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03-01-2014, 01:10 PM   #1
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New user from CA, would love your advice

Just joined the forums, I have Pentax in my past (K1000 was first camera ever, had a ZX-50 on my honeymoon, had a K-x for about a year), and I think I'm ready to return.

Here's my situation, and I would be delighted to hear your advice.

I love older lenses, partly for fun and partly to fit my budget (I do video work with Canon FD, etc.).
I am interesting in getting back into film for two reasons: I'm teaching my kids photography, and want to teach them from the ground up; and I have some special trips coming up this year and want to shoot film in some places like Yosemite.
I'm also interested in digital, and high ISO performance matters to me (I do indoor portraits, etc.).
I don't have the steadiest hands around, so in-camera shake reduction + MF lenses is appealing to me.

So basically I'm looking at Pentax and seeing that I might get:
  • the stabilization benefits that I'd get with Olympus m4/3
  • the sensor benefits of Sony(/Nikon)
  • the older lens compatibility on DSLRs, like Nikon

That makes me happy. There are also lots of film bodies that are available very inexpensively (though the beloved K1000 seems to fetch a premium).

So here's my tentative plan, and I'd love your corrections:
  • Get one or two film bodies for my kids and my landscape travel use: maybe ME Super? (or ZX-M? I don't mind plastic if its reliable) I like full manual for teaching, but I might appreciate a bit more auto-exposure sometimes. Budget: $100
  • Get a basic set of lenses: 28mm or if I can swing it 24mm for landscapes. A 50mm 1.7 as a basic all-around and DSLR portrait lens. Then I probably have to just up to 135 to afford a telephoto. Budget: $250
  • Then save my pennies and pick up a digital body. K-30's seem very affordable used. Or maybe step up to a K5II. Budget: $350-500.
  • Down the road I can pick up some nicer FA glass, or something like that.

I would love to hear your corrections to that plan! And if any of you want to sell me that stuff.... :-)

Thanks so much,

03-01-2014, 01:47 PM   #2
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If you want to use Nikon or Canon FD your only option is a Mirrorles camera. I recommend Sony Nex because there are so many cheap after market adapters(basically any lens can be fit) and the image quality is fantastic. But no shake reduction.
Pentax is your best bet for older lenses if you want a DSLR and in camera Shake reduction because they are compatible with Pentax K, m42 m39 T Mount.
03-01-2014, 02:12 PM   #3
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This is just my two cents... I learnt photography on a Pentax SuperProgram and it took a while before I understood the whole exposure thingy. It was very hard for me to understand the principle when I was only able to see my shots, days (sometimes weeks) after taking them, also not having exif, everything had to be written down (exposure wise). I can't remember exactly how much it was but I know that a fair bit of my low income went into film development.

Using a digital camera, I can easily show a newbie how exposure works, with instant results... shoot underexposed, check the shot, slow down the shutter speed a bit, check the shot again... Same for depth of field, it takes only a few minutes. And it's pretty much free. Anyone I showed the basics understood the whole thing in a very short period of time.

I still have the original SuperProgram, along with a SuperME which I used up to recently, when getting my film developed was way too expensive and took forever. And this also brings back some bad memories of a trip I did to Hawaii... wanting to do it old school with the ME... I ended overexposing (wayyy beyond use) a full roll of film thinking it was ISO100 but was actually ISO800 (honest mistake, got them mixed up). All the shots from that day are gone...

So, I think that it is much easier to teach photography using a DSLR, everything can be explained and figured out in no time, at no cost. There is nothing more that could be learned by using a SLR, aside from how to load film.

As for your lens "plan" I think it is achievable, well within your budget (I have the same basic set here, Tak 28 f/2.8, pentax A50 f/1.7 and Deitz 135 f/2.8) These are great lenses.

For the cameras, unless you need them to be film, I would get a Km, Kx or Kr. you can get them for fairly cheap, their IQ is decent (or even a K100D or K200D). The price difference won't be as bad when you take into account film processing (or chemicals cost if you have a dark room). You won't see any difference if you get your pictures printed (8x10 or smaller) between a 6mpix camera and a film one. And if you get your pictures in a digital format the DSLR will make better photos on screen.

Again, this is only my point of view, but having learnt on film and taught using digital... +1 for progress and technology!

03-02-2014, 02:40 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by tlovegrove Quote
my landscape travel use
Welcome to the forum, if you come across a fully serviceable LX, they are just a joy to use and own.

