Tag Archives: 1970s

Canon F-1

This represents a turning point for Canon: their first professional grade camera, introduced in March of 1971 along with a new lens mount – the FD range.

The F-1 established it’s pro-credentials by offering a huge range of interchangeable parts – viewfinders, focusing screens, winders, backs – and a range of flash accessories. Also notable was the 1/2000s top shutter speed

A number of interesting technical solutions are seen with the F-1, including TTL metering achieved by locating the meter cell at the side of the focusing screen, where light was directed to it by a small mirror. This allowed metering to be independent of the finder attached, much simplifying things.

One of the most curious accessories was the Servo EE finder, a bulky finder made even bulkier by the battery pack it needed, holding 8 AA cells. This finder incorporated a servo motor – hence the name and the need for all the batteries – which mechanically connected to the shutter speed dial in order to change speed based on metered light and selected aperture.

Olympus OM10

In 1972 Olympus introduced their OM line, and reset consumer expectations for the size and heft of a 35mm camera body. The various OM1/2 variants were very successful and so, in 1979, the OM10 was introduced at a more amateur friendly price point.

During the time when I studied photography at school – 1979-1981 – the OM10 was heavily advertised in the various photo rags of the time. Construction was a little less robust than the pro oriented single digit models (OM1 etc), but price was commensurately lower and it still accepted most of the OM line of accessories.

In standard configuration the OM10 is aperture priority only, much like the Pentax ME/MV, but a rather dinky little manual adaptor was offered – and which is fitted to this example. The manual adaptor allows the user to select the shutter speed when the primary dial is set to manual by way of a rather clumsy slide switch. It’s a very simple affair comprising of nothing more than a calibrated knob and a mini headphone jack. I strongly suspect it’s nothing more than a well calibrated variable resistance.

There are a couple of aspects of the OM line that are noteworthy, including the presence of depth of field preview built into the lens rather than the body. There’s a little tab on most OM lenses which sops down the aperture mechanism. While on the subject of OM lenses, it’s noteworthy that the aperture ring is at the front of the lens rather than at the rear – where almost every other maker put it. Personally I’m not a fan of this approach.

While smaller than the prevailing 35mm bodies when the OM line was launched in 1972, but the late ’70s Pentax had shown us what was possible with the ME line. The OM10 is bigger and feels crude by comparison – dials seem plasticky and finicky to operate compared to the ME derivatives.

The museum example seems to be in pretty decent working order – the battery is still operational, the shutter speed lights up in the viewfinder and the electronic self timer works. It even has the iconic Japanese Camera Inspection Institute quality control sticker intact 🙂

Pentax KM

Essentially an Spotmatic F, the KM is what many feel the K1000 should have been. Introduced alongside the KX in 1975 as it’s less expensive sibling, the KM still offered a self timer and depth of field preview – both features that were thought to be omissions from the K1000. Interestingly, the depth of field preview lacks the lock-out feature found on the KX.

The meter is a little less sensitive than that in the KX, and the film speed range a little smaller. There’s no aperture window in the viewfinder, but there is the ability to record either the number of exposure or the type of film using a small wheel under the rewind knob.

As with the KX the KM was offered in both chrome and black, though I’ve never seen either in anything but chrome. They weren’t made for more than 2 years, and so there are relatively few still around. This one was pretty dirty when received, but has cleaned up somewhat.

Pentax KX

1975 saw the introduction of the KX as the advanced-amateur model in the Pentax K series lineup, seen as one step up from the KM. As with all the K line, the body is essentially a bayonet mount development of the Spotmatic line, and physically very similar.

Metering is of the match needle variety, and the display shows both selected shutter speed and the speed required to achieve “correct” exposure. The pentaprism window looks out onto the aperture ring, so the selected value is also visible through the viewfinder.

As the advanced member of the lineup, the KX also offers mirror lockup, a self timer, depth of field preview (with a lock-out feature) and a switch for the light meter. It’s otherwise similar to the K1000 – the VW Beetle of film cameras – in that it’s pretty heavy, solid, and decidedly mechanical in use.

Pentax MX

Introduced in 1977, and produced until 1985, the MX represented the flagship of Pentax’s 35mm line. Unlike the ME and derivatives, it features a mechanically timed, cloth shutter. It’s smaller and lighter than the KX, which it succeeded, but other than the overall body form factor it shared little with the ME range. Only light metering required a battery, for example, and there were no automatic metering modes offered.

As the “professional” model in their line, the MX offered interchangeable focusing screens, a choice of data backs, a bulk film back, and both a winder and a motor drive. There’s a small window built into the finder pentaprism which peeks out at the aperture ring, and lets the shooter see it through the finder. It’s a solidly built, well crafted piece of jewelry.