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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pentax Digital SLR lense compatability--A cautionary Tale

I have been using my little Sony point and shoot for all the photos been using on my blog. I use that little camera a lot. It goes every where with me as I keep it in my purse to take shots of things as a quilting tool. Basically, this little camera is a quick field notebook--I take shots of things I have ideas for for quilts, or things I think are interesting.

I use it in quilting as well to try out different lay-outs to see which one I like best. I also use it so I can remember what block goes where after I take it down from the design wall.

I use it in gardening so that I can make notes of what works and what doesn't work....what areas look one way in one season and how they look in another. A picture doesn't lie and it can tell you areas which are weakly composed or are great. I also use it to keep track of what color of flowers are where after they bloom (this is particularly useful for me when the wind has blown the labels off....I'm notorious for not making elaborate maps of the garden...).

Recently, I realized that although the Sony is a great little camera, I missed the close-up and telephoto abilities of my SLR. I purchased my SLR, a Pentax K-1000 back in 1980 just before I went to Nova Scotia to do an internship at the Fortress of Louisbourg. I could afford it, and it was a workhorse, a tough little beastie which won out over the Olympus because of the way it felt in my hand.

Imagine how happy I was when I did a little research on Digital SLRs and the information I read was the Pentax's new line of digital SLRS were compatible with other Pentax lenses. Wow! I could buy the body and still use my Pentax bayonet lenses. Great!

Because money is a little tight right now (several unexpected expenses came up this year), I decided to buy a used body on eBay. I found one from someone who had good feedback and it was in the condition I wanted. I put in a bid and I won it.

I waited happily, but with some trepidation as there are bad eBay sellers even with their new DSR ratings. The box came, it was all as the seller said it was. I put on my Pentax lens....and nothing. Hmmm..... I went back to the internet and tried to figure out what was wrong. I knew I had to have it on manual settings (user defined settings on the camera). I even asked my camera savy neice....She said to make sure that I had the ring set on "A" on the lens.

The lightbulb went off, and I got this really bad feeling. My K1000 was a completely manual model. "A" would indicate automatic....therefore, although the lens fit, and was the right kind of mount, the camera couldn't understand the lens. So...I had a body but no lens.

I hopped in the car and drove 40 minutes to the nearest "local" camera shop. As I suspected, I needed an automatic lens. They had only one used lens in stock for $99, but it was a telephoto and the autofocus wouldn't work with this camera. They offered me a pair of fully automatic lenses for $400, which was a good deal, but I have a habit of buying more than what I need.

I am a hobbyist. I use my cameras to take pictures of quilts for entries into shows. I use it as a portable notebook.....and I decided that money was tight enough that I would buy the telephoto and see what I could do on eBay for standard lens.

I'm happy to say it is a good camera. The seller was fantastic and tried to help me with the lens problem. I'm sure I'll have many good years with the Pentax K10d....and I know that I didn't overspend on it. However, for others out there, the lenses are not fully interchangable....I guess I'm just too used to working with antiques and doing manual labor to get what I want....and yes, the photo at the top of this post is of an allium in my garden I took with my new camera. Closeups here I come!

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