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10-13-2010, 06:13 AM   #1
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Hi, new Pentax user here - Film Photo 365 project

Hi all, having been raised on a strict diet of shooting a Digital SLR the Canon way, I've decided to go back to basics and see if what I've learned will work the old way with film.

I've picked up an ME-F with a Cosina 50mm f2.0 for less than the price of a roll of Ilford Delta, and I'm wondering where to start. I'm very used to using manual modes, so technically the ME-F shouldn't present me with too many challenges.

What do I need to look out for on the camera when it arrives to check it all works properly?

I'm aiming to do a Photo 365 using this camera and black and white film which I'm also hoping to self develop. This way I'm hoping to hone the skills I've learned so far around metering, composition and become a better photographer by learning new ones around developing film and how to work within the confines of a few preselected parameters i.e. film speed, fixed focal length, limitations on shutter speed, a fixed number of exposures, film costs etc.

I'd be very grateful for any tips you'd like to pass on or any suggestions as to the use of this type of equipment. I gather the 50mm Cosina isn't that well regarded and I have my eye on an SMCP-A 50mm f1.2...

Many thanks,
Gary

10-13-2010, 07:34 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by gs.davies Quote
Hi all, having been raised on a strict diet of shooting a Digital SLR the Canon way, I've decided to go back to basics and see if what I've learned will work the old way with film.

I've picked up an ME-F with a Cosina 50mm f2.0 for less than the price of a roll of Ilford Delta, and I'm wondering where to start. I'm very used to using manual modes, so technically the ME-F shouldn't present me with too many challenges.

What do I need to look out for on the camera when it arrives to check it all works properly?

I'm aiming to do a Photo 365 using this camera and black and white film which I'm also hoping to self develop. This way I'm hoping to hone the skills I've learned so far around metering, composition and become a better photographer by learning new ones around developing film and how to work within the confines of a few preselected parameters i.e. film speed, fixed focal length, limitations on shutter speed, a fixed number of exposures, film costs etc.

I'd be very grateful for any tips you'd like to pass on or any suggestions as to the use of this type of equipment. I gather the 50mm Cosina isn't that well regarded and I have my eye on an SMCP-A 50mm f1.2...

Many thanks,
Gary

I don't have an ME F, but I do have an ME Super, which is similar.

The first thing that will strike you is the ENORMOUS viewfinder, compared to any aps-c dslr. It is also very bright.

As far as what to look for, I'd say its the usual; shutter speeds, and light seals. After many years, the foam used in the back door and the mirror bump stop can deteriorate into a gooey mess. You can buy kits on eBay to replace it yourself. You might be lucky and they are okay.

The M-series cameras all need batteries to function properly. If the battery is dead, you obviously will have no meter. The shutter will only work at one speed, 1/100, I believe. Fortunately, it takes readily available batteries.

You can download a PDF copy of the user manual from the Pentax USA website at http://www.pentaximaging.com. Click on "Support" at the top of the page.

If you need to have it serviced, the guy with the reputation for being the best with Pentax gear is Eric Hendrickson at Home. I've never used his services, but all reports are that he does excellent work at reasonable prices.

Enjoy! Welcome to the wonderful world of Pentax.
10-13-2010, 08:22 AM   #3
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Have a look in the Film Processing and Scanning Darkroom section here for some threads on getting started in developing film. There are some good tips and information on equipment you'd need. A savvy shopper can get by pretty cheap if you look for used equipment. The scanner will be an expense and of course better ones will run you more money.

You could get higher quality results with an inexpensive scanner if you shoot 120 roll film. Something like a inexpensive TLR camera will give you that fixed lens constraint and better test of those metering a scene skills since most do not have a built-in light meter. With my digital camera and how I shoot it, I don't really learn anything about metering a scene. It meters it for you and you just say a little more or a little less because it gives you the base where to start

Last edited by tuco; 10-13-2010 at 08:34 AM.
10-15-2010, 01:35 AM   #4
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OK, it's arrived and we've not got off to a great start..
Mirror stuck in the up position and everything jammed. Got it freed up eventually, popped in some batteries, and the meter seems to work OK, though I can only get the shutter to fire occasionally. Seems that the cocking mechanism is knackered. Sometimes it'll wind on several times before cocking the shutter, sometimes straight away. Oh, and there's foam goo all along the edge of the mirror where the foam's breaking down.
I tried a film in it and of course, the shutter didn't want to cock AT ALL! So, at least I have a scrap film to learn how to load onto a spiral.
Any ideas on this shutter cocking problem or is it just fit for the bin?
Gary

10-15-2010, 08:39 AM   #5
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Well, the gummy seals common to the mirror is typical for a camera that age and easy to replace yourself. I can't say about the rest but it definitely sounds like it needs a CLA. I hope you got the camera at a really good price. I guess now you need to decide if it is worth the expense to have it fixed or look for another one that is in good working order.

I just had my Spotmatic F worked over by a local repair shop. Even though the expense of doing it was not very rational and hard to justify, I didn't care. I did it for other reasons.
10-15-2010, 08:52 AM   #6
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I took it to CameraWorld in Chelmsford today who have sent it off to a repair man to quote. They reckon up to about £60 to get it in tip top shape, CLA'd with new seals. I paid £7 for it with a lens (which looks a bit fungusy..), and whilst I wasn't really looking to pay for a repair, I'll at least get a report on it before committing to any expense. If I do have it fixed, then I think it'll be a nice camera. It certainly feels nice to use, lightweight and easy to carry everywhere (which is just perfect for the 365 project I have in mind)

According to the shop, the guy is very good with old stuff (some of the staff send their old film stuff to him) and they seemed to think it was worth getting done. They graded it as being in very good condition. Certainly the electrics all work and the meter seems accurate. I guess spending a few quid on it should mean that I get the best benefit out of doing this project and I'll know that any deficiency in the images is a result of a lack of skill on my part :-)

I'm missing it already and I've not even got an exposure out of it yet!

