Whether you suffer from GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) or enjoy it, be aware that reading 35mmc.com will most certainly fuel it! So far, I have bought two cameras based on reviews here: Canon Sure Shot Classic 120 and Pentax SF1n (SFXn). I have already posted my mini review of the Canon, now it’s the Pentax’s turn.
Believe it or not, I bought this camera exclusively for its design. Many reviewers say it’s ugly, in my opinion it isn’t true. The Pentax SF1n among cameras is like Pontiac Aztek among cars – a bold fashion statement and a slap in the face to public taste!
The camera looks more complex and advanced than it actually is. In fact, it’s very basic like a big point & shoot. This camera is as simple (and loud!) as the Mosin-Nagant rifle. The ergonomics may look strange at the first glance, but after getting used to, become very straightforward. The autofocus isn’t very fast but accurate. Manual focus is very easy due to focus confirmation, split screen and two clever little arrows that show which way to rotate the focusing ring. The centre-weighted metering is surprisingly accurate. The camera has some annoying drawbacks: it’s loud, it uses expensive batteries, and the only way to set aperture is the aperture ring of the lens. The camera works with aperture ringless lenses too, but in this case, the exact F value cannot be set. It can only be controlled indirectly through two special exposure modes: Action (fast shutter speed and large aperture) and Depth (small aperture).
I used several lenses with the SF1n, both auto and manual, and all the pictures were perfectly focused. Speaking of lenses, I especially like to use the old Pentax-A 35-135mm F3.5-4.5 on this camera. It’s a manual focus lens from the previous generation, but it looks like this lens and the SF1n were made for each other. I was reluctant to buy this lens because of haze, but the $20 price was too good to pass, and I am glad I bought it! Despite the haze, or maybe due to it, the rendering is special: very detailed but slightly soft and dreamy with nice colours and low contrast. This kit inclines me to pensive, leisurely, contemplative photography. It’s a pleasure to walk with it far from crowds, on a lakeshore or cemetery alleys, slowly turning the focusing ring and watching beautiful images coming into focus in a big, bright viewfinder…
However, not until I added the third component – the film – did I achieve my personal photographic nirvana. My film of choice is Kodak Vision 3 250D. With this kit and film, I can shoot about anything and admire how well everything turns out: warm vintage colours, soft but detailed image, smooth tonal transitions, wide dynamic range, fine grain pleasing to my eye… Of course, this cinema film requires proper processing and scanning – a flatbed scanner or a digital camera cannot give it justice. My lab uses a Noritsu HS1800, and their 30-megapixel scans are fantastic!
Here are a few randomly selected examples:
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