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Forum: General Photography 09-03-2017, 11:06 AM  
What stop nd filter?
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 9
Views: 619
I have the Haida 10 stop filter and like it very much for its utility. I've used it on bright, sunny days and it certainly allows for long exposure necessary to blur moving clouds (of course that all depends on how fast the clouds are moving and your focal length). Keep in mind that if you add a polarizer to the mix you have to slow down for another 1.5-2 stops of lost light. On my K-5ii there weren't any noticeable hits to image quality apart from a subtle color shift in the white balance.

I might also mention I've used the same filter on my IR-converted K200D, which as I recall uses a CCD sensor instead of CMOS. Such long exposures yields a lot of hot pixels in areas of low detail (open sky, gradations, etc.). They can be filtered with a mild dust/scratches filter in Photoshop, but it's something to be expected during post production.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 07-12-2017, 12:32 AM  
Is it really just a Helios 44M or something else?
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 12
Views: 1,032
Thank you all for the kind insight.

Almost immediately after posting this did I find a forum post on another site about this very racket (which is odd because literally nothing came up before using the same Google keywords). Somebody posted an image of the packaging and pointed out a misspelling of "thred" (rather than "thread") which I totally missed. Forehead slap. Not that a misspelling is completely implausible on an otherwise perfectly fine item, but in my experience that's usually the case with generic photo accessories sourced out of China.

I also found what appeared to be a YouTube video (in Russian, no less) that appears to comment on the less than likely validity of the so-called "Biotar-Krasnogorsk". Real-time, machine translated captioning can be entertaining, confusing, and enlightening all at the same time.

I've read plenty about how people like playing with the Helios-44 of any variety. I'm left wondering if anyone has an opinion on just which variation has the right sum of its parts. That is mount, handling, and design. In general, the M42 mount is clearly readily available and people seem to have high praise for the 44-3 and 44M models. The 3, however, seems to be let down by the bad design of its focus ring hitting the camera body before it can be properly mounted (requires machining or filing down to size). On the other hand, the 3 is multi-coated whereas the 44M is not except in rare instances. Both have 8 blades.

Then there's the 44K-4; convenience of the K-mount, multi-coated, but only 6 blades. Perhaps it's not a big deal, I know most people like to use these things wide open anyway. However, while I know an octagon isn't round, it's rounder than a hexagon, and I really find the six-sided bokeh balls of my Pentax 55mm 1.8 distracting. And by the way, I can't seem to find this anywhere: Do any of the 44s have half-click aperture settings or do they all employ full stops?

Sigh. You buy a Soviet car and it comes in 2 colors. You buy a Soviet lens and it comes in 1100 varieties.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 07-10-2017, 01:31 AM  
Is it really just a Helios 44M or something else?
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 12
Views: 1,032
While not even looking for a Helios-44 lens of any pedigree I stumbled on this strange creature at It seems to me that this is just some kind of re-dressed Helios 44M, but a few things don't make sense.

It's a 58mm f/2 Biotar copy. It has the same A/M switch as the 44M. It's got the 8 blades of earlier 44s. What's odd is that they claim it's multi-coated, and that's easy to say but not easy to prove. I know MC versions of the 44M are out there but are rare. I'm not sure one can simply look at the reflections (or lack thereof?) and know, but some of you have a very keen eye and plenty of knowledge. There isn't an MC listed on the vanity ring here. Helios 44M-7s get faked all the time with repainted vanity rings, but I can't imagine one would bother to create new packaging as seen in this case. There's also that red T, as if there's an effort to liken the lens to the CZJ Biotar 58mm. Plus - no serial numbers, so there isn't even a hint as to when these were manufactured.

Is this simply a matter of rebadging the lens for export? I can't find any reference to anyone using this lens with these markings. I'm thoroughly confused.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 06-01-2017, 11:11 PM  
M 35 2.0 vs. DA 35 2.4?
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 32
Views: 1,931
I can't directly compare the M and DA lenses as I never owned the M 35mm 2.0, however I do own the DA 35mm 2.4. The DA lens certainly earns its reputation as a "plastic fantastic". Shot wide open it is more than reasonably sharp, has only moderate vignetting, and well controlled chromatic aberrations. Bojidar Dimitrov's Pentax K-mount site has some design stats for many Pentax lenses and I've long held the suspicion the DA 35mm 2.4 is a slightly altered FA 35mm 2.0 AL, the latter being much pricier bought used versus a new DA. That may be totally wrong or maybe common knowledge, I'd be happy to be enlightened, but I digress...

