Sermon On The Mounts

on April 14, 2023
Stop twitching - this is a camera column. I'm not going there... Prior to getting my first Pentax Sv camera in 1965 I knew nothing of camera mounts. I'd served in a newspaper darkroom in '64 but the paper's camera was a twin-lens Rollei and as soon as I could be taught to load roll film and a flash bulb I was sent out with the thing set at f:11, 11 ft. and fired away at basketball games and new hospital wings with equal skill. I could only make 12 mistakes at a time and I am proud to say that I never set off a flashbulb in my pocket. It was a wonderful job - had I not come to Australia I would have become the Jimmy Olsen of the Cariboo. The Sv had the dear old M42 screw mount and was advanced enough to have a flipping actuator that pushed the aperture closed on the lens before the shutter curtains moved. I think it was bomb-proof in every aspect except the shutter tapes, but the mount never gave any problems - nor did it fail to accept every M42 lens offered to it. The various factories got some agreement amongst themselves with the thread, flange distance, and orientation of the helix. Why did I think the bayonet-type lenses I saw were better? Because they were more precise? They were to start, but I did see a few wear and wobble over the years. Was I impressed with the Canon breech-lock mechanism that screwed a lens falt against a fixed plate in the early Pellix days? I was not - it seemed infinitely more complex and bulky than needed - though I did appreciate that the breech screw allowed no wear to affect the lens-flange distance. I should have looked more carefully, and had I been working in Camera Electronic in those days I might have had a chance to glimpse some of the horrors of the lenses that tried to adapt themselves to different body mounts with interchangeable rear mechanisms. No names, no pack drill, because a very good lens maker right now used to do just this. Their goods were innovative but sometimes horrendously complex. I dreaded an enquiry for one of the old adapters from an enthusiast. Have Nikon users fared better? Ummm. Count up the number of Nikon mounts you can remember - starting with the SLR series if you wish. Remember the external actuators being replaced by turning rings, and then the different forms of electronic connection. And the autofocus drive lugs mating a n spinning in there. Now the mirror-less mount, and its adapters to try to gain some backwards compatibility. All is well if you have your wits about you, but unfortunately I know people with drawers of lenses that do not know quite what to do yet. The lenses, I mean, not the people. Canon? Well the EOS mount was a godsend. But then there was a small-sensor camera and a full-sensor camera and two lines of lenses to serve them. Again wits about you. I've fared very well with Fujifilm FX mounts - and the Olympus and Panasonic types who stuck to Micro 4/3 could depend upon each other. Sony footled about for a bit but have settled well in the end. Leica have the M mount and then the L, but when they make lenses for their cameras you can be assured they will fit and not fall off. Once it clicks you are safe. And I must say that the specialist lens makers these days - Tokina, Tamron, Sigma, etc are sterling as far as their mounts go - there is never an uneasy moment mounting one of these lenses to a body. Any hesitation is a sure sign of some extraordinary damage that needs a repairman's eye. And you can go an entire photographic career without that sort of trouble.