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09-27-2013, 09:24 AM   #1
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Old Pentaxist with new K-500

I started photography as a boy, decades ago, with first
an Agfa Synchro Box, then an Agfa Silette, and then
my first SLR, a Pentacon F. Five years later, as a
student, it was possible to buy a Spotmatic and a Leica M2
paying in installments, and for many years I was not
"interested in cameras" any more, since I owned the best
equipment there was. I did a lot of stage photography
and became a specialist for lolite photography with
pushed Ilford and Fuji films. Things became complicated
with the rise of "automated" cameras - I welcomed them,
but they were not "automatic" at all, you had to watch
other parameters than before, but still to control
everything. One of the more important set of controls now
was the camera make, their "system", their reputation,
their likely future moves etc. etc. I started refusing
new "automatic" systems like AF. But all this time I
experimented with brands, their cameras and lenses, trying
to find "the best" thing, of course meaning: the best
affordable one, and that is what it stayed ever since.
In digital it was somehow the same: starting from scratch
which equipment hailed as super (for the money) then,
but being poor toys like the Silette, when seen from today.

One day I realized the brutal truth of the digital age:
when you want more ASA, you don't buy a Neopan 1600 instead
of 400, but a new camera - for 1000Euro, or 1500Euro, or
2700Euro (D700 at start), or 5000Euro (D4, for having the
"best equipment there is" - but for two or three years only).
I never had so much money, I don't have it now, and so I
tried to cut corners financially, collecting digital gear
between 2001 and now which provided not much more reliable
lolite performance than 400...800 ASA. The first beast
that reliably provided much more was a NEX3, sold cheaply
because newer still better NEXs were to appear. I detected
the joys of using legacy glass of different systems and
brands on mirrorless cams (the NEX and a Pana G1)...
and now I am approaching my question to you Pentax Gurus.

During the last days I wanted to finally come to grips in
defining my needs so precisely that I would be able to
see the solution in case it appeared before my eyes. An
Oly OMD M5 would be fine, but too expensive. Still I would
like to have high ISO (and great IQ even then), a stabilizer
(IBIS), a help thing for MF (focus peaking or changeable
screens or both), and a mount compatible with M42 and
some more. M42 is possible with Canon (no IBIS, no focus
peak), and KoMi/Sony (and I do have KoMi lenses), and
Pentax K (and I do have PK lenses) - so that finally
I established that either a K-500 (500E) or a Sony A58
(400E) had to be aquired asap. At this point I felt
stupid spending so much time on my eternal "camera
interest" which I would prefer not to need to have,
and felt moreover a strange urge to leave the house
because otherwise I could miss something important.
Who would have thought that my elderly feet led me into
the Media Markt that once sold me my glorious NEX.
What I would have missed otherwise was a sell out feast
with prices slashed by 50% on some of the better stuff.
The A58 was now 390E instead of 400E, but the K-500
moved from 500E to 300E. So I rushed home with a new
K-500. I had trained myself for that situation and
decision during the last days, so I did not have to
think it over or to study the details: I had studied
the news of the K-500 on the web, I know that since
the introduction of the Sony 16MP sensor Pentaxes are
good again, I am an old Pentax intimate, I know that
every "normal" camera body (not designed by Nikon sadists)
is able to do "A" metering+shutter setting+firing with
any legacy lens (MFT can, Canon can, NEX can, KoMi can...),
so the K-500 would necessarily be (apart from a Pentax
for current Pentax lenses) a dedicated cutting edge body
for many of my old lenses, sort of an updated Spotmatic.
Meeting wild pigs at daybreak in the Grunewald with a
5.6/300 in your hands must be much more satisfying
when you can shoot them with 51.200 instead of 400-800 ISO...

Imagine my surprise then, when I tried to use legacy
glass (PK-lenses from Pentax among them) on the K-500.

And image my surprise when first looks into the matter
on the web (inc. pentaxforums) suggest that I am the
first to remark there is something wrong. Or that I
failed to grasp something everybody else did right.

