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08-09-2012, 03:18 AM   #1
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Beginner with lens/focus question

I recently began experimenting with an old, inherited K1000. My only lens for it is a Kalimar 28-105 zoom. My problem it that I have difficulty seeing what I wish to focus on. When viewing through the lens, it is hazy except for a small circle in the middle. I simply don't see well enough to be certain of my focus and I consequently find myself guessing and it shows in my images. Some are sharp and others, not so. I very much enjoy the prime lens of my Fujifulm X100 and I'm thinking about buying a decent 35mm prime lens for the K1000 in hopes of being able to see and focus better. I would appreciate hearing from those with more experience. Thank you.

08-09-2012, 05:27 AM   #2
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If it's the lens's fault, I would definitely get at least a cheap 50mm F2. A split-screen focusing screen should also make focusing easier for you.

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08-09-2012, 05:48 AM   #3
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Thanks. Are there any particular brands or models that I should either watch for or perhaps watch out for?
08-09-2012, 06:31 AM   #4
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The K1000 has the typical Pentax split screen focuser, or should, mine does, and the outside of the clear circle is always a matte screen. That's the way it was made. You should see a small split screen with a slightly larger more clear circle, then the matte area. With those the problem I always had was finding something I could line up with the split image. The idea is to bring the two images in the smallest circle together and at that point it's focused. Anything with a vertical stripe is pretty easy, things like birds and flowers are more difficult, sometimes it's not easy to line up that split image, but when you do it should be focused well.

After a while I started using the matte area and the larger clear circle, bringing it into focus using those. With weak vision, it's not easy to see, but you should also see tiny dots in the larger clear area. When those clear up it's in focus. I was surprised how well using the outside sections worked.

The main thing is simply practice. When I first used mine, (the K 1000 was my first 35mm SLR ever) I had lots of trouble even though my vision was excellent, but after a couple of months of frustrating times getting back iffy pictures, I gradually got better at focusing it. After a year or so I was getting good focus most of the time.

Those cameras are also more difficult to use wearing glasses, they didn't have the adjuster the newer digital models have, and it's not easy to get the bifocal in the right place when you need to. After trying while wearing sunglasses a few times I found out how much trouble people wearing glasses had. Mostly it's a matter of lots of practice. I practiced on wildflowers, they don't run away and you get some nice shots to show off. Now, wearing glasses, I find it's not easy to use the 35mm cameras. I can still do it and get good shots, but it's frustrating.

As for the lens itself, if I understand your post correctly, you're saying that if you look through the lens alone, not attached to the camera, it is hazy except for the middle? If so, something is definitely wrong, and it might be well worth your while to invest in a prime lens for it. The 50mm is a very popular choice, and great for a lot of different circumstances. You'll see a lot of these guys saying the faster f1.4 and f1.7 versions are the way to go, but the plain old f2 is a good lens too. I have them all, (except for the f1.2) and have gotten excellent shots with every one of them. My personal favorite is my A series f1.4, but I've also used the f1.7 and f2 lenses many times with the K1000 and ME Super, and all did a great job. (both film and digital)

I'd say (and I may get some flak about it) look for a f2 version, they are usually less expensive. See how it works and get some practice with it, then if you find you are satisfied with the results start looking around for a f1.4 or f1.7 lens. With the K 1000 you don't have electronics, so the A series lenses won't help you in that respect, but some of them have a great reputation for good, sharp pictures. Since that's a completely manual camera with a built in light meter, I'd go for a M series 50mm and see how it works, and not worry too much about whether you get the fastest one you can find.If you stumble onto a f1.4 really cheap, great, but to learn and practice on, the f2 version does a good job as well. Later on you'll find yourself looking for a 28mm, a 135, a 200...

08-09-2012, 11:57 AM   #5
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K1000 has microprism viewfinder too, mine has one. When the subject is not in focus, the tiny prisms show up in black and white dotted pattern. When the subject is in focus, the prisms blend in with the surrounding light so that you don't see them any more.
I think it's bit harder to use than split screen but when you get used to it then it doesn't bother.
08-09-2012, 06:10 PM   #6
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Thanx for the great responses. I do wear bifocals and I'm sure that it contributes to my problems. This lens doesn't appear to have a split screen, but I was just playing with the camera and noticed that it helps to also look through the matt area. It's tricky. My interest in this camera was initially to learn about the fundamentals of photography. Shooting with a manual camera has turned out to be a lot of fun and is very similar to my X100 and I'm finding that I'm having a much easier time with that camera now. I am planning to take a cross country motorcycle ride soon and I will be camping as much as possible. The manual camera makes sense as a backup since I don't need to worry about keeping a battery charged and I also understand that I can get high resolution scans made of my slides in order to get nice enlargements. Thanx again prompt responses and good insights.
08-10-2012, 09:28 AM   #7
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Taking a cross-country trip with your K1000 sounds sweet. In that case I would also pick up an M28 or something like that for landscapes...Be sure to include your bike. Cameras aren't the only gear that people here are interested in seeing.
08-10-2012, 03:50 PM   #8
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M28? Are we talking about an assault rifle or a Kodak Instamatic? I'll be bringing my Fujifilm X100...if Fujifilm can ever get it fixed correctly and get it back to me in time.

08-10-2012, 07:41 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I don't know much about rifles, besides I don't know how you would fit it on the bike. Actually I meant this...SMC Pentax-M 28mm F2.8 Reviews - M Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
08-11-2012, 03:52 AM   #10
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Aahh! Thank you for clearing that up. I like your suggestion. I bookmarked that review. I did just purchase a 28mm wide angle Vivatar lens on ebay. I'm also giving serious thought to springing for a K5 body and a couple of lenses.
08-19-2012, 10:55 AM   #11
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Just to follow up. I've been playing a bit with the 28mm Vivitar. I am able to see to focus a bit better, but still not as well as I would like. I've got some Velvia 50 in the camera now, just because I've read so much about it. I intend to get out and shoot some landscape shots with it soon. I'll post the results if they are decent. Can't say how much I will continue to work with film, but it certainly has been a huge help and I feel that I am learning a lot from it.
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