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08-30-2014, 07:32 PM   #1
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Is the P3n a fully manual SLR 35 mm camera?

Help out there! Hi y'all, I need to know if my Pentax P3n is a fully manual 35 mm SLR camera. It has to be all manual for a photog class.
Thx...Ana Maria

08-30-2014, 07:41 PM   #2
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Yes, it can be used as an all manual camera (It is only in auto-mode when the shutter speed dial is set to 'A' and the lens is set to 'A'). But it has an electronic shutter, so it won't work without batteries. It also requires the film to be DX coded, there is no way to manually set the ISO of the film.
08-30-2014, 08:42 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
also requires the film to be DX coded
Not knowing how familiar the original poster is with 30 year old camera technology, I will point out that DX encoding is a pattern of black and reflective squares on the film canister. Does this class provide you with film to shoot with (presumably with the instructor filling canisters from a reel of bulk film) or is commercially packaged film used? I have fond memories of the P3N I purchased in 1985, it was the first SLR camera I ever owned, and I used it until 2001 when it was stolen out of my vehicle.
08-30-2014, 08:46 PM   #4
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Hi, Welcome to the Pentax Forums!

The P3n has metered support for the following exposure modes:
  • Av (aperture priority automation)
  • Tv (shutter priority automation)
  • P (programmed automation)
  • M (manual)
In M mode you adjust shutter or aperture settings until the viewfinder indicators indicate an appropriate exposure. As noted above, the weak point of the camera is that it defaults to ISO 100 for film speed unless the ISO is encoded onto the outside of the film container (DX system). This is usually the case for most commercial films but can be a problem with off-brands or self-loaded canisters.

In my opinion, it is a great camera except for the DX dependence.


Steve

08-30-2014, 09:37 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ana Maria Quote
Help out there! Hi y'all, I need to know if my Pentax P3n is a fully manual 35 mm SLR camera. It has to be all manual for a photog class.
Thx...Ana Maria
No, it is not a fully manual camera. You will want to look for something a K1000 for that. I'm familiar with the requirements they are looking for.
08-31-2014, 12:18 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by VoiceOfReason Quote
No, it is not a fully manual camera. You will want to look for something a K1000 for that. I'm familiar with the requirements they are looking for.
The P3N has a full manual mode, so I can't see why it wouldn't be fine. It's also a very good camera.

The limitation of DX coding can be circumvented by making your own DX code labels and sticking them onto the film canisters before loading. It's very easy to do. The camera will default to ISO 100 if it doesn't detect a DX code.
08-31-2014, 04:31 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ana Maria Quote
Help out there! Hi y'all, I need to know if my Pentax P3n is a fully manual 35 mm SLR camera. It has to be all manual for a photog class.
Thx...Ana Maria
Check here for a manual
http://www.cameramanuals.org/pentax_pdf/pentax_p3n-1.pdf

In reading it it supports all automatic modes, and manual, but as others have noted, it requires DX coding of the film, if the film is non DX coded, it assumes ISO 100, which means other speeds of film would require manual exposure calculation.

Check with your instructor as to whether it is an all manual camera, or a camera that supports full manual mode
08-31-2014, 07:32 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
The P3N has a full manual mode, so I can't see why it wouldn't be fine. It's also a very good camera.

The limitation of DX coding can be circumvented by making your own DX code labels and sticking them onto the film canisters before loading. It's very easy to do. The camera will default to ISO 100 if it doesn't detect a DX code.
The reason why it likely will not work is most of those basic photography courses require a fully manual camera with no ability to set anything automatically.

08-31-2014, 09:29 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by VoiceOfReason Quote
The reason why it likely will not work is most of those basic photography courses require a fully manual camera with no ability to set anything automatically.
90% of film SLRs have some sort of auto mode. If you're going to require 'fully manual' you might as well require no TTL metering as well. As lomg as the camera allows for manual exposure it should be acceptable.
08-31-2014, 10:15 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
90% of film SLRs have some sort of auto mode. If you're going to require 'fully manual' you might as well require no TTL metering as well. As lomg as the camera allows for manual exposure it should be acceptable.
I would agree, but too many of these classes want you using a K1000, Spotmatic, or some other equivalent. We have a local camera store here that sells K1000 kits for students because of that. I guess it keeps them from sneaking in auto mode picture there since film doesn't have EXIF data that would tell on you. Of course that last part is just a guess.
08-31-2014, 10:31 AM   #11
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VOR is correct. Some instructors are very strict about the camera being all manual with no options for any sort of automation, including DX code controlled ASA settings. Again, a K1000 would be the preferred choice. Unfortunately, it's that time of year when classes are starting everywhere and a quick check of the KEH site indicates there are no K1000 bodies or 50mm f/1.7 lenses in stock. I mention KEH because they are a well known and reputable used dealer; your camera will work when it arrives unless the shipping carrier mishandles it.

Even though there are no K1000 bodies in stock at KEH there could be a very silver lining for you. For $89.00 you can have your choice of a BGN chrome MX or a BGN chrome KX that are in stock. There's also a 55mm f/1.8 in stock for $49. Either the KX or MX with a 55mm f/1.8 is an excellent way to start your photographic adventure. Either will be a camera you can keep long after graduation but the MX is the real bargain here.

Expedite the shipping if you need it quickly.

Best of luck and don't forget to check back and post some pictures.

Last edited by MD Optofonik; 08-31-2014 at 10:39 AM.
08-31-2014, 10:56 AM   #12
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If the instructor is inflexible, don't bother with an overpriced K1000. Hit eBay for a Vivitar V3800N. It's fully manual, has manual ISO settings, and you can get one with a 50mm F/1.7 lens, or just use a Pentax 50mm lens, it's a PK mount camera. There is a BiN for $100...

Pentax cameras before the P series used foam light seals. These seals break down over time. The cost of having someone replace the seals can double the cost of an old Pentax camera.
08-31-2014, 11:41 AM   #13
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The vast majority of the classes just require a camera capable of manual aperture and shutter speed setting. Any instructor who'd require a camera that isn't capable of any automation needs to be put out to pasture before (s)he causes any more damage.
08-31-2014, 11:47 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
The vast majority of the classes just require a camera capable of manual aperture and shutter speed setting. Any instructor who'd require a camera that isn't capable of any automation needs to be put out to pasture before (s)he causes any more damage.
QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
before (s)he causes any more damage.
I agree 100% with this, why should anyone voluntarily take a course from an instructor whose only purpose in teaching is to be a PITA to his/her students?
08-31-2014, 01:03 PM - 1 Like   #15
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My 500th post. Yippie!

QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
The vast majority of the classes just require a camera capable of manual aperture and shutter speed setting. Any instructor who'd require a camera that isn't capable of any automation needs to be put out to pasture before (s)he causes any more damage.
It was, and I imagine still is, standard practice. A syllabus is not a set of options. One does not buy what texts and materials one wishes, one buys what is required. Pursuing photography outside of an academic setting does not require standardization, testing, and evaluation. Cheating is a very real issue for institutions and instructors and cause for serious disciplinary action; expulsion is often the result. Requiring an all manual camera is just another tool in discouraging such behavior, even from the best students, when the pressure is on.

Perhaps, times have changed and requirements aren't so stringent anymore. Everything seems geared toward the lowest common denominator these days so it wouldn't surprise me.
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