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03-13-2009, 08:51 AM   #1
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To turn right or to turn left

First, I am a still noob, so please don't trow eggs...

More I read about old good lens, the less I understand which way do go, please all you guru, share your experience

I got a K10D with kit lens and got a m42 adapter, and want to start to buy some oldies, but stuck where to go, mainly I will do nature+my kids in coming summer, so not so important weight...

1) I have digged forum to find advantages Kmount vs screw mount, so far I understand that screw mount lenses are bit sharper and richer in colours, slightly but they are

2) At very beginning to start with some zoom ones, and then with prime, or step by step start buy in primes?

3) If never before used what recipe would be in which brandwagon to jump?
As we know that here is a lot of tammy/takk/Sears/Pentax fans.

The main problem is that at present I have 1 lense, want to start slooowly buy in so good old lenses, and learn what is what.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it will be important for me

03-13-2009, 10:04 AM   #2
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Focusing manually for moving objects like kids is not easy. Hang on to the M42 adapter for now but get a FA 50mm F1.4 of a used FA 50mm 1.7 (currently there is one in this forum's Marketplace for $149). You get the benefit of auto focus with F1.7 for low light and amazing sharpness at F2.8 and beyond. Later you can get more into manula focus lenses. Recently I got an "A" 50mm F1.7 that I'm very pleased with. With "A" lenses you get the benefit of auto exposure. You only have to worry about manual focus. They also work well with flash. With "M" and generally all K mounts without the "A" designation I believe you have to use the exposure lock button to set exposure and you can't use P-TTL type flash. I'm not certain if M42 lenses can do auto exposure but since they don't have contact pins I kind of believe for exposure you have to use the exposure lock button as well and no P-TTL. Maybe somebody else who knows M42 lenses can shed some light on this. Hope this helps.
03-13-2009, 10:27 AM   #3
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I can't offer any advice on the M42s but I can offer a general suggestion on lens choice.

By all means, if screw mount full manual keenly interests you then buy them and use them - for the nature shots and to learn the craft of photography. But for shooting the kids, as Stratario said, get some more current glass. Trying to learn manual lens mechanics while simultaneously trying to track moving kids is not a recipe for success and happiness.
03-13-2009, 11:13 AM   #4
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Big thanks to both of you

I think, I catch your point.

Then I will take for a family shooting something more "modern" and for rest to get better understanding screw mount lenses.


03-13-2009, 11:26 AM   #5
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The FA 50 opens up the Wide Open world of photography, I personally would get a 35mm first if I am to do my lens collection all over again though (FA or DA 35) Unless you're going to do slow motion (taking your time) photography alot, dont get too deep into the M42/takumar hole I find using M42s quite meditative since it's so slow paced (compared to autofocus / auto step down lenses). Can be frustating when you're photographing moving objects though.

As to my suggestion, I'd say get either the FA 35 or a telephoto zoom (DA 50-200 or 50-300)
03-13-2009, 11:37 AM   #6
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you're doing what i did - couldn't realistically buy all the fine AF lenses and zooms i kept hearing about, and didn't have experience with enough lenses to make a decision.

however, i was given a free m42 lens by a forum member when i bought a macro rail from him, WITH an original pentax m42 to K adapter

i probably wouldn't have bought or tried screw mount lenses if this hadn't happened. it was a 135mm f/3.5, and i took it hiking. wow. it was simply amazing. the images from that hike out shown all other hiking images taken with my kit and super-zoom lens. the contrast was stunning, the sharpness made the subjects jump off the screen, and the "3d" effect (DOF and bokeh) were magical.

screw mount lenses are all over eeekbay, available at KEH and other stores for really nice prices. so cheap, you can get a nice selection and not worry at all about breaking the bank.

yes, the adapter makes changing lenses a pain. but, you get to learn a lot, find out what mm range you really enjoy, and can make a more informed decision when you want to spend the big bucks on a really fine lens.

my personal recommendations? get a fast 50mm of either mount, a 135mm, and either a wide angle or telephoto, then play.

by the way, if you go the m42 route, get a "real" adapter that fits fully into the lens mount on the camera....don't use the "flange" ones that are cheaper, since the lens has to stick out and can't focus to infinity.

above all, have fun!

oh, and check out the "clubs" here to see what lenses others really like:

the takumar club

the M club

the A club

the K club

there's other's too, if you search... (wish those were in an easy to find forum menu somewhere....)
03-13-2009, 12:04 PM   #7
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Being one of them M42 freaks... I would put their attractiveness in value/performance terms. You get the very top lenses of their day, with the highest construction quality, for a fraction of similar (auto focus) performance today. With the Super/SMC Takumars, to be specific.

Once used to these, they are relatively quick to use.

However, I wouldn't say automatically the M42 Takumar is optically better than a later SMC K mount lens. Sometimes the modern lens is optically the better one; and even if equal, the more modern lens does it with a faster max aperture and (possibly) exposure automation and auto focus. Usually the cost increment is fairly large, however.

