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07-20-2009, 04:30 AM   #1
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Advice Please: K-Mount body for Takumar Lenses

Hello all,

I joined a while ago to sell a super takumar 105/2.8 I found in a desk drawer. Well, now I am back because the quality of the lens felt superb and after browsing flickr, the taks seem like high quality, relatively inexpensive glass. Plus, I've always wanted to try a film SLR.

I'll probably purchase the 28/3.5, 50/1.4, and 50/4 lenses, spaced out over the next year or so. Naturally, original pentax adapters to go with them.

I realize that I could get a screwmount body, but my vision isnt so great and I do a lot of low light shooting at ISO 3200 so I really want a camera with a great viewfinder. The two spotmatics I've handled were lovely, but the viewfinders werent terribly bright. I am hoping that the k-mount bodies have nicer viewfinders.

I would like your recommendation as to which K mount body meets the following requirements and works well for m42 glass. I downloaded a bunch of manuals from pentax-manuals.com but ended up getting somewhat confused because I am not at all familiar with the pentax line. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Budget is limiting factor, so an LX is out of the question. I can top out at $150, but less is preferable of course since it means more money for glass.

As stated above, the brighter and easier to focus the viewfinder is, the better.

Next, manual settings are a must. I dont mind if there is AE or program mode, just so long as I never have to use it.

The camera must be manual focus. No autofocus please.

And if it can use easy to find modern batteries, that is a big plus.

On another note, how much of a nuisance, if any, is stop down metering? I am guessing that I will get used to it fairly quickly.

That is all I can think of for now. If you need any more information, just let me know.

Thank you for your help.

-David

07-20-2009, 05:29 AM   #2
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ME Super / MX

stop down metering is a pain in the ass imo
07-20-2009, 05:53 AM   #3
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the MX or the ME super. the MX may be too small for your hands (you could get the winder, to remedy that). the MX has the largest viewfinder of any Pentax film camera (minus the LX, for which you said you cannot afford) and one of the largest for any Pentax camera, period. most people say that the viewfinder of the ME Super is the brightest, but I have not noticed any difference between it and the MX. some people will suggest a K series body due to size but the only K series that has a viewfinder with equal coverage compared to the MX is the K2 but it only gives 0.88% magnification as oppossed to the MX's 0.97% and the cost of a K2 can be a bit high due to its place at the top of the K series hill and the fact that its not as common as the other K series cameras. plus the K series is very closely related to the last of the spotmatics (F ES, ESII) so the brightness of the viewfinder may or may not be as bright as the later M series. a plus for the MX (if you can find them cheap, or at all) is interchangeable focusing screens. the ME Super will likely be the cheapest and easiest to find (you may have to factor in the price of a CLA)

Pentax Camera Bodies

QuoteQuote:
I'll probably purchase the 28/3.5, 50/1.4, and 50/4 lenses, spaced out over the next year or so. Naturally, original pentax adapters to go with them.
if you are only going to be using Takumars on this camera it would be better (and certainly cheaper to just buy one K mount adapter and leave it mounted to the body as opposed to buying an adapter for each lens. especially since you have to unscrew the lens to get the adapter off anyway. (unless you remove the locking clip, for which I do not recommend)

QuoteQuote:
On another note, how much of a nuisance, if any, is stop down metering? I am guessing that I will get used to it fairly quickly.
hard to say really. depends on the individual. when you use a Takumar lens on a K mount body you set the lens' A/M switch to 'M' and just adjust the aperture. the meter will respond to the changing light due to the aperture opening/closing. I don't really find it any slower than using a manual K mount lens on a manual K mount body. the only downside is that the loss of open-aperture metering can be a distraction if you are using a small aperture (because of course the viewfinder will get increasingly dimmer as you stop down) of course in the process you gain automatic DOF preview (for which the MX has anyway)

Last edited by séamuis; 07-20-2009 at 06:15 AM.
07-20-2009, 06:00 AM   #4
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you may want to look at a ricoh XR-2s.

It is an automatic camera witl full manual, layout and controls are like a KX or K2DMD but it has a diagonal split image. Very nice for MF.

ALso, M42 lenses in Aperture priority work very well, since the metering sees the light exactly as it is.

07-20-2009, 06:14 AM   #5
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The Fujica ST801 is reputed to have a bright, useable viewfinder, and is a screw mount body which makes using screw lenses a bit easier.

With viewfinders in general, there often is a design compromise between brightness, size, and clarity. By clarity I mean: does the image snap into focus with authority. I just read an old Keppler article from '77, where he discusses just this. The lens measuring dweeb at Modern ventured an opinion: over time, Nikons will produce sharper photos than OM gear. So Keppler tested this - shot the same slides with the two cameras (FE and OM2), using pairs of 28, 50, and 100/105 lenses. Verdict: Nobody at Modern was able to reliably identify Zuiko vs Nikkor; the one man who did did so because Nikkors were consistenly warmer than Zuikos.

