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Pentax P3N / P30N

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11 68,411 Fri October 19, 2018
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $23.86 8.50
Pentax P3N / P30N

Pentax P3N / P30N
Pentax P3N / P30N
Pentax P3N / P30N

The Pentax P3N/P30N is an upgraded version of the P3/P30. The only difference is the addition of Av auto exposure mode to the Program and Manual exposure modes of the predecessor.

Unlike the P30T, the P30N has a horizontal split-screen focusing screen.

Year introduced
Meter range
1 - 18 EV
Meter pattern
Manual ISO range
DX ISO range
25 - 1600
Exposure modes
P, Av, M, X, B
Exposure compensation
Exposure memory lock
Shutter speeds (auto)
1 - 1/1000s
Shutter speeds (manual)
1 - 1/1000s, B
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
Self timer
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Multiple exposures
Built-in flash
TTL flash
P-TTL flash
Sync speed
Flash exposure comp
Autofocus sensitivity
Not applicable
Power zoom
0.82x, 92%
Viewfinder type
Diopter correction
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Image size
24 x 36 mm
Panorama format
2 x S76
Battery grip/pack
Size (W x H x D)
137 x 87.5 x 50.5 mm
500 g
Price History:

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New Member

Registered: June, 2008
Location: Bergen
Posts: 19
Review Date: October 19, 2018 I can recommend the Pentax P3N / P30N: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 7 


Whenever I encounter this model i get depressed. Because this was one of the cameras I considered when I wanted to buy a new camera back in 1989. I am Iranian and I lost my Zenit camera in the time I was a refugee in India and Pakistan. After two years I came to Norway and camera was one of of my first priorities in my new life. The seller recommended this camera and i got the brochure for P30N along with the canon EOS 1000. I studied but I didn't understand much. i just understood that the Canon was Auto focus and had several programs where as the Pentax was a manual camera. P30N was considerably cheaper but stupid me chose the EOS 1000 an entry level, fully plastic with not essential feature like self release which i hated. After a few years I sold the Canon and bought a used Chinon CE3 memotron with 28 f2.8, 55 f1.7 and 70-295 f3.5. I fall in love with the feel of all metal lenses and continued with manual cameras until 2006 I got K10d and officially become a Pentaxian.
Many of us, myself included love this series of camera but I think in fact this serie was the beggining to make Pebtax smaller and smaller. It is a very strange phenomenon, Pentax comes with SFX the first ever Auto focus camera with TTL flash metering and a few years later drop the auto focus system and get back to manual. Call people stupid. i have no problem to admit my own stupidity but you cannot change people. Business is business, it's about earning money. It is not a cultural work. I think Canon with dropping the FD system and converting the whole concept of it's SLR to EOS gave an image of progress and modernity. My cheap EOS 1000 was an EOS and their professional grade cameras were also EOS.
Pentax lost a war where their own failure was a big element in.
New Member

Registered: June, 2017
Posts: 7

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: April 28, 2018 I can recommend the Pentax P3N / P30N: Yes | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Easily available today - with every feature you need
Cons: owners have often mistreated them

Pentax P30 - The perfect "slow-camera" for today:

Why do you want a film camera in 2018? If you want to "use" it - then it is for the joy of taking your time and getting the image right first time. No autobracketing 7 exposures on AF to pick the good one later with photoshop. No the aim is 36 fantastic images on one film roll.

So you need:
[1] a bright viewfinder and manual focus with split image focus aid - suitable to work even at F4 light levels
[2] a range of inexpensive prime lenses fron 28-200mm
[3] manual control of aperture
[4] Manual control of shutter speed - or a minimum of auto-exposue with a "memory lock" function
[5] depth of field preview
[6] standard button battery cells - voltage safe for silver oxide/alkaline and not dependent on an obsolete mercury type.
[7] exposure check in the viewfinder - visible in the dark with LEDs.
[8] on-camera hot shoe for fill in flash bursts

Do you need AF, motor drive, high speed flash, 1/4000th second exposure, programme matix metering for a film camera in the days of digital.......they are no help at all!

So what camera gives you this that was built in the late 1970s-90's that is worth buying today?

There are fans of the Nikon FE2, FM2, Leica R, Minolta x500 & 700, Olympus OM1 & 2, Canon AT1 and F1......but look at the number avaiable for sale and the price asked. Today the P30 is the "unloved bargain" cinderella camera that meets my requirements. It sold in millions and it is why it is my No.1 choice now in building a cost-effective and "future proof" film system.

Over the last 2 years I bought 6 P30N'S and returned 3 (all the bad ones had been stored damp - look for the tell-tale rust on the screws that hold the body together). Usually I bought them with lenses bundled together - such that I now have 3 good P30 bodies and a set of great lenses from 28mm f2.8 to 200mm F3.5.

