Author Topic: Updating old glass  (Read 1477 times)

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Kentuckian

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Updating old glass
« on: March 22, 2020, 08:30:27 PM »
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I guess this is a Coronavirus project but I’m already retired so where’s the extra time?

Anyway, several years ago - before the digital revolution - I started trying to get into model photography. Pentax K1000 with a 50 mm lens, macro teleconverter, and wide angle macro lens, Hoya filters. Assuming I have something to photograph, what would be the “best” way to update to digital, considering cost, ease of use, results, etc. I’m not necessarily looking to update soon, but I want to know what to be looking for.

Obviously, I am not an equipment snob. Thanks in advance.



Modeling the C&O in Kentucky.

“Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation. ... Everything science has taught me-and continues to teach me-strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death. Nothing disappears without a trace.” Wernher von Braun

MK

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Re: Updating old glass
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2020, 08:53:27 PM »
+1
No offense but you are probably better off starting over from scratch.  Maybe, just maybe, you can reuse your old lens and some of the Hoya filters if you stick with Pentax (filters you can use on any new lens that fit).  But everything is auto focus now so if you get a digital Pentax body, you still have to focus manually.  Also, Pentax is not as big of a player in the DSLR world than say Nikon, Canon or Sony.  There are also the smaller sensor mirror less bodies which Fuji and Olympus dominates.

Whatever you get, try out the body at a camera store and see if the fit in your hands are good.  When I got my first DSLR body many many moons ago, I was deciding between Canon and Nikon.  I just couldn't get the Canon body to fit my hand properly.  It actually hurt my inner palm in prolong use.

Finally if cost is an issue, there's nothing wrong with buying used provided it's from a reputable dealer like B&H, Adorama or KEH.  I've bought used from KEH and their rating is so conservative.  I once bought a lens rated Ex (next rating would be LN - Like New) and it looked like it was never used before.  My cost was half the price of a new one.

Kentuckian

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Re: Updating old glass
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2020, 08:49:39 AM »
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Thanks, that kinda what I thought but I wanted another opinion.
Modeling the C&O in Kentucky.

“Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation. ... Everything science has taught me-and continues to teach me-strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death. Nothing disappears without a trace.” Wernher von Braun

matze

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Re: Updating old glass
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2020, 03:32:13 PM »
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No offense but you are probably better off starting over from scratch.  Maybe, just maybe, you can reuse your old lens and some of the Hoya filters if you stick with Pentax (filters you can use on any new lens that fit).  But everything is auto focus now so if you get a digital Pentax body, you still have to focus manually.  Also, Pentax is not as big of a player in the DSLR world than say Nikon, Canon or Sony.  There are also the smaller sensor mirror less bodies which Fuji and Olympus dominates.
If manual focus is not an issue, the old lenses could also be used on a different system with an adapter. Those are often cheap on Ebay etc.

Finally if cost is an issue, there's nothing wrong with buying used provided it's from a reputable dealer like B&H, Adorama or KEH.  I've bought used from KEH and their rating is so conservative.  I once bought a lens rated Ex (next rating would be LN - Like New) and it looked like it was never used before.  My cost was half the price of a new one.
I can also recommend MPB, saved me a great deal buying a lens from their European branch. The lens was also 50% off the new price and practically new.

Santa Fe Guy

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Re: Updating old glass
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2020, 07:42:39 PM »
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There is such a range of good gear out there today my suggestion would be to get yourself to a good camera store.
Tell them what your photography interests are and have them show you all the options.
My latest upgrade some5 years ago now was to a Canon 6D full frame DSLR plus the lenses that go with it the very good ones.
A good camera strap like a Rapid Curve to allow you to sling over your shoulder not your neck and if you want to go further a add on battery holder that screws onto the bottom of the camera body.
6D are now outdated to 6DMk11 which are slightly better however I do everything with my 6D so a second hand one could be an option.
Rod.
Santafesd40.blogspot.com

robert3985

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Re: Updating old glass
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2020, 05:42:44 AM »
+1
Although I've got a full professional Nikon system, including a couple of different focal length "Micros" as Nikon calls them, I am finding that I am using my Google Pixel 2 XL more and more for model photography.  Yup, the phone is a few years old, but the center of the phone's camera lens placement on the body is about 6 scale feet above the edge of the phone when I put it on its side, which give a perspective of a scale 6' or so tall person taking photos of my trains at the trackside.

Additionally, I use an Android OS only app called "Open Camera" which has a focus-stacking feature and will take up to 20 photos in about a quarter of a second between your selected nearest focus distance and the furthest.  This allows for excellent depth of field and sharpness for combining the stack with Helicon Focus or Photoshop, as well as being able to hand-hold the phone so you don't need to manually focus, use a stand or tripod or remote release.

