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04-07-2011, 09:41 PM   #1
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Ideal Kit?

As many of you know I recently acquired some gear. I am looking at the lens and camera databases (great resources) and am trying to figure out what 35mm kit would be best for me.

I would love to hear any opinions you may have. I will try to be brief and concise, I hope I am not presenting too many questions in one thread. I realize some of this I would eventually discover on my own. But it would take a long time to properly understand and compare the choices I have, so I am hoping to tap into the collective knowledge available here.

For reference this is what I have:

Cameras:
H3V
ME Super
MX
LX
SF1

Lenses:
SMC Pentax-M 20mm F4
SMC Pentax-K 24mm F2.8
SMC Pentax-M 28mm F2.8
SMC Pentax-M 35mm F2
SMC Pentax-M 40mm F2.8
SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4
SMC Pentax-M 50mm F2
SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.7
SMC Pentax-M 50mm F2
SMC Pentax-F 50mm F1.4
SMC Pentax-M 50mm F4 Macro
SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2
SMC Pentax-M 100mm F2.8
SMC Pentax-M 100mm F4 Macro
SMC Pentax-M 120mm F2.8
SMC Pentax-M 135mm F3.5
SMC Pentax-M 150mm F3.5
SMC Pentax-M 200mm F4
SMC Pentax-M* 300mm F4

I plan to use a film camera for pure enjoyment, not as a main camera (I have a Nikon digital setup for that). I have am a newbie as far as film goes. I want to use it for landscape, cityscape, people around town. Maybe some indoor with good lighting or flash.

So I would like settle on keeping something wide, normal, and maybe a shorter telephoto. If I "need" longer reach I'll use my digital so I'll use my digital camera for that.

This is what I am thinking:

FOR CAMERA:
I'm thinking the LX is the nicest, but I may prefer to sell that since it has value and I am not sure I need the best amongst what I have. It sure is tempting, but I think the MX would be the next best choice, is that a good conclusion?

I'll probably run the SF1 some too to experience a film camera with more automation and auto-focus (with the Pentax-F 50mm F1.4). How doe the shots look with the pop-up flash, about as expected similar to a digital?

FOR LENSES:
If I were to keep a simple and modest kit, are the following lenses good performers, given all technical aspects and proper use is followed?

WIDE
Are the following similar enough that "any" would work in a modest kit, or are there major differences?

SMC Pentax-K 24mm F2.8
SMC Pentax-M 28mm F2.8
SMC Pentax-M 35mm F2
SMC Pentax-M 40mm F2.8

NORMAL

From my list above, I'm a bit overwhelmed. From looking at the database, I suspect these are the two desirable ones, in order.
What normal lens is your favorite?

SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4
SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.7

TELEPHOTO
For a bit more reach I'm thinking one of the following. Any favorites, any junk, would you choose differently from my list from above?
SMC Pentax-M 120mm F2.8
SMC Pentax-M 135mm F3.5
SMC Pentax-M 150mm F3.5

FLASH
Do these flashes work on the LX, MX, SF1?
This is probably a whole new world, as I am used to TTL Metering. If I add flash do I have adjust exposure calculation? Is it automatic on the SF1, but for the others do you recommend a resource I read, or is that automatic in some way too?
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04-07-2011, 11:05 PM   #2
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I'd sell everything but the LX, and keep the following:

SMC Pentax-M 20mm F4
SMC Pentax-M 35mm F2
SMC Pentax-F 50mm F1.4
SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2
SMC Pentax-M 100mm F4 Macro
SMC Pentax-M 150mm F3.5
SMC Pentax-M* 300mm F4

Another lens I'd recommend is the A 35-105mm, as it delivers excellent IQ and versatility.

Adam
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04-07-2011, 11:30 PM   #3
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I am a minimalist and the perfect kit to me in there, would be very close to what I use now.
ME Super
SMC Pentax-F 50mm F1.4
04-08-2011, 12:55 AM   #4
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The body you should keep is definitely the LX. The MX is very nice but falls, in my opinion, on that it only shows +-2 steps (if I remember correctly) in the viewfinder, which means that you can't instantly see what time to use if it isn't within +-2 of correct. ME Super is also quite nice but too fiddly when setting shuttertime. Regarding the SF1, I don't see the point in using a film autofocus (hell, I don't see the point in autofocus at all), and the H3V you don't have any lenses for.

There's nothing really spectacular among the lenses but many good ones.

