seagull sitting on a chimney top

Testing Lenses

My girlfriend had her first Roller Derby game recently and I wanted to take some photos with my film camera(s).

I could have used my Digital Nikon D3200 with its zoom lens and amazing autofocus with built-in stabilisation, and all those other handy features that come with digital cameras. But I have been enjoying shooting with film and I wanted to challenge myself with some high-speed film photography.

I knew I wanted to use my Pentax ME Super and Pentax Super A cameras.  The ME Super is the camera I just automatically take everywhere and the Super A can expose at 3200, which I thought would come in handy for the inside Roller Derby track environment.

I usually stick to my 28mm or 50mm lens on my Pentax cameras, but I made the assumption that the Roller Derby game would be better with some close-up shots of the girls or at least, if I was going to be sitting far away from the action I could get better shots with a ‘zoomier’ lens.

SMC Pentax-M 28mm

Pentax ME Super | SMC Pentax-M 28mm 1:2.8 | Lomo Color 400 35mm Film is my go-to website for researching new Pentax cameras and lenses, so I headed over there to see which kinds of lenses I could afford with at least a 100mm focal length.  After some research into price compared with quality, I decided to go on a hunt for a 200mm lens and a 100-300mm lens or thereabouts.

There are a couple of shops near my place of work so I visited them first, saw a few things that I liked but also had a look on eBay.  I am always hoping I will see an amazing bargain that no one else has spotted.

After a bit of looking around in shops and online, I found an SMC Pentax-M 200mm 1:4 at a shop in Cardiff for the affordable price of £40.  I then found a Sigma Zoom 100-300mm 1:4.5-6.7 UC for £30 in a shop in Bath and I also got a bit over excited and bought an SMC Pentax-A 35-70mm F3.5-4.5 on eBay.

The good thing about buying from shops is, they guarantee that the product works and give you a 6-month warranty for it.

I did a couple of tests with the lenses to just get a feel for them, having never used a focal length over 50mm on film before I thought it best to see what I could do with it when pointing it at subjects that were either not moving or that were moving slowly.

SMC Pentax-M 200mm 

seagull standing on rooftop
Pentax ME | SMC Pentax-M 200mm | Lomo Colour 800

Sigma Zoom 100-300mm

One thing I should mention about the Sigma 100-300mm lens is that it has the Auto function that can be used with the Pentax Super A.  This opens up all the exposure modes that the camera is capable of; Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, X Sync & Bulb.  Without an A lens, you cannot take advantage of Programmed AE or Shutter Priority.

I actually prefer to shoot in aperture priority or fully manual mode, but it is nice to have the option for shutter priority, especially when you know you are going to be shooting fast moving objects.

Plant 300mm Zoom
Pentax ME | Sigma 100-300mm | f/8 @300mm
Pentax ME | Sigma 100-300mm | f/8 @200mm
Pentax ME | Sigma 100-300mm | f/8 @135mm
Pentax ME | Sigma 100-300mm | f/8 @100mm

Sadly the lens I bought from eBay seems to be a little bit broken, the aperture ring isn’t clicking into place the way it should, this might not mean it is completely busted but I took it to the shop around the corner where they are sending it off for a free quote on how much it might cost to bring it back to the best it can be.  Until I get it back I can’t test it.

I really like both the 200mm Pentax lens and the Sigma 100-300mm but the Sigma feels a lot cheaper than the Pentax.  It is super light but I am pretty sure this is because it is more plastic than the Pentax.  It is nice to have the option to zoom but I do find it easier to use a prime lens.

In hindsight, it would have been good to see the difference between the 200mm Pentax and the Sigma at 200mm with the exact same settings and of the same subject.  I will do this at some point so I can compare the look of the lenses a bit better!

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