Being an addict of large and spacious 6x6 negatives on 120 film, I never would have thought I'd own a 110 camera someday. But when I came across the Pentax Auto 110 on an auction site, it was just too darn cute not to buy it. So I placed a bid, won the auction, and am now the proud owner of the tiniest SLR ever made!
The Pentax Auto 110 is not your regular 110 point-and-shoot camera, it is a real SLR in a really tiny package. But don’t be fooled by its size! It has all the features you would expect from an SLR.
Just like any other SLR, the Pentax Auto 110 has interchangeable lenses. Over time, 6 different lenses were produced, but the 3 most commonly encountered are the 18mm, 24mm and 50mm. The lenses all have a 2.8 aperture as a result of the iris being built-in to the camera body.
I only own one of the little lenses, the 24mm, which is equivalent to a 35mm on a normal-sized system. Despite its tiny size, it handles really well and runs smooth like butter. I really like the fact that this little lens has a really short minimal focal distance, a mere 35cm, which means you can get really close and get plenty of detail in your shot. Just look at the 2nd photo below, which was made through the viewfinder: you can almost read the small lettering on the small filter rim.
Another huge advantage of this tiny champ is the very bright viewfinder with split-image focusing. The focusing screen has a horizontal split that helps you focus. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this, have a look at the through-the-viewfinder-shots below. If you look at the center, inside the small circle, you’ll see that in the first pic the top and bottom half don’t line up. In the second picture however they do line up. To me this is a huge help getting my focus right, and it is a feature I would have never expected in this miniature camera!
As you would expect from the name, the Pentax Auto 110 is an automatic camera, which in this case means fully automatic. As a user you have no possibilities to adjust anything, not shutter speed, not aperture, no over- or under-exposing, nothing. But that is OK. Light is measured through the lens and in my opinion it works pretty well.
As you could have guessed, normal sized accessories will not fit on this mini camera. So Asahi made some specific for the Pentax Auto 110: a flash, a powerwinder, filters and lenshoods. For a while I owned the flash, which did a great job. These were made with the flash:
Sadly, after a while the connection to the camera failed and I had to send the whole lot back, camera included. But this little camera had stolen my heart, so started looking for a little brother. As I didn’t really plan on doing a lot of flash photography with it anyway, I settled for just the camera this time.
Bottom line, the Pentax Auto 110 truly is a tiny miracle! It is well made, gives you sharp pictures thanks to the split focus, and good automatic exposures due to TTL light metering. If you ever come across one for a decent price, don’t hesitate! Buy it and give it a go! If you come to love it half as much as I do, you’ll be satisfied!
For those of you who love shooting 110 but are looking for a way to improve developing it, read this tipster on how to make a fully functional 110 reel for a Paterson tank.