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07-17-2014, 10:43 AM   #1
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Beginners's dumb questions

Hi. Sorry if these questions are really dumb but any advise would be welcome.

I have a Pentax ME super and the bits and bobs that came with it. After 10 years of digital point and shoot ( no clue as to what I was doing and the odd good picture ) this thing is making me think and teaching me how a camera works and how to take a picture. Being new I do have a couple of questions ( actually hundreds ) which are pretty dumb but if you can help I would be grateful.

1) On my Pentax A zoom 28-80mm lens there is a red button with an A to the left of it. What does this do?
2) On the Pentax 50mm M lens, Chinon 28mm lens and the Sigma zoom lenses there are depth of field indicators but not on my Pentax A zoom 28-80mm and Pentax M zoom 75 150 lens, do I just guess going off the aperture setting or is it fixed for all Pentax lenses?
3) Can some one recommend a good all round colour film for amateurs? I am using Ilford Delta 400 for black and white is this okay?

Hope some one can answer my dumb questions!

07-17-2014, 11:00 AM   #2
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Q1: the A button does nothing on a ME Super. The ME Super is a manual camera and the A button is used to electronically change the aperture (f-stop) from the camera body. You need to use the actual f-stop locations to set the aperture and allow the light meter you can see in the focus screen to work.

Can't help much with Q2 and Q3, as I've never worried about the depth of field indicator when I shot with the ME Super (30 years ago) and I don't shoot film now.

Tim
07-17-2014, 11:17 AM   #3
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Hi, welcome, and congrats on getting started with SLRs, film and Pentax.

As Tim says, the A feature is for the next generation of cameras after the M series (which includes your ME Super).

Depth of field scales are just a guideline and not brand-dependent. You might look into a DOF calculator app to have something you can carry with you.

I'm only just getting back into film myself. Recently enjoyed shooting Ektar, but it's slow. Going to try Portra next. Stick with negative film for now; it's more forgiving than slide film.
07-17-2014, 11:18 AM   #4
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3) For negative film, Portra 400 has a lot of latitude and Ektar 100 is pretty fine grain. Fuji's color film are good too. And even Kodak Gold is much better today ( new formula) than before. Start using some and find out which one you like and is perhaps readily available locally so you can run down to the store and get some more. For BW, they all are great.

Don't worry about the film brand/type so much as getting out and shooting it. After a while, you'll know what you want.

07-17-2014, 12:30 PM   #5
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Hi, thanks for the help. It really helped with the questions I had, thanks again. I love my ME Super, this is so much better than a click and point.
07-17-2014, 03:30 PM   #6
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The depth of field markings are only good for a specific focal length so that is why they are not found on any zoom lens. I don't believe that the ME Super had a depth of field preview button, so you'll have to guess at the f/stop if you don't have an app to figure things out.


Kodak still makes a few color films. Generally speaking, Kodak's films have more saturation on the reds and oranges than Fuji.
1. Portra - Comes in ISO 160, 400 & 800. This film has good grain structure and a broad contrast range. It's normally used for weddings and portraits because of it's tonality and contrast range. Great for bright sunny days or when using flash because its broad contrast. Probably not the best film to use on flat overcast days for the same reason.


2. Extar ISO 100 - This film has the least amount of grain that Kodak makes. It produces negs with higher contrast (lower tonal range) than Portra. Therefore it'll give you more saturated colors and more punch on overcast days. It will tend to blow out highlights much easier on bright sunny days than Portra.


3. Gold ISO 400 - Kodak's general purpose film.


Fuji also makes select few types of color 35mm films too. Generally speaking, Fuji's films have better saturation on blues and greens than Kodak.


1. Fuji color ISO 100, 200, 400, 800 - General purpose film like Kodak Gold where both give higher saturation in all colors vs the portrait films.
2. Fuji 400H - Portrait film with similar characteristics as Kodak's Portra. Both 400H & Portra are known for broad contrast, natural colors and accurate skin tones.

There are other films being sold, but these are the only ones by Kodak and Fuji.
07-18-2014, 04:47 AM   #7
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To answer the points really quickly
1) the button locks the lens in A mode, which as others have said is not a mode used on the ME Super, but the A position is really on your camera the smallest aperture available
2) the zoom lens has varying DOF as a function of focal length, and being a two ring zoom you cannot easily put the marks on the lens . On single ring (push pull) zooms the marks are sometimes inscribed on the lens barrel
3) I found kodak gold was a reasonable film when I shot film. Typically I would use 200 ISO for a general walk around with short lenses
07-18-2014, 11:49 AM   #8
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Thanks

Thanks again for every ones help.

Question 1) A button solved!

Question 2) Depth of field is something I am really finding hard to get to grips with even when it is marked on the lens barrel, but I am experimenting using the Shetland Bus memorial in Scalloway to try and throw the background out and then in. The developers must be getting sick of me - another picture of the Shetland Bus - and the amazing sculpture in Lerwick of water over flowing a chalice.

