With Pentax just having turned 100, we placed the spotlight on some of the company’s classic medium format cameras, rivaled only by a handful of competitors. Among the most popular of these are the Pentax 67 and the Pentax 645, which are also on our favorite 67 format and 645 format cameras. We decided to do a quick follow-up on those features with a rundown of other popular Pentax film cameras that should never go missing in a true blue Pentaxian’s collection. If you’re still building your own, this guide should be useful to you!
Pentax Spotmatic F
The last high-end model of the Spotmatic series, the Spotmatic F was introduced in 1973 with several improvements. According to camera-wiki.org, this model was the first to feature open-aperture metering, but required pairing with the updated Super-Multi-Coated (SMC) Takumar lenses that had an aperture-position link to the camera. Today, it remains popular as being the most user-friendly Spotmatic model for film photographers.
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Among the most recommended Pentax film cameras for analog photography beginners, the low cost, ruggedness, and simplicity of the K1000 has earned it extraordinary longevity. It now also enjoys the status of being a historically significant camera, popular as a basic yet sturdy workhorse. Introduced in 1976, the K1000 is the simplest of the K-series 35mm SLR cameras, being an almost all metal camera with manual focus, manual exposure control, and mechanical controls. It has a horizontal travel, a rubberized silk cloth focal-plane shutter with a top shutter speed of 1/1000 sec. It only needs a battery for the built-in full scene averaging light meter.
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According to camera-wiki.org, the Pentax MX was one of the two compact 35mm SLR cameras introduced by Pentax in 1976: the other being the ME. It was designed in response to the compact SLR trend started by the Olympus OM-1. The K bayonet mount MX was an all-metal mechanical camera with a horizontal cloth focal plane shutter, top speed of 1/1000 sec, flash sync at 1/60, self-timer, and depth of field preview. Its 0.97x fixed viewfinder covers 95% of the field, with the shutter speed and aperture values visible in it. The finder screen was interchangeable, with eight finder screens to choose from, using the bayonet mount system drawn from the OM-1. The SMC Pentax-M series of compact lenses were also introduced alongside the MX and ME models.
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Introduced in 1980, the Pentax LX was the company’s top-of-the-line manual focus camera, and was their only attempt at entering the professional 35mm SLR camera market according to camera-wiki.org. Apart from the vast selection of K-mount SMC lenses, it also used a dedicated series of accessories like interchangeable viewfinders and viewfinder screens. Some notable features, as cited by Wikipedia, include manual and aperture priority exposure modes, mirror lock-up, self-timer, depth of field preview, horizontal-running titanium shutter curtains, off-the-film-plane TTL metering, and “Magic Needles” film take-up spool that simplified film loading. The camera body, aside from being smaller and lighter than rivals like Canon New F-1 or Nikon F3, also had water and dust protection. All these features made it one of the finest mechanical 35mm SLR cameras ever made.
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Pentax Espio Mini
The Espio series of point-and-shoot cameras have been mostly overlooked in favor of more popular premium cameras like the Contax T2 and Yashica T4. However, some of them still enjoy cult status among compact camera collectors and film point-and-shoot users. One of them is the Pentax Espio Mini (or UC-1 in the US), which has caught the attention of some compact camera shooters for its very sharp 32mm f3.5 lens, which some even say is SMC grade, as noted by camera-wiki.org. Some photographers also liken it to the Olympus mju-II, as they are about the same size and weight.
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Cover image by O.Taillon on Flickr. Used with Creative Commons by 2.0 permission.