Monday, December 26, 2016

An unexpected Christmas gift - The Pentax SV

It's Christmas time here in New Zealand (as I write this), and we are relaxing at home, having friends around for meals, and looking forward to a few weeks break.

Nancy and Eric Holman are a couple who we have been friends with since arriving in Greymouth 16 years ago. I worked with Nancy for a few years as part of a team with local professional photographer Stewart Nimmo (I was the graphic designer - Nancy worked in the retail shop). Her husband Eric also worked there part-time, and is a fellow Apple enthusiast and Rugby watcher. They are both retired now and run a church Op-Shop in the community.

They came around on Boxing Day for dinner (to help us eat the left-overs from Christmas) - and this time they came bearing gifts! Someone had dropped off a camera bag at the Op-Shop and they know that I am still shooting some film, so thought I might be interested in the contents of said camera bag.

I'm always keen to add to my film collection, especially when the gear is being offered for free :-)  But there is also a hint of trepidation with any old film camera acquisition, since many of them have been rather neglected over the years and can be in a terrible state of disrepair!

Much to my surprise (and delight), however, Eric pulled out a Pentax SV in very good condition - complete with Super Takumar 55mm f1.8, 2x converter and Soligor 200mm f4.5 lens. A very quick inspection only added to my excitement, since the lenses themselves looked surprisingly clean and mold-free! Bonus.

Later that evening I pulled the gear out and had a decent look. Fortunately it only confirmed my initial thoughts, and I'm now the proud owner of an excellent condition Pentax SV kit. Thanks Nancy & Eric!

There's actually quite a lot of information on the Pentax SV on the internet, since it's something of a cult classic. The last of the Pentax screw mount M42 type cameras before the bayonet mount Spotmatic was released, the Pentax SV was produced from 1962 to 1968. In 1964 the camera was re-designed slightly to accommodate a new Pentax 50mm f1.4 lens. The re-designed cameras are designated with an Orange 'R' engraved on the rewind knob (pre-1964 SVs have a green 'R'). Since mine has an orange 'R', I can date the camera to after 1964. I'd like to think that it's from around 1967 - the year I was born - making the camera at least as old as I am! That's pretty cool.

In terms of features, the list isn't large. It's an all-mechanical (no battery required) camera with shutter speeds from 1 sec to 1/100th sec plus Bulb. There is absolutely no meter (hence no need for a battery), no viewfinder information (it isn't even split screen to help with focusing), a self-timer placed under the film rewind/ASA wheel, a focal plane cloth shutter and a frame counter - and that's it. It's a 100% manual camera, using M42 screw-mount lenses. Hence its appeal and cult status among film camera enthusiasts.

My copy looks very clean, the shutter cocks smoothly, shutter speeds seem ok - and as already mentioned, the lenses look great - so I'm quietly confident that it will take some decent images. It looks and feels like a reliable, solid, no-nonsense film camera. In short- a classic Pentax. And I am really looking forward to shooting a roll of film through it. I may just have found my Christmas holiday project.

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