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Pentax 67


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Pentax 67

31 May 2020 6:55AM   Views : 853 Unique : 572


Yet again, this is largely to do with Dave, aka mistere…

If you’ve been reading this blog regularly, you’ll know about my 4-year affair with an Asahi Pentax Spotmatic: more recently, I decided to buy a medium format camera – this would be back in the late Eighties, I think. I’d been so impressed by the tonal quality that an elderly (and not very fun) Yashicamat gave that I started looking at more versatile options.

There were three leaders. At the time, the glamour community was raving about the Mamiya RB67: it was the same sort of thing as the ubiquitous Canon plus vertical grip plus 70-200 L-Series for studio portraits. Very big, very heavy, not terribly agile. I’ve always felt they should have a Benbo tripod welded to the bottom. Otherwise, you needed the hands of a gorilla to hold it...

There was the Hasselblad 500/CM, mainstay of fashion and portraiture. When I tried one, I decided that I needed a third hand. Subsequently, I’ve learned that if you use the right grip, and have a lever wind, it’s much easier. Maybe something about that another day.


And the Pentax. Surprisingly light. Really easy to handle if you were used to a manual 35mm camera. I may not have been the first person to say it, but ‘Spotmatic on steroids’ says it nicely. The model found more favour on the continent than it did in the UK, but there have always been plenty of photographers who can live with two serious drawbacks for the sake of the handling.

The wooden ‘broom-handle’ grip for the left hand and the focus ring extension make things even easier.

Drawbacks: a big focal plane shutter synchs for flash at 1/30 second, which makes weddings (where you need to use flash to fill shadows in sunny weather) a real pain.

And the 6x7 format means you get ten shots from a film: while other medium format SLRs have interchangeable magazines, the Pentax needs a new film every 10 shots, and it’s a sit down job if you don’t have a table.

I found the secret watching a documentary on the Pirelli calendar – possibly the one Bruce Weber shot for 2003. You have a dozen assistants, and at least half a dozen camera bodies (and sets of lenses). Ten frames, hold out your hand and someone plonks another identical camera and lens in it, set for the shots you’re taking…


For mere mortals, it slows the pace, and provides a conversation point. The lenses are superlative, and my strong impression is that they are geometrically better than the Mamiya equivalents. My lenses go from an original pattern SMC Takumar 105mm to third-generation. I believe all changes were cosmetic.

If you needed to use flash out of doors, there were a couple of lenses available with leaf shutters. I’ve not handled one, but I believe that you need to set the focal plane shutter to 1/8 or less… Not rapid. But the separate shutter in the lens will let you synch at 1/500, just like a ‘Blad.

It’s a thing of beauty, is the 67. There are several models through time – the original 6x7 from 1969, a 1976 update with much-needed mirror lockup, the updated 67 in 1989, and finally the 67II in, which allowed you to use a finder incorporating a meter that gives Aperture priority as well as manual light readings. But even having a light meter on board feels like cheating…


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mistere Avatar
mistere Plus
10 38 8 England
31 May 2020 12:53PM
A thing of beauty, love the wooden grip. There's something about older film cameras, they are so much more than
the sum of their parts. Even if they don't work they can be the subjects of wonderful images.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2063 England
31 May 2020 1:59PM
I'll add to that - partly because I've got an idea or two for a future blog about 'feel' - on the whole, the something, in terms of operation, is mightily assisted by quantities of metal and glass. Plastic, even the very wonderful and high-tech plastics that AF SLR bodies tend to involve, just doesn't hack it.

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