It’s been gone since about 1963, but there used to be a grand Marion County Courthouse in Downtown Indianapolis. It was razed after the current City-County Building was built right behind it. This 1963 photo shows the courthouse, its cupola already removed, in front of the skyscraper that replaced it.
A group of eight statues used to stand high on the building, overlooking the city. They represented commerce, law, justice, agriculture, the north, the south, the east, and the west. Someone photographed six of them after they had been removed.
Remarkably, several of them still exist. Two are at Holliday Park in Indianapolis, flanking The Ruins near the front center of the park. The first I’ve photographed over and over; it’s one of my favorite subjects. She lost her head somewhere along the way. She’s second from the left in the photo above.
Here’s the other one, which I seem to have only ever photographed in black and white. She’s the fifth statue from the left in the photo above.
I found two more at Crown Hill Cemetery, although I’ve heard there are three there. This one is third from the left in the photo above. You’ll find her near the bridge that carries 38th Street over a lane in the cemetery.
I found the fourth on the way up the hill to the James Whitcomb Riley gravesite. Riley is buried at the highest elevation in the city, and signs point the way. She’s the leftmost statue in the photo above.
If you’d like to know more about the Marion County Courthouse and the City-County Building, check out Ted Shideler’s fantastic articles about them on his Courthousery site here and here.
Sears, Roebuck and Company sold cameras under its own brands starting in the 1950s. Outside manufacturers made them all; Sears was a department store, not a manufacturer. From the late 1960s through late 1980s, if you bought a Sears 35mm SLR, Ricoh made it — with one exception. Sears turned to Chinon for its last 35mm SLR, the 1985 Sears KSX-P.
This camera differs only cosmetically from Chinon’s CP-5. It offers two program modes, hence the “Dual2 Program” label on the prism cover. It also offers aperture-priority and manual exposure modes. You can mount any of the huge range of Pentax and third-party K-mount lenses to this camera. I don’t know how they did it, but automatic exposure modes work with any K-mount lens. I mounted one of my SMC Pentax-M lenses and program and aperture-priority modes worked fine. Pentax’s autoexposure SLRs required SMC Pentax-A lenses; older SMC Pentax-M lenses worked only in manual exposure mode.
The KSX-P uses a metal, vertical-travel focal-plane shutter that operates from 30 sec. (8 sec. in manual mode) to 1/1000 sec. It accepts films from 25 to 3200 ISO, selected using the dial around the rewind crank. Pull it up to turn it. The viewfinder features split-image and microprism focusing. The camera also chimes for various reasons mostly related to misexposure; you can turn that off with the switch next to the lens mount and under the KSX-P logo. That switch also activates the self timer. Three AAA batteries power the camera; they’re under the grip.
The two program modes are Program Action (Pa) and Program Creative (Pc), which you select with the gray lever on the mode dial. Pa chooses faster shutter speeds to freeze moving subjects, and Pc chooses smaller apertures for greater depth of field with static subjects. When using one of the program modes, put the lens at its smallest aperture. If you don’t, program mode still works, but the camera can’t choose apertures smaller than the one set on the lens.
Manual mode is unusual: you press the M button (next to the mode dial) to step through shutter speeds in ascending order. If you press the shutter button partway and then press the M button, you step through shutter speeds in descending order. It’s challenging to get both fingers in there. A flashing LED in the viewfinder appears next to the shutter speed. A second LED, glowing steady, shows the shutter speed necessary for the selected aperture. To set proper exposure, adjust aperture and shutter speed until the two LEDs become one.
The KSX-P lets you make multiple exposures on a frame. Slide the lever above the winder to the left and hold it, and wind. The film stays put but the shutter cocks so you can make a second exposure on the frame.
The rewind crank is unusual in that it is round, covering the shaft like a lid. I found the knob to be hard to hold as I rewound my test rolls. It kept slipping from my fingers, which caused the crank to close.
My Sears KSX-P came with a 50mm f/1.7 Auto Sears MC lens made by Chinon, which was probably the kit lens. My Sears KS-2 had a 50/1.7 Auto Sears MC lens too, but Ricoh made it. The easiest way to tell these identically named lenses apart is that the Ricoh lens takes 52mm filters and the Chinon lens takes 49mm filters, and the lenses are marked as such right on the front.
I’ve reviewed other Sears SLRs, namely the KS-2 (here) and the KS Super II (here). These are all K-mount SLRs, shared with Pentax. Check out my reviews of the Pentax KM (here), K1000 (here), ME (here), and ME Super (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.
I loaded a roll of Fomapan 400 and shot it in Program mode at EI 200, and then developed it in LegacyPro L110 and scanned the negatives on my Minolta ScanDual II.
