The Pentax ES was the world's first 35mm SLR with a fully electronic shutter system. When set on automatic, the ES has a stepless shutter. The Pentax memory device computes and delivers an infinite number of exposures between 8 and 1/1000 second - automatically. If 1/555 second will give you the right exposure, that is what will be programmed.
The Pentax ES utilizes the last generation screw-mount Super-Multi-Coated Takumar and SMC lenses. In addition to the legendary flare control and color fidelity that has made these lenses so popular, the S-M-C/ SMC lenses are designed to allow open aperture metering on the ES, ES II and Spotmatic F. The viewfinder remains bright under all conditions, making focusing easy. In the event that earlier lenses without the open-aperture metering coupling, the ES provides stop-down metering with the familiar switch near the lens mount. In any case, the meter is activated by partially depressing the shutter release button. These features make the ES less than one-quarter inch taller and only six ounces heavier than the Spotmatic F.
The standard color for the ES was black, which was a departure for previous Pentax M42 bodies where black was a special order. With both the ES and ES II, chrome was the special order version. The ES name on the face of the body replaced Electro Spotmatic on the earlier model released only in Japan and had improved circuitry. The size of the circuits did not allow room for a self timer in the ES.
Price when New 7186 - camera with 50mm f/1.4 $360 7187 - camera with 55mm f/1.8 $320 7188 - camera body only $290
Nice solid camera to use and surprisingly accurate auto-exposure mode
No metering in manual mode
Price (U.S. Dollars)
I can recommend this camera: Yes
Value, Features, Performance & Size
Good value second hand, Av and manual exposure modes, exposure compensation dial. Quite large compared to the more common M series cameras but still not that big.
I tell myself that I ought not to like this camera. It has no metering in manual mode, and no self timer. Compared to my M series cameras it is heavy and large and the viewfinder is darker than the later models (although good compared to many of its contemporaries). But I love it and when I want to use a M42 camera this is the one I go for nine times out of ten. It has a good solid feel in the hand, the auto exposure is surprisingly accurate (I have no qualms about using slide film in it) and it does have an exposure compensation dial to allow you to adjust the exposure when needed. I rather like its looks too. Provided you can make sure the electronics are working OK, I would recommend this camera to anyone wanting to try M42 lenses on a contemporary body with just a touch of modern convenience.