This camera is a beast. I bought it because I wanted a real SLR again (my last film SLR, a Pentax MZ50, had been stolen years earlier). It was a big step in my move to digital photography, the other digital cameras that I’d owned up to that point were all travel cameras, point and shoot. This is a “prosumer” camera: interchangeable lenses, RAW, fully manual modes. It’s big. It’s noisy too. It wasn’t until I used a friend’s Canon a few months later that I realised just how loud the shutter on the Pentax was. And it was my companion.
Looking back through the photos, I can attach this camera to two major points in my life: the first is 6 months living in Tokyo, the other is a trip with my sister to India and Nepal in 2008.
* * * *
While in Japan I carried this camera everywhere, despite it’s weight and bulk. Although I had my Hexar with me, and bought the Yashica while I was there, the Pentax was the camera I used to document my life. In the bars I frequented in Asagaya I became recognised as the strange foreigner with the camera (to the point that when I left Japan, one of the bartenders gave me a t-shirt with a camera on it as a going away gift).
One of the major selling points for the Pentax over Nikon or Canon (apart from the price) was the lens: a lovely, small, 50mm 1.4. It was perfect for shooting at night in the lights of Tokyo, and gave the camera a very low profile which made it great for street photography.
The Pentax was reasonably versatile (interchangeable lenses will do that). While in Japan I had two lenses (the aforementioned 50mm 1.4 auto, and a manual 28mm 2.8), once back in Australia I was lucky enough to win a photography competition with one of my Yashica photos and won a Tamron 18-250 lens that I took with me to India, along with the 50mm. My sister had a Pentax too, so we shared lenses, carrying one each.
* * * *
Although its been almost four years now, I’m yet to go through all my India and Nepal photos. I’ve printed a few of them, but I took thousands (part of the danger of digital photography). The camera has some fond memories attached to it: surviving the Mumbai bombings (we were stuck in a hotel across from the Mumbai hospital), being accosted by small children in Tirivunamulai (who all insisted that we take photos of them, their families, their houses), the frozen lakes and bright yellow hand-painted signs high up in the Himalayas, the Taj Mahal totally hidden by fog.
I barely use the Pentax anymore. It’s too big, heavy and noisy for the kind of photography that I find myself doing now. I do pull it out occasionally when I want to do some more “pro” photography than my Lumix GF-1 can handle.
* * * *
It’s funny how you attach memories to objects. I didn’t realise until I started writing this post just how many important memories are associated with this particular camera, how I remember the events through its lens.