The DA lens is probably only let down by its plastic construction and dentist drill auto focus (but then again, it does have auto focus, unlike the manual M lens, which you might want). It would be nice if they gave the DA curved aperture blades. Bokeh balls become hexagonal to one degree or another when the lens is stopped down, but then again so does the M.

The M 35mm 2.0 would certainly have the fantastic construction of the M lenses I have owned. I honestly don't think any other brand has ever gotten a focus ring as perfectly damped as Pentax when it comes to the K/M/A lenses. If you're expecting to be photographing as stealthily as possible and using manual focus (even if the lens has AF) then M lenses will probably serve you best. If you're rough on your equipment the M 35mm 2.0 will work very well. For all its good points, the DA lens' manual focus ring is rather lifeless.

Finally, in this day and age the half stop of light you lose with the newer lens is pretty much negated by improvements in sensor technology when using higher ISO settings. It looks like the M lens might actually be the more expensive of the two based on the forum user reviews. I don't know how common or rare the M 35mm 2.0 is, but I expect owners really like the lens and won't let go unless it's worth their while!
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 04-20-2017, 12:02 AM  
Main differences SMC Pentax M 50mm F1.7 and SMC Tak 55mm F1.8
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 19
Views: 1,326
I have the later K-mount SMC version of the 55mm 1.8 with an adapter for my Samsung NX30. The Sony cameras have a good focus peaking mechanism, so your setup should work much the same as mine. Both the 50mm and 55mm have nice, smooth focusing action. Handling-wise either lens are about as good as it gets when it comes to manual focus.

Although I never owned both at the same time and thus never compared the two directly, I did have a 50mm 1.7 which I liked very much. My impression of the M 50mm 1.7 is that it had a more contemporary rendering of scenes compared to the 55mm 1.8. The longer lens at maximum aperture has a different bokeh characteristic. It's not the extreme swirl some people go crazy for with the Russian Helios 44 58mm lenses, but it's got a certain something that's hard to quantify. It's got... personality.

My M 50mm 1.7 had good sharpness shot wide open, but the 55mm 1.8 was also sharp with better micro contrast.

$35 for the 55mm 1.8 is a pretty good price, especially if you already have a M42 adapter for your Sony. I paid about double that for the K-mount version, which is still not bad considering the convenience of being able to also use the lens on my K-3 II. I think either lens would serve you well, it's just a matter of committing to using the darn things and enjoying photography!
Forum: Sold Items 02-24-2017, 08:34 AM  
For Sale - Sold: Pentax K-5ii with battery grip, extra battery (REDUCED)
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 7
Views: 1,319
I'm sorry to say international shipping seems to be prohibitively expensive.[COLOR="Silver"]
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 02-22-2017, 11:04 PM  
I wish this would be the next Pentax
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 20
Views: 1,656
Every time I see the MZ-S I think it came to us in a time machine from the future.
Forum: Sold Items 02-20-2017, 10:56 PM  
For Sale - Sold: Pentax K-5ii with battery grip, extra battery (REDUCED)
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 7
Views: 1,319
I think we can work something out. Check your PMs.
Forum: Sold Items 02-20-2017, 12:35 PM  
For Sale - Sold: Pentax K-5ii with battery grip, extra battery (REDUCED)
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 7
Views: 1,319
Another price drop.

Body with grip and new battery are now $475. Again, shutter count is exactly and only 2400...
L-bracket is now $80.

Next stop is evilBay.
Forum: Sold Items 02-13-2017, 10:36 PM  
For Sale - Sold: Pentax K-5ii with battery grip, extra battery (REDUCED)
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 7
Views: 1,319
Valentine's Day bump and price reduction. Body and grip are now $500.
Forum: Winners' Showcase 02-08-2017, 01:32 PM  
January, 2017 Runner-up: Day is Done
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 22
Views: 1,236
Nominated - love the use of elements in the scene for framing.
Forum: Sold Items 02-06-2017, 04:04 PM  
For Sale - Sold: Pentax K-5ii with battery grip, extra battery (REDUCED)
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 7
Views: 1,319 Marketplace Listing

Item for Sale
Pentax K-5ii with battery grip, extra battery, Mestos PD-K5HL l-bracket

