It was a sad day when my old SLR was stolen. I couldn’t afford to replace it at the time and I was devastated. Years later and as things moved to digital I’d all but forgotten about my missing P30 but it seemed almost inevitable that one day I might once again be reunited with one.
Having an amateur photographer for a parent it was almost inevitable that I too would become one, although, being young, I was limited to compact cameras. A few years later and into my teens I was lucky enough to be given an SLR as Dad was offered one cheaply. I’m not sure if he was being unbelievably nice or just wanted to keep me off his Chinon but either way, I was now the owner of a Pentax P30T. I could not have been happier.
The P30 was a fairly compact SLR relying on manual focus K-mount lenses and a great camera to learn photography with. Even today I miss that split focus screen which made manual focus a doddle! It didn’t have all the bells and whistles; for example, there was no option to select film speed and instead relied on DX-coded film (ASA25-1600) but it didn’t matter to me. For the first time, I had a camera that allowed me to control shutter speed, aperture, and focus and that’s all I needed.
I had two lenses for the camera but don’t remember the details as it was a long time ago now. One was definitely a telephoto, possibly a Sigma, whilst the other was either a standard ‘kit’ zoom or a fast prime. Whatever the lenses I used to shoot everything with the camera and thought the results were great.
In 1999 I went to university and took it with me. Unfortunately, during the year, it was taken from my room and being uninsured meant I simply had to swallow the loss. I was completely gutted and could not afford to replace it. It was back to using compact cameras again for me.
Here are possibly my last photos at uni taken with my P30T:
Fast forward many years later to 2012 and I posted on a forum that I’d seen a Pentax P30 in a 2nd hand shop that reminded me of my old P30T. Amazingly another forum member offered me completely free of charging a (slightly broken) P30N (same as the T but with an all black finish and horizontal split focus). I had to say no as I wasn’t interested in a broken camera but thanked him anyway. The conversation continued though when he asked if I could refurbish his Olympus Trip. I was more than happy to and when he brought it to my house he handed me a bag with a fully working P30N, leather case, and Pentax 28-80 mm lens — for free!
I was shocked, surprised but mainly full of joy. It was like my old camera had come back to me. Of course, it’s not the one that was stolen from me but it was as good as. Like a child with a new toy, I couldn’t keep my hands off it and just handling it brought memories flooding back. I still smile now when I think about my little Pentax and I’ll be doing everything possible to make sure this one doesn’t go missing.