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09-10-2010, 07:16 PM   #1
Ole's Avatar

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PENTAX auto 110

The Asahi PENTAX auto 100 was the first interchangeable SLR camera for the 110 cartridge film format. The camera was a part of an extensive system with several lenses, two flashes, winder, close-up diopters and other accessories. The auto 110 was a precision instrument and could get the best possible image quality out of the 110 film format.
PENTAX auto 110
Year introduced
Pentax-110 Bayonet Mount
Meter range
3 to 17 EV
ISO range
Automatically set for
available 110 films
Exposure modes
Exposure compensation
Exposure memory lock
Shutter speeds (auto)
1s to 1/750s
Shutter speeds (manual)
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
Self timer
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Multiple exposures
Yes, optional
Flash hot shoe
Yes, Pentax-110 dedicated
Built-in flash
TTL/P-TTL flash
Flash sync speed
Flash exposure comp
0.75x, 87% coverage
Viewfinder type
Pentaprism with split
screen focus area
Diopter correction
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Image size
13 x 17 mm (110 format)
2 x S76
Size (W x H x D)
99 x 56 x 32mm

Winder, close-up diopters, filters, viewfinder diopters and other accessories were available.
Dual stroke rapid wind lever.

Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K10D  Photo 

Last edited by Ole; 12-14-2010 at 06:48 PM.
11-10-2010, 01:03 PM   #2
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PENTAX auto 110 Camera Review

Pros Smallest SLR ever made
Cons 110 film has been 99 abandoned
Rating 10
Price (U.S. Dollars) n/a
Years Owned 30
I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Smallest slr system ever made

Camera Review
This is arguably the best 110 film system every made by any manufacturer. It is really too bad that film makers abandoned the 110. Film improved dramatically from the 1970s into the 90s but most people had forgotten about these gems. Most of the improved film ended up in "disposable" cameras which is what kept the format going until 4 years ago when the aps film replaced it in that roll. However, this films were quite good when used with these Pentax 110 cameras.
02-07-2011, 09:21 AM   #3
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PENTAX auto 110 Camera Review

Pros Size, affordability, ease, fun-factor, fast lenses, cuteness
Cons Lack of manual controls, film support, fragility
Rating 8
Price (U.S. Dollars) 20
Years Owned 2

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
The Pentax Auto 110 has one amazing attribute going for it: Size. The Auto 110 is the smallest interchangeable lens ever mass-produced by anyone. Even the other 110 SLRs weren't as tiny, and didn't feature interchangeable lenses.

The camera has a competent and accurate autoexposure system, smartly combining aperture and shutter into one mechanism with one set of blades. There is a simple and easy Go/No Go light in the viewfinder to let you know when you need more light or a flash. Flash metering is automatic. All the lenses for the system are easily interchangeable, and all are fairly fast at f/2.8.

Camera Review
The Camera

The Pentax Auto 110 system is one of the more interesting and amazing cameras in Pentax's history. Even counting Pentax point-and-shoot cameras, it's the only true Subminiature Pentax ever made, and the only 110 film Pentax ever. In true Pentaxian fashion, rather than simply make a glorified point and shoot, Pentax went over the top, and gave us a cute and capable 110 SLR system camera.

The Pentax Auto 110 itself is diminutive, shorter but thicker than most point and shoot cameras today. It features a two-stroke winding lever, interchangeable Pentax lenses, and a wide variety of accessories, including the rare but very useful Belt Clip, two flashes, and a winder.

The Auto 110 has a combination aperture/shutter making use of a single set of blades. To make the exposure, it opens the shutter to the preset aperture for the set amount of time. Its TTL-metered and suprisingly accurate. It takes care of shutter speeds and apertures in a Program automatic mode, 6 years before Pentax's first 35mm Program-AE SLR, the Super A (Super Program.)

The film chamber takes standard Kodak 110 "Pocket Instamatic" cartridges, producing images 11x17mm. The film speed is auto-sensed by the camera, though most modern film eschews trimming the tab to denote high-speed because so few 110 cameras used it, or indeed even had meters. It's necessary to trim fast film cartridges to tell the camera it's using ASA400. Leaving the tab on makes the camera expose at 100ISO.

The Good

As you may know, one amazing thing about the Auto 110 is its size. This is a full-fat, high-quality SLR system that fits into a handbag with room left over. The entire kit with 2 flashes, six lenses, 2 bodies and a winder fits into a bag too small to even carry a DSLR with kit lens by itself.

The real party piece of the Auto 110 is that it's a true system SLR. Interchangeable lenses, add-on flashes, and a winder attatchment make it a truly useful camera, even if it's no longer quite as small by that point.

Focusing is manual, and achieved via a suprisingly clear viewfinder with a split-ring aid. I've found it to be quite accurate.

The split-ring screen, eye-level finder, ease of use, and size make this camera a winner in my book. I have all six of the interchangeable lenses, and without going into too much detail about them, I find the range (18mm wide all the way to 70mm telephoto, including a zoom) to be very useful. The lenses mount quickly and are sharp, bright, and produce beautiful Bokeh, as any Multicoated Pentax lens should.

Though the Auto 110 was hideously expensive in era, it's possible now to get the entire kit and the kaboodle for under $500. Not bad for the entire system!

The Bad

As much as I am pretty much the eternal fanboy of The Auto 110, The camera has a few shortcomings that need to be addressed.

The first is that despite its really, REALLY tiny size, the Auto 110's form factor is too lumpy to fit flat in a pocket like a digital camera or a pocket instamatic would. This is only a minor issue, though, as there are plenty of other ways to take advantage of its size for easy transport.

The second is a little more serious. Despite my gentle treatment of most of my equipment, my auto 110s seem to die on me with alarming regularity. I've had two of them go on of them just stopped firing its shutter, the other disintegrated. The old plastic was very brittle and it just literally fell apart. Auto 110s need to be treated with care, and banging them around in bags and pockets like their size makes me want to is an easy way to kill one.

The last one is the biggest issue, and the reason I don't carry an auto 110 with me everywhere, for everything. As amazing as it is to have program automatic in something that is so small as far back as 1978, the Auto 110's biggest problem for me is just that: Lack of manual settings.

Here you have a beautiful little SLR, and it seems there's no real way to use it like it IS an SLR. Sure, you focus it manually (unless you have the 18mm pan focus lens), but there is no shutter speed control. No EV compensation. No aperture control. No way to control the camera to get blurred action, freeze action, or increase or decrease DoF. The camera chooses what it chooses. Even more annoyingly, the camera won't even tell you WHAT it's choosing, except to tell you if the exposure will be longer than 1/30s.

This means that the camera's ability to do things regular SLRs can do is extremely limited. Even the simple addition of a Bulb mode would be hugely helpful in making it a true artist's camera. As it is, it's just for normal available light or flash photography. There's not even a way to get it to meter multiple strobes and do wireless flash reliably. Heck, the Auto 110 doesn't even have a self timer, though I'm glad it does have a cable release socket.

The lack of self-timer was addressed in the Auto 110 Super, as was the lack of EV compensation (It had a button that added 1.5EV for strongly backlit subjects,) but even that wasn't a lot. In the end, this SLR ends up being little more than a point and shoot.

Despite that fallback, I still have to reccomend it. The Auto 110, though just a "shapshot" camera, is a VERY GOOD snapshot camera, and it's small size and cuteness will have you starting conversations and having fun, despite its limitations.
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