Sound Advice: $300 stereo receiver belies its price

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 13, 2012 - 1:13 PM

Answers to your multimedia questions.

Q I need a stereo receiver, and there aren't many around these days. What do you recommend?

A Although most of the market has gone to surround-sound receivers, there are still stereo receivers to be had. One, in particular, is a standout.

The Harman/Kardon HK3490 stereo receiver and its predecessors have long been recommended by high-end magazines, and for good reason. The HK3490 provides 120 watts of high-current power that can drive almost any speaker, including ones with exotic designs, and it has a phono input for a turntable. It also looks good and sounds even better.

A few years ago, I installed the similar HK3485 for use with a pair of $4,000 Ohm Walsh 3000 speakers. The receiver performed beyond reproach.

The HK3490 can be found for $300 online. It's a great way to get started with high-quality audio and will grow with you as you upgrade your system.

Old lenses are hard to adapt

Q My father's 1953 Exakta camera included several excellent lenses, such as an Angenieux Paris fisheye, a Steiheil Munchen lens and a Zeiss lens. I'd really like to be able to use them on my Canon cameras, a Digital Rebel and a 5D Mark II.

I've been told that there are adapters for the Exakta lenses that will allow them to work with the Canon. I've checked places in China, the Philippines and India without luck. Experts at camera stores in the Twin Cities tell me that there are no adapters for my cameras.

Can you direct me to a source for the adapters?

A The camera stores are correct: There are no Exakta-to-Canon digital SLR adapters.

It's hard enough to adapt common manual-focus lenses to auto-focus mounts, and the Exakta lenses you have are even more obscure.

What's more, your 5D has a large sensor that is the same size as an entire frame of 35-millimeter film. Full- frame digital sensors are extremely demanding and typically require the best late-model lenses to produce good results. I doubt you would be happy with the old lenses on the 5D Mark II, although they might be passable on the smaller-sensor Digital Rebel (if you could adapt them at all).

If you want to use your lenses on a modern camera, they can be adapted to Micro Four-Thirds cameras. The Micro Four-Thirds lens mount has proven itself to be amenable to adapting lenses, and many small manufacturers offer adapters for most lenses, including Exakta. You can find adaptors on eBay or at CameraQuest (www.startribune.com/a1213). The effective focal length doubles and you will have to meter and focus manually, but the lenses will work.

The Olympus E-PL1 body sells for $150 and would be a good way to get started. You also might want to consider a refurbished E-PL1 kit with a zoom lens for $199, so you have a modern lens to use, too.

Submit questions and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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