Follow Up: First Pentax 645 Roll Developed. We are a go.

This is a follow up to my earlier post about the recently acquired Pentax 645. I was confident that I would be happy with the results since by all appearances the 645 behaved as a well put together camera should.

Some notes and I will post the photos:

  • With 35mm there is always the risk of light leaks (like I had fixed on my gifted Minolta X-700 and kind of like with my more recently gifted Pentax SF10), but such issues seem less likely on cameras with sturdy film back structures. That theory held true here.
  • Shutter speeds, aperture actuations, modes, and such work as indicated by ear during use.
  • One roll is hardly scientific, but I believe the shots are coming in a little overexposed when using Portra 400. 14 0f 15 anyway. One (statue shot) was actually underexposed, but I may have accidentally metered off of the windows reflecting the sun behind it. Easily dealt with a lightroom slider either way. I usually shoot the ISO on the box with Portra so I will shoot another roll with more varying conditions remembering to pay close attention to where the center of the frame lands.

 

  • The 75mm is one impressive little lens.
    • As I stated before when I unpacked the lens I thought it was a 35mm lens.
    • Very sharp from what I can tel so far.
    • Smooth, easy focus action.
    • Superficial, but I really like that Pentax kept the aesthetic design aligned across mounts. The family resemblance to the K mount 50mm f/1.7 is obvious. I like the fact that the 645 mount 150mm f/3.5 also resembles the K mount 135mm f/2.5 even down to the integrated lens hoods on both.
  • The side tripod mount worked very well with my Black Rapid strap.
  • Great size performance combo for a medium format film camera.
  • Image quality must be impacted compared to the 6X6 and 6X7 due to the smaller image size of 6X4.5, but after one roll it was not as noticable as I thought it would be.
  • Also of note is that 15 of 15 exposures first time out really speaks to the usability and consistency of the Pentax 645. You literally cannot ask for more than a 100% hit rate. Just a joy to use.

 

Added a tele lens for the 645.

 

Enough rambling here are the pics below and I will keep an updated gallery 0n flickr. The Pentax 645 is definitely a keeper.

-ELW

 

Budget 3 Constant Light Kit Taught Me A Lot.

Artificial light is the last frontier for me. Having been taught about the exposure triangle (ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed) as a child by my father natural light has long been my friend. TTL is ok, but I never warmed to it. It was only used when there was not enough natural light. My preference. More aperture! Problem? Fine for artsy fartsy sliver thin depth of field shots, but I ultimately wanted more. A graduation shoot I did earlier this year confirmed that it was time. It went well, but I knew with a grasp on lighting and the proper tools it would have been better. To the youtube! Watched video after video. Yeah, still not getting it. To the internets! Better, but still not fully getting it. Improve photography was where I landed and their tutorial was great. I highly recommend it. They even provided an excellent on ramp shopping list, but I need to do to learn. I could have started with their recommended $140 kit, but… Continue reading “Budget 3 Constant Light Kit Taught Me A Lot.”

This Old Camera: Pentax ME Super or the start

That is indeed three Pentax ME Super. There is another in the form of my father’s original that packed it in last year when my parents visited Grand Canyon. Up front is is the one I bought for my Dad, then the one I picked up for myself and another I bought for parts. In addition to nostalgia it is the it is also the SLR that prompted me to buy my first Digital ILS Camera a few years ago after taking it for a spin.  After buying my father a Pentax K20D to replace his Pentax ME Super left me with an ME Super sized hole I filled it recently. Then my father had a glint in his eye when he saw mine so I surprised him with his own. Enough rambling. Instead of using an era proper lens I chose the Mitakon 85mm f/2.0 because look at the thing on this camera!

 

Who cares what the pictures look like. Priorities off I agree, but there it is. The full roll can be seen here with some samples below.

