On a budget II

Super old stuff on your super new camera

 Here’s another top tip, to help you get the most out of your money. So, last time I talked about getting yourself a used mirrorles camera. Now I’m going to talk about the biggest expenses you’ll be making as a photographer, lenses that is. Yes, lenses are expensive as hell. Those little pieces of glass cost the same as an old car. So here’s how to get great image quality for the price of a tank of gas.

Old manual lenses are very cheap, very, very ridiculously cheap. You can pick them up for like ten bucks. So that’s amazing value. Because these lenses are often great performers, with IQ rivalling expensive lenses nowadays. I’ve been using old pentax lenses for a while now, and I can definitely advise anyone to look into these little guys. Old pentax camera’s were often sold with a pair of standard lenses, the SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 and the 28mm f/2.8. I’ve been using both these lenses for a while and I can tell you, they are worth a hell of a lot more than what I paid for them. I bought these lenses with an old Pentax Super ME camera body for twenty bucks. I also got an old Philips C38 flash with that.

 Now these lenses are fully manual, so you’ll have to use both the focusing and the aperture ring on these guys. I found that to be absolutely lovely, it’s like using an old SLR again, except the pictures are instantly ready. It will take some getting used to for some people, especially the ones who grew up in an age of autofocus and advanced light metering systems. But if you wrap your head around that slower process of picture making, you might just end up loving it. Here are some appropriately retro pictures I’ve made using instagram:

 SMC-M28mm with Philips 38CT

And here a a few sample shots:

Using the 28mm

Using the 50mm 1.7

Using the 50mm 1.7

Using the 28mm

And here are a few things to consider:


-Excellent image quality

-Very affordable for everyone

-Awesome looking vintage gear

-Low profile street equipment

-Slow you down, so you might just end up with a higher keeper rate

-Relatively fast manual focusing using focus peaking

-You can use this method on any mirrorless interchangeable lens camera system


-No AF or automatic functions (I find this to be a good thing, but it’ll take some getting used to

-Some old lenses might require some servicing, so look out for good copies:

  • Fungus might be a problem
  • Sometimes you’ll find specs of dust inside old lenses
  • Check for smooth action on the focusing and aperture rings

 Same goes for the old flashes, there’s no automatic TTL metering, you’ll have to set everything up manually. But the great photographers of the past managed just fine with these means, so we should be able to manage as well.


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Filed under Articles, Photographs, photography

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