So, Keppler wondered, what caused this dweeb's impression? (I use dweeb affectionately!)

The OM viewfinder is large and bright - and was advertized as such. The Nikon's is smaller and darker... but has greater contrast and snap to the focus. Therefore, Keppler theorizes, using the Nikon gear gives the impression of sharper photography!

The above story reflects my experience - the FE does focus easy.... and amongst Pentaxes, the KX viewfinder I find exemplary. Not the largest or brightest, but focusing is easy.


ps. I use a Program Plus with Takumars fairly often. The combo works for me with simplified operation: I leave the camera on 'program' which translates to 'aperture priority'. I leave the lens in 'm' mode, and stop down manually - the camera takes care of shutter speed automatically, and I can simply stop down till I get to a speed I want. The metering works much better with the Program Plus than with the digitals, and I find focusing easy as well.
07-20-2009, 06:24 AM   #6
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QuoteQuote:
The above story reflects my experience - the FE does focus easy.... and amongst Pentaxes, the KX viewfinder I find exemplary. Not the largest or brightest, but focusing is easy.
this is a good point. I actually find it easier to focus with my SV (fresnel with micro prism center) for just the reason you described about the 'snap into focus'. I wish Pentax made a focusing screen like that of the SV for the MX.
07-20-2009, 07:10 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
ME Super / MX

stop down metering is a pain in the ass imo
Thank you.

I figure it cant be any less convenient than using a handheld meter. I use an incident one when I am out with my rolleiflex. So if I really dont like stop-down metering, I can just use the incident meter anyway.
07-20-2009, 07:10 AM   #8
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Don't rule out a nice condition Spot F and then you won't need an adapter.
Actually, the K1000 is also a good option and some have used the ZX-M as a dedicated m42 body since the adapter replaces the plastic so to speak.

QuoteOriginally posted by séamuis Quote
this is a good point. I actually find it easier to focus with my SV (fresnel with micro prism center) for just the reason you described about the 'snap into focus'. I wish Pentax made a focusing screen like that of the SV for the MX.
I like the SV as well as the H3. The late SV doesn't have mirror clearance issues with the Super Tak 50mm f1.4 either.


Last edited by Blue; 07-20-2009 at 07:16 AM.
07-20-2009, 07:14 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by séamuis Quote
the MX or the ME super. the MX may be too small for your hands (you could get the winder, to remedy that). the MX has the largest viewfinder of any Pentax film camera (minus the LX, for which you said you cannot afford) and one of the largest for any Pentax camera, period. most people say that the viewfinder of the ME Super is the brightest, but I have not noticed any difference between it and the MX. some people will suggest a K series body due to size but the only K series that has a viewfinder with equal coverage compared to the MX is the K2 but it only gives 0.88% magnification as oppossed to the MX's 0.97% and the cost of a K2 can be a bit high due to its place at the top of the K series hill and the fact that its not as common as the other K series cameras. plus the K series is very closely related to the last of the spotmatics (F ES, ESII) so the brightness of the viewfinder may or may not be as bright as the later M series. a plus for the MX (if you can find them cheap, or at all) is interchangeable focusing screens. the ME Super will likely be the cheapest and easiest to find (you may have to factor in the price of a CLA)

Pentax Camera Bodies

if you are only going to be using Takumars on this camera it would be better (and certainly cheaper to just buy one K mount adapter and leave it mounted to the body as opposed to buying an adapter for each lens. especially since you have to unscrew the lens to get the adapter off anyway. (unless you remove the locking clip, for which I do not recommend)

hard to say really. depends on the individual. when you use a Takumar lens on a K mount body you set the lens' A/M switch to 'M' and just adjust the aperture. the meter will respond to the changing light due to the aperture opening/closing. I don't really find it any slower than using a manual K mount lens on a manual K mount body. the only downside is that the loss of open-aperture metering can be a distraction if you are using a small aperture (because of course the viewfinder will get increasingly dimmer as you stop down) of course in the process you gain automatic DOF preview (for which the MX has anyway)
Smaller sounds nicer. I am used to using a bessa R which isnt particularly large.

I'll shy away from the K series then, given the reasons you've stated and go for the M series.

That link is very useful. Lots of good info there.

Good call - I will just get one adapter, from Pentax directly.

Thanks for describing stop down metering for me. It doesnt really sound bad at all. I generally shoot at or near wide open anyway so thats fine.
07-20-2009, 07:16 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
you may want to look at a ricoh XR-2s.

It is an automatic camera witl full manual, layout and controls are like a KX or K2DMD but it has a diagonal split image. Very nice for MF.

