Using Old Film Lenses with the K5

Figure 1:  Three old film camera lenses – a Tokina is mounted.

Who shoots green mode anyway?  Sure, using old film lenses limits the number of modes you can use on the K5.  For the lenses shown, only Av (Aperture priority) and M (Manual) modes are available.  But Av is about as automatic as I want in most cases.  I like to have the diaphragm and the ISO completely under my control.

Amazingly lightweight, compact lenses can be found among the kitchen utensils and the old oil cans on the table at the garage sale.  The three lenses shown in figure 1 were purchased (as a lot) for less than $50.   What kind of photographic accessory can you buy for than kind of money?

I like the Tokina the best – it’s become a favorite for a couple reasons.  Its compact size and light weight sometimes fool me into believing my K5 is a snap ‘n shoot camera.  Since it’s from the 80’s, I have some confidence it’s not Thorium glass.  And – its skin tone rendering is out of this world.

There’s always a price to pay for going the less traveled path – you may have to hack thru the vines, and swish away the spider webs if you take those kinds of routes.   In the case of the old Tokina zoom, its minimum focus distance is pretty large (5-6 feet).  Its focus ring has a long throw – so finding the perfect point with it can be a fiddle.

But, without the heavy weight on the end of the stick, cantilevering my already shaky hands into motorboat rhythms, I can manage to take pretty good shots even without any kind of stabilization in the old lens.  Of course the K5’s in-body helps here too.

Almost as fun as using the old lens, shopping for them among old watering cans is a pleasure too.   The yard carnies sometimes don’t know what they’re selling – and in fact the lenses are often broken. The reason that none of the previous dozen weekend scavengers hadn’t purchased those old lenses on the table sometimes is a mystery that hasn’t been sleuthed by the seller.

Pointing out the fact that the lens is obviously defective may induce a special deal, and sometimes the fix is easy.  For instance, a floppy aperture lever may simply be a broken spring – and sometimes that is easily repaired with parts from a ball point pen.

Stiff focus or aperture rings may just be old grease – also an easy fix in some cases.

Sure, I have some prime glass that put an ouchy on my wallet.  But, I seem to have more fun with the older stuff.  I think it’s the challenge of doing something with nothing.

Ricoh Imaging Co owns the Pentax K5 and other tradenames.  This author and site has no affiliation with them.  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.

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