Why buy 3 x P30's ? - well most SLR film are now uneconomic to repair - so with 3 good working examples that should keep me going until 35mm film is sold no more.

Add a set of classic filters - and you are ready to go.

Yes - ME's are pretty, Program A's technically superior, MX's tiny, LX's just fabulous - but as a cost-effective working tool the P30 is the top choice today.

Some complain about the "clunk" shutter noise - OK - then buy an Olympus OM1, but that sweet noise comes with rubber and silk curtain shutters to fail and critical battery issues and high cost lenses - so are they worth the cost?
Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2014
Posts: 1,350

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: November 1, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax P3N / P30N: Yes | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: dirt cheap, robust body, manual mode, no light seals
Cons: no pc port, dx locked, batteries required, no aperture indicator, no shutter priority

I bought a P30t, many years ago, after I lost my MX in a move.
I lost the P30t in another move, still had a few lenses and accessories.
Bought an MX of the ebay, then decided to buy a P30t as well, as it came with several lenses and other stuff.
Then I ended up with a couple other P series bodies that came with various lenses and stuff I wanted.
I now have a P3n and a P30t and they both get use. I use the P30t for color film, and the P3n for B/W.
For bang around sturdy reliability with the awesome selection of lenses available for the Pentax 35mm cameras, and at the price they can be found, the P series cameras are excellent for any level of 35mm photographer.
I do wish the body had a pc port for off camera flash.
I wish the body had a non electronic shutter function.
I would like to have some indication of aperture used in finder.
I prefer the MX LED exposure indicator. And I would also like a match needle as well.
In bright light, the LED is hard to see and use, and in very dark, the match needle is hard to use. Having both would be best. And Free Beer would be nice too.

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 7,241

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: October 30, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax P3N / P30N: Yes | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Solid feel, reliable, compact, great meter, great viewfinder
Cons: No ISO over-ride, 1/1000s max shutter speed, ugly shutter sound

I have a P30 and a P30N and they are essentially the same but the N adds aperture priority.

The P30 series of cameras is probably THE bargain of 35mm manual focus SLRs. Solid, compact, reliable, competent, extremely cheap - they have everything you really need in a film camera. The viewfinder is extremely good, very similar in size and brightness to the ME Super.

The ugly shutter sound is a minor annoyance. The camera automatically detects the ISO from the DX coding on the canister and defaults to 100 if the canister isn't coded. It can't be over-ridded except by making your own DX codes using paper, glue and tin foil and putting it over the existing code. I spent an hour doing that and made up a variety of DX codes to use when necessary and that's that. I feel that for the era this camera is from, 1/1000s is a bit poor for a maximum shutter speed, but then most of my other (older) film SLRs have the same limitation.

There's no real exposure compensation, but there's a "memory" button - you point it where you want to meter, press the button, and the exposure locks for around ten seconds to give you time to re-compose and focus. I never use it, I prefer to just change the aperture or shutter speed on manual mode to make the necessary changes.

Despite being from the 80s, these cameras are still quite handsome and were probably the last line of well-built consumer cameras produced before the plasticky, cheap AF bodies came in. The P30 series are always the first cameras I recommend to beginners because they're so good and cheap, but even for people beyond beginners they're still very useful. My P30 and P30N are possibly my most-used film cameras.

Here are a couple of photos from this camera.

Pro Image 100 043a
by Jonathan_in_Madrid, on Flickr

NY T-Max 400 063a
by Jonathan_in_Madrid, on Flickr
New Member

Registered: September, 2014
Posts: 14
Review Date: October 30, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax P3N / P30N: Yes | Price: $30.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Design, Body, Auto Modes, Simple
Cons: Tiny bit plasticky, Requires Batteries, Matte Paint

Nice body and design, a delight to use. Shooting with it is very fun and the meter is superb. As it is one of the newer, older SLR's (If that makes sense?) it is easy to find in perfect condition.

The only two things I didn't like was the requirement of batteries, which is only a slight annoyance but if you have them it doesn't matter and they are easy to find, and the fact that it is plasticky in some areas. It has a metal body but certain parts are plastic and the matte finish for the metal body makes the metal feel like plastic which is an annoyance.

