Photography On the Cheap

Figure 1: The K5 is shown with a Tokina lens from the 1980s.

I started shooting with a bridge camera about two years ago (the FujiFilm s8600).   This was an attempt to bootstrap a photography interest of mine that had started in the early eighties (with an Olympus OM-1) – but which never managed to progress past the level of a novice, and hasn’t to this day.  There was always something more important to do, other than to teach myself to use a camera.  Now retired, I am devoting a lot of time to the task of catching up with the post millennium photography world.

Being ordinarily a cheap person, I didn’t want to use a large outlay of cash to infuse life into the hobby.   So, I purchased some not-quite-the-latest technology that I thought could still hold its own, and some really old technology to complement it.  The K5-II (manufactured by Ricoh Imaging Company under its trade name Pentax) is 2013 technology that still holds its own, by my amateur’s reading of information on enthusiast’s forums, and by my own experience.  I quickly outgrew the capabilities of the s8600, and in retrospect would probably not repeat that trajectory into the hobby.  I think I would instead have hop-stepped to the DLSR (the K5, in my case) instead of the bridge camera.

The relative expense (and capability) progresses like so:

Point ‘n shoot -> Bridge -> DLSR -> Pro large format cameras

Hence, the term “bridge” is used to refer to the process of upgrading amateurs to the DSLR.  A used K5 DLSR camera body can be had for a few hundred bucks these days, which isn’t much more than what would be paid for a used bridge camera.  To that I’ve been adding $10 (yes – TEN dollar!) lenses.   The Tokina lens in figure 1 is from the eighties, and makes for some reasonably decent pictures.  It was originally designed to work with 35mm film cameras, but thanks to Pentax’s long history of backwards-compatible lens mounts, it still works today on the K5.

Figure 2: Another picture of the Tokina film camera lens, from the 80s.

The Tokina 75-150mm f/3.8 lens was a real *find* – for $10 at an antique store.  I’m not sure that 1980 stuff qualifies as “antique” – but I didn’t argue about the price.  The Tokina has a K “M” mount – which is still able to be used by the recent KA2 mount of the K5, albeit in only Av or Manual modes.  I usually shoot pictures in one of those modes anyway, so there was no downgrade of convenience for me.

Figure 3:  Another film camera lens, from 1979: Soligor

The Soligor lens I picked up for just a tiny bit more money than the Tokina, was made by Kobori in 1979.   Soligar never made their own lenses, but resold/rebranded lenses made by others.  The lens has no reference to Kobori on it, but it is known the serial number imparts this knowledge (if it starts with the digit “9”, then the mfg co was Kobori).   Soligor the company ceased to exist around the 2003 timeframe. The lens has a “K” mount just like the Tokina does, and it *had* a long aperture guard that protruded too far from the lens mounting plate to allow for the mating of the lens to the K5.  Apparently, film cameras of the day when it was made had sufficient space inside of the camera body to facilitate the guard.

Removing four screws releases the bottom plate of the lens, and then a hacksaw set up with a fine blade easily cuts about 1/8 inch from the top of the guard, allowing a half inch section to remain in the vicinity of the lever (see figure 4).

Figure 4: The aperture guard of the Soligor has been trimmed back.

In figure 4, the bright curved line on the top of the mounting plate is the metal exposed by the hacksaw cut.  I left intact a half inch length of the guard, in the vicinity of the lever.  I reduced the height of the other part of the guard by about 1/8 inch.  Why the manufacturer thought the guard needed to be so long is a mystery, since the lever’s travel is only about a half inch.  My guess is that common parts were used on lenses made for different camera manufacturers.  In figure 5 (below) is a first shot after successful connection of the Soligor lens to the K5:

Figure 5: Some random glassware, shot using Soligor’s “Macro” mode.

The Soligor lens shown in Figures 3-4 is the 35-70mm f/2.5-3.5 macro lens.  It is different from most other macro lenses in that it has a separate ring for macro control.  I typically put the outside ring of the lens (the main focusing ring) at the infinity focus position, the second ring from the outside at 50mm, the ring closest to the body (aperture control) at f/2.5, and then fine tune the focus by using the macro control ring (the third ring from the front of the lens).  The lens has four rings.  For some reason, this works pretty well for close up shots.  I sometimes twiddle the main focusing ring as a last step to fine-tune the focus even more.

One thing I should note about the lens disassembly.  The aperture lever ring of the lens slipped off when I removed the rear lens plate, and some ball bearings rolled out when that happened.  I must say that they were the tiniest ball bearings I’d ever seen, each one being approximately the size of a grain of salt.   Since there were (likely) several hundred of these tiny things still remaining the the lens, I decided not to try to replace the few that dislodged. The lever’s operation remains smooth, and – so far – this has had no negative effects AFAIK.

This points out a distinct advantage of using near-zero cost old film camera lens.  You can teach yourself something by taking them apart, and if you can’t get them back together, there’s little lost.  Of course it’s prudent to make sure that the lens, when reassembled, is without loose internal parts that could transfer to the camera body! I gave mine the shake test for the first half dozen times I used it, and so far, so good.

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The Tokina lenses shown were produced by Tokina Co., Ltd of Japan, and they still make lenses today.  This site has no affiliation with any of  the camera and lens companies mentioned on this page.  Tobori Manufacturing Company, LTD owns the tradenames of all its products.  This author and web site has no affiliation with Tobori.  Ricoh Imaging Co owns the Pentax and other tradenames.  This author and site has no affiliation with them.

 

 

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