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You could, if you wanted to, spent £2,000 on a compact 35mm film camera. There are plenty of sellers with Contax T3s charging just that for Kyocera’s swansong premium film compact.

Too much? How about £1,500 for an equally overhyped Contax T2? Or £750 for a Nikon 35Ti?

You could be forgiven for thinking that to get your hands on a decent autofocus 35mm compact camera, you need to be shelling out this kind of money. But that’s only if you’re dead set on shooting on a cult camera that was already in short supply before the Instagram hype started moving up a few gears.

Turn your gaze away from the top-tier cameras of the 1990s and the 2000s, and the price tag looks a little more affordable. Especially when you look at one of Pentax’s undersung gems from the decade of ‘Miami Vice’ and ‘Knight Rider’, the PC35AF-M.

While the PC35AF-M won’t win many awards for refined good looks or miniaturisation (good look fitting this camera in your trouser pocket), its bulky frame hides a very well-specified camera. It has a five-element 35/2.8 lens, hidden behind a cover opened with a pleasing snap from the bright red button. It can handle films from ISO 100 to 1000 (or 25 to 1600 for DX-coded film) and has a manually activated flash as well as backlight compensation!

You can also see more on the Pentax PC35AF-M in this round-up of affordable 1980s compact cameras from earlier this year.

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Stephen Dowling
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