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10-16-2010, 12:30 PM   #1
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Advantages to old lenses

I've read with great interest the various threads on M, A, and other older lenses here. Part of why I chose Pentax as my dSLR is because of the backward compatibility with older lenses.

When I got my K-x my sister and B-i-L gave me three lenses that his parents had given him along with a Pentax K1000,

I took the Pentax M-135/f3.5 out for spin today at my daughters Softball game. Wow, that's fun!

Sure it was slower to focus but the built in hood, the solid feel, the smaller size, and the control it gave me in setting the aperture, etc. was great.

One advantage I noted that I have not seen referenced here in my reading is that when I manually focus I can get sharp pictures THROUGH a chain link fence. Given that nearly every BB and SB diamond has high fencing around the bating area, at least, I found this a nice plus in using the Pentax M135 today.

10-16-2010, 01:29 PM   #2
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Welcome to the fun with old glass club.
10-16-2010, 01:38 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
I

One advantage I noted that I have not seen referenced here in my reading is that when I manually focus I can get sharp pictures THROUGH a chain link fence. Given that nearly every BB and SB diamond has high fencing around the bating area, at least, I found this a nice plus in using the Pentax M135 today.
This shouldn't have surprised you:

How the hell does autofocus know which part of the scene you really want to focus on?

This is why autofocus, although it has its place in the world, has ruined many a picture, and prevented new shooters from learning.

New shooters hear the beep and see the in-focus confirmation, but what does the camera really know? Even with multiple focus points, you could be trying to focus on a cute little flower, but the focus point is aimed at something 10 feet behind it.

Unless your shooting really fast-moving objects, manual focus rules. And even then, you can develop your technique where your manual turning of the focus ring is faster than AF.
10-16-2010, 03:36 PM   #4
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I haven't done much yet, but I love old push-pull zooms for video work; one hand to zoom and focus without shifting from ring to ring makes for smoother work, even if focus doesn't "snap" into place like a camcorder.

10-16-2010, 07:42 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
I've read with great interest the various threads on M, A, and other older lenses here. Part of why I chose Pentax as my dSLR is because of the backward compatibility with older lenses.

<snip>

Sure it was slower to focus but the built in hood, the solid feel, the smaller size, and the control it gave me in setting the aperture, etc. was great.
I agree. The build quality makes those old Super Takumars a joy to hold and use.

Some of them are second to none in terms of image quality.

Compared to today's new lenses, they're dirt cheap.

If you like using primes and don't mind manual focus and stop-down metering, those old Super-Taks or SMC Taks can't be beat.
10-16-2010, 07:54 PM   #6
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That M135/3.5 is a fine piece of glass! I don't use it often but when I do, the results are always outstanding. For moving targets, you can always use trap focus. I have used it to shoot a hockey game. For my daughter's college graduation last spring, it was the 135 on my camera for 90% of the commencement ceremony. It didn't disappoint.
10-16-2010, 09:03 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by reeftool Quote
That M135/3.5 is a fine piece of glass! I don't use it often but when I do, the results are always outstanding. For moving targets, you can always use trap focus. I have used it to shoot a hockey game. For my daughter's college graduation last spring, it was the 135 on my camera for 90% of the commencement ceremony. It didn't disappoint.
I used the Takumar 135/3.5 preset lens for years with great results, despite the lack of coatings. I later swapped it for an M 135/3.5 and used it for school sports for several years. It is a great lens, but I now use the DA* 50-135 and am trying not to take up all the basement with photo gear that I seldom use.
10-18-2010, 05:20 AM   #8
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Thanks guys. They do take some getting used to but also offer more control. What other advantages are there to using older M & A lenses, other than cost and quality of the glass?

10-18-2010, 05:33 AM   #9
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For me...more involvement in the shot process. Anyone can point an AF lens some direction and take a picture, and I use them too, but I feel that slowing down and really thinking about the focus and composition is part of the fun for me.
10-18-2010, 05:41 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
Other than cost and quality of the glass?
When you use a modern lens on a DSLR, it's usually going to look like a digital shot.

When you use some of the old lenses (I love my Taks!), they're capable of giving you more of a film look.