03-02-2014, 03:24 AM   #5
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Kerrowdown has very expensive tastes as evidenced by his glass collection costing about 8 times what my truck is worth.

Here is sorta what I went with.
Buy a Super Program with an A35-105 F3.5, that combo will cost less than $200 and will cover most film photography with just that one lens.
The Super Program is the best Pentax film camera aside from the LX and the LX only beats it because of its amazing light sensor. The Super Program can be had for less than $50 and the LX costs usually around $400 in good working condition lately. It still has easy to use full manual controls and the old style quality metal body and handy things like a depth of field preview lever and many auto features. Get a cheap but really good AF280T flash for it too as the TTL makes them work perfect together and you can use that flash on a DSLR in a different mode.
I bought a brown body K1000 SE just as a collectible though I do use it for its wonderful simplicity. Lack of 2000 shutter speed that the S.P. has kinda sucks since I like to stick with 400 film.

Adding the A70-210 F4 which can be found surprisingly cheap will give you longer reach, and adding the A24-50 F4 which can get pricy but still under $200 will give you width. There really aren't any other Pentax manual focus zooms worth owning.
Which primes you buy is up to you if you want the extra speed in any particular range.
I would suggest sticking with A series if you want to bounce between film and digital as they don't require special fiddling around for metering when stuck on a DSLR so you can conveniently use the front and rear dials. The beak that most Pentax bodies have in front of the flash does a spectacular job of obstructing the aperture ring so its nice to be able to just leave it on A. Keep in mind shake reduction doesn't work quite right with manual focus zooms because you have to tell the camera the lens focal length when you turn it on and then its immediately wrong when you change zoom, works fine with primes though. Pentax A series primes are constantly climbing in price now however. My only prime is the A50 F1.4 that came with the Super Program originally which I love for its speed and focal length on film (on crop sensors its too narrow).

For digital I bought a used K5 for $390. DO NOT go with anything older than a K5 no matter how cheap it is, the K5 was a shocking night and day improvement over my older K20 in basically every way, but mostly in the fact that ISO 3200 looks like ISO 800 did on the K20D. If you want better auto focus get a K5 II or newer (K30 like you suggested is a good budget option).
I can't think of anything really cheap in the FA or newer stuff that is very good, but if you like primes the FA35mm F2 makes a wonderful crop sensor version of the classic 50mm (similar field of view as a FF with 50mm) and you will also be able to stick it on the film body though the focus ring isn't as nice as a true manual focus lens.
I got an 18-55WR kit lens used for $100 in like new condition because with a crop sensor you basically have to have something that wide and I wanted at least one WR lens to use with the WR body. Really great quality for a kit lens, but slow on the long end and not the best quality at 18mm. This is the only lens I have that is a crop lens.
My other AF lens is a full frame one and its the Pentax FA80-320 F4-5.6. That gives me the reach I need for birds at 320mm, but the lens was dirt cheap in price which is good because its really only of adequate quality and is best used stopped down a fair ways. Its still better than most of the other cheap 70mm-300mm range AF lenses out there.
03-02-2014, 04:25 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by PPPPPP42 Quote
Kerrowdown has very expensive tastes as evidenced by his glass collection
Aye that maybe so nowadays, but I think of them as tools in my toolbox, a mechanic always try to get the best tools that will last.

Most of these lenses I bought when they came out all those years ago, when I switched over from F3's to LX's and I'm still using them, so on cost per year basis, it makes them exceedingly affordable. .

That is apart from the later additions of my "Mistress" and "Good lady"
03-02-2014, 05:31 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by PPPPPP42 Quote
costing about 8 times what my truck is worth.
I've found your problem: You gotta sell the truck and put the money where it is needed, you could also consider selling your house, you have to get your priorities straight
03-02-2014, 12:38 PM   #8
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Welcome to PF and bonjour from France, tlovegrove ... looks like you have received some good advice ... hope to see an image or two soon ... Salut, J

03-02-2014, 12:58 PM   #9
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Welcome to the forum

Glad you have joined the forum. Looking forward to seeing some of your images.

I have lots of Canon FD lenses too, and currently trying them out on the Pentax Q with Fotodiox adapter. Total setup is about $120-130, and the FDs work verty well. The only problem is that everything turns into a (5.5X) telephoto, including the great FD 50 mm f 1.2 that I would like to use normally!

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