. Theres plenty of fun to be had with these lenses on the K-1 and they don't take up much room in the camera bag.

That all said I wanted a WR capable lens and just ended up getting a DFA 28-105 and I must admit that I'm really impressed with the IQ - don't know if I just got a good copy but, except for the slow aperture and somewhat higher distortion, it performs similarly to the FA primes and in some areas (such as CA) better. For a FF zoom it is also relatively compact. It won't replace the primes but certainly a very capable tool, especially for a simplified travelling kit. Happy with the colours too.
11-11-2017, 03:25 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Stavri Quote
With the new bodies and modern lens lineup sometimes there’s a bit of tunnel vision ...
When I read that I thought you were talking about insufficient lens coverage

11-11-2017, 03:45 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Anyone read Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance? Pentax is my way. From adopting lenses to top pro lenses. I can experience the entire moment. Or what i am capable of. I am Pentax Do
11-11-2017, 05:03 PM   #6
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That appears to be an FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited in your very fine lineup- a great lens indeed. You are fortunate to have one in silver, since they are now hard to find. If you'd like a compact body as an alternative to your fine but massive K-20D, I highly recommend the KP. Getting one in silver with a silver lens on it definitely presents a retro look, but with cutting-edge imaging, which it with your FA 77mm LTD can deliver. I have that combo, and can assure you it is marvelous. Leave it to Pentax to come out with a beautiful retro-style silver/black camera and discontinue a lens color that matches it perfectly! But black lenses look great on it as well.
11-11-2017, 09:06 PM   #7
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@mikesbike I don’t think they were intentionally discontinued. I think the stock of silver FA Limiteds from the December 2012 batch has simply run out. My guess is the current batch (January 2016 - ?) was only black.
11-12-2017, 02:57 AM   #8
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Is the Tessar adapted from Exakta or Altix mount?
I have a very similar one I adapted to PK from Altix bayonet.
I did the same with the Trioplan 2.9/50mm, and I still have to convert the other two Meyer's for Altix (35mm and 90mm).

I will check your photos taken with the Planar. I have the Voigtlander twin (Color Ultron), but I still have to try it on full frame...

Cheers

Paolo



11-12-2017, 03:13 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
@mikesbike I don’t think they were intentionally discontinued. I think the stock of silver FA Limiteds from the December 2012 batch has simply run out. My guess is the current batch (January 2016 - ?) was only black.
yes - srs in the UK is currently 'awaiting stock' of the silver 77 ltd, but the other two FA ltds are in stock[COLOR="Silver"]

Last edited by ffking; 11-12-2017 at 05:21 AM.
11-13-2017, 07:39 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by cyberjunkie Quote
Is the Tessar adapted from Exakta or Altix mount?
I have a very similar one I adapted to PK from Altix bayonet.
I did the same with the Trioplan 2.9/50mm, and I still have to convert the other two Meyer's for Altix (35mm and 90mm).

I will check your photos taken with the Planar. I have the Voigtlander twin (Color Ultron), but I still have to try it on full frame...

Cheers

Paolo
I have a similar one that is M42, so I don't think it's adapted. That said, it doesn't work well on many M42 bodies, because the mount flange is really deep, and the aperture bar can get stuck.

Must be from before M42 lenses had the aperture pin.
11-13-2017, 10:30 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by timw4mail Quote
I have a similar one that is M42, so I don't think it's adapted. That said, it doesn't work well on many M42 bodies, because the mount flange is really deep, and the aperture bar can get stuck.

Must be from before M42 lenses had the aperture pin.
Mine is the Voigtlander version, which should be very similar, if not identical. I might be wrong, maybe it's not the lens i think it is...
My example has the "auto" pin, but no A/M switch, so the only way to use the diaphragm is to block the pin in depressed position.
I did it with some glue, but the spring was too strong, so i glued on top of the pin a little square of black matte tape.
Now it works fine, but i've tried it only on APS.C

cheers

Paolo
11-13-2017, 11:20 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by cyberjunkie Quote
Mine is the Voigtlander version, which should be very similar, if not identical. I might be wrong, maybe it's not the lens i think it is...
My example has the "auto" pin, but no A/M switch, so the only way to use the diaphragm is to block the pin in depressed position.
I did it with some glue, but the spring was too strong, so i glued on top of the pin a little square of black matte tape.
Now it works fine, but i've tried it only on APS.C

cheers

Paolo
Ah, okay. Mine is preset.
11-13-2017, 08:13 PM   #13
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It's an exacta mount preset Red (T) tessar, smaller than the M42 tessar closer in size to a Jupiter 3, or other small rangefinder lenses. It's a fun little lens, (due to my choppy conversion) it works as a close focus prime , really fun lens to play around with. I also have the M42 Voigtlander Color Ultron, which is similar to the HFT Planar, very sharp little lens, close in IQ to the Super-Takumar 8 elements which is one of the best old fifties IMO.
11-14-2017, 01:50 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Stavri Quote
It's an exacta mount preset Red (T) tessar, smaller than the M42 tessar closer in size to a Jupiter 3, or other small rangefinder lenses. It's a fun little lens, (due to my choppy conversion) it works as a close focus prime , really fun lens to play around with.
Yes, it's tiny, and looks a bit weird on the K-1
Yours is practically the same version of the Tessar I converted. The back of the lens is also looking similar.
The Altix mount is the breech-lock version of the Exa mount. Mine can be focused to infinity without problems, while the Exa/Exakta mount conversion needs some work to adjust for infinity.

I have the little Tessar cause I acquired an Altix camera for its 50mm Trioplan, and it came with a second "normal".
I used it to practice with the conversion procedure before doing the (more valuable) Trioplan 2.9/50mm, which also looks very similar to your lens from a certain distance.
It's really incredible how good these > 100 years old designs can perform, even on high res digital sensors. The rather primitive single coating calls for proper lens shading, but bokeh (Trioplan) and sharpness (Tessar) are there. The pictures are either quite good, or very poor, depending on the kind of lighting.
Sometimes the results are really special, I love that vintage look!

Cheers

Paolo
11-14-2017, 06:31 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by cyberjunkie Quote
It's really incredible how good these > 100 years old designs can perform, even on high res digital sensors. The rather primitive single coating calls for proper lens shading, but bokeh (Trioplan) and sharpness (Tessar) are there. The pictures are either quite good, or very poor, depending on the kind of lighting.
Sometimes the results are really special, I love that vintage look!

Cheers

Paolo
you summarized it well, they're really fun lenses to play with.
a comparison between the M42 and Exacta versions
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