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09-01-2015, 06:54 PM   #1
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Very Basic Questions on Legacy Glass and Modern Bodies

I just recently bought a K-S1 as my first DSLR. I'm dipping my toes back in the SLR water after some unsatisfactory time using point and shoots as my intro to digitals. One reason I chose Pentax was the ability to use legacy glass and the great optical viewfinders. Nostalgia pulled me to Pentax. I inherited my father's camera equipment, and today I got in the camera closet of ye olde homestead and took a look. What I've found so far I have fond memories of using: Pentax ES II, Vivitar Series 1 (ver 1) 70-210 f3.5, Tokina AT-X 35-200 f/3.5-4.5, SMC Takumar 1:1.4/50. All in original bags/cases and looking great. As best I recall my father bought the camera in about 1973 or 1974 and the lenses at around the same time. I took the camera, the prime, and one of the zooms with me on an Arabian horse farm tour of Europe in 1977. Got some razor sharp images of horses trotting, galloping, conformation shots, etc. That set in my mind the standard for how cameras and lenses should perform. It was a bit on the heavy and bulky side though, but I liked handling the prime, the zoom not so much. I haven't handled that camera or the lenses in so long I've forgotten how to use them. So I'm relearning with the K-S1 and the DA50, f1.8. Once I feel a little more comfortable with a DSLR, I want to be able to use these lenses. So what do I actually need to buy to use them on modern Pentax DSLRs?

What also I'm thinking of doing is buying a second Pentax DSLR camera body just for the manual lenses. Light weight being a high priority since the zooms are already not that. What I want to use this set up for would be shooting California native plants, either in my own garden or at my local botanic garden. I like taking pictures of these plants when I am very close to them, say under 2 feet away or so quite often. I've tried using point and shoots for this purpose and find them terribly inadequate, I'm continually fighting with their focus choices, when I know I could manually focus much, much faster and better. I'm leaning towards getting a K-R for this purpose as I like the sharpness of the photos right out of the camera (I'm unlikely to do much if any post processing, it's just not my style), the design and layout of the camera, and its light weight.

That would allow me to put really small, lightweight (are we seeing a trend here?), non bulky, sharp primes on my K-S1. Mainly to take pictures of horses and dogs at shows. Usually my subjects would be between 15 and 30 feet away, sometimes closer, sometimes only a small distance farther, and they can be fast and unpredictable. Anything remotely heavy or on the humongo side simply will get left at home. If I go to one of these events, I may be there for several days. Big camera bags loaded with gear doesn't appeal. I want to be able to take 1 or at most 2 lenses with me. No zooms. At a dog show, I may want to take a pic of all the animals in the ring at one time or follow the action of one dog around the ring. I'm very interested in the most efficient movement for the intended purpose of a particular breed of dog. So in dogs, as in horses, I want to be able to get a shot of a particular phase of the stride. On the old Pentax with the 50 f1.4, this was relatively easy. So having the ability to manually focus at times with the new lenses is a plus, while still being able to autofocus at other times. Also, sometimes the showrings are inside a building part of the day and outside at other times. Being able to shoot in or out is something I want to be able to do again. So besides the DA50, f1.8 what lens would other Pentaxians suggest I consider? I'm retired, so the budget is tight.

09-01-2015, 07:20 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tessie Quote
I just recently bought a K-S1 as my first DSLR. I'm dipping my toes back in the SLR water after some unsatisfactory time using point and shoots as my intro to digitals. One reason I chose Pentax was the ability to use legacy glass and the great optical viewfinders. Nostalgia pulled me to Pentax. I inherited my father's camera equipment, and today I got in the camera closet of ye olde homestead and took a look. What I've found so far I have fond memories of using: Pentax ES II, Vivitar Series 1 (ver 1) 70-210 f3.5, Tokina AT-X 35-200 f/3.5-4.5, SMC Takumar 1:1.4/50. All in original bags/cases and looking great. As best I recall my father bought the camera in about 1973 or 1974 and the lenses at around the same time. I took the camera, the prime, and one of the zooms with me on an Arabian horse farm tour of Europe in 1977. Got some razor sharp images of horses trotting, galloping, conformation shots, etc. That set in my mind the standard for how cameras and lenses should perform. It was a bit on the heavy and bulky side though, but I liked handling the prime, the zoom not so much. I haven't handled that camera or the lenses in so long I've forgotten how to use them. So I'm relearning with the K-S1 and the DA50, f1.8. Once I feel a little more comfortable with a DSLR, I want to be able to use these lenses. So what do I actually need to buy to use them on modern Pentax DSLRs?

