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09-18-2010, 06:13 PM   #1
Ole's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
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Posts: 4,189
Pentax SL

The SL was essentially a meter-less version of the Spotmatic as it lacked the behind the lens ttl meter. It was pitched by Asahi Optical to replace the legendary SV. The SL had the slot on the shutter speed dial to allow it to accept clip on meters (model SL) and was popular with those that preferred using a dedicated Spot Meter.

Standard Lenses: Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 or 55mm Super-Takumar f/1.8 with fully automatic diaphram. Distance scale: 0.45m (1.5 feet) to infinity. Filter size: 49mm. With depth-of-field scale. Equipped with diaphragm preview lever which affords visual check of depth of field. Distance Scale: 45cm (18') to infinity.

Shutter: Focal plane shutter with single non-rotating dial (dial rotates to select shutter speed but remains stationary when exposure is made - this is a reference to earlier cameras that had shutter speed dials that rotated when the exposure was made). Shutter curtains of special rubberized silk.

Asahi Pentax SL
Also marketed as
Honeywell Pentax SL
Year introduced
1968 or 1966?
Automatic aperture stop down
No light meter
Exposure modes
Manual, B
Shutter speeds (auto)
Not applicable
Shutter speeds (manual)
B, 1 - 1/1000s
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
B, 1 - 1/1000s
Self timer
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Not applicable
Multiple exposures
Ratchet type rapid wind lever. 10 pre-advance and 160 advance angle
Flash hot shoe
Built-in flash
TTL/P-TTL flash
Flash sync speed
FP and X terminals - 1/60s
Flash exposure comp
Not applicable
0.88x (with 50mm lens)
Viewfinder type
Pentaprism finder with Fresnel lens + microprism
Diopter correction
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Through switch on lens where available
Image size
24 x 36 mm
Size (W x H x D)
143 x 92 x 88mm (with standard lens)

Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
View Picture EXIF

Last edited by Ole; 10-10-2010 at 04:25 PM.
02-11-2011, 01:00 PM   #2
Senior Member

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Edmonton, Canada
Photos: Albums
Posts: 202
Pentax SL Camera Review

Pros Build quality, ergonomics, fully manual, no batteries, no meter. Kit-lens optics (super-Tak f1.8/55mm).
Cons no meter, necessity to overhaul.
Rating 8
Price (U.S. Dollars) 20
Years Owned <1

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
see above

Camera Review
This is the Spotmatic reduced to its basics. There are no batteries, no light meter, no ISO setting (just a reminder dial). You load the film, remember the rules of exposure, eyeball the light, set the shutter, focus, set the aperture, stop down, check depth of field, adjust if necessary -- and press the button. As a camera to do all that and no more than that, with TTL composition, this is unsurpassed, for ergonomics, and for ease of layout and smoothness of controls.

Extras: There are plugs for X and FP flash, but no hotshoe. A tripod screw hole. A self-timer. That's about all. Lighter than a Spottie or a K1000, but same size -- ultra-simple to grip, after being used to MX a little big but can still be operated with the fingertips.

I got mine as-is, with a f1.8/55mm Super-Takumar lens that had a broken focussing ring but was optically clean. This particular camera was quite dirty and with lots and lots of minor scuffs and scratches -- but no dents, no gashes, and no unaligned seams. All the mechanical controls functioned smoothly. Only the mirror locked up a little at first, but exercising the shutter at all speeds for about twenty minutes -- in two rounds of ten minutes a day apart -- seemed to relieve that problem. It has not come back. The winding, diaphragm, and shutter seemed to function without hangup. The sound of the release is a little different for someone used to the MX action: it is deeper, a little quieter (at least on my example) and somehow more "conclusive" when it goes.

I shot a roll of B&W before I put the camera in for an overhaul. I was blown away by the sharpness of focus and the look of the background blur. Hard to say if I was just plain lucky in judging or systematically misjudging exposures, but all seventeen exposed shots were usable and more or less correctly exposed. The conclusion is that the mechanics of my SL have apparently survived their four and a half decades well. (I will still send the camera in for overhaul.)

It's hard to imagine anyone using this for serious or even hobbyist work in 2011, but if you want to remind yourself what photography is about, shoot a roll with one of these. Just don't cheat. Figure out the exposure youself. It'll be worth it.

Last edited by asaru; 02-16-2011 at 01:48 AM.
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