In terms of usability / automation with a Pentax dSLR, I'd rank the mf lenses as follows:

SMC-A - full auto exposure capability
M42 with 'manual switch' - you can do 'stop down Av mode' - simply stop the lens down and the Av mode will calculate shutter speed. Usually you have to apply + exposure compensation.
SMC-M or regular K mount - here your only metering option is manual via the green button stop down. Which is slower than the M42 Av - but in exchange you do get auto diaphragm operation, so the camera will stop the lens down for you to meter and then at exposure time.

As a result of the above, the SMC-A mount lenses tend to carry a premium.

Zooms - with the rare exception, there is little reason to use early zooms, of the M42 era, and even the early K mount eras. This is the area where lens design has stepped forward at a rapid place, and often newer = better. There are several excellent manual focus zooms though, from the '80s.
03-13-2009, 12:09 PM   #8
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I'm going to jump on the bandwagon and say, if you're just learning, get one good autofocus lens. On a budget, the FA50 sounds like the best, though I haven't used it myself, everyone on here seems to love it. I am happy with my kit lens when I need autofocus, but it definitely isn't the best option availalable, but for $50, it is a steal.

For nature shots, landscape, meditative photography: the takumars are a great way to explore the craft and they are inexpensive. Every takumar I bought was under $50, most far less than that. If you are adventurous you could get others for pennies. For all manufacturers I would say stick to the primes. In general, I haven't been impressed by the zooms, except for a few such as the famous Series 1 70-210. Since you are going to be taking time with the screw mounts focusing, it is only a few more seconds to switch to the right focal length.

In short, with manual lenses, it becomes more about the act of taking the picture, the auto focus lenses let you focus on what you're taking a picture of.
Each of us have our own preferences and circumstances.

03-13-2009, 12:20 PM   #9
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Ohhh, last three posts put me run to the fridge for a beer, to get understanding where to go...

But reading what Nesster wrote I see between lines some diamonds in supertakks
03-13-2009, 01:07 PM   #10
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Heh heh heh ... just as reference, even when attached to a camera and included in the cost, none of my takumars cost more than $40, except the 105 SMC that I paid $100 for, but that was because the seller was Eric and thus it had benefitted from his touch. Plus it has the original Honeywell caps and the shade.

The 35/3.5, the 50's, the 135's are especially excellent and cheap. The 28's are very very good, not really bettered by later Pentax lenses.

Last edited by Nesster; 03-13-2009 at 01:50 PM.
03-15-2009, 10:15 AM   #11
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I will echo that the FA 50/1.4 AF is the lens to start with, along with the DA 18-55 kit zoom. And I really love the old Taks and other M42s. Manual lenses may be slightly slower to work with, but generations of photographers have done fine work with them. And yes, zooms from before the 1980s may not be so great.

I have a suggestion, I don't know if this applies in Latvia, but in the USA some good places to look for used lenses are PAWN SHOPS near CASINOS. I have a favorite in Carson City Nevada (state capitol, south of Reno, way north of Las Vegas) that always has a great selection of old glass. People gamble, lose, pawn their cameras and other stuff to make money to go home. Their loss is my gain.
04-15-2009, 06:58 AM   #12
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For all of you that posted to this question,right or left, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. You answered some very important questions for me. Now i have some understanding on to build my lens collection.

Phil H
04-15-2009, 08:48 AM   #13
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Kids are easy to shoot with m42 lenses. I do it all the time. It is just a matter of getting used to it and then shoot away. Sure kids move. But they sure as hell do not move quicker then you can focus a lens.

This is what you do, register to ebay. Put this string into the searchbar, minus the quotation marks.

"Takumar 55mm"

Then find a 55mm/1.8 for about 20$ and buy it. Next enter this string

"Takumar 135mm"

Then find a 135mm/3.5 for about 20-30$ and buy it. Next enter this string.

"Pentax Genuine"

And find a genuine Pentax 15$ m42 adapter.

By this time you have spent about 80$ including shipping. And you have two very, very good primelenses to get used to manual training.

AF lenses, you start using when you have learned how to focus. It is a tool, a shortcut. Just like you should learn how to fly a plane before using autopilot.

You will not regret it.
04-15-2009, 09:01 AM   #14
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I believe that if you are going to explore Manual Focus lenses, that the real investment is a split image screen.

Whether you go after M42 or K mount is much less relevant.

one issue you need to consider is that with K and M42 mount lenses, you can't use p-ttl flash. In that respect KA lenses are better, or getting a used *istD otr DS, which can do TTL flash.

Personally, I have both M42 and K mounts and also a split image focusing screen.

manual focus lenses are fun to use and fast focusing can be mastered, but there are also some limits to older lenses. These lenses are not internal focusing, and many medium tele lenses have rather long minimum focus distance.

as for image quality, the lenses are sharp but suffer from CA and fringing especially wide open.

I use the MF primes because they are faster than zooms (usually) and in low light when AF is not reliable.
04-15-2009, 11:29 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by spura Quote
The main problem is that at present I have 1 lense, want to start slooowly buy in so good old lenses, and learn what is what.
i have an advice for you: get the Helios 44M. (or 44-2, 44M-4, it's optically the same lens)
it should be abundant and cheap, it was standard lens for almost every Zenit film camera.
it's M42 lens, it's pretty fast (f/2), and on digital gives you ~87mm equivalent focal length - great for portraiture.


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