One of my dear uncle who was an avid photographer (he passed away 4 years ago) gave me one of his old camera many years ago. It was a Pentax LX with an assortment of lenses like the Pentax SMC 50mm f/1.2. The Pentax LX is a classic camera brought out by Pentax to compete with the Canon F-1 and the Nikon F3 which was the top of the range cameras at that time. This is a camera that was built to last. I am not sure when my uncle bought his but I’m pretty sure that it must now be at least 20 years old. Apart from the sturdy construction, it also boasts a revolutionary metering technique which allows the camera to meter directly off the film plane which makes for truly accurate metering.
I decided to dig up the camera and sent it for servicing and am now taking pictures with it.
Its a compact piece of equipment. Even though there is a lot of wear and tear in it, it feels solid in my hands. Its so compact that when compared to the monster Canon 1D Mark III or even the 40D, it feels ‘discrete’.
My uncle gave me about 6 lenses to play around with but at that time I had no idea of the significance of aperture and low light and all that nice stuff. I also serviced the Pentax SMC 50mm f/1.2 (which looks so tiny compared to my Canon EF 85mm f/1.2). This baby is just a bit smaller than Canon’s 50mm f/1.4. All in all, it makes for 1 terrificly light and small combo. How does it do in the field?
I took it out yesterday and shot some rolls with it. It feels funny but in a great sort of way. People hardly took any notice of me when I walked around with the camera. If anything they were slightly amused at this guy walking around taking pictures with such an old looking camera which needs to be wound. The metering is a bit strange. I used aperture priority and when metering for exposure it seems to give what I thought would be a highly over exposed setting. When I took the picture, I immediately looked at the camera hoping to chimp at the image. Of course there was nothing to chimp at. This in itself was liberating as I now had to force myself to forget about the shot I just took and focus on the shot I am going to take. Shooting a roll of 36 also forces me to slow things down (which was one of the main reason for this exercise). I shot pictures with the Fuji Superia 400 and the Kodak Colour Gold 400. Why these films? Simply because they were the only ones I could buy.
This is the first image taken at f/5.6 indoors and its a picture of the KLCC roof. I love the tones and the range and its also sharp.
The second image I took at f/1.2. The amazing thing about the film is the amount of detail it can retain in the highlights. The blur and bokeh also has a different feel to it. There’s just something about film that digital can never truly replicate. Its not about the image quality but its more the experience of taking the picture.
I love this camera now and am using any excuse to take it out and shoot pictures. With this experience, the Leicas seems to be a hearbeat away.