Sears enjoyed a long relationship with Ricoh, who made cameras for sale under the Sears name for many years. These cameras are generally of very high quality and can often be found at relatively bargain prices, making them a great value. There were many models made that parallel still-popular Ricoh cameras, and you can read about many of them on this great site I've mentioned before: the Chinon SLR page which is full of hard-to-find instruction manuals. Drop him a Paypal bone while you're there!
This model, which is equivalent to the Ricoh KR-10, is very well-designed and has many nice features that would make it a great primary body in a K-mount kit. Quiet and accurate electronic focal-plane metal shutter, battery-dependent but luckily it takes easily available (and inexpensive) 1.5v silver button batteries (2). Shutter speeds are from 16 seconds (!) to 1/1000. LCD readout in the viewfinder - all the shutter speeds are listed and the set speed is indicated with a line. It's a nice simple readout, not distracting like LED readouts can be. Sharp, fast multicoated 1.7 lens is lightweight and buttery smooth, though it only focuses down to 2 feet. Hot shoe and PC sync, the hot shoe turns off when the sync terminal is in use for safety, I have no idea if other cameras do that or not but it's nice to know. Extra credit feature: EV adjustment -2 to +2, excellent!
Features lacking in the KSX Super are an aperture preview button, mirror lockup, and the explicit ability to take multiple exposures. These are features available on other models such as the KS-2. Also the only flash I know of that offers dedicated functionality is the Sears Auto/Thyristor # 8025. HOWEVER, you can use an autowinder with this camera, the Sears KS autowinder / Ricoh XR2 autowinder.
RepairsPurchased cheap because it had a broken rewind lever. Easy to replace, I figured. Close up, it actually looked like a dog chewed it off or something. I'm sure there's a story there, but I'd just as soon not hear it. Light seals will need replacing. Got the wind lever off a parts KS2 body that turned out to be perfectly functional except for the same temporarily stuck shutter as my first one.
Tips & Tricks
LCD indicator turns off after 8 minutes to save batteries, turn it on again with the button in front where the self-timer lever is normally found on mechanical cameras. Aperture-priority auto-exposure is possible when set to 'A', you set the aperture on the lens and the camera figures out the shutter speed. 'L' is to lock the shutter. EV adjustment is the same dial as the film speed ring, you lift and turn to set the film speed, turn the whole dial for backlight/spotlight adjustment up to +-2EV.
If you didn't know, the Pentax K-mount in its various forms is one of the most versatile in history - with only a couple of exceptions, any K-mount body will accept any K-mount lens, and will use any features in common to both lens and body. Many great lenses from many makers are available second-hand, including Ricoh, Sears, Vivitar, Chinon, Cosina, not to mention Pentax and KMZ-Zenit, who are both still actively making top-grade lenses with Pentax-K mount.
Here's the KSX with the military-grade VOMZ f2.5 20mm Mir-47K, available new for a very reasonable price. Mmmm...
- The manual at the great Chinon camera manual page
- For info on actual Pentax lenses and accessories visit Bojidar Dimitriov's K-mount Equipment Page