I put together two different kits:

The technically best kit:
- LX
- K24/2.8 (good reputation, but if you feel like you want more wide angle take the M20 instead)
- M50/1.4 or M50/1.7 (not sure how these compare but both should be good)
- M100/2.8 (if you're not interested in speed then the M100/4 macro will probably be a sharper lens)

The nice, light and small carry around kit:
- MX (the LX isn't that much larger but anyway...)
- M20/4
- M50/1.7
- M100/2.8

04-08-2011, 04:18 AM   #5
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The LX or the MX/MESuper would be my body of choice

As per lenses
K-20/4
M-24/2.8
M50/1.4
M135/3.5
I also keep the M100 Macro. It is a great all around lens; and I find it wonderful
04-08-2011, 09:45 AM   #6
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You can never have enough film cameras or lenses, so unless you are short of cash/space I’d keep everything except the following:

H3V (You don’t have any screw-mount lenses listed, so no point having a body)
M50/2 x 2 (You have three other non macro 50mm lenses, so that should be enough)

It’s good to have multiple film bodies so you can use different film types at the same time. You may want one for b&w and the other for colour.

I usually take three lenses from my collection on each outing and assemble the kit with one wide/standard/telephoto. The FL depends on where I’m going and what I’m going to photograph. Having the number of lenses that you do gives you a lot of flexibility.

Still the old film standby is the 28/50/135mm lenses for your basic kit. Also the 35, 40 & 50mm FLs are great if you just want to carry lens and film body.

Phil.
04-08-2011, 10:10 AM   #7
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+1 on the wanting more than one body for different film types. when all i shot was film i always had 2 bodies with me a b/w and a slide
my $0.02 I'd keep this at a minimum (personally I would keep it all except the ones mentioned by Phil for the same reasons) but you want to downsize

LX
MX
SMC Pentax-M 20mm F4
SMC Pentax-K 24mm F2.8
SMC Pentax-M 28mm F2.8
SMC Pentax-M 35mm F2
SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4
SMC Pentax-M 50mm F4 Macro
SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2
SMC Pentax-M 100mm F2.8
SMC Pentax-M 135mm F3.5

If I shot a lot of street I'd add in the M40 just for the size but in relity the 35 is a better street lens (as are the 50's)
If If you aren't an ultra wide guy drop the 20. you could also drop the 28 but 24 to 28 is a big FOV leap.

There are more than a couple there i would like (20/24/35/85/120/300/50macro), but currently i have myself on a buying freeze as you know from the Medium format
04-08-2011, 10:31 AM   #8
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Thank you all very much, this is all very helpful.

Regarding the H3V, I do actually have some M42 screw mounts, I excluded them from the list and forgot to also exclude the H3V.

04-08-2011, 11:03 AM   #9
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If you have some lenses you should keep the H3v. The LX/MX with a few K lenses might also be nice, and you could keep the MX and H3 loaded with film and always ready, using the LX for planned shooting or photo excursions.

The early screwmounts, to me, have the nicest feel and aesthetics, I wouldn't trade MY spotmatic for all the LXs and Nikon Fs that the photo gods could offer.

So actually, I'll amend my previous statement, keep the MX and LX ready for spontaneous shooting, and have the H3 and a meter on a shelf, ready for use when you need to go "back to basics" or work in a different way for a while.
04-08-2011, 11:55 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by myfotoguy Quote
FOR CAMERA:
I'm thinking the LX is the nicest, but I may prefer to sell that since it has value and I am not sure I need the best amongst what I have. It sure is tempting, but I think the MX would be the next best choice, is that a good conclusion?

I'll probably run the SF1 some too to experience a film camera with more automation and auto-focus (with the Pentax-F 50mm F1.4). How doe the shots look with the pop-up flash, about as expected similar to a digital?

FOR LENSES:
If I were to keep a simple and modest kit, are the following lenses good performers, given all technical aspects and proper use is followed?

WIDE
Are the following similar enough that "any" would work in a modest kit, or are there major differences?
SMC Pentax-K 24mm F2.8
SMC Pentax-M 28mm F2.8
SMC Pentax-M 35mm F2
SMC Pentax-M 40mm F2.8

NORMAL
From my list above, I'm a bit overwhelmed. From looking at the database, I suspect these are the two desirable ones, in order.
What normal lens is your favorite?
SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4
SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.7

TELEPHOTO
For a bit more reach I'm thinking one of the following. Any favorites, any junk, would you choose differently from my list from above?
SMC Pentax-M 120mm F2.8
SMC Pentax-M 135mm F3.5
SMC Pentax-M 150mm F3.5

FLASH
Do these flashes work on the LX, MX, SF1?
This is probably a whole new world, as I am used to TTL Metering. If I add flash do I have adjust exposure calculation? Is it automatic on the SF1, but for the others do you recommend a resource I read, or is that automatic in some way too?
Vivitar 283
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Unlike many, I would applaud your thoughts about the LX vs MX - you will raise more money by selling the LX, and based on your description of what you are looking for you don't need one. OTH: which of the bodies is in the best shape and most reliable? (My personal bias: I like the cameras that are one step down from the top, in any era)

Re. the wide angles, I like the idea of having a 24 and a 28. Not that in practice I take both at the same time. The 24 is getting into the ultra wide territory, which is fun; the 28 is wide but not extreme, and probably more useful.