What also I'm thinking of doing is buying a second Pentax DSLR camera body just for the manual lenses. Light weight being a high priority since the zooms are already not that. What I want to use this set up for would be shooting California native plants, either in my own garden or at my local botanic garden. I like taking pictures of these plants when I am very close to them, say under 2 feet away or so quite often. I've tried using point and shoots for this purpose and find them terribly inadequate, I'm continually fighting with their focus choices, when I know I could manually focus much, much faster and better. I'm leaning towards getting a K-R for this purpose as I like the sharpness of the photos right out of the camera (I'm unlikely to do much if any post processing, it's just not my style), the design and layout of the camera, and its light weight.

That would allow me to put really small, lightweight (are we seeing a trend here?), non bulky, sharp primes on my K-S1. Mainly to take pictures of horses and dogs at shows. Usually my subjects would be between 15 and 30 feet away, sometimes closer, sometimes only a small distance farther, and they can be fast and unpredictable. Anything remotely heavy or on the humongo side simply will get left at home. If I go to one of these events, I may be there for several days. Big camera bags loaded with gear doesn't appeal. I want to be able to take 1 or at most 2 lenses with me. No zooms. At a dog show, I may want to take a pic of all the animals in the ring at one time or follow the action of one dog around the ring. I'm very interested in the most efficient movement for the intended purpose of a particular breed of dog. So in dogs, as in horses, I want to be able to get a shot of a particular phase of the stride. On the old Pentax with the 50 f1.4, this was relatively easy. So having the ability to manually focus at times with the new lenses is a plus, while still being able to autofocus at other times. Also, sometimes the showrings are inside a building part of the day and outside at other times. Being able to shoot in or out is something I want to be able to do again. So besides the DA50, f1.8 what lens would other Pentaxians suggest I consider? I'm retired, so the budget is tight.
QuoteOriginally posted by Tessie Quote
So what do I actually need to buy to use them on modern Pentax DSLRs?
If you have K-mount lenses, nothing, but those seem to be M42 thread? Correct me if i'm wrong. In that case, you simple need the Pentax m42 to k mount convertor. Available Pentax Mount Adapter K 30120 B&H Photo Video

This might help a bit https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/54-pentax-lens-articles/110657-how-use-me...k-x-k-7-a.html

Lenses, if you like primes, the 77mm although that is pricey, or maybe the 100mm macro? That is to get a bit more reach for your subjects.
If you would like a zoom, the advanced kit lens 16-85 3.5-5.6 is a nice range and very sharp, WR, although it has a rather slow aperture
09-01-2015, 07:38 PM   #3
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If you are thinking about a second body and also want to shoot outdoors, you could consider a K-50/18-135mm package. Those are reasonably priced right now, and that combination would give you a weather-resistant body and lens. You could also look for a used K30/18-135 combo. (I bought a K30 with the 18-135 in 2012, after a decade or so of incrementally less crappy point-and-shoot cameras, and have been immensely happy with it.) The 18-135 gives you enough zoom range to capture the whole ring or zoom in on individual dogs. It also has quiet autofocus and the ability to manual focus.
09-01-2015, 07:44 PM   #4
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K-50 can be had for a song.......I have the K-r and love it.....use it more than my K-50


Last edited by Aaron28; 09-01-2015 at 08:08 PM.
09-01-2015, 07:54 PM   #5
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I would think the Pentax M100mm f4 macro would be a good choice for the up close flowers and still have some reach for the dogs and horses.. I just saw one on ebay for around 75 plus shipping. The Tamron 90 f 2.8 macro would be a decent choice. It costs a bit more but is light weight, and has quick shift between M and autofocusr. Both are sharp and being Macro ,allow you to get very close to the flowers.
A good zoom would be the Pentax DA18-135. It has close focus ability along with more reach. It to is a well regarded lens.
I own the Tamron 90 and have used the 18-135. I was surprised at how close I could get with the 18-135 and how well it performed. I have added it to my want list.
09-01-2015, 08:51 PM   #6
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One important thing. Lenses act like they are longer on current Digital Bodies from Pentax. The KS1, K50, Kx etc all have what's called a crop factor of 1.5x. To someone used to film this means what you see in the viewfinder will be more like what a lens that was 1.5x as long would show. The lens remains the same focal length - but your perspective using it is more like it was 1.5 times longer. So that 50mm? It's going to be more like a 75mm. If you want what the 50mm used to give you, get out a 35mm... etc.

Eventually your head adjusts and you stop thinking - that your 50 is a 75. You know what it looks like on your camera and you don't worry about it since you understand what a 50mm looks like on your camera vs. a 35mm film camera.
09-01-2015, 10:20 PM   #7
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small primes: DA35 is very small light (plastic), cheap and very sharp. Or the DA40XS thats the smallest and lightest lens you can get...
otherwise there is good glass out there e.g. all the K-Mounts, the K, M, A or F & FA lenses the WA to Normal primes are usually very small not so light though (some are metal & glass in its purest). :-)
Or the M42 lenses, just get the adapter (buy the original Pentax one)
It all depends on what your willing to sacrifice, the view finder of the digital line of Pentax cameras is smaller compared to the film cameras. This makes manual focusing harder. So AF can be a plus so can be the A setting (started with A series lenses and all later (some expeditions with specialty lenses))on the lenses as that is allowing the camera to set the aperture and thus no need for the aperture ring. And you can use some of the automatic functions like AV & TAv modes.

