Simon Hawketts

This is a review of a Pentacon 200mm f/4 preset telephoto lens when used on a Sony Nex 6 APS-C mirrorless camera.

I’m not exactly sure of the history of this lens regarding when it would have been made. I would guess that it must be sometime around the start of the 1970’s because if it was before 1968 it would have had the maker named as Meyer-Optik Gorlitz since Meyer-Optik, the manufacturers, were taken over by the Pentacon company in 1968. If it had been much later it would not be a pre-set lens, it would have an auto diaphragm and an actuation pin in the mount. So I would guess between 1968 and 1973?

In design it’s a large heavy lens with a maximum aperture of f/4.0 and a minimum apature of f/22. There are an almost unbelievable 15 blades in the aperture which makes it just about perfectly round as it closes. Being a pre-set means that there are no other controls (such as auto/manual switches etc) apart from the aperture ring and the focus ring which makes it a very simple lens to use. On the Nex there is no need to use the Pre-set mechanism – I just set the pre-set stop at f/22 and adjust the aperture as required for the exposure.

It’s possible to pick up an example of this lens from between £15 to £50 on ebay in fully working order – I paid £25 for mine. Because they are simple there is little to go wrong with them, so as long as they haven’t been physically damaged and don’t have any fungus issues they should be ok. The unit I bought had a small amount of dust inside but I managed to clean most of that out with a blower pushed into he gap at the back of the lens when the focus is set to minimum distance.

There certainly seems to be a coating of some sort on the lens surface because the reflections have a purplish hue to them. I suspect that they are not multi coated however so the flare reduction may not be up to todays standards.

  • Focal length 200mm
  • Effective focal length on APS-C 300mm
  • Minimum Aperture f/4.0
  • Maximum Aperture f/22
  • Mount M42
  • Minimum focus 2.5 meters
  • Preset aperture
  • 15 blade aperture
  • Ser No 8552354

Use

In use this is a heavy lens to attach to a camera as small and light as the Nex 6. I have to support the lens barrel with one hand because I don’t like to put the whole weight of the lens onto the lens mount. Because the aperture has no click stops it’s also difficult to know which aperture you are shooting at although in many cases that isn’t a particularly important piece of information when the camera is giving you a live view of the picture.

I know that pre-set lenses were designed so that you can rapidly move from fully open to the pre-set aperture, but on the Nex that isn’t really the best way to work because you don’t tend to meter a shot and set the exposure. I found I was using shutter priority mode a lot and leaving the ISO on auto. That way I could adjust both the shutter speed with the camera thumb wheel and the aperture on the lens and let the camera set the ISO to suit. As long as I kept an eye on the ISO it was ok. For video the click-less aperture would probably be an advantage.

Other than the weight issues, the use couldn’t be simpler and achieving focus using focus peaking was simple but you have to be aware of the focal length and take all normal precautions against camera shake. Basically never set the shutter speed below about 1/250th and you are probably ok.

Pictures

This is a gallery of images I took in the last few days around Stevenage with this lens attached to my Nex 6 with an Nex to M42 adapter. I’m slightly disappointed with this lens all round. For some reason I expected it to be a brilliant performer but although it is respectable, it’s not a outright star. I suppose it could be my copy however – the biggest problem levelled at the East German manufacturing, like the Russian, was the inconsistency of the quality control.

http://wp.me/pZ9bl-1Ev This is a review of a Pentacon 200mm f/4 preset telephoto lens when used on a Sony Nex 6 APS-C mirrorless camera.

This is a short review of this vintage lenses which is another I inherited from my Dad who used to use it on a Zenith B camera in the 1970’s or 1980’s.

Description

It’s a 135mm M42 mount lens with an auto/manual switch and a f/2.8 to f/22 aperture range.

There is an in-built lens hood which slides over the front element when required, although on my copy this is so loose that it won’t keep in place if the lens is pointed upwards. The aperture has 6 blades and operates quite smoothly in half stop clicks apart from the final one-stop click from f/16 to f/22.

The focusing ring is also smooth in operation, and is nicely damped. It is certainly easier to turn than the takumar 135 f/3.5, which if anything I find a bit too stiff. According to the focusing scale, the closest focusing distance is about 5 feet, so this would not be a natural choice for macro unless you use an extension tube or close focus attachment lens.

