Fifty Years Chained To The Dungeon Wall

RadioI just realised that I have been mired in the slough of photography for just on 50 years this last Christmas.

My parents returned from overseas in 1965 and picked up a Pentax SV camera for me on the way through Hong Kong. The salesmen there sold them a kit with a body, an CdS light meter on top of the prism, and a Super-Takumar 55mm f: 1.8 lens. I was overjoyed and used the camera extensively over the next 6 years – wearing out the shutter curtains and the exposure counter in the process. The lens was a cracker, and for a number of reasons that I didn’t appreciate at the time.

It was pin-sharp in the plane of focus and free of distortion. I had no experience then with other lenses and thought that they all did that good – time would show me the error of that assumption. It was easy to focus with the smooth helical – again I thought they were all like that and again…time…

I did not find out how good these lenses were until 25 years later when an acquaintance asked me to print up a 35mm negative for him that had been taken with one of the Super Takumars. Not an artistic neg, but as I projected it through the enlarger I was astounded on how more detail just kept appearing as the image got bigger. Eventally I got to the limit of my processing rays – 20″ x 24″ and the print was still sharp!

One thing about the 55 mm has proved intriguing – apparently they are radioactive due to Thorium glass being used inside. Not big bold Bikini Atoll radioactive, but measurable nevertheless. I guess it was best that the Pentax went for the next 35mm in the early 70’s. I still have my eyesight and some of my hair – and the daughter has only one set of ears…


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