Film Photography – Pentax S3 (yes, PENTAX!)

We are working on a very exciting concept shoot at the moment, and needed this particular camera for it.

Searching through Ebay I found one (it seems to be quite rare find), advertised as fully working and apart from a few scratches on the pentaprism in very good condition.

Launched in 1960, it is completely manual with no metering of any kind, although a ‘clip on’ meter became available a few years after it’s introduction. It was generally supplied with a Pentax Auto Takumar SMC 55mm F1.8 and ours included this in the sale.

This camera has opened up a new world of lenses – 42mm screw thread. I have now picked up a Soligor 200mm F3.5 and another Pentax Auto Takumar SMC 55mm F2 for £10 each in a local secondhand shop, both in superb condition.

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The testing ground was a stroll through Bournemouth from the upper gardens down to the pier. A roll of Fuji Superia 400 was loaded, and I used my Sekonic L358 light meter for exposure.

The first thing I noticed was there is absolutely nothing visible in the viewfinder – no flashing LED’s, LCD’s, meter needles, aperture or shutter speed indications – just a plain view of the subject. Not long after a few close up shots in bright overcast light, the sun came out for the rest of the test shoot. I found myself using the ‘sunny 16 rule’ method of exposure. This means that in full sunshine you set F16 on the lens and the equivalent shutter speed of the ISO being used – so with 400 ISO film I used a 1/500 shutter speed. The light meter was also confirming this. I shot mainly on either 1/500 @ F16 or 1/1000 @ F11. The fastest shutter speed on the S3 is 1/1000 so I couldn’t use any wider apertures.

The film was processed and scanned by Jonathan at Snaps Photo Services and I was presented with a 10″x8″ contact sheet with 25 perfectly exposed images – amazing!


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About Dave Jackson Photography

Lifelong photographer based in Dorset, specialising in Landscape and Wildlife Photography
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