Pentax PC35AF

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The PC35AF is Pentax’s first AF point-and-shoot. Released in 1982, which is 5 years and 3 years after Konica’s (C35AF, also the world’s first) and Canon’s (AF35M) first respectively. On the other hand, Nikon’s first (L35AF) was introduced one year after. Among these four cameras, the Pentax is the smallest mainly due to its lack of a motor winder (AF35M, L35AF) and the use of a thumb-wheel instead of a winding lever (C35AF) for manual film advance. Its small size is also partly contributed by its shutter-lock incorporated sliding lens cover which is also unique when compared to the other three.

Like the other three early AF point-and-shoot’s, the PC35AF employs an AF system that uses triangulation of active near-infrared beam, and thus can theoretically focus in total darkness. Lens-wise, like many of the AF point-and-shoots in the same era, it has a fast wide to wide-normal prime, specifically a 5-elements/5-groups 35mm f2.8. For comparison, the Nikon L35AF has a 5-4 formula which, according to Nikon, is derived from the 7-3 Zeiss Sonnar. The Konica C35AF and the Canon AF35M on the other hand use a simple 4-3 Tessar derivative. Nevertheless, all four lenses are pretty sharp and exceed the need of the intended use of these cameras. Below are two sample shots taken with Kodak Ektar ISO100 color negative :

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Beside a fast and sharp prime and it compactness, the feature I like the most about the PC35AF is its lack of motor-winder. This makes the camera much quieter to use and better suited for street photography. However, in low-light condition without the flash, the camera will still make a beep sound (it will be great if this can be somehow disabled). The only thing I do not like about this camera is its limited ISO range, ISO25-400. This means I will not be able to push films like HP5+ to ISO1600 for twilight and indoor uses. Despite this limitation, the ISO setting is in 1/3 EV steps and thus precise exposure compensation can be achieved, something that a DX-reading only camera cannot do.

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Other than the traditional black color, the Pentax PC35AF is also available in red, silver, and green-camouflage. All three are quite rare and collectible. The camera also has an optional motor-winder and a “Date” model. Finally, Pentax released the PC35AF-M in 1984 which has the motor-winder built-in and DX-reading range of ISO25-1600.

Status : In Collection

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