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Thread: A CCD purchase...

  1. #1
    Master Tokyo Tokei's Avatar
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    A CCD purchase...

    Found this gathering dust and looking unloved in a nearby shop...



    A seemingly unused Pentax istDS from around 2004/5. Lens is an even older 35-80 full-frame autofocus specimen of low aspirations.

    You don't get much in the way of buttons. Nor screen size. 210,000 pixels that you can readily make out, even though the screen offers only two inches of diagonal. You do get a top plate LCD though. Exciting stuff for 2004.



    Both camera and lens still worked flawlessly.

    So I bought them, of course.

    I didn't need much convincing. The 6MP CCD sensor is the one used in the Nikon D40, D50 and Epson R-D1. All of which I have owned and enjoyed immensely. This Pentax takes 4 AA batteries, which means no charger to worry about. Should be easy to find power for it anywhere, for many years to come. With manual lenses, 1000 or more shots are possible. Some have reported 2000. A few less with autofocus lenses.

    It will accept all the old Pentax lenses, including those Takumars from the 60s with the screw-mount adapter that I still have. Flash metering is TTL so you can use any old flash unit. It can accept SDHC cards. It uses a real pentaprism viewfinder, which is large and clear enough to focus manual lenses. The internal rangefinder can notify you when a manual lens is in focus.

    Speaking of which, the autofocus isn't exactly rapid. Card writes are quite leisurely too. It's not weather resistant. It doesn't try to look like a rangefinder. It isn't cool. The mirror isn't well damped. There is no stabilisation. It doesn't know what wi-fi is. Auto white balance is unreliable indoors. Remember that?

    Pictures, even with the basic lens, are good though. The outfit is light. The lens is small, taking 49mm filters, despite covering a full frame and possessing an actual distance scale. The camera will shoot up to ISO3200, and you can switch off noise reduction on the JPEGs or just save RAW files.

    The noise is quite nice. This is a very random evening indoor shot, in-camera JPEG, noise reduction off, handheld at 1/15th (so don't bother looking for sharpness, or even focus) at ISO3200 with the above old lens at 80mm / 120mm equivalent:



    There is something about CCD images, and something about Pentax. I thought the K7 I owned was fantastically well made. The same body was used in the subsequent K5 and K3, and only recently ditched. I also owned the K10D, K20 and K100. They were all quite pleasing. This one is too. A bit odd, in their way, but nice enough.

    Not a new thing, but still a nice thing. This set cost me about the same as a round of drinks, and I'm sure I'll get at least equal enjoyment from it.

    Cheers
    Last edited by Tokyo Tokei; 29th August 2018 at 14:19.

  2. #2
    Craftsman
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    Great post.

    We tend to forget how far weíve moved on- Iíve seen recent posts (not here) suggesting 24 MP isnít really enough.

    My digital journey started with a D50 and the images still look good on a 21Ē screen

  3. #3
    Master Tokyo Tokei's Avatar
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    Yes, exactly (regarding the 6MP). Most desktop monitors are still 1920x1080, a whopping 2MP, and most people view on even smaller screens. The enormous wall-filling Ultra HD monitors and projectors top out at 8MP. I don't print at that size, and don't know anyone who does.

    I do have many A4 pictures from 6MP though. Including this one from my old D50 with the same sensor as the Pentax:



    The spec race is never likely to end. Manufacturers need something to entice new sales, and there is a need among some consumers (ahem, DPReview crowd...) for constant rivalries and one-upmanship. But most cameras are fine - and have been for ages!

    The istDS with full-frame zoom lens is a little smaller and lighter than my u43 Olympus with its zoom lens covering a much smaller area. ISO performance is about comparable. It's not all been progress.

    Some of these old things remind me of old watches. Entirely capable, interesting design choices, and worthy of use.

    </sermon>

  4. #4
    Master Tokyo Tokei's Avatar
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    A few recent snaps with the Pentax









    Camera default JPEGs... no lens profile distortion/vignetting corrections as, well, it doesn't have them
    Last edited by Tokyo Tokei; 8th September 2018 at 10:45.

  5. #5
    I had an Epsom RD-1 and was aware thatís the same sensor as the models listed. That camera certainly had a filmic look to the images. I use an M8 now, also CCD sensor ( Kodak) and yes, there is something about the CCD sensor that I like .

  6. #6
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    I'm very much enjoying this thread, thanks.

  7. #7
    Ooops for some reason I missed this! Seems a fun pick up! I agree on the CCD comment, there is a roll off that gives a pleasantness versus CMOS. However, I would point out that sensor technology is not just down to increasing the MP count; we've benefited immensely in advances in dynamic range, handling of noise and the latitude of RAW files. I would agree however 'progress' in 'smaller' formats have been disappointing compared to these older full frames that can still be lightweight.

    Nevertheless, some nice pictures, especially the colours. Can't complain about the JPEG quality, would kill for a decent JPEG engine in my cameras!

  8. #8
    Master Tokyo Tokei's Avatar
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    Thanks gents, as with many things I find it instructive/humbling to recalibrate once in a while. I don't see myself ditching the modern OM-D anytime soon, but this old Pentax is fun, and the images are fine.

    Although CCDs had some technical advantages in quality, noise and dynamic range, CMOS became cheaper to make and volume drove improvement. The battle ended a long time ago. There won't be any more consumer CCD-based cameras.

