The One-Buck Wonder Lens

A while ago I was taking a walk in a flea market and I stumbled on this deal.  A Pentax f/2.0 SMC 50mm lens, most commonly packaged with the revered Pentax K1000 (possibly the longest running camera made by anybody from 1976 all the way to 1997).  Aside from being a bit beat up, the glass was so hazed and covered in oddly-colored fungus that I literally could not see through it.  For some strange reason, for a price of $1.00, (actually it was marked $2.00 but I bargained because it was in such horrible shape) I purchased the lens.

I mean cleaning it up can’t be THAT hard, right? I decided to do my homework before just jumping in.  Thanks to YouTube, I was able to find several disassembly videos.  The easiest approach was to go in from the front – that ring that says “Asahi Optical Co” is actually threaded so by pushing really hard against a rubber surface, I was able to work it loose.  Beyond that there was several layers of screws and assemblies.  I ended up emptying the barrel out and had the glass elements removed after about 2 weeks of working on it off and on. I soaked the glass in a mix of alcohol and vinegar and managed to remove all the fungus and most of the haze.  I ended up with a few micro scratches, probably due to age, and one scratch that does not seem to have any effect on photos.  About 2 more weeks later, I worked backwards and had it reassembled, having lost only 2 or 3 screws.  Astoundingly – it still works!! Because I chose to go in from the front, the area around the aperture ring was undisturbed, so it still opened and closed just like it should.  The final product?  Not bad as pictured. Though I think I will pass on the more advanced stuff! Shoot photos, not each other.

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