Vintage Camera: Pentax P5

Next up on in this week's vintage camera parade...one of my own--found again. I've had this Pentax P5 in a desk drawer for 20-something odd years. I don't remember exactly, but I think I got it as a birthday gift when I was in high school. Anyway, it sat quietly in the dark for all these years until I happened upon a unique lens at a yard sale.

I was pedaling along through a community yard sale a few weeks back when a table full of camera gear caught my eye. I put the brakes on and stopped to check things out. On the table amongst a bunch of some nice and some not so nice gear was this mysterious lens. I immediately noticed the big heavy glass and the wide angle, always clues that the lens might be a nice piece of gear. At $4, knowing that I had the old Pentax P5 body back at the house, I was sold and took the lens home. I've got my first roll of film in it at the moment and will post some shots once I finish it and get it developed.

The lens happens to be a legendary (at least among Asahi Pentax folks) and somewhat rare vintage SMC 1:3.5 15mm manual focus wide angle with built in yellow, red, skylight, and UV filters. This is just about as wide as you can get without going fisheye. Sadly there is no "-A" after the "SMC" or the lens would be worth a small fortune as only 100 of those were ever made. SMC refers to the lens coating. At a cost of $4, I can't complain as it has gotten me to break out the old P5 and start experimenting with film.

The camera I've fixed the 15mm beast to is a 1986 P5 (P50 for the rest of the world), a basic manual focus, no frills consumer body. It feels well-built but small compared to my digital bodies. It comes equipped with push-button LCD screen to change settings (I wish it had dials, but those are the breaks). Here are some more specs on the P5: speeds up to 1/1000, no DX film override, CW metering, exposure compensation, DoF preview lever, and exposure lock. It will do for me as I'm more about what's in the shot than trying to get all the settings just so.

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