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01-07-2008, 02:03 PM   #1
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I like my new Program Plus

Last week I traded in a couple of 35-80 lenses (the AF and non AF versions) and got some cash and a camera body. I chose a black Program Plus. I have to say, I'm really impressed. I think this is going to become my go-to user camera.

Things I like:
- Sturdy construction. Lots of plastic, but enough metal to inspire some confidence.
- Great viewfinder. It isn't as big as some others, but you can see ALL of the frame perfectly when wearing glasses. The matte focussing screen is very bright and coarse enough to judge focus on the entire frame, plus there is a very good split image rangefinder.
- Program, AV and manual exposure.
- The cool little "ambient" backlighting for the meter readings.
- Batteries are cheap and available everywhere. ($1 for 5 at the Dollar store!)
- Manual advance. I love having a proper thumb lever on a film camera.
- Threaded cable release socket.
- The front and back grips make this much more comfortable than the pure rectangles like my SpottieF.
- The frame on the back grip to hold the cardboard flap from your film. Didn't realize how thoughtful and useful that would be!
- Flawless match for A lenses and M42s.
- The classic design. Small black body that is recognizably a serious camera. It's cast from the same handsome mold as the Canon A1.

I do wish that it had the shutter priority mode of the Super Program, so that I could more easily use my 18-35 FAJ. As it is, the FAJ is only useful in "Program" exposure mode. On my MZ-M, having shutter priority allows full control of the FAJ lenses.

I also noticed that this body is not fully compatible with my newest (and best) lens -- a Sigma 24-135 2.8-4.5. It's a shame because this lens is full frame and is otherwise a nice match to the body. The body doesn't recognize the minimum aperture being communicated by the lens, so in program mode the body will meter F stops down to F/1.2. Aperture priority on the Sigma also seems flaky, so that leaves the lens full-manual only. I have to experiment more to see if the metering is accurate or consistent with that lens in full manual mode.

Anyone else have any bouquets or brickbats for this camera?

01-07-2008, 06:16 PM   #2
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Congrats on your new acquisition!
I'm considering buying one myself (winder included), but there's that small issue regarding lack of money.
01-08-2008, 04:20 AM   #3
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I really like mine, it's my favorite Pentax in my one step from the top Pentax historical line up:
SP1000 - P Plus - ZX10 - K100D. There's just something cute about it, and thanks for articulating just what it is about the view finder I loved at first sight. I haven't found any issues with mine, it works with every lens I have, and meters better / more consistently than the others, K100D included. I posted a pic in the other thread of my P Plus sitting rugged in the mist.
01-08-2008, 05:36 AM   #4
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Very happy to hear about your acquisition. I was watching an auction for the same model.

One little point, if I may. the feature in the middle of the screen is a "split-prism". A "split-image rangefinder" is a rangefinder camera (whole different animal than an SLR) with the relatively rare focus system of having two images appear one above the other, such as in a Kodak 35 RF, as compared to the almost universal superimposed image type.

01-08-2008, 08:19 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
I posted a pic in the other thread of my P Plus sitting rugged in the mist.
Indeed you did. It's a superb model.
01-08-2008, 09:26 AM   #6
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Interesting point. Certainly split-prism is a more accurate description, but I have seen split-image rangerfinder used to describe the same feature in focusing screenings from Nikon, Mamiya, Hasselblad, Minolta... none of them true rangefinder cameras.

It's amazing that the prism can work so well at finding the ...uh.. range of focus! LOL

PS I get my first roll back today, I can't wait to see that everything turns out fine (exposure, frame spacing, no scratches etc.)
01-09-2008, 09:19 AM   #7
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I got my first roll back and I'm pleased! Frame spacing is perfect, no film scratches. Exposures are great. I shot daylight and lots of low light/night stuff, in Program, AV and Manual and the metering was perfect.
01-09-2008, 09:41 AM   #8
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Congratulations! It really is a great camera.

01-11-2008, 05:17 PM   #9
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That's cool filmamigo:-). You never know for sure till you get some pictures back.
Did you, by any chance, get any of the pics scanned? I would like to see how they look!
01-12-2008, 06:38 PM   #10
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By the way, in case you don't already have it, here's the manual:
Pentax Program Plus instruction manual, user manual, free PFD camera manuals
01-13-2008, 11:20 AM   #11
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It's my impression that the Program Plus is just a 'Super Program' with a feature or two left out so it could sell in a lower price bracket. these are the bodies for which the 'A' series lenses were developed. Auto focus and some improved (automated) film handling is pretty much the sum total of 'improvements' made to 35mm cameras in the 20 years after these were made.
01-15-2008, 08:59 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eaglerapids Quote
That's cool filmamigo:-). You never know for sure till you get some pictures back.
Did you, by any chance, get any of the pics scanned? I would like to see how they look!
I'll get my next rolls scanned and share.

For my test roll, I didn't bother paying for the scans. I just shot a processing-included roll from Black's (rebadged Fuji 200) and looked at the negs and 4x6 prints.
01-15-2008, 09:19 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by rvannatta Quote
It's my impression that the Program Plus is just a 'Super Program' with a feature or two left out so it could sell in a lower price bracket. these are the bodies for which the 'A' series lenses were developed. Auto focus and some improved (automated) film handling is pretty much the sum total of 'improvements' made to 35mm cameras in the 20 years after these were made.
Indeed. When I got my Program Plus I looked at a Super Program first. But it was a beater, and the Program Plus was a clean black body. I figured I can live without shutter priority and analog TTL flash.

The Program Plus feels decidedly "retro-modern". It looks like a classic, but it's not missing anything modern that I really want!
01-15-2008, 06:04 PM   #14
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Have you figured out how to push that little button to go into or out of auto and/or manual without tripping the shutter, lol? I lost my very first frame when I tripped the shutter trying to figure that little bugger out:-). This body is so small compared to the K10D but it quickly gets comfortable in hand.
01-16-2008, 02:15 PM   #15
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LOL! I am very wary and walk around with it UNcocked. I pray I never want to change the mode switch after I cock the shutter...
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