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Mark's Pentax P3 Page

1985 to 1997. "The last mass market manual focus SLR to come froma major manufacturer." according to This was designed for absolute beginners, like a point and shoot with interchangable lenses. This was the first of 3 in the series, followed by the P3T and N in 1988 with improvements like aperture priority mode and a diagonal split screen.
Metering: TTL center weighted. DX-coding only, no manual override, sets un-coded film to 100 ASA. Exposure lock button.
Shutter: Seiko MFC E7 vertical travel shutter. Controlled stepless speeds from 1 to 1/1000 second, manual speeds from 1 to 1/1000 second, in 11 steps, and "B". Has a 12 second electronic self-timer that can be cancelled. Early version had no cable release socket, later version (like mine) did.
Focus: Manual. There is a depth of field lever, also good for stop-down metering with old M42 screw mount lenses with an adapter.
Viewfinder: Pentaprism. Shutter speed LEDs on the left. In program mode a P appears at the top and the selected speed. In manual the current speed and target speed are shown. Split screen surrounded by microprism ring. Has a flash ready LED when used with dedicated flash.
Exposure modes: Program and manual.
Flash: Using dedicated flash you can shoot in Program mode. Works with generic flashes at 1/100th sync speed.
Film transport: Manual advance and rewind. There's a film window in the door, which I will tape over, because by now the seal has rotted.
Batteries: 2xSR44/LR44
Lenses: Pentax KA or KAF mount lenses, focused manually.
Limitations: No exposure compensation. No way to know what aperture the camera has selected. Shutter somewhat noisy. That annoying DX-coding film speed selection only thing. Defaults to 100 ASA without. I've been reading about these cameras jamming due to a failure of the ratchet mechanism down in the bottom. I was hoping that, lacking a motor drive with a plastic gear train, this camera would be more reliable. Perhaps not. I learned this after bidding for this unit, and after learning of it's propensity to jam, hoped to be outbid. Nobody else wanted it, and I "won" for the starting bid of $10 bucks. I hope it works, as I have lots of K and Kaf lenses to shoot it with.
11-29-23: Camera and lens arrived in working condition. I read about so many jammed ones it was a surprise to get one that worked. No battery corrosion. Another camera that nobody else wanted. It came with a 50mm K-mount lens with no contacts. Program mode seemed to be working OK with it.
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12-8-23: Here's the first test roll of Arista EDU 100 ASA, developed 11 minutes in Caffenol-C (coffee). All shots were made in Program mode, and these are un-retouched. The first lens used was an Ozunon 35-70mm KA mount. The test pattern, shot on a lighted copy stand, looks dark. Suspect the meter is under-exposing. The first flash of my kitchen in the dark was taken with a Tristar 320TZB a generic thyristor unit. The second with a Vivitar 550FD (M,P,O) which is supposed to support Pentax. Both shots were at the P3's sync speed of 1/100th. Either the Vivitar flash isn't working, or doesn't support this model. The lens used for the river shots was a Promaster LD 70-300mm AF, F4-5.6. I think the camera is basically OK, but I might have to adjust the ISO a little. Next time I'll take the TTArtisan meter to compare and shoot with.

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