In the K-500 specimen I got the following things seem wrong:

1. two lenses (a smashing Vivitar 28-70 (PK) and a nice Soligor
60-300, PK/AF) have a massive metal bulge exactly where the
inner part of the K-500 body also has a bulge, so that they are
mutually in their way and the lenses cannot be mounted at all.
I used the 60-300 on my MZ-5, the Vivitar turned up later.

Another such Soligor CD 60-300 with Minolta AF mount works
happily on my KoMi 5D - problems? why?

A Sigma 28-105 (PK/AF) and a Tokina 70-210 (PK) work normally
on the K-500.

2. one Pentax SMC 1.7/50 (PK) has an aperture ring that does
not rest fixed in A position - K-500 does not recognize it.
A similar SMC 2/50 where the ring clicks ok in its final
position is recognized.

3. a SMC Pentax 1.4/50 (PK, no auto) is also not recognized,
and a pair of lovely baby zooms from Ricoh (35-70 & 70-210)
with K-mount and "P" position for Auto is not recognized
for "A" mode although at that time Ricoh and Pentax already
worked together and should have used compatible specs.

4. But "A" for legacy means camera-world-wide that you choose
the aperture and the camera does the rest, whether it
knows this lens or not. It should only know what an aperture
setting is and how to operate the diaphragm, and most do.

The fathers of K-500, however, seem to have decided otherwise:
they measure the light not of the aperture you specified, say
f/8, but of the max aperture, say 1.4. When you fire, the
K-500 sets and uses the correct speed for the max aperture,
say 1/250 sec, but stops down to the aperture you specified.
Instead of f/1.4 - 1/250 or f/8 - 1/8, both correct exposures,
the K-500 delivers f/8 - 1/250.

5. In case you do not like this kind of result you have to
use the super duper Extra Automatic Mode of the newest
product of "The Photographer's Camera Company", which is
a mixture of mode "A" and mode "M": in "A" you measure the
light (and get, e.g. 1/250 at f/1.4); then you have to
use your fingers to find out that there are 5 stops between
1.4 and 8, then you have to try to remember that even if
you are already so terribly old as I am now, then you have
to change the mode from "A" to "M", then you must manually
set the speed, from whatever it is still at from the last
time to, uh, 1-2-3-4-5 from 1/250 down, uh, aw 1/8...
perhaps this is not optimal even with IBIS, what if I
apply only 3 steps, where am I know, uh... It's in principle
just as complicated if you simply want to enhance sharpness
by using f/2 instead of 1.4... this seems even worse than
the tortures Nikon invents for those people they hate
most, faithful longtime customers unwilling to throw their
old gear into the garbage can each time Nikon comes out
with something new.

6. So, the problem seems to be that the K-500 does not stop
down a PK-lens for measuring (a trick my Spotmatic of 1966
was well able to perform) and does not provide something
to trigger stopping down. The RAW/fx knob does it, allegedly,
but only for DOF-control, not for measuring and shooting.

7. When after all that you read in pentaxforums and elsewhere
that the only problem with Pentax DSLRs and Old Glass
might be the insufficient early coating and resulting flare...

8. I have not yet mustered the courage to try M42. From film
Pentaxes I remember that you could easily attach the adapter
into the PK bayonet, but were not meant to ever get it out
again. I'll wait a while with this with my brand new lovely


09-27-2013, 01:20 PM   #2
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Jean Poitiers's Avatar

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Welcome to PF and bonjour from France ... wow, what an intro ... enjoy the forum and please post us soon images soon ... Salut, J
09-27-2013, 01:36 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forums! This will help you get started with your manual lenses (it's not difficult):
09-29-2013, 06:06 AM   #4
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Welcome, that must be one of the longest intros on this forum yet.

Good to have you here.

09-29-2013, 10:25 AM   #5
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Welcome to the forums!

As paulh says, it's not hard to make your camera stop down the lens automatically. It's just that Pentax for some reason has this setting disabled by default. Don't ask me why...

Anyway, enjoy your K-500!

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