Asking Price
475.00 USD

Item Location
Mount Joy, PA (United States)

Item Description
$525 $500 $475:Pentax K-5ii camera with D-BG4 Battery Grip with boxes and original contents, plus NEW extra battery (i.e. you will have the original battery plus the new spare battery)
$80: Mestos PD-K5HL l-bracket anti-twist plate for use with the camera and grip. SOLD

This is a clean, excellent condition camera body and battery grip. The shutter count is a mere 2400 actuations. The camera comes with all original accessories in its original box. That includes the original battery, charger, and strap. The velvet flocking on the strap shows wear but the strap is very clean - no tears or rips in the material whatsoever. The camera and grip are very clean. The only real signs of handling are the slight dulling on the textured surfaces of the grip areas. The screens are free of scratches and blemishes - anything you see in the photo is just a reflection. Also included is a NEW spare battery in its original package. The only thing of note about the camera is the molding of the battery release button inside its compartment is cosmetically rough - it came directly from Pentax like this and not from misuse or wear and tear. Doesn't affect function in the slightest. This K-5ii was a replacement from Pentax for a K-5 with AF issues they couldn't solve. The K-5ii worked so perfectly I had no reason to complain about some roughened plastic that hides inside the camera.

The battery grip is genuine Pentax and in excellent condition. The battery grip has two tray options - one for the D-LI90 batteries and one for standard AA batteries.

I'm asking a flat $20 for shipping for the camera and grip. To the best of my knowledge ground shipping is legally required for anything including li-ion batteries.

Are you the original owner of the item being sold?

Are you selling or trading this item?

Item Condition (Key)

Shipping Destinations
Continental U.S. Only

Shipping Charge

Shipping Services
UPS Ground

Accepted Payment Types

Return Policy & Additional Details
I will accept returns within 7 days of receipt only if the item arrives not as described.

Please send me a private message if interested in the item!
Forum: Sold Items 01-11-2017, 12:35 AM  
Wanted - Acquired: Mestos PD-K3HL for K-3ii with grip
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 0
Views: 187
I'm hoping an individual is out there with a Mestos PD-K3HL l-bracket that needs a new home. Mestos has gone out of business and their plates and brackets are hard to find. I'm casting my net pretty wide - I've even sent a message to what's left of Mestos' blog to see if there's any hope of getting these brackets (if they are available I will update everyone on the Forum). I just sent the message so I don't know what the chances are the stock is still available. For now I'm just testing the waters.

I'll entertain reasonable prices for used equipment. Naturally, I'm not looking to be gouged. I'm not buying another Pentax body until I can account for the l-bracket question. Since I have one of Mestos' l-brackets for the K-5 (ii, iis, K-7) with grip I will certainly be paying karma back by finding a new home for that gear once it's no longer necessary.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 01-09-2017, 11:51 PM  
HD DA 20-40mm Lens Cap Tip/Advice for those who experience it falling off
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 4
Views: 626
The grooves in the spring-loaded tabs that push out against the filter threads are probably making better contact against the lens. I've found it necessary to do this on a couple lenses where it's been obvious the cap, for whatever reason, simply doesn't want to go right up against the end of the lens.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 12-30-2016, 11:12 PM  
Longer and sharper lens than DA-L 50-200...?
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 225
Views: 9,823
Just my two USD cents (0.03 CAD), the 55-300mm is a big leap over the 50-200mm in resolving power. does a pretty good job of measuring the raw numbers for the two lenses and the difference is clear. The DA* is a big leap cost-wise, but also in terms of quality. Knowing myself, in a similar situation I might buy the cheaper lens and be satisfied, yet still wonder forever and a day if I would have reached nirvana with the pricier lens. I have the 55-300mm and I like it. Do I wish I had the DA* 60-250mm? Sure. I just couldn't mortgage anything to buy it!
Forum: Troubleshooting and Beginner Help 12-30-2016, 10:58 PM  
Filters that will allow lens hood to be used on Pentax 55-300 lens?
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 11
Views: 834
I seem to recall some older B+W polarizers having a larger than usual frame diameter relative to the size of the diameter listed for the threads. I think it may have been to avoid vignetting and not having to bother with a lower profile frame (i.e. thinner). So, basically what jatrax said; Pentax can't completely rule out a filter manufacturer's choice to make an atypical design, therefore the manual says to be aware of the filters in your collection.