In other words, everything is old is new again. As a rough example, the difference in look between old-time videotape and film for TV programs. It can be argued that videotape is much more realistic, but is it superior to film?
10-18-2010, 05:52 AM   #11
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why use old glass?

I have a few reasons to use old glass (note I also have reasons to have new AF fast zooms too!)

these reasons are in order of importance to me (others may have different priorities)

#1, it's fun! Plain and simple. For me, photography is a hobby, and something I do for enjoyment, not business. I enjoy from time to time taking out my old lenses, and shooting manual focus. Manual exposure is not a reason for me, I shoot manual or auto mode regardless of lenses I am using, and can be in manual exposure with my new AF zooms just as easily as my old lenses.

#2, available options. While pentax has some good lenses in the present line up, there are many more options available with older MF and manual aperture lenses than the present line up, including lenses at focal lengths I want to shoot at.

#3, Optics. Don't get me wrong here, I am quite certain that many of the newer lens designs perform as well as or better than older designs, BUT, I find that older designs have more pleasing bokeh. I believe this characteristic has changed the most in lens designs, from presets with the apertures close to the front element, to automatic aperture lenses with the blades moved closer to the back, to fixed rear element designs to internally focused designs. While each technology has advantages and disadvantages, I like the bokeh of some of the old presets the best.

#4, cost. While prices on used old lenses are rising dramatically in the past 2 years, I have put together a complete kit from 24-200mm using M42 lenses, (11 lenses, including a 50mm macro, plus 2 teleconverters, extension tubes and a focusing helix) for about $850. This is in the same range as an FA77.

You simply cannot put a kit like that together with new lenses regardless of cost (see point 2). Many of the focal lengths simply do not exist.
10-18-2010, 06:55 AM   #12
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I have not seen a mention of manual focus macro lenses (Edit, now I do: Thanks Lowell Goudge for the mention). For my work, I use manual macro lenses (usually SMC-M 100mm f4, sometimes the SMC-M or A 50mm f4), for static shots of telecommunications circuit boards. Compared to the AF/F style lenses, the manual lenses can't be beat for clarity, color and DOF.

Not all are Pentax lenses. I actually like manual Richol and Vivitar lenses for macro work more.
10-18-2010, 06:58 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
#1, it's fun! Plain and simple.

This is very true. I like to be involved in the creation of my images. Sometimes, when I'm shooting in full-auto-everything, I feel like I'm just a bystander and the camera is doing all the work.

This is the same reason that I prefer to drive a car with a manual transmission. It makes me feel more involved in the driving experience, rather than simply being a passenger.
10-18-2010, 09:44 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by chalion Quote
I have not seen a mention of manual focus macro lenses (Edit, now I do: Thanks Lowell Goudge for the mention). For my work, I use manual macro lenses (usually SMC-M 100mm f4, sometimes the SMC-M or A 50mm f4), for static shots of telecommunications circuit boards. Compared to the AF/F style lenses, the manual lenses can't be beat for clarity, color and DOF.

Not all are Pentax lenses. I actually like manual Richol and Vivitar lenses for macro work more.
The reason I didn't mention macro as a reason for legacy glass is that I thought most people understood manual focus was the way to go anyway.

I actually have 3 macro setups, the M42 setup with an SMC-Macto-Tak 50mm F4 and extension tubes and fiocusing helix (15-30mm variable extension tube) an SMC-M 100mmF4 macro with extension tubes, and a bellows (presently with a 135mm enlarging lens)

I also have several lenses capable of close focusing including my tamron XR Di 28-75 F2.8, and I do recommend that everyone should have one lens capable of close focus outside a dedicated macro, just in case, but for serious macro work, I am all MF.
10-18-2010, 02:06 PM   #15
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I'm interested in doing some Macro work, my other hobby is watches, and would really like to learn about the options (macro filters, bellows, converters, dedicated macro lenses, etc.) and each ones pluses and minuses. What I have already realized is that there is no reliable AF for macro work.

Here are a couple of shots I've done without any dedicated Macro equipment. Not in the league of some I've seen but then they are not retouched and I was using non-dSLRs for them. Wonder what I could do with a nice Macro lens and equipment?





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