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03-01-2012, 08:22 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Had a big oops, near misses and lessons learned.

So I had my camera dump over on a tripod today. Blatant stupidity on my part, I leaned it against something with the tripod legs closed (though they were at least fully collapsed) while I was doing something and then had a truck pass and shake the bridge enough that it came loose, dumped over onto concrete and then flipped down to a lower concrete area. Essentially a tip over from collapsed tripod height onto concrete and then maybe a 3 foot roll off drop onto more concrete. In a world of plastic crap I can tell you a K20D fares ok, not as well as my old Super Program which was made out of the proper material for a camera, but enough that I am satisfied. Guess which lens was on it, of course my most expensive mint condition SMC-A 50mm 1.4. It hit so hard the focusing screen latch popped open and the Katzeye screen came loose inside. Luckily that was ok after I reinstalled it by hand in the dark and re-bent the tab that I over bent putting it in (thus allowing it to pop open).

I consider myself lucky actually since both the lens and the camera are still 100% functional. The camera has some stress cracks and a dented area and a lot of scuffing near the shutter release button right on the seam, It doesn't appear to even be damaged enough that the water resistance is compromised with the way it cracked. I'm actually glad that it was this lens on it in hindsight, its the lightest of my A series being the smallest, and its 49mm filter ring area is smaller than the grip for the focus ring which is what saved it. The camera twisted as it fell and didn't hit lens first, and It hit hard enough to ever so slightly dent the metal (more of a deep scratch) and scuff up the grip, but it still works 100% functionally with the exception of the silky smooth focus ring now having spots that are tighter than others, and some odd noises as you turn it, especially really fast. I think the focus ring is slightly out of round now, thankfully this doesn't seem to matter. If I owned new plastic fantastic lenses Instead of old A series Pentax glass it woulda been in pieces, it was a hard hit.

After a moment of panic and then a bout of depression when I saw and felt the damage, I find myself somewhat philosophical about the whole thing, I realize I was too worried about equipment I couldn't afford to replace (when you can even find certain A lenses in like new condition) and it was costing me some of my camera fun. With the type of pics I take and as often as I am out, I will inevitably destroy equipment through accidents that just can't be avoided if I'm going to take the risks to get the shots (wading calf deep in a river and climbing a wet cliff both with camera) So I have a sort of acceptance that even my most loved and perfect lenses and cameras over the years will be killed off.

The second thing I realized is that I am poor and I will always be, if this had killed my camera id be done for at least several months if not a year before I could afford another even used. So wheras I was going to someday sell this K20D when K-5 prices came down to the 300-400 range, now I will simply add it to the lineup and keep the K20D as a backup, and maybe buy a few more K20D's as the price continues to fall, its a good camera. Same with lenses, I hate to feed peoples lens buying addiction with another reason, but now especially with my favored old A series which are a limited commodity, every time i see a really minty one come up at an affordable price, I will buy it simply so when I kill one off I have a spare.

The one thing I can say for a fact is I will never ever buy new, the prices are a joke on both the good lenses and the bodies and its just too damn easy to have any little accident break it, and that's assuming it doesn't fail on its own first. If you can't afford to replace it, you can't afford to own it, I will live by that.

Here is the unedited (just re-sized) shot I almost killed my equipment getting, not even that impressive but then I quit after the first shot when I dumped it.

03-01-2012, 09:19 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear about your little bump. You make a good point. I'm a lot more careful now than i used to be. Everytime i pick up my slr, i do it slowly in case the strap is looped around some ojbect that can pull it out of my hands, etc. I was walking up an icy rock slope a month back and figured out that i could have put the camera in my camera bag before climbing out of the shooting area. That way if i had fallen, there would have been less risk to my camera.

but "shit happens" as is said. when one looks on Amazon and sees all the hundreds of cameras that end up on the overstock and discounted lists - its amazing. Some (many?) professionals seem to be very good at getting cameras that are good enough to get the job done, without being caught up in a consumerism loop.
03-02-2012, 05:51 AM   #3
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Thanks for sharing this painful but instructive story. You've got a great attitude about it, and I'm really glad (and amazed) that camera and lens both survived that tumble still fully functional. The A-series lenses sometimes get bad-mouthed for build quality, but your story shows something about that. Good luck and keep shooting!
03-02-2012, 06:08 AM   #4
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I dropped my K20 a few years ago, it had a Sigma 70-200 F2.8 on it, dropped onto hard mud, result loose focusing screen and not much more, it's dam near impossible to get the mud of those velvet llke lens hoods though.

03-03-2012, 12:34 AM   #5
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Original Poster
Ok, update, the lens didn't feel right afterwards, it had a noticeably loose spot in the middle of the focus range and the front part that moved in and out when you focus was slightly loose when wiggled up and down while mounted on the camera. I figured what the hell and took the lens 100% apart (far more than was necessary hunting for this magic loose or broken part), immediately got confused and then couldn't get it back together. Problem was that I couldn't figure out how to get all the pieces clocked right in the focus assembly, they have to be threaded together from just the right positions i think and then suddenly all the holes line up. You work at it long enough and eventually you get it right by accident. I did actually break one of the 3 tabs that hold the plastic ring on the front because that part of the design is just stupid, but I super glued the piece and its all good now. Its a miracle i didn't lose the little spring loaded electrical contact, I didn't even see it until after disassembly stuck to the mount ring. I had actually given up half way through when I couldn't really remember even what parts went where but I kept plodding onward.

End result is that the focus ring is now consistent all the way through and the guts of it are rock solid with the camera body, no play in any parts. Tested the lens and its 100% functional and working excellent again. If someone could explain to me how the hell I managed that without finding any broken parts or having the slightest idea what I was doing that would be great. At least I am REALLY familiar with the inner workings of a Pentax SMC-A 50mm F1.4 lens now. I'm glad I bought that J screw driver set too or this wouldn't have been possible. Didn't need a spanner for this lens oddly enough.

I feel rather nifty actually. And I don't know why anyone would hate the A lens, the only plastic parts are the external decorative ones and the aperture ring. I'd gladly trade all metal for the A functions ability to use the front and rear dials In M mode, would be a huge pain in the ass to take pics otherwise.

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