Last edited by max_pyne; 09-01-2015 at 10:50 PM.
09-02-2015, 06:21 AM   #8
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Tessie - I'm in a similar boat; considering a second body and having one for all manual (M42 or even 645 lenses) and one for K-mount. I have a K-50 now and love it. I'm selling off an old VW, which (when it sells) will give me the opportunity to buy a K-3... my intention is to make the K-50 the manual body.

All K-mounts will work on your K-S1, just more manual settings of course... my thought is to put the adapter for the legacy glass on the K-50 and keep it there, rather than swapping it out when I want to change lense formats...

09-02-2015, 06:58 AM   #9
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Just to add to the mix... mirrorless dslr's with evf (don't get one without - sorry K01) have more tools to work with MF lenses. No 1: quick magnified view on the screen or in the evf (one button press on my NX20 without moving my eye from the evf); 2. focus peaking (on most recent models).
Although I use a tenpa 1.36x vf magnifier with my K5 which helps a lot particularly with telephoto lenses like slow vintage 400mm/500mm mirror, my NX20 still has the edge for accurately nailing focus.

See also

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/22-pentax-camera-field-accessories/297282...ual-focus.html

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/115-pentax-k-5/142241-best-screen-ever-ma...anon-ee-s.html

I can add that in other respects all these cameras pretty much operate the same with legacy glass (M42): stop down aperture priority Av. K mount lenses on pentax have the advantage of automatic stop down with the shutter release BUT only "green button" metering in Manual mode to achieve that.
09-02-2015, 07:47 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by marcusBMG Quote
Just to add to the mix... mirrorless dslr's with evf (don't get one without - sorry K01) have more tools to work with MF lenses. No 1: quick magnified view on the screen or in the evf (one button press on my NX20 without moving my eye from the evf); 2. focus peaking (on most recent models).
K50 doesn't have an EVF but it does have one button push for magnified Live View and focus peaking - both only work in LiveView.
09-02-2015, 08:02 AM   #11
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Pentax has a great lineup of lightweight primes that are either at or near professional quality. Some are at excellent values (IMHO) and others are not. If not great values, you will still get what you pay for. This includes the DA40XS, DA 70mm , 35mm DA L F2.4 AL, and FA 77mm.

I also live in CA, and you definitely need a macro to shoot your flowers, bees, etc. I just sold my 100mm M f/4 Macro, which is a very good lens for the $. I now used the Sigma 70mm for similar macro work, which is obviously more expensive. Cheaper options come from using other lenses you already own with extension tubes or even a reversing ring, but focusing will be more difficult.

This site is a great resource for lens reviews, as is photozone.de, which is good for the more recently manufactured lenses.

FWIW, the favorite "old" Pentax lens I own is the 50mm M f/1.7. This is an amazing value.
09-02-2015, 08:45 AM   #12
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Having used great MF film cameras for 50 years, I've been very disappointed trying to use my legacy lenses on my K-5. DSLRs are designed for autofocus, and the tunnel-like viewfinders just don't do well for judging sharpness and focus. The focus aids aren't precise enough to really nail focus, compared to just judging focus on a Pentax from the MF film era. I saw some improvement changing to an ee-s screen, but not much.
My old lenses do fantastic on a Sony A7 with a mount adapter. The EFV is better for judging sharpness with the focus aids turned off, and as mentioned can zoom for critical focus when wanted. I have no Sony or autofocus lenses for it, but for legacy Pentax K or M42 manual lenses it is very nice.
09-02-2015, 09:16 AM - 1 Like   #13
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Step 1, buy an older non-WR body. (K-x, K-r etc)

Step 2, buy an Adaptist Muli-mount.

Adaptist - Home

Step 3, feed your LBA with older Nikon, Olympus or Contax/Yashica manual focus lenses...

shopgoodwill.com - Welcome

But be sure to buy a M42 adapter too.

Last edited by boriscleto; 09-02-2015 at 09:23 AM.
09-02-2015, 10:01 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
buy an older non-WR body. (K-x, K-r etc)
K-r, and probably K-x they are pretty similar, is problematic with M42 and other black non-conducting mounts, exposure is way off see here.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/116-pentax-k-r/271872-tests-plated-vs-pai...r-whats-t.html

Since I upgraded to K5 I'm afraid the K-r is not a recommend for me for that sort of use. K5 is great, no issues whatsoever.

But in any case it's appropriate to point out that the use of legacy lenses on pentax isn't quite "mount-and-go", there are little glitches, ins and outs and a learning curve, as I discovered.... though with practice I certainly haven't been disappointed, on the contrary I enjoy it very much on my K5. But mirrorless (Lumix G1, samsung NX20) was IME more straightforward.
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