I bought this camera from a seller on eBay once the lockdown had eased. It was very cheap, very cheap. It didn’t have a lens attached and was untested. But as the camera had an M42 mount, I knew I had lenses that would fit. So I put on the minimum bid and nobody else outbid me, yippee.
It was released around 1976 and was later superseded by the N version. The later version has information about the settings in the viewfinder. This version only has a +/- needle to let you know there is adequate light for your settings. So choose a speed you are happy with and change the aperture until the needle is in the middle. The light meter is powered by 2 LR44 batteries which is very convenient. I did find the viewfinder a little small and the needle was hard to see at times, especially when using a small aperture. To activate the needle you press a button next to the lens mount, above the self-timer. That closes the aperture…and darkens the viewfinder, hence the issue. This reviewer had the same issue of darkness. But a light meter it is and on this example it worked.
It looks and feels like a classic camera from the 70s, solid, heavy, and a handy weapon in a fight. No-one will get closer than 2m if you swing this around.
The first film I used was found inside another camera I bought. I had no idea if it had been used or how it had been stored, but seeing as I was now developing my own C41 films it was worth trying. In the end, it turned out the film was in really poor condition. I managed to get a few photos from it.
Bad though they are, I could tell the camera worked and the light meter was responding accurately. So given that I tried another film, again expired as I don’t want to waste anything in these times. This time I knew the film had been well stored and not used. So here are some photos of my garden and local park.
Well, they are quite nice. The first photo of the bluebells shows a lovely example of the swirly bokeh that the 44M can produce, with a bit of backlight it could be even more present. I was in the queue for the fish and chip shop when I took those ones, they were delicious. That shop has stayed open all through lockdown as the people who run it live in the shop, so they are already self isolating. It has been a lovely treat every now and then.
The throw of the film winder was quite long and I found once I developed the roll, the gap between the shots was very small. The gaps were consistently small, so there wasn’t a problem with the advance, it was just the design of the camera. That means you can probably squeeze an extra shot onto the roll.
I had been looking for another Pentax Spotmatic camera when I stumbled upon this. I much prefer this one. I love how it works with or without a battery. With a battery you have an accurate light meter, without them you still have a reliable manual camera. It uses modern batteries, so no issues with old mercury ones. It can still be found at cheap prices and there are so many lenses available for it. This other reviewer also has nice things to say about this sleeper of a camera. I have stopped looking for another Pentax as I am very happy with this.