View Full Version : K-R - Suited to M42 Lenses?

01-05-2011, 5:17pm
Due to some unplanned events in recent weeks, not only has my saving program for a K-R been interrupted, but I had to spend part of the money I'd been saving. So I now have a couple of months more to get back to near purchasing point.

But I've been tracking the progress on the K-R's focusing problems as well as I could, and I don't think Pentax has come up with a fix, yet. While photography under incandescent lighting, and very low lighting, probably aren't my usual customs anyway - I've been wondering how it might affect another aspect of photography that I certainly will be doing.

That is - using M42 and other Film-SLR era lenses with the body I do buy. Due to limited finances, using such has been my plan, and I already have a few - Takumar, Tamron, and a couple of K-mount Sigmas, 100-300mm and 28-80mm - not brilliant, but will fill-in while I'm getting a Takumar or K-series 300mm f/4, etc.

However, a couple of things I've read seem to suggest that the K-R type viewfinder is rather "dark" for the old SLR lenses, and can need a change to 'split-prism', whatever that does - sounds complicated and as if it'd void the Warranty (I'll be getting the Warranty with a couple of years extension, if I get a K-R.)

So instead - might another body actually be more suitable for my intended uses? My purposes are just hobby and learning to increase my so-far P&S only abilities. Video, HD or not, isn't needed (I already have a camera that does as much Std and Full HD video as I'm interested in doing.)

Might a low-actuations K20D be a good buy, and work better with the old lenses - I think the viewfinder setup is diferent from the K-X / K-R bodies...?

I've recently seen fairly low actuation K20Ds being sold by "good reputation" sellers on Pentax forum (one in Melbourne) - for under AUD$600.00.

Then I'm pulled back to "being sensible" by thinking of a new K-R having 3 years of Australian Warranty on it...

I suspect that a pro-level camera like a K20D wouldn't be low-cost to repair if anything did go wrong. But if it would be "very much better" with the old lenses, that might be worth it.

So - any thoughts from you much more experienced folk would be greatly appreciated - particularly those using Takumar or K and M series primes - which are in my plan for being able to obtain good-optics lenses affordably. As I'm not now as steady as I once was, much of my uses will be with tripod.


01-05-2011, 5:58pm
I'll address the FF issues first. So far Pentax have acknowledged the problem, but obviously due to the current situation in Japan, actual progress on a fix is going to be slower than some people may be able to handle. The only effect it will have on your AF system is low light stuff indoors, and even then some people seem to be unaffected.

The reason people switch to the split prism is that for whatever reason they have difficulty discerning focus, be it poor eyesight or lack of experience. I don't feel that the K-r viewfinder is especially dark and find it a non-issue. But if you have poor eyesight it may be of concern.

I'm of the firm belief that the K-r is one of if not the best entry level DSLRs on the market, at it's price point it's performance is on par many other more costly cameras. This means that older bodies such as the K20D just don't compete with the K-r in terms of ability. The K20D, whilst in it's day was a higher spec model, and now still has a couple of more surface type features over the K-r (2 dials, top lcd, pentaprism, TAv mode, battery grip, weather sealing), in every other aspect to compare them on the K-r is a better camera. The K-r wins hands down for me.

We've got a SMC-A 28 2.8 at the moment which is easy to use indoors and takes great photos to boot, as well as a SMC-A 50 1.7 which should arrive in the mail this week.

All that being said, if you want a Pentax to make use of the older lenses then the K-r is the way to go at that price point. And if you do have troubles with the viewfinder then there are several manufacturers offering split prisms which seem to keep most people over at the Pentax forums pretty happy.

01-05-2011, 7:05pm
K-r will work with old lenses!
The low light focus issue is being over rated, as are any issue with any brand.
I.e. say product X has a problem, 50% of forum posts will say they have the problem even when they don't actually own the product. :eek:

03-05-2011, 12:28pm
Crf529 and Kym - Thank you both for the replies.

As far as my eyesight goes - not too bad at present. I use mild prescription specs for reading, otherwise not. I use Canon SX10 and Fuji HS10 EVFs without glasses. Any proper DSLR viewfinder will be much better than either of those, so I shouldn't have any eyesight hassles at present.

From what you say, the K-R then should be okay with its standard viewfinder, for manual lenses. A lot of my shooting will be tripod - with my bridge-zooms I've found that I have problems holding steady after after a few seconds - so I've got into the habit for walk-around shots, of using Shutter Priority and keeping the shutter speed up. Otherwise, the camera, particularly the movement finicky HS10 - goes onto a tripod.

On Brand choice - it was always going to be Pentax because of the huge range of older but good optics (when choosing the right ones, of course) - available at reasonable prices. I have a Tak SMC 55mm f/1.8 in excellent condition as a lower-light lens, and the 'walkaround' lens to be bought with the camera, will probably be the std version of the Sigma 17-70mm - starting at f/2.8 rather than the f/3.5 of the 18-55mm kit lens. Not by any means a fancy lens, but it's low cost, is a little wider and longer than the 18-55mm, and its following on some forums shows it can do quite adequately if used properly. (I do mean, for my intended hobby purposes.)

Then there's a Sigma 28-80mm, said to be usable, if not too fancy, and the Sigma 100-300mm f/4.5-6.7 DL - supposedly "the worst lens Sigma ever made" - but I've seen photos done with it on P-Forum - that are better than I'm doing at 450mm with bridge-zooms.

Then I'll get the genuine Pentax AF 1.7x TC - only to use with primes, I'm told. So probably a K series f/4 300mm to go with that. I've seen several images done with that combination, which look very adequate by my hobby standards.

I'm well aware that for a modern Pentax camera the Pentax ED 55-300mm is the best long-zoom consumer level lens value for money... But those are $670.00 here in Sydney - well over $700.00 with a year's Warranty Extension. Yes - one can buy used - they turn up quite often on P-Forum - but, no warranty, of course.

Hence the idea of putting up with the non-ideal Sigma 100-300mm for a while, then as afforded, a good condition K series f/4 300mm, and an AF 1.7x TC - which combination will give 300 x 1.5 crop-sensor = 450mm, then 450 x 1.7x = 765mm... From what examples I've seen - it does actually work fairly well - tripod essential, of course. For hobby purposes and a bit of fun - and that the combo can be bought in "2 savings", and the TC will work with other K-mount primes - worth doing! But - what do you think?

From what I've been reading - the AF 1.7x TC shouldn't be used with zoom lenses like the ED 55-300mm - so I'm thinking more of having that TC, and getting several K or M primes for it.

On the K series f/4 300mm, it apparently doesn't come with a tripod collar - but I did see a reference to there being a Canon one that either fits or adapts to fit it.

For tripod, at present I have a Slik F740 - meant to support 1.5-kilos - so "might" do a turn with the K-R - but I'd be worried about using it with other than light lenses... What might be better - bearing in mind that it will have to fit a backpack, as I don't have a car and get about via feet, bus and train...?

Thanks again, Regards, Dave.