BLACK BEAUTY 4: PENTAX SV


The Pentax SV is arguably the most elegant and classic SLR ever made. Introduced in 1962 and made until 1970, it wasn't the first modern got-it-all-right SLR: the Nikon F owns that honour. It had its eccentricities, such as the self-timer concentric with the rewind knob, with its independent release button beside it. Another (very welcome) eccentricity was the "shutter cocked" indicator, a little red dot in a window on the top plate, just forward of the shutter speed dial. The screw mount was somewhat old-fashioned, but on the other hand, it gave access to an enormous range of lenses. And it was available in black. 




Black ones are rare, it is true, and to be brutal, the black finish was not one of the best ever. Nor, in the long run, have SVs turned out to be as reliable as some of their rivals. On this one, for example, the shutter doesn't cap fully when it's wound on, and on its chrome sister, all but the slowest shutter speeds are half a stop to a stop slow. But it's just so pretty...


And, to be fair, the black paint was far from the worst: a lot better than the Pen W, for example, though this camera has a weirdly rough patch on the front of the body, just below the shutter release: 



The way they handled the wind on lever was however rather clever. It appears to be anodized light alloy, so although what shows through is silvery instead of brassy, at least the paint isn't missing in chunks as it is on my Leica MP:



All in all, I'd sat that after more than half a century, the finish has acquitted itself rather better than the machinery, though I strongly suspect that a good professional overhaul could return it to (almost) as-new working condition. In the picture below you can see that the shutter is not cocked (no red dot): the window is between 1/125 and 1/250:



The lens, incidentally, is a 50mm f/4 Macro-Takumar in appalling external condition; but as I paid only 4€ for it at a vide-grenier, I can live with that. When I bought it, I thought it was defective because the auto/manual switch on the lens worked only when it was on a camera body (or extension ring, or...) but I have since learned that all SMC Takumars are like this in order to allow open-aperture metering. I'd like to thank MrFujicaman on the Rangefinder Forum for pointing this out to me, and Doug, a moderator on the same forum, for explaining why. Even at 4€, though, the lens cost more than the body, which I was given maybe 30 years ago. It was in working order then, too. 



This is, for me, pretty much the way a black paint body should wear. Yes, it could have worn more smoothly, but all in all it bespeaks a camera that was one of the finest of its era, and which today deserves either a well-earned retirement as a display-only "shelf queen", or restoring to usable condition. Who, after all, could bear to scrap such a Black Beauty? 


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Words and pictures copyright (c) Roger Hicks 2016