The first of the Pentax classic-looking SLR was the 1957 ‘AP’, sold in the US as ‘Tower 26’. It was quickly renamed Pentax S, different only by some cosmetic changes and speed settings – 125 vs. 100 and 250 vs. 200. At the heels of the ‘S’ came the ‘K’, similar to the S, with speed up to 1000 and introducing the auto aperture closes with the shutter firing. Here, Pentax added a paddle at the bottom of the lens mount, pushing a tiny pin at the bottom of the lens. The feature is activated via a lever on the lens marked ‘manual’ and ‘auto’ ‘manual’ closes the aperture per the F value, so focusing is in real mode, while ‘auto’ enables clear focusing with fully open aperture, closing just for the shoot. This feature confused me and assumingly more innocent souls, as not all lenses carry this pin, so no such option. Further, while looking at the ES II, there is no ‘manual’ option, so the lever is stuck on ‘auto’. See the last image below. The annoying German-style fingernail killer, twirling speed selector is still there, replaced on later models with a more reasonable and larger dial.
I think the main claim to fame is giving the ‘K’ name to Pentax’s most popular camera – the K1000, and further to the recent DSLR K series.
Speed selector matches that era convention, fast on top dial and slow on an additional dial at the front. Set the main dial to the red 30 to access the slow speeds and set the front dial as required. Once done, keep the slow speed dial on the red 30; otherwise, the shutter misbehaves. Speeds set still includes ‘T’, made redundant on later models as films became faster.
|580 gr, Body only
|Class average weight
|590 gr, Body only
|10-800, memo only.
|Focal plane cloth horizontal
|T, B, 1-1000