My copy has quite a bit of internal dust and also some scuffs on the inside of the back element which I haven’t bothered to try to remove. Sometimes on old lenses there is a small gap at the back near the mount which you can use to force air in with a blower and clean the internal dust out, but this lens is completely solid round that area, and the gap between the lens body and the internal focusing section is too small to use. I haven’t taken the lens apart to try to clean it although these type of lenses are normally of simple design so that is a possibility sometime in the future if it becomes necessary.

Vivitar lenses were made by a variety of different manufacturers, and the serial number of mine (28809118) indicates that this lens was made by Komine (because of the 28 starting serial number). The 8 as a third digit suggests it was made in a year ending in 8 which was probably 1978, since I would guess that by 1988 there wouldn’t be many M42 lenses being made.

Although I inherited my copy from my Dad, it is possible to buy a copy of this lens reasonably easily. A quick search on ebay uk reveals a price ranging from £30 to £50 on a ‘buy it now’ deal. That sounds quite expensive to me – I would expect to probably pay about £25 to acquire one in an auction.

Bokeh

The pictures below show some concrete bears which sit in my garden at home, used as a portrait subject to show the level of background defocus with the lens set from f/2.8 to f/22

Macro

As I said above the close focus distance of 5 feet doesn’t make this a natural choice for macro photography, but the shots below were all taken using a small extension tube fitted to the camera. This  reduced the closest distance to about 2 feet and at least qualifies these pictures as close-up if not macro.

General Pictures

These are some general pictures taken with the lens in my Mum’s garden. I think they show a reasonable performance once the lens is stopped down to f/5.6 which puts this lens in the ‘certainly worth the money but not a super star’ class.

http://wp.me/pZ9bl-1pn This is a short review of this vintage lenses which is another I inherited from my Dad who used to use it on a Zenith B camera in the 1970’s or 1980’s.

This post is another in my series of posts describing a camera in my growing 35mm camera collection – this time a Minolta camera, the X-300.

This is a manual focus camera from the early 1990’s from one of the ‘big 5′ camera manufacturers of the time who were Pentax, Nikon, Minolta, Canon and Olympus. I would guess that it’s an entry level camera but it has some nice touches. In the pictures below it looks quite grubby, but this is mostly because the pictures emphasis the dirt – it’s actually not that bad when held in the hand, however I think I’ll give it a good clean!

The body of the camera is fairly lightweight and seems to be made of a silvered plastic rather than metal. It’s quite a minimalist design with only a main switch, iso selection dial and rewind lever on one side of the top plate and shutter release, film advance lever and shutter speed dial on the other side. I think that Minolta were very good at design. I found on my Minolta Dynax 5 that all the controls were easy to get to whilst the camera was at your eye and this camera is the same.

Exposure Modes

The camera has three exposure modes :

  • Aperture priority mode – This is entered by turning the shutter speed dial to ‘Auto’ and setting the aperture to the value you want.
  • Program mode – To go ‘fully auto’ the shutter speed dial is set to ‘Auto’ and the aperture is set to f/22 and then locked in place with a small lever on the lens
  • Manual mode – Set the shutter and aperture to the exposure you want and you are in manual mode

There is no exposure compensation dial but there is an exposure lock switch so it’s possible to use the ‘meter on the area you want, lock the exposure and re-compose’ trick instead.

The exposure information is displayed in the viewfinder as a list of the possible shutter speeds with an led illuminated next to the selected speed. When switched to manual mode these led’s change to show the metered value as a steady led and the set value as a flashing led. By adjusting the speed / aperture combination so the flashing led matched the solid one, you can set the exposure as close to the metered value as you want. The metering works over the range of 12 – 3200 in 1/3 stop steps, which covers every film I’ve ever seen, and is powered by two SR44 cells.

Other features

Other nice touches on this camera are the touch sensitive shutter button, which turns the exposure system on as soon as your finger makes contact with the button, and the electronic self timer which, like modern cameras, flashes to let you know it’s started it’s countdown.

