Pentax Pino 35 Review : Honey I fixed focused the Kids

Why do I like this 80’s  ugly, plasticky fixed focus oddity from Pentax. Probably because it delivers the best shots of any fixed focus camera I own.

Pentax Pino 35
Pentax Pino 35, a 35mm Viewfinder fixed focus camera from the 80’s

The Pentax Pino 35 is a bit of an odd fish from Pentax a company better known for it’s role in shaping and producing classic SLR cameras. The Pino 35 arrived in 1984  as the first in the series (the others have the same name with suffix e.g. Pentax Pino 35J). Like the rest of the series was a fixed focus compact with built in flash. Unlike later models this one had no automated exposure with the basic CdS cell triggering a Low light warning red LED in the viewfinder.

David's Den ?
Pentax Pino 35 with Kodak BW400CN. Carlisle 2013

Pentax Pino 35  Specs

  • Lens:  38mm 1:3.8
  • Focus:  Fixed
  • Aperture: f/3.8 – f/19
  • Shutter: 1/125
  • Meter:  Low light warning only
  • ASA range : 100, 200 & 400 ¹
  • EV 100asa : ~10½-#16½
  • Batteries : 2xAA

¹ Values settable on camera – can use other speeds

The pino 35 is also perhaps the worst looking of an already particular ugly range of compact but step away from the looks for a mo.

Night Light
Pentax Pino 35 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200. Dumfries 2014

Although the exposure system is basic (fixed shutter speed) and unmetered it does work well due to the highly controllable aperture. When you load the camera you set the ASA which moves aperture range up and down dependant on speed. All you need do is then set either the exposure by the 3 weather icons (Sunny, Mixed and Cloudy) or by distance  if using flash. The metering isn’t require to work the camera (just the flash and the warning light) which isn’t surprising as this has a mechanical leaf shutter and the low light warning doesn’t stop you from taking a shot  (it just tell you to turn on the flash manually)

Industrial Wear
Pentax Pino 35 with Ilford XP2. Carlisle 2014

This actually works well enough (and with 400asa in low light you can move the ring a few stops beyond cloudy allowing you take full advantage of the f/3.8 lens). However this isn’t a low light shooter without flash with a maximum f/3.8 and 1/125.

Following the Herd
Pentax Pino 35 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200. Lockerbie 2014

However the killer feature is the lens. For such a basic camera Pentax chucked in a coated glass triplet and this makes it much sharper than other fixed focus cameras I’ve used. As with most a sweet spot exists about 3m although the camera can hold it’s own at other distances (recommended range 1.5m to infinity). As ever faster settings/film do better as you can narrow the aperture. I’ve shot comparisons shots against a Goko UF which the Pentax topped out (although the plastic lensed Goko gave it a run for it’s money).

Spring bloom
Pentax Pino 35 with Ilford XP. Carlisle 2014

The built in flash needs to be triggered manually by a switch on rear (worryingly just above film compartment door release switch !!). When triggered a clear plastic cube pops up with a LED in it to tell you camera is charged. Push this in to turn off as it will fire even in good light if on. Worth noting you may need to prime the flash if the camera hasn’t been used for a while ( I’d clean contact and leave batteries in for a while with flash turned on, even if flash system seems dead leave half an hour and then remove batteries and try again). The flash is pretty typical but works well enough.

Flash Shot
Pentax Pino 35 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200. 2013

There is no other features except a weird, pointless  (no cable point or timer)  off centre tripod mount. The viewfinder is simple with no markings and therefore you can end up off centred particularly if close up

Gianni's
Pentax Pino 35 with Kodak BW400CN. Carlisle 2013

This is an ugly but great fixed focus camera with the boon of built in flash and some user control for exposure. It is otherwise limited and has some odd ergonomic  but is still a good choice. Worth noting not recognised as Toy class by the the Toy camera  group on Flickr because of the lens.

The camera isn’t that common but can be bought for a few quid on eBay (Last one sold on eBay when writing this went for 99 pence !!). If you can get with lens cap great but don’t panic as lens slightly recessed on barrel.

Alternatives

  • Goko UF : Rare, surprisingly sharp,  plastic lens fixed focus model
  • Halina 1000 : Fun 70’s Fixed focus from Haking
  • Diana Mini : Scale focus retro-styled plastic ultra compact
  • Konica C35EF : The granddaddy of flash compacts

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