However, for my railfanning and taking reference shots at various locations, I always use my Nikon DSLR and my variety of lenses to get the shots I want and need.

In my DSLR camera kit, one of my favorite lenses is my Nikon 60mm f2.8 Micro, an older lens that was part of my 35mm Nikon batch of lenses and is switchable to both fully manual control as well as automatic and has an f-stop ring on it to manually change my f-stops which I am used to doing, so I like it very much. 

But, as you may know, the closer you get to your subject, the shallower your depth of field becomes, so even at f22, with a subject only an inch away from your lens and lit well, not much of it is going to be in focus...unless you have a close focusing ultra-wide lens of around 10mm to 15mm focal length that will stop down to at least f16.

All this f-stop depth of field stuff becomes moot if you decide to invest in either Photoshop, or preferably Helicon Focus.

Sooo...the main problem then becomes camera position.  If you're taking photos on your home layout which you've designed as a photographic set to take photos of your models, then a DSLR will work okay in most instances.  But, if you haven't designed and built your layout as a photo set, then it becomes extremely difficult to position your camera on a finely scenicked layout for a proper trackside photo.  Although your smart phone camera will allow you to get most shots, it still won't do it for every shot, so some parts of your layout will only be photographically recorded from a bird's eye view.

The problem with not being a camera snob is that many camera brands are no longer in existence...and their respective lenses cannot be used on the digital cameras that have survived.

For general photography, including macro photography, I highly recommend three brands, Nikon, Canon and Sony.  All three brands have lower level DSLR's that take excellent quality photos and great non-professional glass.  Personally, I have been a Nikonian since I started professional photography back in 1975 for my 35mm cameras, and lower level Nikon DSLR bodies take photos that are better than pro-level DSLR's from 6 or 7 years ago.  I often buy used equipment, and I've never had a used Nikon lens that was "bad" and for my personal tastes, I like the color rendition the Nikon sensors have in contrast to Canon's and Sony's.

But, there is a digital camera revolution going on right now, and that is that DSLR's are becoming obsolete.  Both Nikon and Canon have made their very last $6,000+ pro-level DSLR's and their next pro cameras will be mirrorless like the Sonys are.  When that happens, you are going to see the prices of DSLR's go really low...even upper echelon models, so my advice is to start using your phone as your model train camera, buy Helicon Focus and subscribe to Photoshop and wait a couple of years to see what becomes available from the big three...Nikon, Canon and Sony.

Lastly, if you phone happens to not be an Android phone, there are apps available that have the focus stacking feature to take photos for you to use Helicon Focus to combine...for iOS Apple phones if that's yours, and if you look under "Photography" here, you'll see a couple of posts about both Android and iOS focus stacking apps.

I think learning to use one of those apps for your phone and installing and learning to use Helicon Focus on your desktop would be really great CoronaVirus stay-at-home projects.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore
 

Kentuckian

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Re: Updating old glass
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2020, 08:19:55 PM »
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Wow. Great advice, and thorough. Thanks. I have an Android phone; I will investigate the software.
Modeling the C&O in Kentucky.

“Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation. ... Everything science has taught me-and continues to teach me-strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death. Nothing disappears without a trace.” Wernher von Braun

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Updating old glass
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2020, 04:16:40 PM »
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Although I've got a full professional Nikon system, including a couple of different focal length "Micros" as Nikon calls them, I am finding that I am using my Google Pixel 2 XL more and more for model photography.  Yup, the phone is a few years old, but the center of the phone's camera lens placement on the body is about 6 scale feet above the edge of the phone when I put it on its side, which give a perspective of a scale 6' or so tall person taking photos of my trains at the trackside.

If you like the Pixel 2, wait till you try out a 3. My 3a (it was soooo cheap too) is incredible.

Santa Fe Guy

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Re: Updating old glass
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2020, 08:29:23 PM »
+1
I just went to a Samsung S10+ boy does it have all the bells and whistles for photography.
Expensive as hell but who cares I am old and enjoying my money before the kids get their hands on it.
Hell I might even purchase a Porsche and put it on my credit card  :D.
Rod.
Santafesd40.blogspot.com

MK

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Re: Updating old glass
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2020, 09:55:34 PM »
+1
That's the way to do it Rod!  Let the kids make (and spend) their own money!  :D

Lenny53

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Re: Updating old glass
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2020, 04:59:19 PM »
+1
Started with a Nikon F2, my old glass is usable with my current DSLR. Of the three lenses in my usual walkaround kit, two are manual focus non-chipped.