    A few more snaps from today around Tokyo...





















    There's no tech more recent than 2004 in these, so no power for any lens correction, highlight/shadow shouldering nor instagram-friendly filters. You get what you get. I appreciate the engineering history and achievement of these now-considered-obsolete things, and I enjoyed the day.
    Last edited by Tokyo Tokei; 10th September 2018 at 02:56.

  9. #9
    Master Tokyo Tokei's Avatar
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    The pictures in the post above were taken with my old Pentax 50mm/SMC-A manual lens. A budget kit prime bundled with Pentax film cameras back in the day. It is itself a thing of mechanical excellence. All metal and smooth manual focussing and aperture selection. 49mm filter again, and tiny. The hood is longer than the lens.



    It makes a nice set with the small istDS. All camera functions (exposure, aperture display and EXIF recording, PASM modes, flash and so on) work without restriction. You just have to manually focus.

    I took another lens with me on the hike, but never took this one off.

  10. #10
    Master Tokyo Tokei's Avatar
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    A few more from a cycle today on a dull wet Saturday after some rain...







    One of the bicycle that took me there, complete with new wheel



    No cropping on any of these. Lens is the discontinued 35mm "Limited" which I found at a camera fair. It is tiny but all metal, and has a nice long manual focus throw.

    There aren't many options, modes nor buttons to play with on the Pentax, which is probably not a bad thing, so I have settled on:

    Metering: centre-weighted
    Mode: Aperture priority
    Focus: Manual (the very large and bright pentaprism on this model is excellent)
    WB: Auto, but not important as I shoot RAW now as 6MP RAW pictures aren't too big. I can get over a 1000 on a 16GB card. Today I took 32, so... not an issue
    ISO: Auto up 3200
    Noise reduction, JPEG settings, sharpness, filters, CA correction, shake reduction etc: None, just using RAW and defaults on the Mac.

    In this setup it behaves like my old Olympus OM10. Quite predictable, reliable and very tactile to use.

  11. #11
    Master
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    I think this thread also shows that the photographer makes more difference than any choice of equipment, if I may say.

  12. #12
    Master Tokyo Tokei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alfat33 View Post
    I think this thread also shows that the photographer makes more difference than any choice of equipment, if I may say
    I think from these random walkabout shots with cheap old lenses on the most basic DSLR I can conclude one thing: In my case, a dozen years or more of digital camera "upgrades" has had little effect on my photographs. A few things gained, a few things lost. But at my modest level, the limiting factor hasn't been the equipment for a long time.

    In fact...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tokyo Tokei View Post
    I don't see myself ditching the modern OM-D anytime soon
    I sold all the Olympus u43 stuff today.
    Last edited by Tokyo Tokei; 16th September 2018 at 12:52.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tokyo Tokei View Post
    I think from these random walkabout shots with cheap old lenses on the most basic DSLR I can conclude one thing: In my case, a dozen years or more of digital camera "upgrades" has had little effect on my photographs. A few things gained, a few things lost. But at my modest level, the limiting factor hasn't been the equipment for a long time.

    In fact...



    I sold all the Olympus u43 stuff today.
    I agree,
    equipment is just equipment and we are fed from the media, lusting after the very latest.
    I started with a D80 and a kit lens 18-70.
    Soon afterwards I had a D200 and a half dozen lenses.
    Then a D3s , then a D5 and I was literally running out of space in my spare room with camera kit.

    I sold everything and now have a D300 an 18-70 and a 70-300 .that is everything i have now.
    I have surprised myself with how little kit I actually need, I was out at the weekend shooting a sporting event my wife was involved in and I believe my photos were a sight better than the official ones.

    I'm not bragging though, keep it simple and enjoy yourself.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Tokyo Tokei View Post
    I think from these random walkabout shots with cheap old lenses on the most basic DSLR I can conclude one thing: In my case, a dozen years or more of digital camera "upgrades" has had little effect on my photographs. A few things gained, a few things lost. But at my modest level, the limiting factor hasn't been the equipment for a long time.

    In fact...



    I sold all the Olympus u43 stuff today.
    In the end we like trying stuff and seeing how it all goes - haptics in the end. I am relatively 'stable' and can't see myself getting away from the Nikon standard 'mirror'/FX range (I guess we need to start distinguishing with the mirrorless...). That is until I get bored, but even then the cost of everything is a massive barrier.

    I'm sure at some point in the future you'll find a bargain and the u43 circle will begin again

  15. #15
    Master Tokyo Tokei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazyp View Post
    In the end we like trying stuff ...
    I'm sure at some point in the future you'll find a bargain and the u43 circle will begin again
    Ha ha yes probably. I've likened old cameras to old watches (surely on safe ground here...) hence the similar flipping behaviour. I think I have probably tried near enough every u43 body and lens now from the GF1 onwards. Had some fun. Been through a lot of Nikons, Fujis, Pentaxes, Canons, Panasonics, Leicas, Canons and Olympuses too.

    Not getting excited about much of the new stuff. I just spent a few moments on DPreview to see what was lighting other peoples' fires. The usual comments. No F-log?! No purchase. No dual card slots?! No purchase. No f2.8 28-300 pocketable zoom?! No purchase. Most of these people seem to spend more time online researching & commenting on cameras than actually using them. The whole thing is just another blokey excuse for endless spec comparison and brand / ownership flag waving.

    Like watches then

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