  • 35mm film SLR
  • Minolta SR/MD bayonet mount
  • ISO range 12 to 3200
  • Fully automatic exposure mode
  • Aperture priority mode
  • Manual mode.
  • Touch activated exposure metering
  • AEL lock
  • Electronic self timer
  • Flash hot shoe and sync socket.
  • Split-image rangefinder style focusing aid and micro prism in the viewfinder
  • Power winder accessory available
  • Rapid film advance lever

Lens/Camera performance

The lens fitted to this camera is a Minolta 50mm f/1.7 multi-coated unit with a plastic Minolta SR/MD bayonet mount. Although it doesn’t look anything special I’ve used this lens on my Sony Nex 6 with an adapter and it’s a pretty solid performer. I’ve included the shots here as well in the gallery below.

Since the lens is a major part in determining the quality of a picture in 35mm photography (well all photography but with 35mm photography all cameras could have the same film loaded so the lens and exposure system really defined the camera) these pictures are a useful indication of how well the camera would perform.

 

 

http://wp.me/pZ9bl-1Df This post is another in my series of posts describing a camera in my growing 35mm camera collection - this time a Minolta camera, the X-300.

I said in a recent post that I remember taking some pictures around central London in the very early 1980’s and I’ve now found the slides and duplicated them. I can’t remember exactly when they were taken but I remember that Margaret Thatcher had only recently become Prime Minister so it must have been pretty early in the 1980’s. I moved from my home town of Fakenham in Norfolk to Harpenden in Hertfordshire in Oct 1978 and I remember that it was a little time after that that I ventured into London to take these pictures.

I specifically remember taking the photographs of 10 Downing St (not that I was a fan of Margaret Thatcher) because it is a contrast to today when you can’t enter Downing street as a member of the public. I think this was a different day to the day I took pictures in London Zoo but since it was about 35 years ago I can’t be certain.

These pictures aren’t particularly interesting from a photographic point of view (they were taken with an inexpensive camera by a very amateur photographer) but I find them immensely interesting from a historical point of view.

Central London pictures c1980 I said in a recent post that I remember taking some pictures around central London in the very early 1980’s and I’ve now found the slides and duplicated them.

This is a brief review of the Praktica B100 electronic 35mm SLR camera.

This camera was manufactured in East Germany in about 1981 by the Pentacon company and is an early example of a common modern phenomena – an all automatic camera. Well – sort of. The camera is fully automatic in it’s choice of shutter speed once the lens aperture has been set.

The lens mount is a Praktica PB bayonet mount which is similar in diameter to the Pentax K mount although the registration distance of the Praktica is a bit shorter. When I bought my camera it had a 28mm f/2.8 lens fitted and I also have a Pentacon 135mm f/2.8 and a Pentacon 50mm f/1.8 lens in PB mount, so if I ever decide to put a film through this camera I’ve got quite a nice little kit ready! I would guess that the lenses are of the same basic design as the equivalent Pentacon M42 mount lenses although I haven’t had need to take any apart so far so I can’t confirm that.

Although small, it’s quite a heavy camera to carry about, which possibly indicates that it’s is made of mostly metal components. The vertically operating shutter is certainly metal, and there is quite a heafty ‘clunk’ when an exposure is made. This was obviously not the camera to use for street photography or anything where you didn’t want to be noticed.

As I said above, the camera has a fully automatic shutter speed setting – it’s not possible to select the shutter speed yourself, other than by changing the aperture to shift it. I would imagine this camera was aimed at the beginner photographer who wanted a ‘point and shoot’ camera. While this is fine if you use the PB mount lenses, any Praktica owner with a collection of M42 lens would have also needed to purchase the M42 to PB lens adaptor if they bought this camera as an upgrade. I’m not sure how this combination would work however since the camera would not be able to read the aperture?

There is an exposure compensation dial fitted around the film rewind crank which allows up to 2 stops either side of the metered exposure value, and a small button next to the dial to keep it locked in place. I find it quite fiddly to push this button and adjust the compensation dial and I certainly couldn’t do it with the camera held to my eye. The metering is carried out ‘through the lens’ at full aperture and is powered by a PX28 battery fitted in the bottom of the camera. The lens has electronic contacts which allow the metering circuitry to read the aperture value set on the lens so all the composition, focusing and aperture selection is carried out with the brightest view possible and the aperture stopped down only at the moment of exposure.

