I certainly am – and confess to being a tad addicted.
It all started a couple of years ago when with some curiosity I wanted to see how the 40mm prime lens that came with my Pentax ME would fair on my digital Canon EOS 450D.
By the way – I have never traded in or sold any of my old cameras, I simply couldn’t, they are like good ol’ faithful friends to me; each one holds a bag of special memories captured in the past – starting from the year dot when I was 8 and given an Agfa Box camera from Dad. It probably still works and maybe one day I’ll load it up with a roll of 120 film and give it a try just for fun.
From there, a Ricof Instamatic (lost) a Pentax Instamatic (sadly no longer works), progressing onto an SLR, a Pentax ME with three lenses, a 40mm and 200mm prime lens and a 70 – 300 zoom lens. Some years on I moved into the Digital world with the Canon EOS 450D and recently upgrading to a 70D.
Back to my curiosity – the 40mm Pentax lens
Now having to work out how to fit the lens and get the Asahi SMC Pentax-M 2.8 40mm prime to work on my Canon, I researched the internet and learnt I would have to buy a lens adaptor (obviously) which then led me down the Rabbit Hole of lens types and fittings – (I will go into detail about this later) – which steered me off down another Rabbit Hole – the intriguing/magical world of vintage prime lenses and what they can do and how faaaabulous they are.
Images from the 40mm Prime Lens (Click on each image for an improved view)
Now I was hooked.
My first adaptor purchased was from Fotodiox – (they are the best by the way so don’t go for the cheaper substitutes as you don’t want to damage your Digital camera’s lens socket) followed the video carefully showing how to fit it onto the lens and then attach it to the camera and off I went, pleased as a piggy in the hay and the sun was shining woo hoo!
I already knew I would have to manually set the lens as all the usual auto settings one has on the modern digital camera between camera and lens do not exist with using a vintage lens. So keeping in mind that adapted lenses will nearly always be limited to manual focus and manually calculating exposure, these lenses have forced me to take time to think about each image, which is artistically a great thing and a whole new re-learning process.
After lots of images being over and under exposed and blurred, I finally got it right and the joy when accomplished was indescribable – almost like discovering the magic of photography all over again.
I then tried with the SMC Pentax-M f4 200mm prime lens that came with the camera, I was initially quite disappointed with the poor results which I thought was due to the lens having internal mould from lack of proper care but recently having another crack at it indoors and on a tripod I was delighted to find the ‘old gal’ was not only as good as ever but absolutely tack sharp! So don’t ever disregard your old lenses as way past their sell-by-date – like us elderlies we still a lot of life in us.
Therefore my first purchase went towards a replacement, an older and supposedly superior version, the Asahi Super Multi Coated Takumar f4 200mm and I truly was not disappointed. It really is a lovely vintage lens, heavy but that’s due to the excellent build quality and the focus ring on this lens is a joy to use.
I am still experimenting with it. Distance is required to get into focus especially if singling out a solo flower for instance and a tripod definitely helps. Again, getting the exposure does present adjustments and thought but when I do, it is most rewarding. The bokeh is gorgeous as is the very shallow depth of field as seen in the three following images.
That was the start and, as I said, I was hooked. Through researching I found many blogs and videos on You Tube describing the range of Pentax Vintage Prime lenses , the best to buy, going into the quality of the glass found in these vintages for sharpness and colour integrity and how cheaply/inexpensively they could be found on eBay plus invaluable tips on how to spot glass and casing damage etc. Some were inexpensive but others have become very collectable causing their prices to climb fairly steadily since it has now become a popular trend along with the return to film photography.
Let me add here that without going into too much technical detail about each lens (you’ll find so much more information on the internet if you are interested and want to take it further) I will simply cover what I have purchased so far, my experience with each lens so far and add relating images.
The next lens I got excited about is the Super Takuma 28mm f3.5 , another wonderful vintage lens I chose to purchase as I was looking for one I could play with for travel, landscape and street photography. I think it might just become one of my favourites even though getting it right does need a lot of playing around with on the settings.
Super-Takumar f3.5 28mm Lens
After that, still searching for more (I know) I came across excellent reviews for the Super Multi Coated Takuma f1.8 85mm lens offering a fast portraiture lens with great sharpness and lovely bokeh. So I purchased it and love it. I have found it is a joy to use, the focus ring smooth to operate plus with a solid build quality. I haven’t had the opportunity to try portraiture with it yet and plan to do so in a studio-type set-up here at home.
So what about the “Nifty Fifty” you may well ask? I do have the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, a basic and inexpensive lens. It’s okay although seems to lack the tack-sharpness I look for (could be me though) but hey, I’m into Vintage here and simply had to have that one to complete my collection.
Very recently through kindness and good fortune, I was generously given an SMC Pentax-A f/1.7 50mm so without further ado I attached it to my Canon and went out and about to see how it fared. I have to admit to raising some suspicion to a homeowner who, looking out his window, saw me focusing closely into his hedge with the camera and I suppose thought this could be a ruse on my part to surreptitiously take images of his home for nefarious reasons. An explanation (wanting a close-up of a dying leaf in his hedge) and a winning smile soon relaxed him again enough to return back into his house on his pretended mobile call.
Shortly after that I happened to see an old film camera in the window of our local charity shop and as fast as a chicken onto a June bug, I was in there to take a closer look. A treasure found when I discovered the lens attached was another vintage, an Asahi Auto-Takuma f/1.8 55mm priced at only £15.00. Sold immediately to this crazy lady. Only when the weather lifted did I ventured out again finding some interesting subjects to shoot, quite different to my usual style. It was great fun and the shallow DoF seen through the lens delightful.
Generally my Pentax vintage collection comes with two different mount types – the M42 mounts and the later models are with a K mount and the great thing is Foto Diox produce adaptors to cover all lens to camera types.
Do I need all these lenses – probably not.
Do I like them – heck yes, I love them! them all. They just feel so good and solid and the settings operate so smoothly.
Have I used them all – Oh yes, with some fabulous results.
I hope you have enjoyed my “Entry-Level” trip into using vintage lenses and once I have gained more experience in using them with a far more interesting collection of images, I will follow up with another blog post to share with you.