Over the past few months, I have been too busy to post regularly on this blog. Yet, I have written elsewhere from time to time, mainly to participate in contests, or for school newsletters. Since I am still too busy to blog, and I have all those articles ready, I thought I would share them with my readers here.
The article below was one of two articles written for a blogging contest organized by Pentax Forums
where people were asked to write about the one piece of photographic equipment that has had the greatest influence their photography. This is what I submitted
Nearly thirty-two years ago, my
father bought a camera. It was a Pentax MX 35mm SLR with a Pentax 50mm f/1.4
prime lens. He had been taking pictures for quite some time, and even had his
own makeshift darkroom, but he did not own an SLR yet. The Pentax MX was worth
two months of his salary at the time, but he still decided to go for it, for I
was about to be born. Today, I am going to write about that camera. If you are
wondering how that ancient piece of equipment affected my photography, read on.
The Pentax MX was the new Pentax
SLR at the time, after the company’s immensely successful K1000 and Spotmatic
models. It was a fully mechanical manual SLR, but it had an electronic light
meter that indicated the exposure using green and amber LEDs inside the
viewfinder. The shutter speed was shown by a small dial at the side of the
viewfinder as well, and the aperture value was projected above the image inside
the viewfinder via a tiny window in front of the pentaprism that was directly
behind the aperture ring on the lens barrel. Add a split-screen focusing system
and a 100% field of view, and you have a viewfinder that is nearly as
sophisticated and helpful as modern DSLRs. Also, the leather-covered aluminum
MX, coupled with the small 50 mm lens, was probably the smallest 35mm SLR in
As I grew up, my childhood was
captured in thousands of black and white and color negatives by the Pentax MX.
First, there was just the 50mm lens. Then, after my sister was born, my father
bought a second-hand Pentax M 40-80mm lens. By that time, photography and the
Pentax MX was synonymous in my mind. “My dad has the best camera,” I would
think, “and those pre-focused wide-angle point and shoots that other people have!
Do you even call them cameras?” My whole love of photography developed by
looking longingly at that camera (handling it was off-limits to me) and waiting
eagerly for the lovely photos that arrived after each film roll was finished
and developed. When I got my first job in 2005, my first big investment was,
quite naturally, a digital camera. It was a small point and shoot with a lot of
manual control, because although I could not afford a DSLR yet, I felt that taking
a photo meant a lot of twiddling of knobs before the actual clicking. Photography,
which started as another new hobby, became my greatest passion over the next
|I took the MX to the Grand Canyon in 2009|
So it should not be hard to
imagine my delight when I was finally handed the old MX by my father sometime
later. After that, although the bulk of my photos were still being taken with
my digital point and shoot, the MX always accompanied me on special occasions
and tours. When I came to the US to do my Ph.D., I brought the camera with me.
Shooting on film is neither cheap nor easy, but I continued to shoot on the MX
alongside digital. This has actually made me less reliant on digital
post-processing and concentrate more on getting the composition and exposure
right in-camera. A year later, when I was looking for a DSLR, I bought the
Pentax K-7 since I was in love with Pentax by that time, and besides, I wanted
to use my father’s manual lenses. The in-body shake reduction of the K-7 meant
that I could use an old lens and get photos as good as a new one.
|This minute-long exposure of Grand Central Terminal was shot on B&W film.|
I still use the MX after so many
years. It was the camera that first aroused my interest in photography. It was
the camera that I practiced on when I was learning to use an SLR. It was the
camera that helped me choose my current DSLR – the Pentax K-7 – and if that
alone is not the biggest influence on my photography, I don’t know what is. And
oh yes, I almost forgot. That 50mm lens is still my most-used lens.
|On top of Rockefeller Center|
|Me, on top of Rockefeller Center|