I think this applies mostly to older filters. Every filter I've ever owned was more or less flush with my lens barrels to within a fraction of a fraction of a millimeter. I have the DA L version of the 55-300mm (same as DA but with plastic mount and no hood included, although I ended up buying the official hood). To go with it I have a Hoya HD C-PL - nothing so luxurious as a Heliopan or B+W, but also a step up from zero-frills generic filters, and it works beautifully with the hood installed.
Forum: Monthly Photo Contests 11-02-2016, 07:54 PM  
Morning Glory Lakes
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 29
Views: 1,144
Nominated. Surprisingly one of the few sepia toned images in the entire batch, and it's a nice touch. Also doesn't have the usual over-the-top contrast many mono shooters rely on for drama. I would like to see some extra attention to dodging and burning to bring out the detail in the foreground rocks and the central tree with the lighter bristles.
Forum: Film Processing, Scanning, and Darkroom 10-21-2015, 10:30 PM  
B/W Developing
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 54
Views: 3,511
For most emulsions I generally stuck with the box instructions for the films' native ISOs. When it came to push processing however, I was typically modifying the processing time. The reason for this was because I was obsessing about contrast the curves I was reading from Kodak and Ilford technical information. Long story short, I was convinced the recommended times didn't jive with the contrast indexes for each extra stop indicated in the various literature. It's all a convoluted story, and the summary is that for pushing films I found my self adding time to the processing. It didn't help that I was also reading a lot of Ansel Adams' work related to the zone system. It's great stuff, but it's also the kind of thing that can ultimately distract the photographer from actually making images! Kind of like lens buying addiction.

It's safe to say I used plain old D-76 for 75% of my developing, and almost always diluted it 1 part developer with 1 part water. This was for two reasons: First, technical data frequently mentioned the improved shadow detail and (in some cases) a slight improvement in sharpness. I tend to think the sharpness issue was actually a byproduct of the slightly grainier image from a longer process time. I'm inclined to confirm the shadow detail improvement and have no strong opinion regarding sharpness. The second reason for diluting was to stretch the developer stock and my budget!

Kodak Xtol was fantastic - as I recall it required slightly shorter processing times than D-76 and produced sharper images with better shadow detail. Again, I usually diluted it 1:1. However, for some reason the developer powder would sometimes clump when I was making stock solution. To this day I have no idea why, as I was very particular about the mixing procedure. Eventually I couldn't get the stuff locally, so I counted it as a blessing that I was done with the aggravation of losing an entire batch of chemicals (however infrequent).

The one "secret formula" I ever came up with for myself was using Kodak T-max with their HIE high speed infrared film. When I first started experimenting with the Kodak infrared they did not include instructions for the T-max developer. T-max at regular strength had very short processing times with many films. The IR instructions cautioned the user to give the film at least X amount of time in the chemicals or else risk uneven image development (I think it was at least five minutes). I did some math and compared the average development times of various films with standard developers (D-76, Acufine, etc.) against the same films using dilute T-max, 1:7 instead of the usual 1:4. I determined what seemed to be an appropriate time for Kodak IR film in dilute T-max developer. It was years ago, but I think it was around 7.5 minutes at 68. After trying this with several rolls of IR, which is notoriously finicky for handling and processing (not to mention having near bullet-proof density on over-exposed negatives) I figured I had a winning combination. The negatives seemed very easy to use compared with prior results.

Now, there's really no way to determine just how successful I was with my IR film/T-max experiment. I had no instrument for measuring density. I couldn't afford to compare rolls of film that were only different based on 30 seconds of extra time in the developer. The best "secret" for every photographer is consistency.

Choose a film and a developer and use it for a while. The two work together in a specific way. Given enough time, you will know what to expect from the combination. Most films will forgive you if you're off by a degree or two celcius with the developer temperature. That being said, if your temps read 75 don't say "meh" and just process the film like it's 68. Be mindful of your techniques. Use your film and developer with such regularity that you can go into the dark room and process the film without even needing to look at the instructions. That way you can concentrate more on making the image.

