Phenix DC303N

I saw this one for sale cheap on eBay and thought…oooh, I have never heard of that manufacturer before. It was advertised as “for parts” so I managed to get it for just over £10. The seller thought it worked, but couldn’t be sure. I was willing to take a chance.

It came with a Pentax mount 50mm f1.7 lens. My example had a slight dint on one side, hence the cheap price. I used a tool to straighten or curve it out again and was eventually able to attach a 52mm filter to the front.

When I researched it, many posts about student cameras and darkrooms came up. Apparently this camera was produced around 2005 specifically for new learners of photography. You can read about that and get some technical details here. It was also sold as the Braun SR2000 PK and the Vivitar V38000N.

I love the look of this camera. It reminds me of the Pentax P30T with the grey top. When mine arrived the battery cover was in two pieces. This seems like a common issue as this reviewer in Japan also had a broken cover. I simply superglued mine back together, but it is the same size as a number of other cameras I have. Luckily the superglue worked. The 2 LR44 batteries power the TTL light meter, but the camera works mechanically. So if they become depleted, the camera will still work.

I had no doubts this camera worked so I loaded it with an experimental film, an expired Svema from 1989. The film was boxed as 250asa, but I set the camera to 50asa. Then I went for a walk to a field with a friendly horse and finished the film near my house. Here are some of the results.

Well, I was right the camera worked. Despite the grain, I could still see the lens was sharp and the exposures were correct. The camera has a nice weight to it, feeling quite sturdy. The viewfinder had a split prism surrounded by a microprism which made it a delight to focus. The TTL meter was a +/- symbol type, with no auto mode. It also has a multiple exposure button. It really is a perfect camera for a student photographer.

I quickly reloaded it with fresh HP5 and headed to Manchester, my first visit there for a while. It was a rainy and sometimes snowy day, but the f1.7 lens should have been perfect for that. However I did find it tricky to focus the camera in very dark areas. You can see that in the bench photo below. I am not sure if that is the fault of the camera or my eyesight as I have had this issue before.

Here are some of the results from that film.

What a super camera, I highly recommend it. There are no fancy bells and whistles, just a great camera that you can attach great lenses too. Mine was far cheaper than other similar cameras, such as the Pentax K1000 for instance. When I looked on the UK eBay site recently I didn’t see any others for sale, so it doesn’t come up often. The only issue I could find with this camera was a slight shudder of the depth of field preview button when the mirror activates. If that is where you place your left fingers when you fire the camera, then you will feel it move. It doesn’t affect the photos though. It is a minor issue that might surprise you when it happens. So a great SLR with a lens for less than £15, bargain.

Oh and this is my 500th post on this blog 🙂

15 thoughts on “Phenix DC303N

  1. Toby says:

    Happy 500th birthday/anniversary……whatever ya call it.
    It’s one of those cameras can te you liked shooting. The Manchester photos are great.
    Quite a handy camera to have around stashed in a car or something for those moments that a photo opportunity pops up out of the blue, I mean a manual shutter that does 1/2000th is a handy beast and quiet rare, certainly in the world of PK mount cameras

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peggy says:

      I was thinking of stashing a camera in my car, but was thinking of something a bit more point and shoot. You are right, this one would be good for that though.


      1. Mike Connealy says:

        Congratulations on finding that nice camera; it was also marketed as the Hikari 2002. I got mine for five bucks from a thrift store in Albuquerque. You got really nice results from that Phenix 50mm lens.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Leon Blankenhorn says:

    I chanced across that lens when I started out photography, and used it on my Pentax K10D. It seemed just as good as the Pentax-M SMC 50mm F/1.7 to me! Now I know where it belonged to originally.
    Congratulations on your 500th entry, that really is an incredible amount.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Peggy says:

      I might use it in my ESii seeing as that lens was a bit dodgy. Yeap 500 is a good amount considering most are camera reviews. Thanks.


  3. arhphotographic says:

    I saw a load of these cameras going on eBay a couple of weeks ago and like you though about buying one. As you say it is also a Vivitar v3800n which I then realised I already had but haven’t used yet. What a great little camera and what great results. Many thanks for the review. Also for the encouragement to go and use it.


    1. Peggy says:

      Thing is…now I want to try another version too. The cosina CT1 and the variation are all slightly different. Are these variations different too?? I am not buy cameras at the moment so you will have to let me know.


      1. Peggy says:

        I have tried the c1, but it is in my draft folder. I will post it this week sometime. My ct1g didn’t work well so it is now a pinhole camera.


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