Pentax MK
5 frames with...

5 Frames with my Dad’s Pentax MX and Kodak Tri-X 400 – By Armando Caballero

July 17, 2022

My first memory about photography dates back to the day when my dad decided to explain me the principles of exposure, I must have been around 12, I guess. I remember we sat down in a rocking chair we used to have at home, and he explained to me the meaning of shutter speed and aperture. He showed me in real-time what all of this meant with his Pentax MX. I never forgot the lesson.

Around 20 years later I started to experiment with photography on my own, and soon after that, I discovered that Street Photograph was a big passion of mine. I started using digital but then became interested in doing some film photography as well. After a short talk with my dad, he told me that it was actually quite easy to develop my own film at home so that is how my analogue journey started back in 2019.

I first got a cheap point and shoot to see if I liked the analogue process and I totally loved it. After that, as my dad lives abroad, I asked him if he could send me his old analogue camera to the UK. That old Pentax MX he used to explain to me the exposure triangle so many years ago. When I finally got it, I found out that it was not working and it needed some servicing, so I had to send it for repair. After that, the camera came back to me working the same way that it used to do during my dad’s lesson. I went out with camera in hand, and I fell in love instantly, I do not know what the sound of heaven is, but I’m pretty sure that it sounds very similar to that shutter moving.

A candid shot of a man in London's SOHO

A candid shot of a man in London’s SOHO

I have been using this camera since as my main camera and it is actually the only SLR I own. I enjoy the creative and artistic process of photography more than the technical aspect, so I’m not very interested in collecting many different cameras and gear. Hence, I stick with the same camera and lens that my dad used to use, and a nifty fifty. I really like 50mm for my street photography because is very similar to the distance framing of the human eye. I already know what will be included in my composition before even looking through the viewfinder.

Among the different black and white film stocks that I have tried, Kodak Tri-X remains my favourite. It produces beautiful contrasts and I really love the blacks that this film gives. If you put these, together with the beautiful grain that it produces, the final result is my personal favourite black and white film photo look. In addition to this, every time I’m wandering the streets knowing that I have such a legendary film stock loaded into my camera it makes me look even harder for that special candid shot.

I love London and I love street photography, so this is normally my playground. I love to wander in the city for whole days looking for my own stories to tell through my images. My intention is to capture the real essence and flavour of the city. The photos you can see here were all taken in London using my dad’s Pentax MX with a 50mm lens using Kodak Tri-X 400.

Street photograph of a Londoner in the South Bank

Street photograph of a Londoner in the South Bank

Young lady walking in central London

Young lady walking in central London

Street portrait in London

Street portrait in London

A lady waiting at an Underground Station

A lady waiting at an Underground Station

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Alex Vye
    July 17, 2022 at 11:06 pm

    Excellant photos, article. Been trying out the 400Tx myself 🙂

    • Reply
      Armando Caballero
      July 17, 2022 at 11:22 pm

      Hello Alex. I’m very happy to know that you liked my article and my photos, I really appreciate your time. Oh, that’s great, I really love this film. To me, simply the best black and white film stock out there. It has become a bit expensive but I still believe is worth it. I would normally shoot at least two rolls of Kodak 400Tx every month. I normally shoot it at box speed but I want to experiment with pushing it to 800 or even 1600. Have you tried pushing this film?

  • Reply
    Andrew L
    July 18, 2022 at 8:48 pm

    Wonderful photos, I like the mood and subjects. I also just got my hands on an old MX, I’m excited to try it, I’ve been thinking about that camera for a while. I actually haven’t used much 400TX, HP5+ is my go-to. I’ve found HP5 easy to push to 800 and 1600, 800 is only slightly grainier, while 1600 gets you into a whole different look, with extra grain and contrast, but quite cool. I’m sure the Tri-X will handle things in similar fashion.

    • Reply
      Armando Caballero
      July 20, 2022 at 8:21 pm

      Hello Andrew. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my article and leaving a comment. I’m sure you will love to shoot with the MX. It is super compact for an SLR and the feeling of a fully mechanical camera is just fantastic. Ok, that sound very exciting actually. I think that’s a good idea, I will start experimenting with pushing using HP5 as it is more affordable than the Trix. What developer do you usually use for your pushed HP5?

  • Reply
    Dan Castelli
    July 18, 2022 at 10:49 pm

    The small Pentax cameras were part of a design movement in the latter part of the 1970’s to down size 35mm SLR’s. I always thought it was a fine camera. I’d compare it to a sports car. My Nikon FTn was worn out after 10 years of hard use. I had a bunch of Nikon lenses, so I got the Nikkormat. If my investment in Nikon lenses wasn’t so big, I would have switched to the Pentax. Your photos are great; you mastered the one camera/one lens technique and you have a great eye.

    • Reply
      Armando Caballero
      July 20, 2022 at 8:24 pm

      Hello Dan. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment on my article. Wow…that is a great way to put it “sports car”…I love that comparison 🙂 They do feel like that…I would even dare to say that the MX is somehow sexy, as compared to a bit more bulky SLR from the same era. Thanks for your compliment, I really appreciate it and it made my day 🙂

  • Reply
    Alex Vye
    July 19, 2022 at 3:54 am

    I haven’t tried pushing it yet. Trying to get the hang of getting good negatives at box speed 🙂

    • Reply
      Armando Caballero
      July 20, 2022 at 8:25 pm

      Ok Alex, I’m sure you will get wonderful negatives at box speed, the Trix is really a great emulsion.

  • Reply
    Richard de Bulat
    July 20, 2022 at 5:08 pm

    Really nice set of photographs

    • Reply
      Armando Caballero
      July 20, 2022 at 8:26 pm

      Hello Richard, thank you very much, I really appreciate your feedback on my photos very much. I’m happy you liked them 🙂

  • Reply
    Alexander Seidler
    July 22, 2022 at 6:57 am

    Good photos !

    • Reply
      Armando Caballero
      July 22, 2022 at 9:17 am

      Thank you Alex… I’m happy you liked them 🙂 you can see more of my work on my website if you have the tims. Have a great day.

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