Watch this space.
Gary
10-16-2010, 10:15 PM   #7
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well, I don't know what the prices are in GB, but I could get a functional ME Super for that money.
I'd be worried about the fungus in the Cosina...

Octav
10-17-2010, 07:49 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by octavmandru Quote
well, I don't know what the prices are in GB, but I could get a functional ME Super for that money.
I'd be worried about the fungus in the Cosina...

Octav
Well, result! The seller has refunded me the purchase price, so the camera's cost me nothing. I should know in a few days what the repair bill is to get it to 100% condition.

Can someone recommend me some good wide, standard and telephoto zoom lenses for this please? I guess that Cosina is truly bin fodder!
:-)

10-17-2010, 09:39 AM   #9
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With an adapter, you can mount the fine collection of M42 screw mount Takumar lenses that are available. And with all the choices of Pentax K mount lenses, you just need to find a lens at the price you are willing to pay.

You may notice that a wide like a 24mm will go for much more than a 28mm. It seems everyone is willing to pay bucks for a 24mm. I guess a good starting point in primes would be 28/50/135mm and you'll have to look at the choices in each category (M or A lens plus speed) to fit your budget. For example, looking for a 50mm lens you have the choice of a f1.2, f1.4, f1.7, f1.8 and f2. Probably the biggest bang for your buck is the f1.7 in this category. If you end up with an aperture priority camera, you probably want to be looking for 'A' lenses.
10-17-2010, 02:16 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
With an adapter, you can mount the fine collection of M42 screw mount Takumar lenses that are available. And with all the choices of Pentax K mount lenses, you just need to find a lens at the price you are willing to pay.

You may notice that a wide like a 24mm will go for much more than a 28mm. It seems everyone is willing to pay bucks for a 24mm. I guess a good starting point in primes would be 28/50/135mm and you'll have to look at the choices in each category (M or A lens plus speed) to fit your budget. For example, looking for a 50mm lens you have the choice of a f1.2, f1.4, f1.7, f1.8 and f2. Probably the biggest bang for your buck is the f1.7 in this category. If you end up with an aperture priority camera, you probably want to be looking for 'A' lenses.
Just to add to this point, you said that you want to take B&W shots. So you want may want to be thinking about what filters you want to shoot with when you pick up some lens. All of the lenses that Tuco mentioned above have the same filter dia. Although I think that the 135 with the 49 mm filter is only available in the m & k mounts (no A setting). So maybe you want to think about your lenses ahead time. If you want to get some lens that have a variety filter dia. pick up a step-down ring (when it comes time to pick up some filters).

BTW if you have no idea why this is a big deal, you may want to look at this... Filters in Black and White Photography

Elliot
11-11-2010, 12:39 PM   #11
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Thanks for all your useful advice. The camera should be back with me over the weekend, as apparently it's fixed :-)

I'm having some difficulty in choosing a film though. I want to do low light indoor stuff and some general walkabout outdoors. Flash is a no go area (because I don't have one..). Seems that ilfords 3200 film looks good for indoors but may well too fast for outdoors. Of course, in the digital world, this isn't a problem.

What's the recommended approach? Plan carefully and take a handful of films out? Slow faster films down with ND's? And what about c41 b&w? Is it any good?

Thanks for the filter info too, I shall pick up some red/yellow and orange when I go to collect the camera.
11-12-2010, 12:48 AM   #12
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If you don't mind stopping down when outside a fast film shouldn't be a problem. The ME F will do 1/2000, rating your film at ISO 2000 will get you f/16 in full sunlight with no filter. A normal yellow filter gets you f/11. And 2000 should be fine for most indoor shooting. (Though I think the ME F will only go to 1600.)

Of course, I'd recommend getting a slow(er) film for outdoors anyway, unless you like lots of grain and bad dynamic range.
11-12-2010, 07:32 AM   #13
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The ME-F only rates to ISO1600, so I'd have to manually adjust my exposure to suit I guess.

I'm going to start out with some Tri-X 400 and see how it goes. If it's under indoors, then so be it.

Out of interest, how did you work out the shutter speeds under those generic conditions? That's something that would be really useful for a newbie like me to get to grips with..

Thanks again,
Gary
11-12-2010, 09:32 PM   #14
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If it only goes to 1600 you also won't be able to select negative exposure compensation beyond that point, so you'd have to shoot manually. I'd just go with 1600, it's pretty fast, and it's not like "3200" films really are 3200 anyway.

I used the old "sunny 16" rule, which says that f/16 gives you 1/ISO shutter speed in full sunlight. (And then you have adjust for "full" sunlight not actually being that this time of year, at least here in Sweden, so it's not quite as simple as one would hope, but good enough.)
11-15-2010, 04:52 AM   #15
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It's back! Collected it today from Cameraworld (minus it's new batteries..) and I've put a roll of Ilford C-41 B&W in rated at ISO400. I've made five exposures so far and I'm really enjoying slowing down and concentrating.
The lens didn't get cleaned and is fungussy, so I'm on the lookout for a replacement. Everything seems to work OK. The meter agrees with my iphone lightmeter and my Canon 350D too.
But, you know the best bit? Apart from the huge bright viewfinder and solid feel of it? The CLUNK you get when the shutter releases.

It's a good feeling, resurrecting an old camera. I wonder how many great shots it's (never) taken?

Film is officially great!
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