 

This Old Camera: Pentax SF10

I like good surprises. And I received one last week. While in SE Camera Carrboro I found out that the store manager, Chris, had set aside a camera for me to see because he thought I would be interested. And he was right. You Chris is a sort of Photographer Whisperer it would seem. He made the same call regarding Matthew and a camera strap and he was on the money that time as well as he gravitated towards it the moment he saw it. In my case I have a built in warm spot for Pentax since my Dad had one he bought new and first taught me how to shoot on as a child. As you will see by another post I have in queue I will always keep an ME Super around as I have bought 3 in the last week alone. More on that later. In addition Chris was also instrumental in my recent purchase of a Pentax K-1. Add to that a strange draw to Pentax medium format film and digital cameras that he was not aware of and it paints a picture of a sucker for any Pentax. Mind you I am ultimately brand agnostic and either own or have owned countless brands.  Task at hand and all that. Too late to make a long story short so allow me to present the recently gifted Pentax SF10:

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A piece of K Mount AF, AE, auto advance, pop up flash with a cheeky hidden hotshoe on the right soldier. It is goofy and I love it. As Pentaxes are ridiculously lens compatible first order of business was tearing the 100mm WR macro off of the K-1 I had on my shoulder and immediately placing it on the SF10. Insert battery, find pop up flash release (cackle like lunatic), load with film and fire off shots before I can even get out of the shop. May be their master plan because they can rest assured I will be spending the street price for the body in film development in short order. Even has multi shot advance, but why i would want to burn through 24-36 exposures in a moment is beyond me. Looks better with the era correct Pentax SMC-A 50mm f/1.7 on it.  Some notes and samples from the first roll through below.

  • Light leak. I do not care. It was a free camera so let’s call this character. May get it looked at, but oddly I miss the light leaks my Minolta X-700 had before a high quality servicing and new back by Alex at SE Camera.
  • AF on this camera is excellent. That is all.
  • Exposure is what it is. There is no tampering with ISO or exposure level other than an exposure lock button on the back oddly labeled ‘ML’ (makes more sense on this level of camera than it meaning mirror lockup as I first thought). Fortunately it is spot on from what I can tell so far.
  • Exposure ring on lens works well just like my K-1. In fact all lenses work from my oldest to newest. Quite funny to see a Tamron 70-200m f/2.8 on this thing.
  • While I never heard of this camera before last week I would definitely buy one at the going rate after seeing the first roll.
  • Speaking of the first roll here is a link to the full roll and here are some samples…

Cheap lens thrills. Shiny at that. Mitakon 85mm f/2.0

This lens makes no sense.

Before I start I must mention that like some other items on my photo gear odyssey this lens is in a rare bought twice grouping. With most gear I trade or sell and move on without so much as a second thought. Not this one though, and a video from Lee Haze is partly to blame…

But I digress.

This lens makes no sense. Why? Glad you asked.

Affordability and Aesthetics:

In all honesty I first bought this lens back when I had a K-3ii because 1) It is shiny and 2) It costs under $150 for a K mount. That is all I needed and anything above this was gravy. To that point up until recently I had 2 pictures of this lens on flickr, but none taken with the lens. Sure it looks fine in black, but it makes no sense that a silver lens version this good looking sells for around $150. I traded that lens with the Pentax K-3ii and it remained at the store until this week. After thinking about it I stopped by Southeastern Camera Carrboro and gave it a spin on my newest Pentax. Fortunately Chris gave me the “Hey, this guy keeps selling and buying his gear here.” discount. Available for Sony A, Pentax K, Nikon F, and Canon EF mounts from a few places, but Amazon is the only place where I saw the siver version. Here is one of the first shots I took in the shop and also the moment I knew I would be rescuing this lens for the K-1.

