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Thursday, 27 July 2017


For those choosing a K bayonet camera rather than a screw mount like the Spotmatic, it's also worth mentioning the legendary Asahi Pentax K1000.

Essentially the same camera as the Spotmatic SP1000, but with the K mount, this all-manual camera is built like a tank, and is THE camera for film instruction due to its extreme ruggedness and dependability.

It's also one of the most commonly made cameras ever produced (although watch out for later plasticky Chinese models), so there a ton out there, but prices have been rapidly rising over the past couple of years.

One other thing to add: while the SMC Pentax-M lenses are fine in their own right, bayonet camera owners are also well-advised to consider the so-called "Pentax-K" lenses (actually simply marked "SMC Pentax"), which are a but larger than their later M counterparts, which are optimized more for size. They are typically optically identical to the Takumar series lenses, with a higher build quality and in many cases superior optics.

That's not to say M lenses are poorly made. I've worked on literally thousands of lenses, and IMO, the metal Pentax lenses are across the board the best-built and most sensibly engineered of any ever produced, including those by the famous European makers. In the rare cases when they do need service they are an absolute joy to work on.

I was always an Olympus OM1 and then Nikon FM/FE person myself, but a few years ago found a Spottie F in perfect working order at a charity store, as well as the blessed trinity (28/3.5, 55/1.8 and 135/3.5 Super Takumars). The solid thwack of the shutter/mirror would frighten stray dogs and children, but it felt great to use and the results were superb.

I passed that camera on to a young guy looking for his first film camera to take to Sri Lanka for a year's volunteering, so I'm hoping he put it to good use.

Shortly afterwards I came across an ME Super with an SMC Tak 50/1.7, which I found petite and seductive like the OM - with a similar magnificent viewfinder - but a pretty girl had a greater need for it than I so it now resides in her hands. How do girls do that?

There's nothing quite like an MMM camera, muscle memory and Sunny 16. I do carry a small Sekonic L-208 but mostly don't need it. I've come to prefer HP5+ to Tri-X for general use and Agfa APX100 in Rodinal for a slower film. In Australia, Acros is the film you use when you've just sold a kidney, and Velvia when you've sold both.

The Pentax Holy Grail in my op-shop wanderings is to find an LX, but they appear to be as rare as hens' teeth.

My father always used Pentax. A silver Spotmatic that I still have. The first camera I bought when I got my first job was a Pentax ME Super with a 50mm f2 lens. I still have it along with the box and the manual. Eventually I got a Super A which I never liked and an LX which I love.
I had the chance to go to Venice for a couple of days and was surprised at the amount of people shoting with film cameras. Pentax and Nikon mostly.

Mike, it would be great to be able to comment individually to some of the comments here. Have you considered that option?

Is Brooklyn Beckham a TOP reader? He was recently photographed with a Pentax film SLR (looked like a K1000 to me). He was using a bit of rope for a strap - maybe couldn't afford a real one ;)

A Pentax MX with the 50mm 1.7 was my first "proper" film camera... Well, the Olympus Stylus Epic/mju II that preceded it was equally proper but in a very different way. I lived them both dearly. All through my DSKR period Is occasionally pick up the MX and let out a little sob of dismay that my digital tools didn't fit my hand in the same way or give me as much joy when I looked through the viewfinder. Until I got a Fuji XE2 and discovered it has almost exactly the same body size as an MX without a mirror box and the same ergonomic location for shutter speed, aperture and fun button. Still makes my heart sing a little everytime I pick it up and use it... Wth the 35mm 1.4 and hood attached it's spooky how similar the proportions are to the MX with the 50mm. Makes me feel like I'm holding a "real" camera again everytime...

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