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02-24-2009, 06:25 AM   #1
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What happened to the aperture ring?

Silly question I'm sure, but I'm not up on the history (or mechanics) of lenses. Question arises after shooting with a Pentax ME and SuperProgram, and having had my K200D for a while.

Manual mode on the SuperProgram: aperture on lens, shutter on camera, go!

K200D: dial for shutter, hold Av button and rotate dial for aperture.

Wouldn't it have been simpler to just keep the Aperture settings on the lens? The SuperProgram came with an A50 1.7 that has an A setting for use with Av and P modes... as does my FA 50, now that I think about it.

What happened there? I assume there is some mechanical/electronic explanation for eliminating such a simple mode of operation.

02-24-2009, 06:44 AM   #2
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the apature ring has gone the way of the dodo bird. it is extinct.

it required an additional mechanical coupling between the camera and lens, and with A series lenses onward, on electronic bodies, served no purpose at all.

The coupling for the apature ring was removed in the film era, (I'm not sure what the last pentax body was that used it) so except for use on very old cameras, pre 1983 when the A series lenses came out, there has been no need. For pentax to support old cameras that long with something new cameras don't even use is amazing enough.
02-24-2009, 10:20 AM   #3
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It wasn't needed any more and getting rid of it saved money, size and complexity. The downside was compatibility, but the market for selling FA-J lenses to K1000 users was small. The camera body has better control over the aperture now and can offer features like matrix metering and 1/3 stop settings. It's easy to change the aperture with your thumb. Doing this all electroncally is much cheaper than having a different mechanism in each lens mount.
02-24-2009, 11:17 AM   #4
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I'd just as soon keep the aperture rings, but they go backwards on Pentax, anyway. (Sorry, I was just thinking about my old Canons.) Anyway, the mechanisms are a bit expensive to make, comparatively, and a lot of people don't use them. It'd be pretty sweet if someone could make lenses with an electronically-coupled aperture ring on the lens, but, I doubt we'll see that.

Actually, I thought the FA-Js just didn't go over so well, and Pentax gave up on the idea of no-aperture-rings until the digital-only DA series?

Maybe I'm just a little old-school, but I prefer to be able to set things by feel rather than peeping at displays for every setting. It's a little hard to adjust to the idea of setting aperture being a task for the *right* hand, for me. Though I'm working on it.

02-24-2009, 11:40 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by grainbelt Quote
Silly question I'm sure, but I'm not up on the history (or mechanics) of lenses. Question arises after shooting with a Pentax ME and SuperProgram, and having had my K200D for a while.

Manual mode on the SuperProgram: aperture on lens, shutter on camera, go!

K200D: dial for shutter, hold Av button and rotate dial for aperture.

Wouldn't it have been simpler to just keep the Aperture settings on the lens? The SuperProgram came with an A50 1.7 that has an A setting for use with Av and P modes... as does my FA 50, now that I think about it.

What happened there? I assume there is some mechanical/electronic explanation for eliminating such a simple mode of operation.

The k200 only has the one mode dial, which is a shame. K10/k20 have a wheel front and rear, so you can assign Aperture to one, and Shutter to another, making manual much easier (plus the green button shortcut to 'zero-out' the reading to match one or the other)

I kind of prefer aperture rings and half-stops, but I shoot negative film, so it's not as critical.
02-24-2009, 02:17 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ratmagiclady Quote
Actually, I thought the FA-Js just didn't go over so well, and Pentax gave up on the idea of no-aperture-rings until the digital-only DA series?
The FA-Js were clearly designed to be very inexpensive. The lack of a ring attracted some criticism but no one was going to get LBA over them. I think the first "nice" lens without a ring was the DA40.

QuoteQuote:
Maybe I'm just a little old-school, but I prefer to be able to set things by feel rather than peeping at displays for every setting. It's a little hard to adjust to the idea of setting aperture being a task for the *right* hand, for me. Though I'm working on it.
I just realized one use for an aperture ring - with many macro accessories, it's a necessity. I would probably be more old-school about rings, but most of my old lenses were recently acquired and I haven't used them enough.
02-24-2009, 02:29 PM   #7
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No aperture ring = cheaper. Problem solved, as far as they're concerned.
02-25-2009, 03:28 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the replies. I understand somewhat that there would be additional cost to interface the setting back to the body, and that it may be prohibitive. I agree about the lack of two dials on the K200, but think it is alleviated somewhat by the top LCD - at least I'm not squinting thru the viewfinder or activating the rear LCD to make or verify minor settings.

I think I simply agree with Ratmagiclady that the left hand falls to the lens and may as well be able to do something... I also find it hugely intuitive to change aperture and focus on the lens, shutter speed and exposure compensation on the body.

Perhaps I'll have to keep shooting film.

02-25-2009, 05:08 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by grainbelt Quote
I think I simply agree with Ratmagiclady that the left hand falls to the lens and may as well be able to do something...
what about focusing?

AF/MF switch is conveniently positioned near your thumb, so it can be switched quickly, for those lenses without QuickShift mechanism.
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