Asahi Pentax  Cameras and Lenses

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This section of my site is devoted to Asahi Pentax cameras, lenses, books & manuals, online groups that discuss Pentax, and by no means least, images made with Pentax equipment.

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Side-by-Side Spotmatic Family Feature Comparison Table

Pentax Screw-mount (M42) to Canon EOS Lens Mount Adapter

List of Camera Mounts
Photography and Camera Ingenuity for Motorcycles
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Motorcycle Classifieds
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History | Move To Digital | Canon EOS 5D Mark II

My 35mm SLR Camera Ownership History

I am a longtime user of the Asahi (and Honeywell) Pentax Spotmatic-family of cameras.  I started my use of SLRs with the Hanimex Praktica Nova 1B.

Click to Enlarge - Templeton MA 1972 - Hanimex Praktica Nova 1B

When this proved to have limitations (external selenium meter of dubious accuracy), I followed the suggestion of a friend, who owned a RICOH 401-TLS,
to purchase a RICOH SINGLEX TLS.

Click to Enlarge - Templeton MA 1973 - RICOH Singlex TLS

This was driven by my limited budget and the suggestion that the camera would produce images as good as a Pentax Spotmatic, the camera that I really wanted.  To a great extent, it was true that the RICOH was a good camera but I soon started having problems with the meter switch, film advance lever.  And generally, once having held a Spotmatic, I just couldn't find a way to be happy with the clunky RICOH.

A friend had a Spotmatic that his brother brought home from his time in South-east Asia.  He schooled me in Takumars, the line of lenses with 49mm filters ("Buy all your lenses to use the same filter size."), and there was no arguing - this was a really sweet little device.  Here's a picture of him taking a picture of a frog (below).  I made this image using an extension tube on a Super Fish Eye Takumar 1:4.0/17mm lens.

Click to Enlarge - Rutland MA 1973 - Mark Geoffroy photographic frog

I selected the Spotmatic II camera for use in 1974 and have stuck with it as my primary 35mm film SLR since that time.  During a brief period when my Spotmatic II was stolen, I was fortunate to have a friend who sold me a large system but with mamiya/sekor DTL cameras.

mamiya/sekor DTL 1000 with 55mm f/1.8Click to Enlarge - Templeton MA 1975 - mamiya sekor

I have also used the Leica M3 as my primary rangefinder; the Hasselblad 500CM as my primary medium format camera, and a variety of 4x5 and 8x10 view cameras with Schneider lenses for large format work.

Providence RI 1975 - Leica M3


Click to Enlarge - Providence RI 1975 - Asahi Pentax SV

Of all these film cameras, the Pentax appeals to me for it's comprehensive selection of lenses, and the very convenient form factor of both the cameras and lenses.

Spotmatic with Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 55mm f/1.8 (non-standard lens) - Click to EnlargeSpotmatic II with Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 120mm f/2.8 - Click to Enlarge
Spotmatic II with Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 150mm f/4.0 - Click to Enlarge

My longtime commitment to the camera line extends into the large system of lenses that were made to support these cameras.  The lenses have a very high-quality build, have superb color consistency from lens to lens, have excellent resistance to flare, and handle with precision smoothness that epitomizes the peak of 35mm lens construction in the 1960's and 1970's.  There are few if any lenses made at any time in history that have the same buttery smoothness of handling, and obsessive consistency of detail, from one lens to another.  If one learns to use one of these lenses, they have learned to use them all.


History | Move To Digital | Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Move to Digital

While I was writing for Toy Collector, Toy Cars and Vehicles, and Toy Shop, I shifted from everyday use of my Spotmatic to using a digital camera to drastically reduce my time spent working with images. 

I used a Sony Mavica as my primary digital camera.  I chose this camera for it's image quality.  I sacrificed the ability to interchange lenses in favor of saving money, and because the lenses I have did not provide compatibility with digital SLRs at the time.

In November 2008 I purchased a used Mavica online to upgrade to a larger image resolution and because the viewing screen on mine had developed some lines across it that did not affect the pictures but made shooting a little difficult.

Over the next several months I got more involved with making images for the sake of photography and began to find the limitations of the Mavica.  The 3:1 zoom goes from moderate wide angle to short telephoto.  It's fine for point and shoot, but not for reaching out to distant objects, or for opening up tight spaces with a wide view.  The use of pocket CD's had it's advantages but handling them outdoors was problematic and offers limited storage of large images.  But really I missed the creative control that interchangeable lenses give.


Move to Digital SLR

Thinking I could revert to my film cameras and vast array of lenses, I started shooting film.  My trip to the Cranberry Wilderness with my friend Mike was one such outing.  Then, earlier this month I took the boys and our film cameras to Cooper's Rock, just up the street from our house.

Click to Enlarge - Cooper Rock - (SMCFT 1:4.0/17mm)

It was great to be using my lenses again, though I did get reminded about the need to limit what I bring and the notion of "traveling light".  What I also found in these two outings was that I had forgotten what working with film actually meant.  After the trip to the Cranberry Wilderness, I spent an entire weekend scanning negatives and getting the images adjusted for use on this web site.  The amount of time it took was untenable.  And there were other problems.  The exposure management of the film cameras was a little difficult.  There is no way to evaluate the success of a shot in the field so it is when the film comes back that one learns if the great image made in the field is really that great.  Quite a number of images I made were un-great...

Then there's the cost of film, processing, and the time it takes to get the film back.  To add insult to injury, the processing options are not very good, which has led me to less than satisfactory processing of my film.  The long story short, was I wasn't going to be able to achieve, with the time and services available, the quality of imagery that I had hoped, and the cost of shooting film was going to be a problem, both in terms of time and money.

That left me to reach the same conclusion I had made any number of times I thought of shooting with interchangeable lenses - I was going to have to get a digital SLR and find a way to attach my lenses.  I had already decided I would buy a Canon because there is a wide variety of successful lens mount adapters that make it possible to attach my lenses to a Canon digital SLR and achieve infinity focus.  The first camera they made that appeared to be an option was prohibitively expensive (~$8000) so I kept waiting.  The next one they came out with was more affordable but would be a budget crusher (~$2500), so I continued to wait.

Then I found I could adapt my lenses to the really nice Canon:

Pentax Screw-mount (M42) to Canon EOS Lens Mount Adapter

 

Canon

Read about my move to a digital SLR...

Canon EOS 5d Mark II with Battery Grip BG-E6

 

 

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