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04-13-2008, 12:07 PM   #1
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So, how hard is it to use Manual lenses?

Hello everyone, a general question for you ;-)

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Right now I have a K200D and the 18-55 kit. Due to lots of budget restraints and the desire to own a 300mm+ zoom and a fast 50mm, I'm (hopefully) buying a couple of older lenses in the Marketplace.

If you're curious, they're maybe a Sigma 75-300 LD MF and a Super Takumar 50mm 1.4 M42

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Now, what I'm thinking, is that these lenses are all manual everything, but according to Pentax web store the AutoAperature still works with M42-to-K adapter?.


Basically I'm a bit confused, as I never really got into manual film photography but I'm buying older lenses ---

1) Will I need a light meter to do exposure meausuring? Or basically do I need to keep things in a manual mode?

2) Does it help to remember rules? For instance I learned this morning of the "Sunny 16" rule of thumb.

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I'm a newbie in lenses, but I'm willing to learn! Especially if I can get decent optical quality for aroung $100 (both lenses). I'm poor, so this is better to me than paying $200 for an automatic 50mm prime.


I just don't want to get in over my head -- so are manual lenses really that hard to use?

04-13-2008, 12:29 PM   #2
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Since you have so little experiance why don't you take your time and make it as easy as possible. Buy an A 50mm f1.7. They are inexpensive and have excellant optics. You won't have to mess with trying to set both aperture and shutter speed. You don't need a light meter. Play with that lens until you are more comfortable then start looking for an A or M 70- 210 zoom. You should be able to find one for around $90- $125.
Regards,

Ken
04-13-2008, 12:44 PM   #3
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I agree with Ken. Yes budget constraints play a role in every choice but it's worth saving and waiting for the better lens rather than the cheaper one.

Even the most experienced Pentax shooters have some issues/difficulty with M, K and M42 series lenses and the metering.

Plus these lenses will not work with the P-TTL flash system. The lens has no electrical contacts to transmit exposure information to the camera. So if you use a flash, the flash meters the scene at wide open. Then it gets the aperture information from the camera (if the lens is "A" series or higher) and adjusts the light output for the aperture that has been set. So if you set the aperture at f8 on a lens that opens to f1.7 the flash sets it's output for the scene levels instead of what the lens is set to. It doesn't know the setting. Result is a nice even white picture.

Also a good M42 adapter is going to cost $30-40.00 making the lens not so cheap in some cases.

Spend a little bit more and get A series lenses. You'll eventually do it anyway.
04-13-2008, 12:46 PM   #4
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M42 lenses will need to be manual stopped down to meter with the camera. There is no linkage to utilize the ‘auto aperture’ feature of *some* m42 lenses – I say this because not all m42 lenses are ‘auto’.

Many are ‘auto’. If they are ‘auto’ they need a manual override switch – if you wish to shoot anything other than wide open.

Does that make sense?

On my K10D the procedure worked this way:

1) The camera would need to be set to “allow use of aperture ring”

2) Physically open the aperture with the aperture ring – for focusing purposes.

3) Physically close the aperture (stopping down) with the aperture ring for the desired reason (e.g. depth of field).

4) Hit ‘green button’ to meter.

5) Hit shutter button to take picture.

This process needs to repeated each time in taking a picture – unless you’re shooting wide open, then you can neglect using the aperture ring all together and just hit the ‘green button’ to meter between shots.

Or you can also set the camera on ‘aperture priority’ and the camera will continuously meter without hitting the ‘green button’ – although it seems to be less accurate way of metering – that’s the way I did it.

I tired it. I used an M42 lens for months. It works, and you can get used to it very quickly – but I got tired of my own focus errors and the cumbersome metering process.

Then there are M series Pentax lenses. Everything above is the same, except the camera will stop down the lens for you when you hit the ‘green button’ to meter, and it will stop down the lens when you hit the shutter button – no physically turning the aperture ring to meter.

Then there are the A series Pentax lenses. Everything is the same above except you don’t need to meter at all, as the camera is aware of the aperture setting. . . or you can control the aperture on the camera.

If you really want to get into old manual lenses, buy the cheapest m42 lens you can find and an appropriate M42 adapter. . (the flush mount type), and go out and learn how to use it.

Then break down, save your pennies, and buy a FA 50mm. Honestly the old screw mount lenses are great, but they are way overpriced. An old M42 Takumar f/1.4 50mm will cost as much as 70 USD, an M series will be 100 USD, and an A series will be 150 USD.

A brand new FA 50mm will be 200 USD. So why (M42) screw with it?

Tho, if you’re really up to try it out, look for an old Yashica M42 55mm (5.5cm) f/1.8 on Ebay for like 12 dollars. It’s *extremely* sharp. Cut your teeth on something cheap like that before getting into the expensive Takumar world.

Just MHO.

