Tag Archives: pentax
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:
And here a a few sample shots:
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.
These shots were taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Using a Pentax K5 with the old SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/1.7 and 28mm f/2.8 standard lenses.
Micro four thirds
Not so long ago, I decided to sell my trusty old Pentax K5 camera and buy a Micro Four Thirds body. It took me some time to make that decision though, I did love that old thing. It was probably the best camera I’d ever owned. But it was a DSLR, which meant it was big and heavy (even though the K5 is one of the most compact DSLR’s out there it still weighs a bunch). Big and heavy also means you don’t take it with you nearly as much as you might want to. And when I finally had gotten around to taking it with me, it wasn’t all that easy to get the camera out of the bag in time to not miss the shot. Having a brick slung around your neck all day also felt a little cumbersome (hence the in-bag placement). And one of the most important things; DSLR’s tend to be slightly intimidating for subjects. Looking into a giant piece of glass that reflects their own startled faces doesn’t make a person all ready and nice for a candid street shot.
But times change, technology has matured, and the monopoly of DSLR’s in the world of quality image making has somewhat disappeared. Cameras like the Fuji X-pro 1, X100(s) and the Olympus OM-d have proven to be excellent machines for high quality shots. Sony’s development of the RX and NEX cameras also saved a lot of backs and necks from breaking to pieces under the awful weight of pounds and pounds of camera gear.
I myself went for one of the most stylish and compact options in the line-up; The Olympus OM-d EM 5. This little guy gives you a modernized version of a micro four thirds sensor that promises high quality images and also some proper ISO performance (unlike the old M4/3 sensors). One of the big advantages of this camera as opposed to the K5 is the very small body which retains a very good weather resistant build quality.
The Micro four thirds system also has another advantage; Loads and loads of lenses available. Unlike many other interchangeable system cameras such as the Nikon 1 and the Fuji X series, the micro four thirds system’s got some third party brands onboard like Sigma for instance. And the many available adapters will give you the opportunity to fit all sorts of other lenses.
I must say though, that this camera is probably not for everyone. If you’re the kind of person that expects nothing short full frame performance, this camera will not bring it. The small sensor competes happily with some APS-C size sensors out there, but definitely plays a different game in an entirely different ball park than any modern full frame sensor machine out there. But at ¼ the size of a professional DSLR body, you can’t really expect it to bring the same kind of performance. Rest assured, for its size this camera packs one hell of a punch and will do fine for any semi-pro/enthousiast photographer, once you get the hang of it.
But before recommending any type of equipment to any type of photographer, I’d like to quote one of the greater photographers known to us:
“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” – Ansel Adams
It is not the camera that composes your pictures, it is you, the photographer. And for me I have chosen a camera that doesn’t get in my way, while still delivering the quality I need for my photographs to have. And that’s something every photographer needs to ask themselves, what suites me best? And not, which camera has the best spec sheet?
I haven’t really gotten around to testing this thing out the way I should, but I’ll be in Newcastle upon Tyne this weekend. I’ll try and make soms nice shots for you all, look for them in a next post!
I Needed a proper self portrait for all my public profiles.
I used my Rikenon 50mm f/1.7 lens, which is great for portraits. Here’s the result
When you’ve been into photography a while, you probably noticed the price tags on proper quality lenses right? For instance; a canon 35mm f/1.4 L lens will cost you a little over 1200€ and other lenses can cost you several thousands more. Even the more affordable lenses will start at around 399€.
But what if you (like me) don’t have thousands to spend on lenses, but you do want to have a lens of high quality, that gives very little distortion and lets enough light in to make proper photo’s even indoors. Well for all of this there is one kind of lens that gets you everything you want whilst at the same time gets you more in touch with your inner photographer.
An old Prime Lens.
A prime lens is a lens that doesn’t zoom, and therefore automatically lowers the amount of distortion in your picture and increases the amount of light that comes in. So you can have a very lightweight lens that gives you super sharp high quality images.
Now I picked up an old Ricoh XR Rikenon 50mm f/1.7 Prime lens for my Pentax K5 for less than 30 bucks a while ago, it fits perfectly because Pentax hasn’t changed its mounting standards over time. And the quality of the pictures shot with this lens are actually higher than that of my €600,- ‘’All-in-one zoom’’ lens.
You will have to say goodbye to autofocus and auto mode on your camera though. Because old lenses like this ask for oldskool manual settings and focus. While some may be put off by this, I personally think it’s a great way to be more in touch with the photograph you’re composing. It gives you the time to really think about the subject and how you want it. It’s not just ‘’CLICK’’, ‘’Oh garbage!’’ and ‘’Delete’’, it makes you search for the right settings, the right focus point and the right time to take the shot.
A 50mm prime also makes you use your feet rather than a zoom ring to get to a composition you want, and the magical part about it all is that pictures taken at a focal length of 50mm just look right. That might be explained by the fact that your eyes also have a similar field of view, it makes it all a bit more natural perhaps.
All in all it makes you more conscious of what you’re doing, ending up with a picture that has a whole lot more thought and love put into it.
Bokeh is something that many photographers absolutely love if done right.
Bokeh is the blur of the out-of focus area in a picture. It is the effect that creates the contrast between the sharp foreground or subject and the blurry background. You can create a very strong Bokeh if you use a very large aperture, and because our prime is in fact a prime, it can have massive aperture sizes. The 50mm often comes in f/1.4, f/1.7 or f/2 maximum aperture. If you compare this to the average zoom lens which often has a max aperture size of f/3.5 you can let a whole lot more light in with the average prime*, and therefore create a much stronger Bokeh, which most photographers do appreciate a lot.
*(The maximum aperture can be confusing because the smaller the number, the bigger the aperture size. So f/1.7 is a whole lot bigger than f/22 and f/1.7 will let a lot more light in than f/22. Just remember a lower number means bigger aperture opening.All Apertures under f/2 are seen as large/fast aperture sizes.)
Get one yourself!
These kind of old (analogue) lenses can be bought for Pentax, Nikon, Olympus, Canon and even Sony cameras, sometimes you’ll have to pick up an adapter, but it will still come very, very cheaply.
So look around your local second hand shop, and you’re bound to find an old jewel lying around in some dusty corner, it may very well end up being the best couple of coins you’ve ever spend on your photography.