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Pentax SV

The Pentax SV was launched in 1963 along with a range of Super Takumar lenses. It brought the heady technology of an automatic aperture and a self timer. The automatic aperture is a little metal plate in the throat of the lens mount that pushes a pin on the back of the lens to close the aperture down as the picture was taken. This eliminated having to focus with closed-down aperture, or to remember to use some form of pre-set mechanism. But it had no built-in light meter, and may have been the last model in the range to lack one. Even so, it was used by the Beatles in the Hard Day’s Night film. Now that’s a product endorsement.

In groovy hipster guise with a wrist strap

There was an update to the camera in 1964 to work with the new Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lens, as it protruded back into the mirror box and needed more clearance. The revised camera has an orange R on the rewind knob. My camera lacks this, so is a 1963 model. Speaking of which, the SV had a fold-out winding handle to rewind the film, which was not a common feature at the time. Nor was the single-stroke film wind-on lever, instead of a knob. The Pentax SV introduced what became the default layout for 35mm SLRs.

Dwarfed by the lens. You can see that the R is not orange. The red dot means the shutter is cocked.

It also has one rare feature in having a T position amongst the shutter speeds. This opens the shutter on the first press of the shutter and keeps it open until the button is pressed again. It’s useful for long exposures as you don’t need a locking cable release or to sit and hold the cable release down. I admit to only ever using the T setting once, on a different camera, to try some star photography. The feature worked but my pictures were rubbish.

Connections for both flash and bulb.

It has one old-fashioned feature in the release catch to open the back. This is a catch on the side of the camera. The Spotmatic, which came later, had the now-standard method of pulling up the rewind crank.

Look, no meter!

The other thing you’ll notice is the flash hot shoe. Or rather, its absence. The shoe is a separate item that clips onto the viewfinder eyepiece. Since I have far better cameras to use with flash, I leave it off to avoid losing it.

So there you are: good, solid, unpretentious and with a huge range of lenses. Works just like a modern camera, as it set the design for them. It’s up there with the Praktica as a post-apocalyptic snapper that will probably outlive the cockroaches.

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