04-13-2008, 01:07 PM   #5
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YASHICA J-5 5.5cm lens for PARTS or REPAIR - eBay (item 110138713628 end time May-08-08 19:25:32 PDT)

I own that lens and camera (but not that auction -- I have *no* affiliation with that seller, *nor* is this an endorsement of that auction. . it was just a quick search for the lens I was talking about in my previous post). It's an Ubersharp lens, if you want something cheap. They sell these on ebay all the time. This is a shot I took with the same lens on a K10D.

I wouldn't spend a lot on getting into manual lenses. You may not like it all.

Last edited by konraDarnok; 04-14-2008 at 04:22 AM.
04-13-2008, 01:15 PM   #6
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Thank you guys so much for the fast replies.

I had second thoughts about doing all this manual fuss and decided against it.
I canceled my M42 adapter from Pentax and PMed the lens seller to also cancel. I can imagine myself getting tired of fussing with manual stuff very quickly.

(now I save up for lenses that I will really want to keep!)
Thanks everyone.
04-14-2008, 08:23 PM   #7
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Agree with earlier comments

I bought an M42 adapter early on so I could use the 50mm f1.4 from my old spotmatic.
And that lead me to a nice m42 50mm macro...LBA takes hold from all directions
But I don't really use M42 very often.

I have an smc M200 f4 living on my K100D atm.
Fits straight on the camera and stops down to shoot.
It is lovely to use and easy enough to meter with.
have fun
Pete
04-15-2008, 02:59 AM   #8
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Manual lenses aren't hard to use at all. People have just become too spoiled by the convenience of auto-focus and auto-aperture setting. There's nothing in the world complicated about using M42 lenses and in my opinion you're robbing yourself of a lot of fun and great images by ignoring the M42 lenses.

But opinions are like a certain body part....everybody has one.

04-15-2008, 06:32 PM   #9
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Hi. Two week owner of my first DSRL. I have been using my M lenses with great success. Pushing the button to set the shutter speed just takes a moment, and is still more “automatic” than shooting with my MX.

My related question, I also have some M42 lenses from my previous camera, a Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL. They are auto, with the manual/auto switch on the lens.

If you purchase a genuine Pentax K to M42 adapter, will the button work like it does on a M lens? Or, do I have to use them totally manual, focusing and then stopping down the aperture on the lens.
04-15-2008, 07:25 PM   #10
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I own three auto-focus lenses and six "manual" lenses. Two of the manual lenses are m-42 screw and the others are M and KA.

Yes, the manual lenses do require active thought and and intentional action when taking a picture. However, the argument may be made that those processes should be involved even when the camera is doing more of the work.

The bottom line for me is that my best photos have been made using manual technique and my current favorite lens is not only manual focus, but also has a preset (mostly manual) aperture.

The results justify the effort.
04-15-2008, 07:31 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aperture Quote
Hi. Two week owner of my first DSRL. I have been using my M lenses with great success. Pushing the button to set the shutter speed just takes a moment, and is still more “automatic” than shooting with my MX.

My related question, I also have some M42 lenses from my previous camera, a Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL. They are auto, with the manual/auto switch on the lens.

If you purchase a genuine Pentax K to M42 adapter, will the button work like it does on a M lens? Or, do I have to use them totally manual, focusing and then stopping down the aperture on the lens.
No M42/K adapter is capable of coupling the K-mount to the M42 stop-down pin. (It is pretty much impossible due to the position of the pin.) You must slide the switch to the "M" setting, focus wide open, and meter/expose stopped down. I find that using the AV mode works best. In practice you just stop down until you get to the desired f/stop or see the desired shutter speed.
04-16-2008, 07:49 PM   #12
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Ah! OK, thanks. That makes perfect sense to me and clarifies the procedure for using M42 lens with an adapter.

I have not purchased an adapter, but I was already wondering how the heck the pin could possibility get pushed on the M42 lens.
04-17-2008, 11:19 AM   #13
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For M42 lenses.....

In Av Mode:

1. Focus
2. Set aperture
3. Shoot

Why on earth anyone would want to leave the camera in M mode and go through the unnecessary contortions with either the green button or the AE-L button is beyond my ability to comprehend. Ditto for how anyone could possibly find those three steps burdensomely complicated.
04-17-2008, 08:35 PM   #14
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Well as for me.. for large apertures.. It's a challenge except for the tele once as I find it easy to foucs.. Well except for moving subjects!

@Mike,
Coz sometimes the Av is not that useful.. But I do use it to meter some scenarios..
04-17-2008, 10:36 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by konraDarnok Quote
So why (M42) screw with it?
Why? Because they just *feel* right. They're solid and beautiful and take some great pictures. And, besides, I've never learned to use my flash and like to shoot wide open, or close to it, and with digital you can check your exposure immediately. No-one should be afraid of screwmount lenses. And you can get decent flush mount adapters for $20 - just remove the spring and mount to the lens rather than the camera.
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