Overall I would definitely recommend this camera as a simple auto SLR or as part of a collection but not as a first SLR or for someone who expects the world from their equipment.
Senior Member

Registered: November, 2012
Posts: 124
Review Date: March 21, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax P3N / P30N: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: ergonomics, weight
Cons: iso override

This was the camera i started learning photography a few years ago, for me it was just a camera... i didn't know what were features, so i didn't really care...
i always used it in manual mode and with manual lens with no A setting even though it supports A Lens

The camera has a built in timer that didn't work, so i couldn't really test it
I love the body, it's lightweight (compared of course to what i use today, a dslr k20d) and from what i can see, it was sturdy.
im not sure if it's a feature since this doesn't happened on the p50 i currently own so i'm not sure it my p50 is bad
when you half press the shutter button, the metering system turned on, on my p50 it doesn't , it has a button on the side that turns it on for you.
i love the wheel to set the speed, overall if you get this camera to learn photography it think you are well served

i didn't sold the p30, i had to return it since it was borrowed
if i ever come across a p30 for the price it's worth i will get one. (i found a cheap p30t but the gray plastics didn't game me much confidence)

Just a few pictures i did with this camera, nothing fancy like i said, and not very high quality scans too
black and whites were developed by myself with homemade recipes
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2008
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 2,461
Review Date: March 14, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax P3N / P30N: Yes | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: A mode, Excellent viewfinder
Cons: No ISO overrides

Lovely small camera. I never thought I will buy this as I already have too many film SLRs but when someone wanted to sell it and when I played with it for a moment, I really found it worth picking up.

Has a gorgeous viewfinder like my other cameras (Super A, ME Super) and overall camera feels solids. Does everything like my other cameras and has A mode, the only disappointment is that it does not have ISO override for push/pull however I can live with that.

It surely doesn't replace by other camera only because I love to shoot wide open and this one is limited to 1/1000s, apart from that it's a lovely camera.

Not important but worth mentioning, it has non-Pentax shutter sound, the shutter sounds way different from other Pentax cameras I have used, probably one of the reasons why I wanted it to be in my collection
Site Supporter

Registered: August, 2011
Location: Kansas City
Posts: 183
Review Date: May 17, 2012 I can recommend the Pentax P3N / P30N: Yes | Price: $37.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Intuitive, well-placed controls and very reliable
Cons: No manual override for DX coding

I wanted to get into street photography, but I didn't want to put any of my Nikon stuff in harm's way. So, I figured I would pick up an inexpensive Pentax SLR (I'd had a couple of MXs and a full array of M-lenses when I first got into photography in the late 1970s). I checked out this and other forums, and decided I'd look for a P3N.

I now have two of these -- both purchased off eBay. The build quality was good enough to convince me to re-invest in a lot of Pentax lenses, and I now have a really nice system.

Some see the P3N as a more modern version of the K1000, but I personally find it compares more to the MX. With its built-in grip, this is a very comfortable camera to hold and use. It is well-balanced with all of my lenses, has an easy-to-use and seemingly quite accurate meter, and a very nice single-stroke film advance lever.

Frankly, I'd give this a 10 if not for the lack of an override for the DX coding. That said, it really has not proven to be too big a deal when it comes to pulling/pushing film; I just make a mental note when I'm reading the meter, and I then adjust accordingly.

This camera has -- along with my 645N -- rekindled my love for Pentax gear. My Nikon FM2 and lenses now just sit in a box on the shelf. The Pentax stuff is just more fun to shoot.
Junior Member

Registered: October, 2010
Location: Virginia
Posts: 34
Review Date: July 28, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax P3N / P30N: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Solid feel, clear controls, bright viewfinder
Cons: No shutter-priority mode, lacks pop-up flash

I like the heft of this little camera. Not such a tank as the SF1n, it still feels solid and firm in the hand. The settings are simple, intuitive, none of the push-button gimmickery of the MEs or the slide-this-while-pushing of the SF1n. Use an A-lens, set the dial to A, the lens to A, and you're in program mode. Turn the aperture ring away from A and you're in aperture-priority mode. Turn the aperture ring away from A , the dial away from A, and you're in manual mode. A well-lit, easy-to-read column appears on the left margin of the viewfinder, showing your shutter speed setting, which will kindly blink if it's not optimal and stop blinking when you get the settings adjusted properly. The lack of shutter priority may give pause to some (it did to me), but, after all, manual mode enables you to shoot with the shutter speed you want. Same goes for exposure compensation: just use manual mode and adjust the aperture or shutter speed so that you have the under- or over-exposure that you want. The lack of a pop-up flash can be a nuisance if you find yourself needing a flash and have forgotten to bring one along, but since I seldom, if ever, use a flash, this lack hasn't really bothered me. In short, this camera is a joy to use.
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2009
Location: 14er Country
Posts: 323
Review Date: November 29, 2010 I can recommend the Pentax P3N / P30N: Yes | Price: $20.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: It's a forgotten workhorse that can be picked up cheaply.
Cons: No MLU, No ISO adjust

Pros It's a forgotten workhorse that can be picked up cheaply.
Cons No MLU, No ISO adjust
Rating 8
Price (U.S. Dollars) $20
Years Owned 1 Year

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
The P3n comes loaded with just enough features to make it a worthwhile shooter. It's size and weight are my ideal, and the camera is a joy to shoot with. As for value, it'll be tough to beat this one. These seem to be forgotten cameras of Pentaxia and they can be found pretty cheaply with a little hunting.