ALso, M42 lenses in Aperture priority work very well, since the metering sees the light exactly as it is.
Not at all familiar with that model. Will google it after work.

Thank you.
07-20-2009, 07:25 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
The Fujica ST801 is reputed to have a bright, useable viewfinder, and is a screw mount body which makes using screw lenses a bit easier.
Not familiar with this camera either. More googling awaits me.

QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
With viewfinders in general, there often is a design compromise between brightness, size, and clarity. By clarity I mean: does the image snap into focus with authority. I just read an old Keppler article from '77, where he discusses just this. The lens measuring dweeb at Modern ventured an opinion: over time, Nikons will produce sharper photos than OM gear. So Keppler tested this - shot the same slides with the two cameras (FE and OM2), using pairs of 28, 50, and 100/105 lenses. Verdict: Nobody at Modern was able to reliably identify Zuiko vs Nikkor; the one man who did did so because Nikkors were consistenly warmer than Zuikos.

So, Keppler wondered, what caused this dweeb's impression? (I use dweeb affectionately!)

The OM viewfinder is large and bright - and was advertized as such. The Nikon's is smaller and darker... but has greater contrast and snap to the focus. Therefore, Keppler theorizes, using the Nikon gear gives the impression of sharper photography!

The above story reflects my experience - the FE does focus easy.... and amongst Pentaxes, the KX viewfinder I find exemplary. Not the largest or brightest, but focusing is easy.
Cool story.

As to viewfinder differences, I believe that has to do with how the glass is ground. "Grippier" glass will snap into focus quicker, but is not as bright. My factory rolleiflex screen snapped into focus faster than my superbright maxwell replacement screen. But, the maxwell screen is usable in dim light whereas I couldnt see anything with the factory screen. For my needs, I would rather have a slightly brighter viewfinder than a contrastier and snappier one.

QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
ps. I use a Program Plus with Takumars fairly often. The combo works for me with simplified operation: I leave the camera on 'program' which translates to 'aperture priority'. I leave the lens in 'm' mode, and stop down manually - the camera takes care of shutter speed automatically, and I can simply stop down till I get to a speed I want. The metering works much better with the Program Plus than with the digitals, and I find focusing easy as well.
How does the program plus meter handle snowy situations, or scenes with strong backlighting? Exposure compensation dial? I prefer all manual so I can make those adjustments myself - I have never used an exposure compensation dial.
07-20-2009, 07:28 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
Don't rule out a nice condition Spot F and then you won't need an adapter.
Actually, the K1000 is also a good option and some have used the ZX-M as a dedicated m42 body since the adapter replaces the plastic so to speak.
Is the spot F's viewfinder improved over the earlier spotmatics?

QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
I like the SV as well as the H3. The late SV doesn't have mirror clearance issues with the Super Tak 50mm f1.4 either.
Uh oh. Do any of the above mentioned bodies have mirror clearance issues with the 50/1.4?
07-20-2009, 07:32 AM   #13
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QuoteQuote:
How does the program plus meter handle snowy situations, or scenes with strong backlighting? Exposure compensation dial? I prefer all manual so I can make those adjustments myself - I have never used an exposure compensation dial.
yes. I believe all of the M and A series have an exposure compensation dial. the only exception to this is the MX which is completely mechanical.

Uh oh. Do any of the above mentioned bodies have mirror clearance issues with the 50/1.4?

No. the early SV was the last (and one of if not the the only m42 bodie with mirror clearance issues with this lens) but its of no worry anyway. the SV is a pre-spotmatic body with no built in lightmeter.
07-20-2009, 07:36 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by david.elliott Quote
How does the program plus meter handle snowy situations, or scenes with strong backlighting? Exposure compensation dial? I prefer all manual so I can make those adjustments myself - I have never used an exposure compensation dial.
Excellent point - the auto cameras are convenient, no doubt about it, but I find as a result of the automation I tend to check my brain at the door. I don't use compensation as much as I ought to; and just as often forget to then un-compensate

I've taken to shooting outdoors without a meter at all, it's not that difficult to do. A built in meter gives me a crutch that then I find I need. However, the beauty of manual metering is you get to pick what you meter and you don't have to meter all the time.

Manual metering + screw mount in a K camera is a pain however - when shooting at f/8 or f/11 for example, the procedure of opening up to focus and then counting clicks or taking the eye outside to see the aperture just doesn't flow that well. And if you don't end up at the aperture you set your exposure for... yes, if the meter is on, you can watch the needle. I suppose I sort of forget to do that. With the automatic, that little awkwardness is eliminated.
07-20-2009, 07:52 AM   #15
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If you want to use Takumars on a film camera with full manual settings and a nice big bright viewfinder, forget the K-mount bodies and grab yourself an SV. I'll gladly join the list of folks recommending it.
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