The Pentax SFX (SF-1 in US), dating from 1987, was the world’s first autofocus 35mm film SLR with built-in TTL auto flash.
The SFX / SF1 was Pentax’s answer to the overwhelming success of the Minolta 7000 auto focus SLR camera. Like the Minolta 7000 and unlike the much earlier Pentax ME F, the auto focus motor is integrated into the camera body. With the SFX / SF1, the new F series auto focus lenses are introduced.
The SFX / SF1 fully supports all older K, M and A-series lenses, and the F-series lenses can be used
on all K-mount bodies before and after the SFX / SF1. The SFX / SF1 was the very first SLR camera offering a built-in flash. The hot-shoe for external flashes now sits on top of the large camera grip, so that internal and external flashes can be used simultaneously.
The Pentax SFX modes and switches are controlled with 3 rocker switches, an exposure lock button on the back, the aperture dial on the lens and an extra switch on the lens. The modes and options and viewed on a screen on top of the camera, which is unusual compared to most cameras. It also has a pop-up flash.
Selecting different shooting modes can be quite confusing. The choice of modes available depends on what option is selected on the lens. This is definitely a camera that’s worth getting hold of an instruction manual.
The Pentax SFX comes with a very large viewfinder. It doesn’t contain any information about the shooting mode, and only contains a centre focusing spot. Taking photos is simply a case of pointing at the subject, half pressing the shutter button to autofocus, and then shooting. There is a 3 LED system to help you see if your picture is in focus, it turns green when everything is in focus. There is also a beep when in focus that can be turned off if you wish.
Arguably, the biggest failing of the camera is the noise it makes. Some of the lenses are quite noisy. The shutter is very noisy and the film advance also makes quite a noise. The noise could make some people quite nostalgic but it won’t be suitable to be used in some environments.
In conclusion, the camera can be picked up cheaply and if it’s in good condition can be lots of fun to play around with. It is compatible with a large choice of lenses making it suitable for lots of people. The menus and buttons can be confusing and the noise may mean it isn’t a great choice for all people but the simplicity of the screen and viewfinder and autofocus aids will make taking photos a joy.
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