Praktica SP301 Review : Poundland Challenge Camera No 9

This 35mm compact with fixed focus arrived in my second lot of camera’s for 99p lot.  Of the useable camera in that lot, it was arguable is the most advanced with motorwind, DX coding sensor and fill in flash button. But is at technological triumph or let down compared to more simple cameras like the Kodak 35EF

Praktica Sport SP301
Praktica Sport SP301 Motorised 35mm fixed focus 35mm compact

Praktica has a long history as a brand name of VEB Pentacon in Dresden and is best known for its range of SLR camera. Pentacon as was wound up during the German Re-unification in 1991 but following it’s demise the name and some office space was bought and Pentacon GmBH still sells cameras under Praktica branding abet ones made in the far east (usually S Korea). The SP301 was part of the sport series of compacts. Mines was in a Gunmetal grey finish but silver and champagne versions exist.

Lochmaben March 2015. Praktica SP301 with Kodak BW400CN

It’s a quite small for a motorised cheap compact. The viewfinder is surprisingly bright despite it’s anti-glare coating that adds a slight blue tint. This feature well marked bright line frame finders with a parallax correction. The lens is protected behind a clear plastic cover (never really understood the point of this as the cover is just as likely to get damaged). To turn on the camera turn a rugged ring around the lens to open position. This uncovers the light sensor and unlocks the shutter. If light is too low a warning LED appears on top. You can then trigger flash with switch at side or if you need for fill in flash hold a button on the otherside (this also doubles to turn on a red beam for red eye purposes). The film counter is on top but I find too small and hard to read. A rewind switch is on the base which you’ll need as this doesn’t auto rewind.

Praktica Sport SP301  Specs

  • Lens:  28mm
  • Focus : Fixed
  • DX Coding: 100 or 400 ASA
  • Shutter:  Unknown
  • EV 100 :  Unknown
  • Exposure: Auto
  • Battery : 2 x AA

And that’s it. DX coding seems just to delineate 400asa or faster films and the limited info on the web would suggest it sets for either 100 or 400 ISO.

Widow's Peak
Crichton, Dumfries, 2015. Praktica SP301 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

I have no idea if the camera does much in the way of exposure control. There is very little technical info on the net and in terms of use the few blogs note it overexposes slightly with 200 asa. In my experience this  is only slight and probably improves the shots. This is a camera for good weather shooting as it struggles with both film speed below EV12.The flash seems to underexpose at 200 ASA   for a torso shot (1.5-2 m) but over expose at the same distance with 400 ASA.

In terms of focus things aren’t great.  As it’s fixed your best bet is things a few metres away as you can see in the shot above it is okay at the 1-3 metre mark but step back 5 metres or more and as below things are pretty awful as you can see below

Blurred vista
Crichton 2015. Taken on Praktica SP301 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

In bright light things improve a bit but the focus is best in centre shot becoming smeared at the edges. The lens cover makes this cameras really prone to lens flare

This camera arrived with the Kodak 35EF which despite being technologically limited, is a much better camera.

Why Buy ?

  • Compact rugged styling
  • Manual flash control
  • Takes AA batteries

Why not

  • Image quality not great
  • Pointless plastic lens cover

What it Cost, came with and what happened to it

  • 20p + £1.60 (part of a 99p + £8 joblot)
  • Unbranded case
  • One for the charity shop


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