Between the 35 and 40 - the 35 you have has a tiny bit extra speed... the 40 is tiny. Personally, I prefer the FOV of ~40-45mm over the 35mm, but there are plenty of photogs who feel the opposite. So, really this one's up to your eye and preference.

On the 50s, the 1.4 of course is considered 'better' because it is faster and more expensive. But the 1.7 is extremely nice. A toss up; I would keep both, and the 50/4 macro, and get rid of the rest.

On the short teles, one consideration is value: the 120 and 150 will fetch more than the 135. I believe the 120 is designed as a portrait lens (I don't know about the 150), i.e. softer wide open and sharper closed down. As I tend to hate 135's and don't like to shoot with anything longer, I'd keep the 120 myself... or actually stop at the 100. Ok, if I stop at the 100, maybe I'd keep the 150

Flash: TTL is nice but not essential. Any thryristor flash will have its own sensor and calculate its own output. All you need is to set the ISO on the flash, and set the camera aperture to the value indicated by the flash... and keep the shutter speed at the max sync speed or below. (I don't pay too much attention to the LX, but I think it has TTL Flash)

Yes the pop up flash on film cams is just like the pop up flash on digital ones.
04-08-2011, 01:51 PM   #11
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As far as the shape they’re in, they are all in pretty good shape. I sent an MX and an LX to Eric for CLA (dropped them off at the post office today). Those are the ones I am leaning on keeping and a variety of lenses to fit. Whichever way I end up going I’ll have two nice working bodies to start, and I may eventually sell one and keep one on hand.

For my uses, since I have a nice digital setup, I doubt I will run with two or three bodies with various film ready to go. It is tempting, and maybe I will change my mind once I start to use the cameras.

Regarding the H3V (is CLA worth it on this, it looks good, but not sure about seals and the like). I do have a Pentax Spotmeter V in good working order, that might be kind of fun. Hmmm

Thanks so much for all the advice. I ordered some Portra 400, and Ektar 100 to start off with. I’ll have to give a few things a go this spring and evaluate as I progress.

I certainly could keep as much as I want, but am evaluating the point in keeping gear I’m not using that someone else could enjoy (most of the lenses I received are in Excellent+ to mint condition). So I plan to sell some of these things to fund purchasing gear for my main digital setup (too bad it's not Pentax, the lenses would work). I think there is an M42 to Nikon adpater, but not sure about the K mount.Still, a Pentax digital body at some point is not totally out of the question, just not a serious consideration at this point. I intially thought so, but now not sure...

I’m looking forward to the discovery process of using film cameras and the different gear. There is some other stuff I received too, to explore and learn, so I may not keep everything from one brand, I have a couple newer film Canons, they appear entry to mid-level, a Rollei TLR, a Mamiya M645 1000s, and Mamiya RB67.

You all gave me a good list of lenses and ideas to get me started in the right direction. This is one of the better (probably best) forums I have participated in.

Thanks for all your wonderful well thought out responses, advice, and knowledge!
04-08-2011, 01:59 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by myfotoguy Quote
Rollei TLR, a Mamiya M645 1000s, and Mamiya RB67.
well that's certainly a casual bunch of cameras!

If you have the time, it may turn out that you end up liking medium format as a complement to digital, more than 35mm. And by that I mean developing and scanning your own b&w, with a few color rolls sent to the lab thrown in... Those three certainly are no slouches and will produce better results than any 35mm camera, under most normal conditions. Of course the 35mm combines portability, flexibility, and exposures per roll in a way no medium format camera can.
04-08-2011, 04:10 PM   #13
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Have to agree with nesster here spend some time with the mf
You may end up selling all the 35 in favour of it and supplement the mamiya lenses with the proceeds
It really is a whole other ballgame and does some thing that complements the nikon ff setup
04-08-2011, 05:10 PM   #14
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It is obvious from the replies that opinions vary widely regarding what constitutes an ideal kit.
I suggest you buy plenty of film and take time to give everything a thorough "test drive" before selling off.

Chris
04-09-2011, 09:10 AM   #15
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Thanks everyone. I have ordered a few rolls of 35mm and a few of 120 for the MF. To me, the Rollei's and the Mamiya 645 1000s look the most fun.

But I hear the Pentax 6x7 gets great results, lenses with that are:
105mm f/2.4 Takumar
135mm f/4 Macro Takumar
165mm f/2.8

I think the Mamiya RB67 is much bigger than I want to work with, but I'll still try it out.

Again, thanks! I know once I start shooting and experience the equipment I will get a better idea of what will work best for me. You all have given me a nice list of lenses to work with for the first few rolls. It's helpful to start off with some of the gear others trust and are familiar with.
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