James's Camera Collection: Pentax Auto 110

Pentax Auto 110 USA Cartridge
Pentax Auto 110
Camera type: Cartridge, Subminiature
Film type: 110
Lens: 24mm ƒ/2.8, bayonet mount
Dates of manufacture: 1979-1985
Original price: unknown
Current Street value: low

This thing makes me smile every time I look at it.

I hate the 110 format, but I always thought if I had to use it, this would be the camera to have. I don't know this for a fact, but I suspect that Pentax did it as a way of proving that they could do it.

Pentax System 10 adIt's a remarkable camera. Most 110 cartridge cameras are little more than box cameras. This one is a true single-lens-reflex (SLR); with interchangable bayonet-mount, focusable lenses; a detachable flash; and a detachable auto-winder. The only concession Pentax made between this and their full-size cameras is that this lacks manual exposure controls.

Modern Photography magazine wrote a big test of this camera and a couple of the lenses. I was surprised to see that the lenses tested Excellent for resolution (but didn't do so hot for contrast).

Picked mine up for $8 from a thrift shop, and it's jammed with the mirror up so I can't look through it. I've had it partially apart but haven't been able to free it up. Maybe someday. Still, I'm very impressed by it. If I could still get 110 film and have it processed without paying a mint for it, I'd consider trying it out.

To give you a sense of how small this is, I photographed it next to a Canon A-1 for scale.

Pentax Auto 110 with Canon A-1

One of Modern Photography magazine's Top Cameras

Camera manual: Orphan Cameras.com

Modern Photography magazine camera test: January 1979

©opyright by James Ollinger. All Rights Reserved.