Day 84: Teaching an old camera some new tricks.

You may or may not recall, but the Olympus was not my only birthday gift from Buzz this year. I also got a new lens for my Pentax K1000. When I first bought the Pentax 20 years ago, I got a Takamura 28-80mm f3.5 zoom lens. I wanted the flexibility of the zoom lens because I really didn’t know what sort of photography I wanted to do. Also, not really knowing much about the equipment, I naturally assumed that larger was better.

This does not suggest that I’ve been unhappy with my Takamura lens. It has served me very well and it’s a good lens. It only means that I’ve learned a bit more about lenses since that purchase, and I know that bigger may be better for some things, but smaller can be better, too. I decided I wanted to breathe new life into the Pentax and set out to look for a new lens.

Funnily enough, I had actually located this exact one on KEH Camera a few weeks before my birthday, but Buzz talked me out of buying it. As it turns out, he had already purchased it for my gift. (Now if that isn’t destiny…!)

The new lens is an Asahi Pentax 50mm f1.7 prime lens. The fixed focal length means that I “zoom” with my feet instead of the lens, which is something I have to get used to when shooting without the zoom lens on that camera. This seems like it would be frustrating, but it is helpful because it takes one variable out of the equation and allows me to better concentrate on exposure settings and depth of field.

The f1.7 part is exciting to me. It’s the fastest lens I now own. This means more flexibility in low light situations, and better ability to isolate the focus on a single subject.

The first test roll was with Tri-X 400. This is when I realized another advantage to this lens: it is sharp.

Day 83 - House and riverYou should definitely click on the images to make them larger and check out the detail in these shots.

Day 83 - Tree and riverYes, she’s certainly a keeper.

And there’s more to that roll, y’know…(to be continued.)

6 comments on “Day 84: Teaching an old camera some new tricks.

  1. margaret21 says:

    Love the water in that second shot. But I’ve such a long way to go before I understand what you’re talking about in these technical blogs. One day…..

    • limr says:

      Hey, I’m just starting to understand it all, too. You’ll get to a point when you’re ready. One day, you’ll see something you want to take a picture of and you’ll have an image of it in your head. You take the camera out and take the picture and it doesn’t come out the way you want. Maybe you’re a bit stubborn and you keep trying, but it never comes out quite right. You get frustrated and think, “How the heck can I get this camera to do what I want?”

      That’s when you’re ready to get more technical. Then you take it just a little bit at a time and it won’t be so scary 🙂

      • margaret21 says:

        Thanks for the encouragement. Let’s see what happens. I’ve got a walking friend who’s got a similar camera to me and we try to help each other a bit. Makes it more fun and achievable.

      • limr says:

        It’s definitely more fun to be in cahoots with someone else. Buzz tends to be a lot more technical and that’s helped me be more consistent and knowledgeable, and I’ve helped him be more adventurous with his subjects and willingness to shoot things that don’t necessarily make “technical” sense. So you’ll help each other out 🙂

  2. John Pickles says:

    Great detail in the images. I have a Pentax SMC M 50/f1.7 (on a Pentax MX) and I have to agree with you about it being super sharp (try shooting some Tmax 100 and develop it in Rodinal for the ultimate in sharpness). Great lens. Unfortunately I won’t have it much longer – it’s on ebay hopefully to go towards funding the Contax G2 I just bought!

    • limr says:

      Thanks! After shooting with the Takamura zoom lens for so long, it was really startling to see how sharp the 50mm lens was. I actually don’t do my own developing (yet, anyway. I think this summer will finally be my chance to take a class) but I’m going to get some Tmax and give it a try. I know that Tri-X is fairly forgiving about exposure mistakes and the Tmax is not so much, but I enjoy the “trial by fire” challenge it’ll give me to improve my skills. I’ll file away the Rodinal tip for when I can do something about it 🙂

      Looking forward to seeing your pictures with the Contax!

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