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09-02-2013, 06:24 AM - 4 Likes   #1
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Re-purposing the K20D (but not as a bookend)

It is now a dedicated black and white digital camera.

How did I come to this?....

With a new DSLR on the horizon (maybe) and cuts in the prices of the current models, people tend to upgrade and older DSLR cameras are starting to get the cold shoulder and become shelf sitters. I have started carrying a smaller more flexible camera on a daily basis and find it meets most uses but still enjoy the well documented richer features of the K20. But it just hasn't seen much use lately.

On 'The Online Photographer' blog a couple of weeks ago regular poster Ctein wrote an intriguing article about seeing differently depending on the camera recording format (colour vs infra red) he was using, leading to quite different choices in lens length for similar scenes.

This notion lead me to re think about the way I would use the two cameras available to me. Having a daily choice of two cameras for color photography and casual image making, for small format printing or web, use lead to me habitually going for the small and convenient camera and the K20 has languished over the last six months along with the dozen or so Takumars on my shelves.

So I set about re-purposing the camera to try and become better at something that I had dabbled with but mostly for convenience had not committed to: to have a dedicated monochrome digital camera.

In the past I have thought, well I can just convert the color shots to B&W in post processing but this after thought approach has prevented me from 'thinking' in B&W while making the images. I have considered and even run a couple of B&W films through a film camera to try and develop that way of seeing but the learning curve is slower and more expensive as is usual with film.

Initially, turning to B&W in digital didn't suit the daily flow of work as it was inconvenient to set the camera back to the color settings for the daily use to which it was subjected, a role that has now been taken over by the new small format camera.

But now it is free to be used in this dedicated fashion and allow the development of my B&W vision.

Changes made are:

Leave in M program mode - use green button for more accurate metering at all apertures even with M42 lenses
Turn on histograms in review - for accurate exposure decisions
Leave in M focus mode - no longer do I have to worry about forgetting to turn back to A when installing the auto zooms
Turn off focus points in the view finder (Distracting when manually focusing)
Re-install the aftermarket split prism focusing screen (took it out as it was mostly useless when using auto focus on the DA zooms at smaller apertures)
Turn on B&W filter, and take images in RAW+Jpeg - I get the best of both worlds as I get what I see while shooting and I have the RAW version (unfiltered) to work on later if I wish, but all the reviews are in B&W.
Within the B&W mode turn up the contrast (a lot), the fine sharpening ( a little) and add the orange filter.
Allow the dynamic range to go to ISO6400 when Auto ISO is engaged as noise (starts at about ISO 800 on the K20) now becomes 'grain'
Install the K-M42 adapter ring and mostly just leave it there so I can use all the Takumars
For increased contrast add the yellow 49mm filters on the lenses

So now I have a digital Spotmatic or K1000, which with the battery grip installed can take hundreds of images and really get that eye in training.



Asahi ESII SMC 1.4 50mm


Last edited by Arjay Bee; 03-14-2014 at 07:19 PM. Reason: syntax and grammar
09-02-2013, 07:28 AM   #2
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Interesting idea! Too bad the stop-down metering on the K20D is so quirky.

Steve
09-02-2013, 08:00 AM   #3
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Yep, that's a good idea! Have fun with your "new" K20D. Might copy it if I stubble upon a good deal.
09-02-2013, 08:06 AM   #4
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Interesting idea to configure a dedicated B&W camera.

Trying this out on my K-50 I first thought that photo's could only processed (in camera) after they are taken, but due to your post I now see that a filter can be switched on too:

| Menu Rec. Mode | 1 | Custom Image | BW |

Optionally press in 'BW' the Info button to set the filter effects (A color filter, toning, high/low key, contrast, sharpness).
The same can be done for K5-II.

Cranking up ISO severely compromises sharpness, so that needs some experiments what is desired and/or acceptable. Also if Filter Effects can replace my 'standard' settings in PP with the Color Mixer (R,G and B percentage).
I'm certainly going to try this out, thank you.

Edit: The Monochrome filter is of course only applied to the JPEG if photo's are saved as RAW+.


Last edited by Kobayashi.K; 09-02-2013 at 08:18 AM. Reason: Note for RAW+.
09-02-2013, 08:33 AM   #5
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What an excellent idea!! I haven't played with any of my K-30's B&W processing and this is the inspiration I needed to read to try this! Thanks for the great post!!
09-02-2013, 09:53 AM - 1 Like   #6
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Experiment - Beer can.
K-50 + DA40 Ltd. + Custom Image = BW.




F11, ISO = 100.
White balance = Tungsten.
Custom Image = BW (Monochrome), Filter Effects = None (0).
Original image: JPEG 3456x2304 px
Post processing: PaintShop Pro X5,
Crop = 2100x2100 px, Contrast +20%, black border.
Published here: Resized to 700x700 px + sharpening.
09-02-2013, 10:48 AM   #7
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Thanks OP, your post inspired me to explore the WB preset again.
09-02-2013, 11:28 AM   #8
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Cool idea, and thanks for sharing. I'll have to look to see if I could do similar for my K100dSuper, which is mostly sitting since my K-5 purchase. I had earlier thought of converting the 100 to IR, since I have enjoyed some of those photos. I had originally kept the K100dS as a substitute camera for when I was afraid to take the K-5 for security reasons.

09-02-2013, 02:19 PM   #9
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Hmm, I have an *istD sitting around doing nothing.
09-02-2013, 03:45 PM   #10
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More samples, please.
09-03-2013, 01:01 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by p38arover Quote
Hmm, I have an *istD sitting around doing nothing.
Curses. It seems I can't set the *istD to monochrome.
09-03-2013, 03:19 AM - 2 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Arjay Bee Quote
In the past I have thought, well I can just convert the color shots to B&W in post processing but this after thought approach has prevented me from 'thinking' in B&W while making the images.
This is where you lose me. I would think a particular scene might suggest a color or BW shot but not the gear you happen to be carrying.
But perhaps I misunderstand.

When I shot this I thought this might make a good BW shot so I just captured the RAW data and worried about color or BW later.

Last edited by wildman; 09-16-2013 at 04:08 AM.
09-03-2013, 03:23 AM   #13
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@fuent104 - I would like to post more samples but my camera's are K-50 and K-5, and this thread is for repurposing old ones.

@p38arover - Can't find filters or Monochrome in the *istD manual either. It indeed seems you have the 'wrong' camera for BW.
09-03-2013, 03:25 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
This is where you lose me.
There is some notion that there is a way of seeing that develops by being forced to use a particular tool. Visit the Online Photographer linked above and the attached comments or even just try using one lens for a month or longer and see what the format does to your thinking before taking a shot.
09-03-2013, 03:33 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Arjay Bee Quote
There is some notion that there is a way of seeing that develops by being forced to use a particular tool. Visit the Online Photographer linked above and the attached comments or even just try using one lens for a month or longer and see what the format does to your thinking before taking a shot.
Yes I can confirm that. I had a dark-room for BW (in the film era) and then you completely start 'thinking' in BW. Now that I am shooting digital I still have a preference for BW.
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