Legendary (but now failed) American retailer Sears white-labeled cameras from a number of manufacturers from the 1950s through the 1980s, including a bunch of 35mm SLRs from Ricoh. For reasons lost to the mists of time, Sears turned to Chinon in 1985 for its final SLR, the KSX-P. It takes the huge range of manual-focus Pentax K-mount lenses. On this camera, Chinon cleverly figured out how to make program and aperture-priority modes work with Pentax-M-class lenses. No Pentax body does that!
I liked this camera all right when I reviewed it last year. But do I need this camera? This is a question I ask myself after testing each new camera acquisition. Operation Thin the Herd reduced my huge collection to about 50 “keeper” cameras, and I intend to keep to about that number. Every camera I bring in must clear a high bar or it won’t stay.
Easy program-mode shooting with my dozen or so Pentax-M lenses is compelling value proposition. It’s great to shoot and not fuss with exposure, which program-mode cameras let me do.
I brought the KSX-P along when my wife and I visited Madison, Indiana, in October. I loaded some Fujicolor 200 and mounted my 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A lens. I like the 35mm focal length over 50mm when I’m walking around cities and towns as it lets me bring more of the built environment into the frame with less backing up into the street.
The camera requires three AAA batteries to operate. When I installed some — they go in the grip — the camera didn’t spring to life. There’s some corrosion on one of the terminals, which is probably the culprit. I didn’t want to clean the terminal right then so I kept fiddling with battery placement and soon got lucky.
Shooting this camera again reminded me that I’m not crazy about its shutter action. When you press the button, the camera makes a wheezy sound, the length of which varies with the shutter speed. Then the camera makes the ka-chunk sound of the mirror moving up and down. It just doesn’t sound confident and sure. But the camera works fine, and returns good exposures. The KSX-P is also light and fairly compact, and is easy to carry around in the hand by the grip. It made a good companion on this evening photo walk, where I blew through the entire 24-exposure roll. I made most shots in program mode and a few in aperture-priority mode.
I don’t need this camera. I own three Pentax K-mount bodies that function well and are fun to use. I’m also not wild about the KSX-P’s strange shutter action. But on the balance I liked shooting this camera again. After we got home from Madison I put more film into it and kept going. The KSX-P stays in the collection, for now, at least.
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