Camera Reviews

Sears KS-2

I had so much fun shooting my Sears KS Super II earlier this year that when I came upon its more fully featured brandmate, the KS-2, for a good price, I scooped it up.

Sears KS-2

In 1982, when this camera was made, Sears was selling Ricoh SLRs as its own. This camera is the same as the Ricoh XR-7, which was then Ricoh’s top-of-the-line SLR. Where the KS Super II was limited to point, focus, and shoot, the KS-2 offers full manual control plus aperture priority autoexposure. Its shutter operates from 16 to 1/1000 second. It takes films from ISO 12 to 3200. It offers a self timer, a hot shoe, multiple exposure capability, and depth-of-field preview. And as best as I can tell, the KS-2 came in a kit with a fast 50mm f/1.4 lens. For whatever reason, my KS-2 came with the pictured 50mm f/1.7 Auto Sears MC lens. Like all Ricoh/Sears SLRs, this camera uses Pentax’s K lens mount.

Sears KS-2

The KS-2 runs on two button batteries, either two silver-oxide SR-44s or two alkaline LR-44s. Without batteries, the KS-2 is inert.

Sears KS-2

The KS-2 has but one quirk: the meter shuts off after a bit, and to turn it back on you have to press that tall button on the camera’s face. My finger always struggled to find that button when the camera was at my eye. But when the meter is active, an LED display in the viewfinder shows what shutter speed the camera selected in aperture-priority mode, or in manual mode shows up and down arrows that let you triangulate on an accurate exposure.

By the way, if you like 35mm SLRs of this era, see also my reviews of the Canon T70 (here), the Nikon N2000 (here), and the Canon EOS 630 (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.

I loaded some Fujicolor 200 and shot about three photos when the mirror stuck up and the camera wouldn’t wind. Fortunately, the Internet knew an easy workaround: Remove the bottom plate (five screws). Inside, look for the pin I’ve circled in red. Press it in to release the winder. Keep winding until you hear the mirror return. Ta-da!

IMG_1686 rawproc circled

Problem solved, I set about shooting. And truth be told, I wasn’t feeling very inspired. It happens. But here’s some of what I shot. At church, our parking lot is behind the building. For whatever reason, we don’t allow the alley to connect to our parking lot, so these concrete barriers block the way.

Jesus rocks

Around front, here’s our sign. Washington Street, formerly US 40, formerly the National Road, is within sight of our sign. But since we’re on a residential side street, you pretty much have to live in the neighborhood to know about us.

West Park

The KS-2 went about its business unobtrusively. Anonymously, almost. Everything just worked. The Ricoh lens was sharp and contrasty enough.

Church entrance

I carried the KS-2 around with me for a couple weeks. One day, my son and I went to Crown Hill Cemetery for a walk and some photographs.

Pensive

This summer I worked part time as a consultant for a startup software company in Fishers, so the KS-2 went along sometimes.

Nickel Plate District

Closer to home, I shot this sprinkler on the path to my front door. The subject isn’t very exciting, but the photo shows the clarity and detail this lens can capture.

Sprinkler

And I shot my daisies, because daisies are so darned cheerful.

Daisy, daisy, give me your answer do

My KS-2 also came with a 135mm f/2.8 Auto-Sears MC lens. I clipped it on to shoot my neighbor’s ’67 Chrysler from my driveway. The spot is spoiled by a little camera shake, but I suppose that’s always a risk with a long lens.

Neighbor's old Chrysler

To see more photos from my test roll, check out my Sears KS-2 gallery.

This is a competent camera with a capable lens. A fellow could shoot it for the rest of his life and make wonderful images. That fellow won’t be me, however; I have plenty of other great gear with which I’m very comfortable. But if you want a solid SLR with good features and a good lens, the Sears KS-2 is a great, inexpensive choice.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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