I used Pa mode when I was chasing after our little granddaughter and Pc mode otherwise. The KSX-P’s viewfinder shows which shutter speed the camera chooses by lighting an LED along a scale. You can see the lens’s selected aperture in a window at the top of the viewfinder, but in program mode that’s always 22, not the aperture the camera selected. I would have liked know the aperture so I could guess the depth of field I might be getting. The camera has no DOF preview.
The KSX-P feels plasticky, but it’s got moderate heft. The viewfinder is a little dim, but it’s plenty usable. The battery grip makes the camera comfortable in the hand.
This lens focuses down to 18 inches, which ain’t bad for a non-macro lens. I like having the ability to get in close.
This lens has mild but noticeable barrel distortion, which I find to be uncommon among 50mm primes. The lens handles easily, however, and is compact.
You’ll never mistake the KSX-P for a professional or luxury camera. The controls are sure, but aren’t hefty or silky.
I shot a roll of Fujifilm Superia Reala 100 next in this Sears KSX-P. This stuff expired in March, 2002, but it was stored frozen, so I shot it at box speed. I took the camera to Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, an enormous, sprawling place, for a warm evening walk. Every time I’ve lucked into a roll of ISO 100 Fujicolor film, which isn’t made anymore, I’ve been blown away by the color.
I started the walk with the camera in program mode, but switched to aperture-priority mode after just a few frames. The forecast for full sun proved to be wrong as clouds rolled in. Light was mixed. With such slow film I wanted more control over depth of field, and aperture-priority mode gave it to me. The window at the top of the viewfinder showed me the aperture I’d chosen, and an LED in the viewfinder lit next to the shutter speed the camera chose. Perfect.
My only gripe with this camera is that the shutter sounds weird and cheap: Shhhhhh-chunk-ping. It sounds the same regardless of the shutter speed, which made me wonder whether the shutter speeds were accurate. (I get a sense of shutter function by listening to it. 1/15 sounds a lot slower than 1/500.) It wasn’t until I saw my developed negatives that I was sure the shutter worked properly. I don’t know if this sound is normal for a KSX-P or not, though.
A couple times I knew I was photographing into the light, and sure enough, the lens flared. Photoshop let me tone that down.
I bought this KSX-P from its original owner, who hadn’t used it in many years. It says something about this camera that when I put batteries in it, it fired right up and functioned properly.
Yet I didn’t fall in love with this camera. I suppose my bar is high after having used so many truly wonderful SLRs over the years. I know that if someone had gifted me one of these when it was new in 1985, I would have been thrilled, and I would have made wonderful photographs with it for years.
I bought this Sears KSX-P because I’m curious about Sears SLRs and this one cost very little. It is a decent performer, but more than that, it’s truly remarkable that automatic exposure works with any K-mount lens. If you have a passel of Pentax glass a KSX-P might be worth adding to your stable for its versatility.
If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here! To get Down the Road in your inbox or feed reader, subscribe here.
Some gave all Yashica-12 Fujifilm Velvia (expired 8/2006) 2019
Remembering those who died in service to our nation.
Indianapolis from Crown Hill Canon PowerShot S95 2011
This is the view from the highest elevation in Indianapolis. This spot is inside the sprawling Crown Hill Cemetery — indeed, this spot is atop Crown Hill itself. That’s where Indiana’s poet, James Whitcomb Riley, is buried.
Indianapolis’s skyline isn’t as rich as that of more major cities, but it is distinctive. The tallest building is Salesforce Tower, previously Chase Tower, previously Bank One Tower, originally American Fletcher Tower.
Blue Star Memorial Nikon F2 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros 2016
I don’t have a military bone in my body. My dad tried hard to convince me to go into ROTC in college. Even though it would have paid most of my way, I wouldn’t have it. Dad was serious about men serving their country. I’m surprised now that he didn’t insist.
But I admire the men and women who did and do serve. I’m always saddened to find military graves in a cemetery, because it reminds me that some gave all.
I’ve known my friend Debbie longer than anyone I am still in contact with — we met when we were in the fifth grade, in 1977. We’ve passed out of each others’ lives a few times, sometimes for many, many years. But when we reconnect we fall right back into our friendship.
She came to visit one overcast summer day in 2011 and since we both like cemeteries I took her to Crown Hill, the sprawling burial ground in northwest Indianapolis. The cemetery lies on both sides of 38th St., a major east-west artery.
This bridge carries 38th St. over a road that connects the two sides of Crown Hill. I’ll bet most drivers on 38th St. don’t know the bridge is there.
While Debbie and I were looking at grave markers here, she noticed this family of deer headed toward us under the bridge. I was able to bring my camera up to capture them before they ran away.