5 frames with...

5 frames with a Pentax Auto 110 – by Martin Connolly

For the last 2 or 3 years I have been reading about the Pentax Auto 110. A real SLR but tiny. Something about miniature cameras really fascinates me. Reading all the reviews of how good the viewfinder is, and seeing some quite excellent images taken with one on Flickr finally convinced me that I really had to get one.

After a little while looking in eBay, I found a very nice little example with the standard 24mm f2.8 lens for a reasonable price – £33. I was considering buying a complete set with wide and telephoto lenses, but this seemed a sensible first step into 110 photography. To go with it I got 2 rolls each of mono and colour film from Lomography.

Initial impressions were excellent. I had forgotten how easily 110 cartridges are loaded (open camera, insert cartridge, close camera, wind a couple of strokes). The viewfinder really is bright and clear with a very usable split focussing circle. The 24mm lens (handily, 110 is almost identical to micro four-thirds in crop factor so that equates to 48mm) focuses down to 40cm. And it weighs next to nothing!

So I took the wee beastie out in the garden, and for a few strolls in the lanes around my house, loaded with the Lomo Orca 100 mono film, and afterwards sent the film off to the Silverpan lab in Bristol for dev/ scanning to TIFF files. It may not be the quickest service but it’s really good to to deal with and very good value for 110 processing. NB I usually scan negs myself, but without a 110 mask the results would almost certainly be rubbish.

Here are a few examples. All have had fairly standard treatment in Lightroom (shadows/highlights/sharpening). I’m quite impressed by how sharp the lens is, and the Orca film isn’t bad either, at least in good light, as you would expect with ASA 100. Some other frames showed a pattern of white dots which Silverpan reckoned are causes by light leaking through the Lomography film backing paper. To stop that, they recommend sticking tape over the frame counter window. We’ll see what effect that has for the next roll, which will be colour, using Lomo Tiger 200.

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  • Avatar
    August 6, 2019 at 10:29 am

    The Auto 110 is a nice camera. It handles a lot better with the winder mounted, IMO. Even if you don’t use it for winding on. But the winder also helps if you don’t like the 2 stroke winding (or one needs a Auto 110 Super, which go quite expensive these days).
    I have the same trouble with ORCA 100 – those spots, will try taping the window over as suggested, thanks for the hint.
    Kind regards,
    Martin in Austria

  • Avatar
    August 6, 2019 at 10:58 am

    Alan D at http://austerityphoto.co.uk/ is a big fan of 110 film format and cameras and has written quite a lot of 110 camera reviews. He also noted the appearance of the dots https://austerityphoto.co.uk/holy-lomo-moly-the-curious-case-of-light-spots-on-lomography-110-film/ but implies that for some people, it may be part of the whole Lomo aesthetic 🙂

    This review has made me think again about actually shooting with my Auto 110 Super – I’ve got some expired 110 cartridges and have been looking for an excuse to give Silverpan Lab a try!

  • Avatar
    Terry B
    August 6, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Some excellent shots here. Goes to show that with quality optics and processing it is possible to get good results from the 110 format.
    The lenses are incredibly sharp wide open at f2.8. I have a cheap P110 to Sony Nex adapter and which I use on my Nex 5N. Even with the APS-C sensor there is virtually little fall-off in coverage or vignetting. So using these lenses on micro 4/3rds would be perfect. The main problem is that the aperture setting is in-body, so no way to stop down the lenses when adapted for digital use. I’m going to see if I can work out a simple Waterhouse stop arrangement behind the lens. But on the 110 itself, you can safely get the other lenses in the knowledge that they all perform equally well.
    And, yes, the reflex viewfinder will surprise all those who look through it.

  • Avatar
    Kurt Ingham
    August 6, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Really nice – irrespective of format, but especially for 110

    • Avatar
      August 6, 2019 at 7:30 pm

      Thanks Kurt. It’s a lovely little camera.

  • Avatar
    August 6, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    Nice shots, and a great mini-review! It’s good to know about the light spots. I thought I had light leaks, but the backing paper issue makes more sense.

    • Avatar
      August 6, 2019 at 7:29 pm

      Thanks Will! I’ll post something on my twitter account (@theoldsmithy) when I get the next roll back from Silverpan. It might be a while, I have about 6 cameras all with half-used films 🙂

  • Reply
    Pentax Auto 110 – Martin's attempts at photography
    August 6, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    […] Update: a slightly different version of this post is now up on 35mmc.com […]

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