The viewfinder is typical of all 35mm cameras – bigger and brighter than most modern APS-C cameras, but of course with very little of the information which is found in modern cameras either. There is a needle on the right hand side which shows the shutter speed selected, and the aperture which the lens is set to can be seen in a small window at the bottom of the viewfinder (this is an optical view rather than any electronic view, there is a little window in the prism housing allowing you to see the top of the lens). In the centre of the viewfinder is the normal micro prism ring around a 45 degree split rangefinder focusing aid.

A full run down of the spec is:

  • Praktica PB bayonet mount lens
  • Full electronic shutter selection
  • Flash hot shoe and sync socket
  • Vertical metal focal plane shutter
  • Open aperture metering
  • 45 degree split focusing aid
  • ISO range 3200 to 12 ASA
  • +/- 2 stops exposure compensation with lock
  • Self timer (broken on my example)
  • Motor drive contacts and drive thread fitted
  • Shutter lock button
  • Shutter button threaded for cable release
  • Film info slot fitted to film chamber door
  • Tripod bush
  • Ser No – 4651554
  • Lens Ser No – 1050486

http://wp.me/pZ9bl-1BA This is a brief review of the Praktica B100 electronic 35mm SLR camera. This camera was manufactured in East Germany in about 1981 by the Pentacon company and is an early example of a common modern phenomena - an all automatic camera.

I bought this lens as ‘for spares or repair’ from eBay a few days ago for £9 as a project to help develop my strip down and clean up skills! When I received it the aperture blades were completely stuck open so that no amount of trying to free it by turning the aperture ring or pressing the actuation pin would work so I pulled it apart and wrote this post as I repaired it. I apologise for the quality of the images – I took these with a compact camera as I did the strip down.

Turns out it is relatively easy to get it apart. I’ll describe the process here but please refer to the pictures above for greater clarity.

  1. Remove the aperture selection ring by unscrewing the lens nameplate on the front. It may be quite stiff but I found gripping the lens by the body and applying force with the fingers flat on the nameplate enabled me to get enough grip. There is a large spring under the aperture ring which you can also remove as the ring comes free. Note that the thread of this component is plastic so it can be easily cross threaded or worn by being fitted too many times. My advice would be to make sure you take it off once and only  fit it once the whole operation is complete.
  2. Turn the lens over and unscrew the ring round the outside of the lens. Again this will probably be stiff. Once this is off it reveals the workings of the aperture control.
  3. Remove the three small screws which hold the aperture control assembly onto the lens body. Two of these are located under the bar which moves the aperture but they can be undone with a small watchmakers screwdriver. Be careful because as the control assembly is removed it’s possible for a couple of small springs to fall out. If they don’t I recommend you find them in the lens body and remove them for safekeeping.
  4. Now the aperture compartment itself is revealed and can be opened by removing the three screws which hold it on. Lift it away to reveal the aperture blades. In my case the blades were covered in oil which was why they wouldn’t move. Note that in the disassembly pictures above the blades aren’t shown because I removed them for cleaning before I took the picture.
  5. In order to remove the oil from the aperture blades and assembly I dropped them all into a small glass with about 1/2 inch or Isopropyl Alcohol and swirled it all about for a minute or so and then put them through an ultrasonic bath for 3 minutes to give them a final wash. Once the wash finished I put all the items on a piece of tissue for a few minutes and let them air dry.
  6. At this stage I fitted the aperture assembly back on the lens body and held it in place with one of the screws so it didn’t move about as I reassembled the aperture blades.
  7. As with any aperture, re-assembly is an exercise in patience. The rules are
    • Don’t touch the blades with your fingers – it’s easy to damage them and you could transfer oil from your fingers to the blades
    • Add each blade with the small protruding pins sitting in the relevant holes in the aperture assembly. The pin at the end of the blade goes in the outer ring and the pin towards the right angle sits in the inner ring. The photo above shows this.
    • As you add each blade you fit it over the last one you fitted. When you get to the last two this becomes tricky because you have to also fit it under the first blade you fitted. It’s particularly fiddly with the last blade.
    • Moving the aperture pin with make the rings turn relative to each other and the blades will form the correct O shape, but be careful as a rapid movement will make the blades fly out.
    • Once they are all in place you can fit the top of the aperture assembly in place. Remove the screw you used in step 6 to hold the aperture assembly together and fit the top in place. You will need to slightly close the aperture so that the blades don’t get trapped
  8. In order for the focus helicoid to properly drive the back lens assembly the two small pegs in the camera body need to fit into the two slots in the back lens assembly. These two slots then have the small springs fitted inside them. At this point I must admit I didn’t find a way to get the two springs to stay in place whilst I reassembles the lens – this is something I’m still thinking of a method for and my lens was assembled without them
  9. To fit the bottom of the lens I found it best to hold it the right way up and drop the rest of the lens in it, making sure that the aperture will close down as the pin is pushed. Once this is working it’s easy to put the lens back on the bench upside down and screw the retaining screws in place.
  10. Finally, reassemble the front aperture control ring and makers name plate.

