Monday, June 1, 2015

My Survival Camera

Warning: I’m a camera buff—I have a degree in photography—and I’m about to get esoteric.

Just as the Ford Model T was not the first mass-produced car—though everyone thinks it was—the Pentax Spotmatic was not the first single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera with through-the-lens (TTL) metering.

Pentax claims the title because they showed the first TTL SLR—the Spotmatic—in 1960 at Photokina in Germany, but they soon realized their metering pattern would not be ideal.

They redesigned it.

That delayed the product.

Topcon was the first to market with TTL metering, but no one remembers them over Pentax, kind of like how Plymouth was first to market with a “ponycar” but the Mustang is the icon that “started” it all.

The Spotmatic went into production in 1964 and the nearly identical K1000 went out of production in 1997.

During its 33 year run, the Spotmatic/K1000 was prized by professional photographers as a back up camera.

It was precise.

It was 100% mechanical.

It could take a beating and work flawlessly.

It could literally do tens of thousands of exposures before the shutter would need adjustment.

In short, it was a powerhouse.

An EMP cannot kill it.

My first camera was a Pentax ME—all-electronic—and I still have it.

I bought and sold an ME II and a SuperProgram, but I kept the ME for its diminutive size and the K1000 for its robust strength.

I used to have an arsenal of Pentax lenses. I sold all of them for as much or more than I paid for them. I have no regrets.

The ME needs hard-to-find batteries to make it work, but it is a robust machine and delivers excellent results even in a modern context.

The K1000 uses the same batteries, but is fully operational without them.

Granted, without batteries, you need to know something about exposure (i.e. set the shutter speed at 1/ISO rating of the film for bright light).

You could also get a selenium or a CDS exposure meter that use no batteries to set the exposure too.

Kodak Tri-X Pan film is still available and developing it is a cinch.

I know how.

Should every prepper rush out and buy an old Pentax?


A Nikon F/F2 would make a great choice as would a Canon F1.

Actually, there are a slew of 100% mechanical 35mm SLR cameras that can do precise imaging.

Will I give up my modern Canon DSLRs?

Hell no!

Perhaps, though, we should learn some forgotten skills.

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