So I found an old Asahi Pentax SP1000 (Film!) SLR lying around at work. My thoughts:

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Dubious Drewski, Mar 3, 2008.

  1. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    It was beat to bits, and it has been lying in a repair cupboard at work for forever. Two main things really came to mind when goofing around with it.

    1. Lens Quality

    Why the hell is it impossible to find quality-built lenses like the vintage Asahi 50mm Prime that was on this beat-up old camera? If you haven't held a vintage Asahi (Or any old lens) and turned its focus rings, try to make it a personal goal before you die. Seriously!

    I work in the camera department at London Drugs and I get to play around with all sorts of equipment. Sigma lenses, Leica, Zeiss, VR, etc - I get to try them all out.

    None of these modern lenses, not even the fancy Zeiss and Leica lenses are as well-built as these old Asahi lenses are. You turn the control rings on one of these and it feels like precision-melted-butter-over-smooth-silk. You won't understand what I mean until you try it yourself.

    I was trying out a brand new Carl Zeiss 16-80 on the Sony Alpha 700 today - and the focus ring felt so loose! It really made it hard to manually focus with any precision. And even on this very coveted, famous, precision lens, turning the rings felt like plastic against plastic - not terrible, but not even close to comparable to the vintage lenses.

    2. Focusing screens

    They are beyond incredible! This delapitaded old SLR had one installed(of course) and focusing just on its own was fun as hell. If you have never shot with one, I can't really describe it to you effectively, but this focussing screen essentially created a half-tone depth-map of whatever you saw through the lens - the more off-focus an object was, the more dotted it became(This doesn't show up in the photo, of course). It made it super easy to focus and really fascinating to watch as you turned the ring.


    I already ordered a split-focussing screen for my K10D a while back, but it's taking forever to arrive. I was glad I was able to try one out already. What's your guys' opinion on all of this?
     
  2. Peanuts

    Peanuts TPF Noob!

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    I completely agree with all of the above comments.

    I started using a 1960-70 (not certain on the exact date) Pentax Asahi (I'd have to look at the exact model) but there is truly nothing more satisfactory then hearing that shutter click. Sadly the shutter on mine is giving in and has created an exposure gradient on all of the images and is likely not fixable :(

    Edited to say: Welcome to the forum and how is windy city?
     
  3. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I feel the same about my old Nikkor MF glass. Precision machined metal instead of composite. Buttery smooth focus ring, and exceptional handling. Some things from the good old days are just the best. If I could just have a digital version of an F3, I'd be in photographer's heaven.
     
  4. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    Well as for modern SLR bodies, I don't have as much to complain about. The shutter click/mirror flip sound is still here in modern cameras. And as for the tactile feel, I in fact I prefer the ruggedness and ergonomics of my K10's body over this SP1000 I held today by far. It's really just the lenses that are lacking. Oddly enough.

    The roof of a local Rec center was blown off completely last month(The whole roof!). The greyhound bus depot here in town just had all of its western-facing siding ripped off. Last year, on the WestSide, a truck's rear window was blown right in.

    How's the windy City, you ask? Well, no confirmed deaths yet, I suppose! (I'm completely serious. Chinooks are badass)
    But it doesn't have to be this way. If anything, with advancing technology, it should have become easier and cheaper to create lenses with such sturdy precision. I don't get why there's been a deevolution. (With lenses only. I'm very impressed by modern SLR bodies)
     
  5. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    Speaking of wind! I'm sitting in the loft of a four story house right now - and a rain gutter downspout-thing just came off of my house! I can see it out my window, leaning out to the street. Glad I'm not the Landlord.

    I was gonna go do some shooting today, but I might have to go handheld. I wouldn't trust any of my tripods in this.
     
  6. Socrates

    Socrates TPF Noob!

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    Get a gallon-sized plastic milk container and fill it with water. Then, tie it to the underside of the tripod. Works like a charm.
     
  7. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    Yeah I do this from time to time. Even so, you don't understand just how windy it is today.

    Anyway, I went out for a burrito a couple of hours ago, and I looked in the mailbox to see my focussing screen has arrived! Finally! So I went and I ate that scrumptious burrito and went to a local Pharmacy to pick up little latex finger gloves and plastic tweezers. It was a bit embarrasing because the cashier didn't know off-hand if they carried them, so she had to ask the manager "If we carried those latex suppository applicators" - while I was standing right there, with a dumb grin.

    I get home and pop my K10 open and carefully, slowly and with great caution, I swap out the screens. It was a bit hair-raising, but I got it - and now I can brag to anyone who'll care that I'm "Shooting with a modified K10D".

    It's really fun and easy to focus now. Though there is a bit of darkening in the center circle when I put one of my mediocre, f/3.5-f.5.6 lenses on - it's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. But now, shooting with my Asahi 50mm went from plain heavenly to unfathomably orgasmic.

    Woo what fun! Why oh why is the weather so awful today?

    EDIT: Oh and I also upgraded my firmware from 1.0 to 1.3 just five minutes ago. It's like I'm shooting with a whole new camera!
     
  8. Socrates

    Socrates TPF Noob!

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    LOL!
     
  9. Sandspur

    Sandspur TPF Noob!

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    They're on my collection shelf now ...

    My first Asahi Pentax SV (no built in meter) with a 50mm 1.4 (purchased in a PX in Viet Nam, March 1968 - $98)

    ... and one of the three Spotmatics I've owned, with a 55mm 1.8.

    And you're right, Dubious! Those lenses are still smooth and faultless. And definitely the sharpest lenses I have ever or will ever own.

    And, yeah, I take them off the shelf now and then just to turn that barrel and click that shutter.
     
  10. Socrates

    Socrates TPF Noob!

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    Do you have the "Honeywell Pentax" Spotmatic? (Honeywell was the importer.) That was my second SLR. I bought it with the 50mm f/1.4 lens in 1964. I still have it and I shoot a 12-shot roll every year or so just to confirm that it still works.
     
  11. Yahoozy

    Yahoozy TPF Noob!

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    hahah you get all the luck with cameras dude =P
     
  12. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    thumbs up to you guys from a fellow screwmount collector

    http://www.silveredemulsions.com/Equipment/Pentax/index.html

    Yes, OP is right... the quality and craftsmanship is first rate on older lenses which include the Asahi/Takumar/Pentax stuff. Even the my Asahiflex has that feel of quality even though it was considered a Japanese toy in its time.
     

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