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Showing posts from January, 2008

Minolta SRT-101

I learned photography with this:

Minolta SRT-101 with an MC Rokkor PF 58/1.4

I learned photography with this camera when my dad allowed me to peek into its viewfinder when I was around six or seven years old. Eventually he would allow me to shoot with it with a workflow that included: match the needle-focus-shoot. For a skinny seven or so year old kid, that thing weighed a ton but I learned to appreciate it despite the heft.

Judging from the photographic records, my dad was a gadget guy who collected tech toys of that era (1960s) which included open reel tape decks and cameras. Even before I was born, there were plenty of photographs documenting our family life including my entry into this world in 1960. My first encounter with a camera actually came in much earlier when I was three years old when my dad brought home a brand new Petri 7s in 1963. The Petri 7s was introduced into the market that same year which hinted at my dad’s liking for things top of the line and brand new. Wha…

Canon Datematic

My introduction to Canon began with the Datematic (ca. 1973) which my dad bought because he thought the SRT-101 was too heavy to lug around. What happened instead was I co-opted it for myself, taking it with me to school (I was in high school by now). My own Olympus PEN-EE sort of died because of the use or misuse a tween kid threw at it (or it felt like a kid threw it…something I would regret now that I discovered eBay). Digressing, I never remembered what I used the Olympus for except for some really interesting landscapes in Japan and during field trips during my latter days in grade school. The stuff I took would probably make Lomographers of today, really proud and stand at attention. Alas, I did not bother to keep any of them…who would have known that a generation later those photos would be an art form.

Anyway, that died, so I ended up with the Canon rangefinder. My dad did not really have a choice, because what I was really interested in was the Pentax Spotmatic kit lurk…

Pentax Spotmatic


I first got my hands on the Pentax Spotmatic (SP) about the time I was in fifth grade (ca. 1971 or so) when my dad allowed me to walk around with it in a Boy Scout camp. My first impression about it was that it was sleeker and slimmer than the Minolta SRT-101. I do not recall when my dad actually got it but it was lurking in his closet for some time. He must have acquired it later than the Minolta although I would learn later that it actually predates that by a year (1964; the SRT-101 came out 1965).

What I would discover with the Pentax was depth of field (DOF) because of the way it meters; it had the original stop-down metering that closed down the aperture whenever you turned on the light meter. That was something I never saw with the Minolta which metered wide open (although I would later learn that the SRT-101 had a DOF preview button—but in 1971 that was taken for granted). I read the manuals so I theoretically knew about DOF an…

Canon AE-1

I loved it, I hated it.

Something happened on my way to buying my own camera. First of all, Canon made a very big splash when it introduced the Canon AE-1 in 1977. Secondly, I had a father who had this thing for the brand new or the latest model. So during the summer of ’77, I found myself being steered away from the Pentax K cameras (which by this time were already about two years old in design) to the Canon AE-1. The third big factor was the fact that it was my dad who was paying for the camera...

By the time my birthday rolled around in the third quarter of 1977, I found myself with a Canon AE-1, a Canon FD 50/1.8, the Power Winder A and a Speedlight flash. I eventually rationalized why it was a great camera (the winder for on--which the Pentax K cameras does not ordinarily have). It was also unique that it had an automatic aperture (Tv mode) which was quite different from the other cam…

Pentax MX

The whole exercise of fixing and eventually selling off the Canon AE-1 got me oriented with the buy and sell market of used cameras. Two sources stood out, a tailor and a barber in old Manila who bought used cameras from returning OCWs (Overseas Contract Workers—the term in the 1980s now referred to as OFWs—Overseas Filipino Workers). The gadgets to bring home then were SLRs (now it’s entirely different) and in keeping with local lore; homecoming OCWs would throw a big party which effectively drained their cash position. So they end up selling some of their goodies which were quickly bought and sold by these two men. Another source were the flea markets near the US military bases up north, where it seems that American servicemen would give SLRs to their Filipino girlfriends who in turn sold them…

The best deal for me at that time was a Pentax ME Super which came with an SMCP M 50/1.4 and a SMCP M 135/3.5. It was not exactly my first choice because it was automatic (Av mode) and h…

Doldrums: Between the MX and the MZ

The years immediately after getting married and having Erika join our family (1990-91), was the time when my photographic activity was reduced to family related events, my equipment shrinking down to the bare minimum: a Pentax MX with its winder, the SMCP A 50/1.4, the SMCP A 35-70/4, the SMCP K 135/2.5 and a Velbon tripod; no flash. By 1996, I decided that I needed a new camera as the MX was definitely showing signs of aging; even if I did have it CLA’d it will have to take a back seat to a more updated equipment.

Pentax was nowhere to be found and reading what was written on the wall, it may be time for a paradigm shift. I picked up a Nikon FM10 with which I plan to start building a new system. I quickly found myself in a mine field as I discovered that while it is theoretically possible to physically interchange different variants of Nikkor lenses with various Nikon bodies, making them work together or not even damaging ea…

Pentax MZs

Pentax came back into the Philippines care of a local distributor (Sanly) with a line-up that caught my attention: the MZ series. Two features especially stood out for me; they were small and the top and bottom models (the MZ-5 and the MZ-M) both had dials. As soon as I was able to sell off the P30t, I bought myself the MZ-M and soon exploded in creativity.*


Largely ignored in the autofocus dominated world, the MZ-M was positioned as the replacement of the K1000 (Pentax stopped producing the K1000 after 20 years in 1997 the same year they began production of the MZ-M). It seamlessly and intuitively went from manual to automatic exposure even with my decades old lenses (A 35-70/4 and the K 135/2.5) with a turn of the knob. No strange rituals like the Canon AE-1 when switching to manual mode; you simply turned the aperture ring to “A” to obtain Tv mode or the shutter speed to to “A” to achieve Av mode; put both on “A” and you have Program mode. Take both of “A” and you ha…