The missing screws didn’t seem to be a problem – there is a small amount of play in the lens focusing but not too bad. Once I work out a method of fitting the small springs I’ll amend this post.

Some sample pictures taken with a Domiplan are shown in this post

 

 

Stripping and cleaning a Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Domiplan 50mm f/2.8 M42 lens I bought this lens as ‘for spares or repair’ from eBay a few days ago for £9 as a project to help develop my strip down and clean up skills!

This is the third and final post in a series of pictures I took in about 1980 at London Zoo with a Petri MF-1 camera on kodachrome 64 film. I recently re-discovered them in my late Father’s office. The other posts in this series are Part 1 and Part 2. For more information about the processing involved please refer to the other posts in the series.

London Zoo – 35mm slides from 1980 (part 3) This is the third and final post in a series of pictures I took in about 1980 at London Zoo with a Petri MF-1 camera on kodachrome 64 film.

This is a follow up to the post of a couple of weeks ago with some more pictures taken c1980 with a Petri MF-1 camera. Having sorted through some more of my Dad’s old box of slides I found a further two sets of colour slide films which I took during a visit to London zoo. These were all duplicated with a slide duplicator rather than scanned and I think they are better as a result.

All of these were duplicated using a Ricanon 50mm f/2 lens fitted to my Sony Nex with the slide duplicator fitted to the filter thread of the lens. This seems to give better results than the Helios 44 I was originally using, and because the lens is slightly wider at 50mm makes it easier to position the image of the slide in the middle of the frame. I think that a very sunny day also helped as I was able to take most of these shots at f/8.

I think the colour rendition of these shots is really good and shows the sort of results possible with film. Being more familiar with digital has probably made me a bit forgetful of the fantastic results a correctly exposed 35mm film is capable of.

All of these shots had a little bit of clarity added in Lightroom and some general exposure tweaks, but no more than about 1/2 stop.

London Zoo – 35mm slides from 1980 (part 2) This is a follow up to the post of a couple of weeks ago with some more pictures taken c1980 with a Petri MF-1 camera.

I said a couple of weeks ago that I had discovered a whole load of colour slides in my late fathers office and that I am working through scanning them. In fact, I’ve discovered that I can get much better results by duplicating them using a slide duplicator I’ve bought and I’ve also discovered that not all the slides were ones that he took – some have been pictures my bother took when he was in the merchant navy, and some were pictures I took when I first left home and paid visits to London.

The last set of pictures I posted were from a trip to London Zoo. This set of images come from around London and were taken about 1980. I remember also taking some images in central London – specifically at 10 Downing street, so I will probably add them to this post once I’ve duplicated them. In the meantime, here are some snapshots taken around London with a Petri MF-1 on Kodachrome 64 and duplicated my re-photographing them on my Nex 6. They are not particularly good pictures, but they are of interest to me because I remember the day I took them and so they have sentimental value.

Views around London from 1980 I said a couple of weeks ago that I had discovered a whole load of colour slides in my late fathers office and that I am working through scanning them.