Question 3) Thanks for your advise, I am going to try a few colour films and see what works. I am very restricted in what I can buy in the Camera centre in Lerwick so will have a looky see on tinternet and try to order a range based on your advise. Thanks again.

QUESTION 4 - sorry another dumb question, can any one recommend another Pentax SLR K mount camera to keep an eye out for to buy so I can have black and white loaded in my ME Super and colour in the other camera. I would love another ME Super but a depth of field indicator wouldn't go amiss.

Cheers, Boo.

07-18-2014, 12:42 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Boo Quote
QUESTION 4 - sorry another dumb question, can any one recommend another Pentax SLR K mount camera to keep an eye out for to buy so I can have black and white loaded in my ME Super and colour in the other camera. I would love another ME Super but a depth of field indicator wouldn't go amiss.

Cheers, Boo.
I guess by "depth of field indicator" you mean depth of field preview in the camera--in which you press a button or a switch to stop down the aperture and show the depth of field in your viewfinder. Unfortunately, none of the M series cameras, including the MX, have that. You can go back to the earlier KX, K2, or KM for depth of field preview or forward to the A series, such as the Super A/Super Program. With the latter you would also be able to use the A setting on your lens for auto aperture shooting.

Last edited by nparsons13; 07-18-2014 at 12:47 PM. Reason: word missing
07-18-2014, 01:24 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by nparsons13 Quote
Unfortunately, none of the M series cameras, including the MX, have that.
Actually, the MX does have a depth of field preview.

Boo, there are plenty of choices for K-mount film SLRs (including models made by Ricoh and some others). Some of the autofocus models can be picked up very cheaply. The MX is justly popular but it will cost you a little more for a good copy. Depends on your budget and what features you want.
07-18-2014, 01:57 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
Actually, the MX does have a depth of field preview.
Aaargh!! You're absolutely right! I have an MX but haven't used it in years, and in a senior moment I neglected to look at it before firing off my answer.

Yes, Ricoh, Chinon, Sears, and Vivitar are all brands to check for inexpensive K-mount cameras. Some online research will tell you which of their models have depth of field preview.
07-18-2014, 04:07 PM   #12
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You can partially dismount the lens to simulate the depth of field preview. It might be better if the camera was on a tripod because the operation is complicated and you'd want to put the lens back in place for shooting. And obviously use caution so the lens doesn't fall off. The viewfinder will get dark at small apertures. It is a useful learning technique to see what's happening, not very practical for most shooting situations.
07-19-2014, 10:40 AM   #13
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The depth of field scale on your primes is rather easy to use once you understand how to use it. The purpose of the scale is two fold. First, it allows you to ensure that you get from point A to Point B in focus. Secondly, it allows you to use the largest lens opening to get the DoF that you want as opposed to arbitrarily using f/16 or f/22. Why use f/22 when you could use f/8 which produces sharper images since you aren't having to deal with diffraction? Plus, your shutter speeds are now three stops faster possibly allowing you to hand-hold vs using a tripod in many cases.

The scale is comprised of a duplicate set of f/stops to the left and to the right of a center point marked on the lens. You will notice that the focusing distances are printed on the lens above this scale. Using the scale allows you to use the largest lens opening while getting the DoF that you want.

When I'm taking a shot where I need a specific DoF such as when I'm doing landscapes, still lifes or macro, then I'll use the following workflow:
1. Focus on the closest point and take a mental note of the distance, say 4 feet.
2. Focus on the furthest distance, say infinity.
3. Move the focusing ring so that both distances are over equal f/stop numbers on the DoF scale. For example, I may move the focusing ring so that the 4' marker is over f/11 on the left scale and the infinity marker is over the f/11 marker on the right side. Now I know that I'll get four feet to infinity in focus if I use f/11. You will notice that had you just focused at infinity, that you would not have been able to get 4' in focus using f/11, but instead you'd have to use a much smaller f/stop, or you may notice that it wouldn't have been possible depending on the focal length of the lens.

Want to know the closest distance you can get in focus while still getting the DoF out to infinity? Just put the infinity marker on the right most marker, say f/22 or f/32, and look at what distance is above the same f/stop on the left side of the DoF scale. This is known as hyper-focal focusing. Don't need that much DoF or you'd rather use a larger lens opening to get sharper pictures by avoiding diffraction? Then just move the infinity marker over f/11 or f/8 and you'll be able to tell the closest distance you can get in focus.

When using your zoom which normally don't have DoF scales, you could use one of your primes that is similar to focal length that you're using on your zoom and guestimate the need f/stop. However, with so many apps available I'd say that this is a last-ditch effort to figure things out, say for example when the batteries in your phone die.

Having a DoF preview button is really handy. Just realize that it can be difficult to use since the lens is closing down it's going to be dark and hard to see what's in focus - especially if it's bright outside.
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