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The Smallest SLR Of All Time: Asahi Pentax Auto 110 Film Camera Review


(If you can't see the video, please click here.)

The Asahi Pentax Auto 110 is a marvel of miniaturization - a proper Single Lens Reflex (the viewfinder looks through the lens) with interchangeable lenses. The example I purchased for £5 from a local car-boot sale came with two lenses, the 24mm and 18mm, plus a flash. 

Using the now obsolete 110 format film, get an Auto 110 while the film is still available and labs are still processing it. You'll find them on eBay, in thrift and charity shops, and perhaps in the dusty cupboard of an elderly relative.

Using the Auto 110 couldn't be simpler. It has fully automatic exposure, so all you have to do is wind the film on, frame your scene, focus by turning the focus ring on the tiny lens, then press the shutter button.

110 film couldn't be easier to load. Just open the camera back by flicking a small switch, and put the cartridge in. There's no fiddly take-up spools or backing papers to slow you down, and no chance of missing a whole bunch of shots by putting the film in wrong. When you're done, just pop the cartridge out and take it to your local photo lab.

As for developing, you may find you've got to turn to mail order to get your 110 processed. I was luck enough to be working in Southampton fairly closely to City Photographic, who did the developing and processing and sent me the results through the post.

The Pentax Auto 110 was part of a complete photographic system. There's the two lenses I've got, plus a longer 50mm telephoto, a power winder and numerous filters for the different glass sizes.

What's amazing about the Auto 110 is that it is a serious camera that truly fits in your pocket, yet it's also so fun to use. It looks like a toy, but performs like a pro. Brilliant!

I have to be honest about the 110 format though - it is a little grainy in some of the shots. I scanned the prints myself, and auto-adjusted the levels and colour in Photoshop, so perhaps that brought out the grain, but it's not too bad.

(A shot of me, taken with the Auto 110 using the flash.)

So there we have it. I'm not sure how often I'll be able to use the Auto 110 because the film isn't as widely available as 35mm, and it's getting rarer all the time, but you can be sure that this is the most fun camera I've shot with for a long time, so keep your eyes open for one of your own and join the sub-miniature club!

Cheers, Rob.

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