Camera Review
The P3n seems to be a bit of a forgotten camera, but makes a great little manual focus shooter. It has just enough features to make it pleasant to use, but not so many that it takes 5 hours with a manual to figure it out. The camera is just the right size and weight to match well with some Pentax primes, or a small zoom. Ergonomically, I really like how it fits into my hand. I'd have no problem shooting a P3n all day long.

In the end, there are only 3 real gripes I have with the camera, and one is just me being silly:

1) There's no Mirror Lock Up. It's not a huge deal, but when shooting in the 1/2 to 1/30th range, I can note a tiny little bit of blur on images, and I'm wondering if it's a result of mirror slap. Now, I try to avoid that shutter speed range if possible. If not, I use the biggest tripod I can manage to carry to my shooting location and try to damp it as best as I can. I think with those precautions, the blur would only be noticeable in the 16x20 or bigger enlargement range. Since I'm already pushing my luck blowing up 35mm slides/negs that big anyways, I'm not going to worry about it too much.

2) There's no DX coding override. Since I don't do much push/pull processing, this isn't a big deal to me. I could see it being quite problematic for some shooters, though.

3) I don't like the shutter sound of the P3n. Yeah...I know that it's silly to list this as a fault, but shooting film is purely for enjoyment for me these days. It's kind of a journey back in time for me. The cameras I remember using when I was younger (Canon FTb, Mamiya Sekor 500 DTL, etc.) all had quite satisfying "Ka-Thwacks!" to them. When I picked up a K1000 for the first time, it surged to the front as my favorite camera acoustically. Man it sounds nice! The P3n, on the other hand, has kind of a squeak to it that reminds me too much of a Canon A-series camera with the dreaded shutter squeak. Unlike those Canons, the P3n seems to be in no danger with it's squeak, but it still isn't quite as satisfying of an experience for me. I'm just weird like that, I guess.

Beyond all of that, though, the P3n has proven to be a reliable, enjoyable camera that I quite like to take out and shoot with. Much of my last stash of Kodachrome has been shot with either the K1000 or the P3n. I can't think of a better way to have a final huzzah with my favorite film than with these two classic Pentax bodies!

Registered: February, 2007
Location: Aurora, CO
Posts: 5,819

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: June 16, 2009 I can recommend the Pentax P3N / P30N: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 


The P30n was delivered both with a metal film door similar to the P30 and with a plastic film door similar to the P30t. All of them had a plastic bottom plate where one can open the battery cover without using a coin.

I bought the P3n not long after they were introduced, and used it regularily until 2005. I chose it over the still-available-new K1000 for the split-prism focus screen, DOF preview, off switch and smaller body. The P3n has a lot more features than that, those were the important ones at the time. As I recall the K1000 was $99 and the P3n was $149.

I had to return my first one; if I tightened a tripod mount too much the shutter wouldn't fire. That's the only problem I had until lately. Lack of use has made it necessary to wind and dry-fire the camera empty a few times before loading film, otherwise the shutter won't fully cock without winding two or three times. I have never had it serviced or taken it apart. I dropped it in 2005 hard enough to break my Sigma 35-70 zoom, but the camera still worked well and has no visible damage.

My sister got a P3 and I was surprised at the differences. The P3n has a cable release socket, Av mode, a grip on the film door as well as the front grip, and a battery door that doesn't require a coin. Both these have a horizontal split-prism. I handled a P30t and it felt more plasticky, but I don't know if that's actually true. The P3 and P30t reviews match my experiences with the P3n.

The camera has a very clean design at the top, and the knobs and controls are all protected. I've seen a lot of other film cameras with broken bits, and I am sure this protected design kept mine from breaking. I traveled everywhere with a barely padded camera bag, P3n, A50/1.7, Sigma 35-70 something, Takumar-A 70-200 f4 and Vivitar 550FD flash. The camera still looks great. Lately I added an eyecup from a ZX series camera, which works well. The markings on the shutter speed dial are painted, not engraved, and worn. They are displayed in the viewfinder, though.

I have a very nice black MX now, and yes, it does have a nicer mechanical feel and the best viewfinder. But I am afraid I'll scratch it. The P3n matches it very well for practical features.
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