How The Beatles helped turn the Pentax Spotmatic into an iconic camera

John Lennon (1940 - 1980), George Harrison (1943 - 2001) and Ringo Starr in Paris with their manager Brian Epstein.
George Harrison with his Pentax SLR - with John Lennon, Brian Epstein & Ringo Starr. Paris 1964 (Image credit: Harry Benson, Getty Images)

Of all the likely millions of pictures taken of The Beatles, the most significant for the camera industry depicted the Fab Four clutching Pentax Spotmatics. In fact, there are many photos from the early 1960s showing Paul, John, George and Ringo with various Asahi Pentax 35mm SLRs and appears these cameras were most likely private purchases, but 

by the time the Spotmatic arrived in 1964, the commercial opportunities of such an association were just too good to miss. The Beatles were global stars and the Spotmatic quickly became one too, taking Pentax to the top of the sales charts and popularising the 35mm SLR. For the next couple of decades the Japanese camera industry’s fortunes would be built on the 35mm SLR.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Paul Burrows

Paul has been writing about cameras, photography and photographers for 40 years. He joined Australian Camera as an editorial assistant in 1982, subsequently becoming the magazine’s technical editor, and has been editor since 1998. He is also the editor of sister publication ProPhoto, a position he has held since 1989. In 2011, Paul was made an Honorary Fellow of the Institute Of Australian Photography (AIPP) in recognition of his long-term contribution to the Australian photo industry. Outside of his magazine work, he is the editor of the Contemporary Photographers: Australia series of monographs which document the lives of Australia’s most important photographers.