This month I’m using just one camera again, a Pentax K30 DSLR.
This approach and many photographs later, it seems the patience has paid off, and I’ve found a core set up I like.
(I realise I’ve shot approaching 1000 photos with the K30 in about a fortnight, equivalent to over 27 rolls of 36 exposure film. This is where the affordability and immediate feedback of digital kicks in and I’m reminded that film just isn’t a viable option for me any longer…)
This is what the set up looks like –
– Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4 lens. A lens designed for such DLSRs, and giving an equivalent 53mm field of view, something I’m very comfortable with from my SLR days. I set the camera to AF and then occasionally when the lens struggles to focus (up close, in low light) I switch to manual mode and fine tune it that way.
Another plus is the lens is very light, and on the K30 keeps the whole camera very portable.
– Program (P) mode. The camera sets the aperture and shutter speed it feels is best, then I can tweak the aperture up or down to change depth of field as and when I want. If it’s at f/8 and I want a more shallow depth of field, I might drop down to f/4 , for example. So I see this as kind of an assisted Aperture Priority (Av) mode.
– Custom image (ie colour mode) set to b/w, with high/low key adjust at +1, everything else zero.
– High contrast digital filter on, set at level 1 (of 5). This digital filter adds great contrast but makes images a little too dark on its own, so the high/low key at +1 in the b/w mode lifts them with a little added brightness.
– ISO400 – I started with ISO100 but a few ventures into dark churches meant this was giving too slow shutter speeds, so I switched to ISO400 to gain a couple of stops on the shutter speeds.
This also makes the images a little more “grainy“, whereas ISO100 can look a bit clean and sterile for my tastes. I doubt I’ll stray from ISO400 from now on.
– Everything else off or at zero, including all kinds of digital corrections!
So this is giving me pictures I’m happier with than my initial control set up.
The main wins are –
- The K30 seems to meter well 95% of the time with this lens.
- The K30 is producing the more contrasty and moody kind of b/w images I like straight out of camera.
I have been very tempted to switch lenses and play, but I stuck with the DA 35/2.4, as just getting consistent results and building confidence in the camera was my priority.
Now I know this set up is delivering though, I can think about trying a different type of lens.
You might recall the K30 can use M42 lenses with a simple metal adapter, plus any K mount lens, from when they were first introduced in 1975, to the present day.
I have five M42 lenses, a Pentax-M 28/2.8, a Pentax-A 50/1.7 and Pentax-F 35-70mm, which is the same type of mount as the DA, so should operate identically.
Most likely I’ll try the Pentax-A 50/1.7 next.
I can stay with Program mode, but will need to focus manually.
Everything else will be left exactly the same as my current settings, to maintain that consistency, and honour the plan of only changing one variable at a time.
Using Pentax-M and M42 lenses will need a larger shift in my approach (manual lenses, so no Program mode, and manual focusing), so I’ll build up to those after the Pentax-A experiments.
From using the A 50/1.7 previously (and its 50/2 and 50/1.4 siblings) I know I can expect some very satisfying images, they’re absolutely lovely lenses, and the manual focusing will add a bit more tactile pleasure that shooting with a plastic AF lens like the DA 35/2.4 lacks.
More updates soon.
All photographs in this post were made with the Pentax K30 with Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4 lens.
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