Of course, do plenty of experimentation. That's how you pick a winning combination. Heck, I once trying D-19 developer with a roll of film - the images had grain the size of golf balls and were soft soft soft, yet very high contrast. D-19, as developers go, is very old. Like before WWII old. Nevertheless, I'm sure someone out there has used it enough to know what kind of results to expect.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 04-11-2015, 11:58 PM  
Caspeco 250mm F4.5 (the lens that didn't die)
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 2
Views: 1,103
Kudos to you for having a try at cleaning the lens. It looks like your efforts were rewarded. Am I correct in guessing there is actually more to the body of the lens? I wasn't sure if the above shot was after stripping off the lens' coverings to get at the assembly screws.

It's funny how being frustrated with such a project suddenly turns around and starts going the way you wanted it. I had both a Vivitar fast-fifty and an enlarger lens that needed a good internal cleaning and both that extremely frustrating beauty rings that would not unscrew no matter how much pressure I applied with any tool. I put both down in disgust. Returning to them days later and both unscrewed with such little effort I thought I wasn't even making contact with the surface. Weird.
Forum: Pentax Film SLR Discussion 03-11-2015, 07:54 PM  
What AF film camera to buy? Pentax *ist?
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 32
Views: 2,780
IMHO, the *ist has some good points about it. I owned one and was very pleased with its compact size and weight. It was also the first SLR I ever owned with a battery grip as an available accessory, and since that experience I've resolved to always include the grip feature as a must-have for my own DSLRs. (Ok, it's not exactly make-or-break, but it's very high on the list.)

I'm not saying the *ist was especially great, although it was far and away better than my ZX-50 in every regard. Better build (still plastic, but the ZX-50 did break), much, much better metering, many more custom settings. My favorite custom setting was having the camera leave the film leader out upon rewinding. This meant I could use half a roll, then switch to a different speed film. When I wanted to finish the first roll I would put it back in the camera and fire off the necessary shots with a lens cap on and the lens stopped down to f/32 or whatever, plus a couple extra frames for safety. What can I say, I was reading Ansel Adams' "The Negative", which meant experimenting with different films.

Anyway, I don't think it's a perfect camera - as Adam says, it has a crippled mount, for example; there are certainly better bodies out there. But for a photographer who was getting by on a body that was beef jerky, the *ist was like moving up to a t-bone.
Forum: Pentax Forums Giveaways 12-13-2014, 08:35 PM  
3 Million Post Giveaway: Confirm your entry!
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 2,854
Views: 82,927
Oh my, this would be a nice Christmas gift in an otherwise sparse year. Thanks for the contest!
Forum: Winners' Showcase 12-02-2014, 10:56 PM  
November 2014, Winner: Gumdrops
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 35
Views: 2,891
Nominated! Really liking that rough sugar texture against the out-of-focus background.
Forum: Monthly Photo Contests 12-02-2014, 10:55 PM  
Yummy Gummies
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 15
Views: 1,093
Nominated. I like the color transition - in fact, try with more candy!
Forum: Troubleshooting and Beginner Help 11-07-2014, 10:39 PM  
K-Mount (??) won't fit..
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 12
Views: 988
In case you haven't seen this feature already, the Pentax Forum user reviews are very handy. Considering the vintage and range of your original purchase, you would probably do well to check out the Pentax-M 80-200 f4.5. There is also a Pentax-A 70-210 F4 (the A-contacts are very handy, making in-camera aperture control one less thing to fuss with on an old manual lens - that is, assuming you're using the lens on a DSLR).

You might consider posting in the Wanted section of the Marketplace or check out You can probably find cheaper 3rd-party lenses of the same range, but I usually start with the Pentax variety simply because I'm more likely to find reviews with user experience for those lenses. Also, while they may cost a bit more, I'd hazard a guess you can more reliably find a specific old Pentax lens if one really intrigues you.
Forum: Photographic Technique 10-14-2014, 01:06 PM  
Macro Best moderate priced macro lens for newbie
Posted By LowVoltage
Replies: 18
Views: 1,696
+1 for all the suggestions of the Tamron 90mm 2.8. It's well below your budget maximum and can be found for less during Tamron's rebate season. Also consider Sigma's 50mm 2.8 EX. I have both the Tamron and Sigma. Both are excellent at max aperture and either one could double as a fine portrait lens, depending on how much of the model you're trying to isolate. Considering how inexpensive they are, you really can't go wrong. The only criticism of the Sigma is that, while it does come with a hood, it can not be stored in reverse position on the lens. It's the screw-in variety, not bayonet. Not a big deal - I just store the two pieces in a padded lens pouch when traveling.
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