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Q and FA Session


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Q and FA Session

18 May 2020 9:05AM   Views : 282 Unique : 205

Some old ideas remain great ideas, but wait for the technology to catch up. Early SF shows like Star Trek abound with such concepts, and they had iPads (in effect) long before the iPad was invented. In photography, there has always been a desire for a high quality compact, take anywhere camera, and one with interchangeable lenses just puts the icing on the cake. The reason is quite clear of course - which one of these would you put in your pocket on a non-photographic journey?


A full frame DSLR with its standard 43mm lens, such as the Pentax K-1 shown, is a bulky and heavy item. It's fine for a photo-purposed day, not so fine for a casual stroll out or for taking into that concert.....It was of course Pentax who made the first shot across the bows, so to speak, with their lovely Auto 110 film camera and lenses, plus lots of accessories. Here's my kit of camera with 24mm standard lens, plus 18mm wide angle and 50mm telephoto. There's also a small flash unit.


The kit may be gorgeous of course, but the drawback is the use of 110 film. The format is very small, the film choice limited to 100 or 400 ISO, the film flatness variable as it depends on the quality of the cartridge, there being no pressure plate in the camera to keep the film flat. However, it's also hard to resist and there's also 18mm Pan Focus, 70mm telephoto and 20-40mm zoom lenses to tempt the collector of rarities. Never mind the quality, feel the width.....

In our current digital world, Pentax did it again and introduced the bold Q system, based on tiny compact camera sized sensors and with the same compact ethos as the Auto 110. This time the build quality was arguably much better, the technology more advanced and the results actually very acceptable even on an A3 print. The Q was followed by the Q7 and Q-S1 with slightly larger sensors and a whole bevy of fine lenses. My kit isn't a complete set, but I do have the 8.5mm f/1.9 standard lens, plus 3.2mm fisheye, 5-15mm, 15-45mm and 9mm body cap lenses. The flash is of course now built in.



There are more tricks up the Q system sleeves. The optical viewfinder on top of the camera shows the field of view of the standard lens and harks back to the similar ones offered in the 1950s. Pentax's new viewfinder was an utterly superb one, crystal clear and like a jewel to look at. It was also very expensive, but this one was found at Jessops some years ago, on offer at 50, rather better than the 250 full price tag. Also in the picture you will see a set of three AF extension tubes, offering staggering amounts of magnification. There's the adapter for Auto 110 lenses, so I use the long 50mm lens qith the Q-S1. Then there's the cine lens adapter taking CCTV lenses and the like - offering so much to experiment with. The final adapter shown is a third party K adapter, enabling the use of standard SLR/DSLR lenses. Here I'm showing the Q-S1 with the SMC Pentax-FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited lens, offering a massive "35mm equivalent" of 236.5mm (Q) or 215mm (Q7 and Q-S1). The result is also more depth of field that we might ever need.


The Auto 110 system can still be used as 110 film is still available. The Q system is no longer current, but the cameras and lenses can still be found. The only problam might be the prices, as they are highly sought after. My own Q-S1 is in a custom colour as at one time Pentax were offering a multitude of colour choices. To some that may seem irrelevant, but on the other hand why not and it can make a present of a camera much more personal. Either way, the camera kit is incredibly useful and is used constantly.

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