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Sunday, 13 September 2020


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You're not a rangefinder guy, yet I allowed you to persuade me to try a GX8? The rattle I hear as I shake my head in dismay is nearly as loud as the K100d shutter..

[What, you don't like the GX8? But it's not a rangefinder anyway. Just a mirrorless digital with the viewfinder over to the left instead of in the middle. "Rangefinder style," they call it, right? --Mike]

The Pentax 35mm Limited Macro is one of the nicest, sharpest lenses I've ever seen! Worked great on the K-5 and K-3... Still does.

[True...I wrote a review of it, which you can see here:


...But it's not a 35mm-e lens, it's a 50mm-e lens.

BTW Carl also found it too long and wandered away from it after a while, like I did. --Mike]

The CLE remains my favorite rangefinder camera and the M Rokkor 40mm f/2 lens is just wonderful and still a killer deal. I find the 28/40/90mm lens selection just about perfect. If you mount a Voigtlander Color Skopar 28mm f/3.5 lens on the CLE you can easily slip it in your jacket pocket and it is light, compact, and fun to shoot.

Pentax seems to have had a lot of aps-c zooms that included the focal length you cite. Is your latent anti-zoom bias at work here?

[I don't think we need to get Freudian about it—in any system, a 35mm or 40mm (or equivalent) prime is the basic lens I need because it's the lens I like best. So if a system doesn't have one, it doesn't matter what else it has.

That's not a criticism of Pentax necessarily...just a matter of personal preference. --Mike]

I agree - the iPhone doesn't meet my criteria for a favourite camera, but it's more a case of form factor and usability, not image quality. (I have quite a few iPhone images in stock libraries that satisfied their QC process)

Agree 100% about the CLE, a wonderful little camera. I owned one for six months before it was stolen.

Sorry, but I cannot participate in the "Favorite Ten Camera" review. I got my first camera, an Ensign Full View, at the age of eight. I am now over eighty, but I have only had eight cameras in my life. Please advise on how to proceed.

You'd be happy with even medium to large iphone prints. I hope someone schools you on this.

Pentax K-P is a wonderful DSLR. Small but not too small, built like the proverbial tank. No creaks, no flex, dense feeling. Three adjustable grips. Tactile physical controls. Bright viewfinder. Water sealed. Damped shutter sound.

True, no 35-40mm equivalent lenses. But you can have a tiny 31mm AF equivalent, or a fast 46mm (the f/1.8 FA31). Or a line of small primes or the 20-40 zoom.

Point is, it's as close to a film-like era experience with all the good stuff- finely machined, metal lenses barreled lenses with built in hoods, character, with fast AF or split screen focusing (if you can get your hands on an old Katz Eye screen).

You should indeed try making prints from your Iphone. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the results. A couple of years ago I took a Fuji X-H1 (24 MP) with 16-55mm f/2.8, Sony A7Rii (42MP) with 24-105 f/4, and my Iphone SE (12MP) to my local botanical gardens. I was curious what ‘real world’ (not test charts) results I could get from each for my particular photographic interests. So, I framed each so as to match as closely as possible the scene, depth of field, exposure, etc. I minimally processed the RAWS (including from the Iphone) just enough to get similar looks. I then printed at 12x18. At that print size the two dedicated cameras were indistinguishable from one another—that includes nose up to the print. The Iphone wasn’t quite as good and was obviously inferior with nose to print. But, from comfortable viewing distance, the difference between the Iphone and the other cameras was barely noticeable. There was indeed a difference, but I’m confident that if not seen right next to the others, I would have been perfectly happy with the Iphone’s image.

I now use the Iphone 11 with the ultra wide and telephoto lenses. I rarely shoot RAW on it. The computational wizardry has just gotten so good, especially with respect to dynamic range. My only complaint is that I think it tends to over sharpen a bit, and there’s no way to turn it down, even when using third party apps. It hasn’t replaced my dedicated cameras—partly because I simply enjoy looking through a viewfinder. But I also don’t hesitate to use the Iphone and make prints when I don’t have another camera with me.

If I had to pick my *favorite* camera ever, the one that I most purely enjoyed, it would be a Pentax Spotmatic that I bought in an Army PX in 1967. At the same time, I bought the then-accepted "kit" of lenses, a 35, 50 and 135. I really had no knowledge of photography technique at the time, although I did take an Army photography course, which was a good start. With the Spotmatic's simple metering system and a little experience, you could use the meter as a standard and then deviate from it and get pretty good exposure on almost anything. It was a very good combination of the manual and the automatic, and a perfect learning camera. Of course, I ditched it as soon as I could for the more prestigious Nikkormat and then an F2, 3, 4, & 5 and so on. (Like about a billion other guys, I went to Nikon because of the movie Blow-Up, which suggested that you could take photos of naked girl models if only you owned a Nikon F.) And when I think of it, with all the capabilities of those later cameras, I don't think my photos got particularly better and I never did take photos of naked models. I still have Army photos I look at from time to time, and my first newspaper job, at a small paper in Missouri with no full-time photographer, the Spotmatic probably paid for itself ten times over at $5 a shot that the paper paid me.

"I do appreciate my iPhone camera and take pictures with it all the time, but it's not quite there from a technical standpoint."

Mike, with all due respect, you're behind the times with respect to smartphone cameras.

You should try the camera on the iPhone 11 Pro some time...the camera on it is truly amazing. Moreover, it renders absolutely gorgeous B&W photos, too. Is it "there" from a technical standpoint? Absolutely.

Times change...

For reasons of circumstance, the camera I first learned with was a Leica CL, close cousin, as I understand it, of the Minolta CLE. It was a loaner, which I gave back after a year or so, when I bought my first Nikon FM, but I loved that camera--its simplicity and size--and the pictures I made with it. From time to time, I look at CLs and CLEs in eBay, but have never bid on one. but I'm sure my experience with and nostalgia for that camera is part of the reason I have felt simpatico with the Fuji X-100.

The only Pentax I own or would own is the 6x7. Modelled after the Exakta 66 (Pentacon 6) which I also own, are each what the 35 mm cameras want to be. I stuck with Nikon 35s like the FE2, F3, F100 and wanted Leica, but nothing is as inspiring as looking at properly scanned 120 film, and they are as easy to use as the old 35 mm. I still have my Dad's Voigtlander Vito III which is a beautiful camera in its own right.

The CLE was a splendid little camera. Are any still functional? The folks who responded above did not specify if their units work.

In contrast, Spotmatics were uber reliable. My wife still has her 1971 Spotmatic and it's amazing 55mm Super-Takumar lens (complete with its thorium glass).

One day Mike, Pentax will make you your goldilocks (D)slr with a lens to match :) The new DFA21 Limited mounted on an APSC model might work ;)

Mike, I know what you mean about the Pentax lenses. I've been making a practise recently of setting my Pentax standard zoom to 18, 23 (actually just to one side of the 24 mark) and 50, the maximum focal length. Sometime I make a mental note to crop to the angle of view of a 60mm.

But I would still like a nice compact 18mm prime,(f/2.8 would do) and I've been known to go out with a manual focus 24mm and a flash on a lead so I can run and gun, zone focusing at f/5.6.

The Pentax 21mm is nice, but it's too short/too long for me and the 15mm is only f/4. A used Pentax 24mm f/2 would be nice, but it's not very compact!

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