Pentax Program A short camera review

This is a short review of the Pentax Program A 35mm camera which mainly covers the differences between this camera and the Pentax Super Program which I reviewed a few weeks ago.

These pictures can also be viewed full sized here.

My Camera

I bought this camera mostly for the lens which came with it which is an SMC Pentax-M 28mm f/2.8. This is like a faster version of Takumar 28mm f/3.5 which I have, but with a Pentax K mount rather than M42. Unfortunately, there is a dent in the filter ring which means I can’t screw a filter on to it, but I’m hoping I can straighten that out.

The camera itself was sold as ‘Spares or Repair’ because the ‘shutter is jammed’. I guessed it was likely to be the common problem with Pentax cameras of the ME class, and would need a small amount of lubrication to the mirror return mechanism. As it turned out, when the camera was delivered, all it actually needed to get it fully working was a battery fitted.

With a new battery the camera seems as good as new and is certainly in better cosmetic condition than my Super Program. I can’t tell for certain that everything is well with it until I run a film through it, but the exposures seem to match other cameras and the light seals look pretty reasonable, so at the moment it’s looking good.

Pentax Program A description.

As I said above, this is a short description because the camera is very similar to the Super Program which I’ve already reviewed.

The Program A was introduced by Pentax in 1984, a year after the Super Program / Super A and was a cheaper version of the camera with a slightly reduced spec.

There are some stylistic changes between this camera and the Super Program (other than the obvious one that this is black and my Super Program is silver). The film advance lever has a different trim, the self timer button is re-designed and the shape and style of the main switch locking button is different.

The main performance differences are that there is a slightly reduced flash sync speed of 1/100 sec on the Program A and the top shutter speed is 1/1000 rather than the 1/2000 of the Super Program. Also the shutter priority exposure mode of the Super Program is not available on the Program A, you only get aperture priority, program mode (with a A series lens) and fully manual mode.

The one other change is that the more advanced Super Program had TTL flash available when fitted with a Pentax dedicated flash and that option wasn’t available on the Program A.

Please read the my review of the Super Program to get a better description of the rest of the functionality.

Update: There are some sample pictures obtained with this camera in this post.

Pentax Program A Specification

  • Pentax Program A / Super A 35mm manual focus camera
  • ISO range 6 to 3200
  • Exposure Modes – Program mode, Aperture Priority & Manual Mode
  • +/- 2 stops Exposure Compensation
  • Shutter from 15s to 1/1000sec
  • External motor drive available
  • Pentax KA mount
  • Flash sync socket and Hot Shoe
  • Depth of Field Preview
  • Batteries required for operation
  • Body Ser No: 1242566
  • Lens Ser No: 8330282
  • Manual available here


Categories: Pentax, Photography, Reviews, Vintage

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