 

Build, Usability and Ergonomics:

The lens itself is built like a tank. All metal with etched and painted numbers and machined grooves on the aperture and focus rings. The packaging and the hood are to be set aside as soon as possible and are the only indicators of cost cutting which is fine with me. For usability this is one of the best manual focus lenses I have ever used on full frame. Less so on APS-C (K-3ii) as I recall accurate focusing through the viewfinder being a bit of a chore even with Pentax’s handy center focus confirmation. This is also why I had 2 photos of the lens and none with the lens until I got the K-1. But with full frame (K-1) focusing through the viewfinder only by sight is a breeze and this lens has been on the camera nearly 24/7 since I picked it up again. This may be owing to the lens’ native full frame focus circle, but the difference between crop/no crop was noticed right away. Ergonomics are great. I keep coming back to this, but this is a lens that feels much more precious than its price point suggests. The focus movement is very smooth and the throw is long, but that is not a ding as this aids in accurate focusing. Also this lens is small and light for an 85mm lens. If you did not know any better you would think it was a 50mm lens at most.

Photo Quality:

Again, this is another area where this lens performs well above its price point. That the lens looks good is a given, but the photos themselves shine in the areas of sharpness, subject isolation, and color. Take this simple shot of a car while I was sitting in traffic.

Simple photo. It actually reminds me of the results I got from using another Mitakon lens, the “Dark Knight” Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 that I used with another full frame gem, the Sony A7.

On the one hand that is not surprising because they are made by the same company. But that lens had an astounding f/0.95 aperture, was considerably larger, and considerably more expensive. (No shiny, silver option though.) Even at $899.99 the Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 was reasonably priced compared to other lenses with those specs. Granted the 85mm discussed here has a much more modest aperture at f/2.0, but I think the focal length offsets this advantage a bit. First for photos of people an 85mm lens is more desirable than a 50mm as it has less distortion. Secondly isolation lost due to the more modest aperture is also offset some by the longer focal length. Plus f/2.0 is nothing to sneeze at. 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses are my favorite all around portrait lenses and this offers a bit more light than that in a considerably more compact package. Add to this a price of $150 or less and it is a no-brainer.

I knew I did not ‘need’ an 85mm portrait lens, but I wanted one. The issue was that while the Sigma (has AF, a larger aperture and stellar reviews but I could not justufy the outlay personally given what else I had in my bag) and Samyang (larger aperture and only $100 more, but because silver shiny) options are priced right I could not justify buying them, or the very nice Pentax 77mm f/1.8 Limited (had the silver shiny option, larger aperture and AF, but price again) since I had a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 and a Pentax 100mm f/2.8  WR macro in my bag already… But I still wanted an 85mm. And this lens was a wonderful way to satisfy that want.

Here is a flickr gallery of photos from this lens that i will be updating periodically.

-ELW

 

 

 

This Old Lens: Vivitar 17-28mm: Vintage love, but there are rules…

I did not want to pay a lot for a wide angle lens. I like them a lot, but I do not use them enough to justify a great outlay. The newly released constant aperture factory option zoom was off the table. Worth it? Yes. Willing to pay that much? No. Next up the Rokinon 14mm manual focus wide angle. I have no issues with manual focus, the price was right, but I am a sucker for vintage glass so after a google fit I found the film era Vivitar 17-28mm zoom. Done. Received the lens and it is quite the looker.

 

But as I have found in the past with a Vivitar film lens on digital (A7) there are some rules. Here are the rules for this Vivitar:

  • Find what your infinity is. Like the 19mm Vivitar I used before infinity was not infinity. After some quick testing I found that infinity on this lens was between 7 and 10 feet.
  • That is about it.

Now some thoughts and some sample shots below and here is a gallery I plan to add photos to here.

  • Locating infinity handles far away focusing. Up close works well with the viewfinder, but Live View with tilt screen offers high and low perspectives, electronic level, focus peaking, and zoom framing and focus aids.
  • Like many wide angle lenses this lens exhibits barrel distortion and vignetting. Both easily dealt with in Lightroom.
  • It only cost $120 on ebay.
  • Vintage lenses looks cool.
  • That is about it.

I really like this lens. More specifically the results. Here are some sample shots.