ANDREW CATTERMOLE Photography
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Analogue Adventures with the Pentax 110 Auto Super and Lomography Orca 100

In the late 1970s Pentax introduced a unique and quite remarkable tiny camera system, the 110 Auto.  A Tour de Force in sub miniature camera design it was the smallest SLR camera system ever, complete with six high quality interchangeable lenses, two dedicated flashguns, power winder and a range of other accessories, using the then popular 110 cartridge.  Many reports say it was designed simply as an exercise in ‘let’s see if it’s feasible’ and it does have its roots in an earlier independent Japanese design, upon which the 110 Auto is based.

Picture courtesy of Pentaxforums.com

I remember lusting after the system when it was originally launched but never managed to acquire one.  More recently my renewed interest in analogue photography led me to the pages of eBay to see what was available.  A vast marketplace of once expensive film cameras is now available for almost embarrassingly low prices.

Based on the knowledge that, despite its apparent death in 2009, 110 film was now being remanufactured by Lomography, I found myself the proud owner of a Pentax 110 Auto Super (revised version from 1983) with 18, 24, 50, 70mm lenses as well as the rare 18mm Pan Focus lens and Soligor 1.7x teleconverter.  The 20-40mm zoom still eludes me.

My first roll of Lomography Orca 100 Black & White film came back leaving me with mixed views.  I think I had hoped for better sharpness from those great lenses and the Lomography film does seem to offer an interesting look.  At 100 ISO, it is a slow film and these first images were shot in dark January in the UK so a few more rolls need to go through.  It does start the mind thinking as to whether a more modern 16mm film reloaded into 110 cartridges could be an option.  People do reload 110 but I’m not sure I have the patience (or skill)

Maiden Castle Bridge, Durham;  Pentax 110 Auto Super/50mm f2.8/Lomography Orca 100

Bishop Middleham, Co. Durham; Pentax 110 Auto Super/50mm f2.8/Lomography Orca 100

River Wear; Pentax 110 Auto Super/50mm f2.8/Lomography Orca 100

At 100 ISO, it is a slow film and these first images were shot in dark January in the UK so a few more rolls need to go through.  It does start the mind thinking as to whether a more modern 16mm film reloaded into 110 cartridges could be an option.  People do reload 110 but I’m not sure I have the patience (or skill).

Skull; Pentax 110 Auto Super/70mm f2.8/Lomography Orca 100

So, one roll down, we'll see how future work goes, including the possibility of developing some of the 110 film myself.  I have now also acquired a Durst film developing tank with a 110 reel and loader (not easy to find). Only time will tell.