We said some time ago that we wouldn't be talking much about old stuff anymore but that idea is easily beaten out by more new old stuff. The deals on these things can just be so good at times that it can be quite hard to let them pass.
So now comes the Pentax SV. What are we doing with a camera that was last produced in 1968? That's around 47 years ago! Nostalgia is one reason to get something like this as is being able to enter a world where not everything is automatic. In fact, this camera is one of the best ways to really go down and dirty with manual controls. The simple fact is that it doesn't have anything else to offer you.
There's no motor drive or power winder option so each frame of film has to be advanced manually. You just get a film counter. There also isn't any built-in light meter. Those of you who never bothered to learn to read ambient light levels with the aid of your camera's light meter will now have to learn how to determine proper settings for existing brightness or darkness or learn to use (and perhaps purchase) a handheld meter. These handheld light meters can cost a few thousand to several thousand depending on their age and/or condition.
Of course, another thing you can try is to follow the "Sunny 16" rule. Since some of you have never heard of it before, here's the long and short of it: Use an aperture of f/16 and based on your film speed (e.g., ISO 100); choose the shutter speed that's the closest reciprocal of that film speed. For a film speed of ISO 100, therefore, your settings will be and aperture of f/16 and a shutter speed of 1/125.
Why not 1/60? Traditionally, we are advised to use 1/125 so that we avoid any camera shake issues at least for lenses that are at most 100mm long in focal length but frankly, you can also use 1/60 and there's an advantage to doing so. The slight overexposure results in denser negative that will give you more leeway when scanning and printing. There will always be a debate on whether it's better to overexpose or underexpose film but suffice it to say that people working in professional printing labs gave the input regarding their wanting to deal more with overexposed negatives rather than underexposed ones.
If it doesn't have a meter then why does it still have a dial with all the ASA (or ISO) numbers on it? Just to help you remember what's in there.
Those of you who read these pages will know that we like stressing the need to let your eyes actually do the focusing for you rather than relying on auto focus. This is one good way of doing that because, due to its era, it doesn't even have the regular split microprism that most manual focus cameras like the Canon AE-1 or the Nikon FM has. It just has a microprism - no split. When you're out of focus things just look a little fuzzy. When the image is in focus, things are sharp. Takes some getting used to but you get the hang of it.
One other advantage here is that this is an m42 mount camera. What does that mean? All the lenses that we've been talking about here--the Auto Yashinon 50mm f/2.0, the Industar 50-2 f/3.5, and the Helios 44-2 58mm f/2--can be used with this camera. A downside? Well, this one did come with a Pentax Super Takumar 55mm f/2. That makes four lenses in the range of 50-58mm and none of them brighter thanf/2. That sounds more like a collection rather than a practical set of lenses. We may have to sell at least one of these.
Some notable features you should know about: While everyone knows about the B shutter speed setting, very few people know about the T. This one has both the B and the T. What's the big difference? All of us know that the B (for bulb) helps us take photos using shutter speeds much, much slower than what's built into the camera. For example, you may want to shoot star streaks for an hour and no camera has the provision to shoot that long. Most of us will use a cable release, trip the shutter, lock the release, and then only close the shutter after the desired time. What about the T? You move the shutter dial to "T," press the shutter, and it remains open. It will stay open only until you move the dial to another shutter speed to close it. No need for a cable release. To avoid any camera shake, it's best to cover the lens with a black piece of cardboard and then turn the dial.
Another thing about this camera is that it doesn't have a hot shoe. It didn't even come with any shoe for a flash when it was sold. Where'd the shoe come from? It's from the Yashica J3 we talked about long ago. At least we can now put a flash up there but only a flash that has a sync cable to plug into the PC sync socket.
Next time: More about the camera and the Super Takumar