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05-23-2009, 06:56 PM   #1
Ole's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
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Posts: 3,893
Pentax P3/P30

Year introduced
Meter range
1 - 18 EV
Meter pattern
ISO range
DX ISO range
25 - 1600
Exposure modes
P, M, X, B
Exposure compensation
Exposure memory lock
Shutter speeds (auto)
1 - 1/1000s
Shutter speeds (manual)
1 - 1/1000s, B
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
Self timer
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Multiple exposures
Built-in flash
TTL flash
P-TTL flash
Sync speed
Flash exposure comp
Autofocus sensitivity
Not applicable
Power zoom
0.82x, 92%
Viewfinder type
Diopter correction
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Image size
24 x 36 mm
Panorama format
2 x S76
Battery grip/pack
Size (W x H x D)
137 x 87.5 x 50.5 mm
510 g

Attached Images

Last edited by Ole; 05-11-2010 at 06:40 PM.
06-03-2009, 11:23 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Location: Henry, TN
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For all practical uses this is a P3n without the selectable Manual mode. Otherwise, everything said about the P3n is applicable. Actually not a bad P&S body. You can sometimes pick one of these up with an interesting non-AF lens for less than $45 US. (Well, maybe not so often today.)

I've had three of 'em and have given them to people that wanted to carry something other than a plain-vanilla P&S camera (after swapping out some more interesting lenses for generic 50/2.0's, of course).

Simplicity is the key word here. The ancestor of the plastic , non-AF body cameras. I suspect Pentax marketing learned a lot from this series. A more exciting word than 'plastic' might have made a big difference as the lighter weight body was certainly appreciated.

If I was given a choice between an M-, P- or Spotmatic film body as a travelin' camera today, I'd choose a P-body. Only 5% larger but 15% lighter than the M-'s and no contest with the Spotmatic/K1000's, to me they were more comfortable to hold and carry. I used various used P-bodies (mostly P3n's) from 1993 to 2004 with no mechanical failures or faults - a good system camera that was overtaken by the new AF (M-body) market. I did a LOT of shop/lab work with P3-series bodies and never had a failure of this design.

If you want to collect Pentax bodies, the P3-series deserves a place on the shelf. It never got acclaim in the press but it served well in the trenches until it was overcome by the AF bodies and their necessary marketing.


Some criticize the P-bodies -- but there was never an image I needed I couldn't take with a P-bodies, and that included accident investigation scenes and close-ups.

Last edited by pacerr; 06-03-2009 at 11:54 PM.
05-24-2010, 08:11 PM   #3
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spystyle's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Maine, USA
Posts: 424
Pentax P3/P30 Camera Review

Pros It's like a modern K1000
Cons None !!!
Rating 10
Price 20 USD
Years Owned 0.25

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
See review

Camera Review
It has many names :

Pentax P3n
Pentax P30n
Pentax P30t

Hello from Maine

Sometimes I find a camera that really clicks with me - the first Pentax camera I liked a lot was "K1000 SE" with it's split prism and subtle "needle metering" - I loved it.

With the popularity of the K1000 I sold it on eBay for crazy bucks and tried the P3 from 1985, it's super nice! I like it better than the K1000 SE.

And it was only like $20 USD !!!

The meter is nice and modern, silicon photocell equivalent (apparently) like our modern dSLR's. It really made great exposures for me even in high contrast situations.

Like these two pics of a white lighthouse and granite stones. The exposure meter wasn't fooled by that. It was so bright I was shooting f/16 at 1/500 (ISO 400 film).

It can shoot in "auto mode" when using an "auto aperture lens"

It can shoot in "aperture priority mode" with any lens

It can shoot in "metered manual mode" with any lens (like the K1000)

That's plenty of control if you want it, or auto mode if you don't.

And being a Pentax it can use a huge array of K-mount lenses and M42 lenses - attached in the first pic, and also used to take the two sample photos, is an M42 lens - Russian pancake lens Industar 55-2.

On the P3 camera M42 lenses are shot in "aperture priority mode" or "metered manual mode". M42 lenses don't have auto aperture on a P3 so you have to open the aperture to focus, then close it down to desired number to meter and shoot. It's kind of slow going but I like the M42 lenses on such a cool camera body.

The body itself is sleek and light weight, it looks plastic-y but it feel robust. It's much nicer than the K1000 body.

Like the K1000 SE it has a wonderful split prism focus screen that makes manual focus easy and enjoyable. The shutter speeds are displayed in the viewfinder on the left so you know what the camera is doing.

The film is manual wind and manual rewind, I like that. No noisy motors draining the batteries.

It's plentiful and unknown, meaning they are cheap to buy on eBay.

So if you are in the mood to try a nice modern manual camera, check out a P3n (or any of it's other names) I bet you'll like using it and I bet you're film will be well exposed

Here are some relevant links :

Matt's Classic Cameras: Pentax P30t

Pentax P3/P30 Reviews

have fun!

Last edited by spystyle; 05-25-2010 at 03:50 AM.
01-23-2011, 10:49 AM   #4
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drugal's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Detroit suburbs
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 257
Pentax P3/P30 Camera Review

Pros Simple to operate
Cons None that I remember
Rating 8
Price (U.S. Dollars) Gift
Years Owned 1989-1992

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Great Value, easy to use, simple metering display through the viewfinder.

Camera Review
This was the very first Pentax that I owned myself. I was able to take very good pictures with this camera without a lot of oversight from my Dad.

I wish that my current K-x had the easy to use metering that this camera has. I preferred it to the meter on my Dad's K1000.

I still regret putting this in my checked bag and having the airline gorilla's ruin it. (There was a crack in the plastic around where the film door closes that would make the back fly open unexpectedly)

01-25-2011, 05:32 AM - 1 Like   #5
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Yorkshire
Posts: 13
Pentax P3/P30 Camera Review

Pros Light and easy to use
Cons none really
Rating 8
Price (U.S. Dollars) 110 with lenses not sure in $
Years Owned 20

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
It is a little bigger than the ME super i own but still feels nice in the hands. Performance wise it does everything you need if ou want to be more hands on than just point and click.

Camera Review
I used to have a Minolts xg2 before selling it to pay the bond down on a flat along with all the other equipment I had at the time. But When I saw the Pentax P30 at a car boot sale I decided to take the risk and buy it for 110 which included a 50mm f2 lens and a vivitar 70-200mm A zoom and dedicated flash. AFter that I bought a wide angle lens and took up photography again. Going out quite often just on my own. An excuse to get away from the wife and kids. Thw P30 did everything i wanted and I usually used it in manual mode rather than aperature priority. I took it with me everytime we went off for the day or on summer holidays and even took the wedding photos at a friends wedding. They were delighted with them even though it cant be called a professional camera. But the photos were still good enough. I did stop using it for quite a while when i got too busy with work but have found time again and have even bought another camera. A pentax P30n. I havent used it much yet but hope it will be as good as the P30 I still have. I've also invested in a few new lenses so looking forward to the better weather to get out.
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