Which Spotmatic to go for?


Link Posted 17/11/2010 - 10:13
I recall that the Pentax Spotmatic was THE camera for press photographers late 1960s until well into into the 1970s. Before that they used Rollies and before that old fashioned plate cameras.
Because my photographer colleagues at work had Pentax Spotmatics I had to replace my first SLR, a Zenit E, with one. I got the slightly cheaper version, a Spotmatic 500 as opposed to the Spotmatic 1000. But there was no difference, the 500 still had a 1/1000th second top shutter speed.
PPG: http://www.pentaxphotogallery.com/artists/davidtrout


Link Posted 20/11/2010 - 00:15

This is my favorite, but I also have an SP II, SP 1000, and an S1a, I love them all. The great thing is that the most expensive one was the ES II, and with shipping I paid $31 USD.
Last Edited by Stratman on 20/11/2010 - 00:18


Link Posted 20/11/2010 - 00:31
That's incredible!

The ES II seems so rare that I'm seriously considering emailing one of the camera repair places to ask if they've got spares and can restore mine. It needs a CLA, new battery door, new rewind crank, and a sheared self timer bolt removing and replacing.

Normally I'd regard it as spares, and if I see a completely dead but cosmetically tidy ES II I would probably swap the panels onto mine. But given they seem sought after dead or alive I'm inclined to see how much it'd cost to get it back into full health.

Shooting the Welsh Wilderness with K-m, KX, MX, ME Super and assorted lenses.


Link Posted 20/11/2010 - 05:31
Dangermouse wrote:
That's incredible!

The ES II seems so rare...

Try getting a chrome one! They do exist...

Kris Lockyear
It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head. Henri Cartier-Bresson
Lots of film bodies, a couple of digital ones, too many lenses (mainly older glass) and a Horseman LE 5x4.

My website


Link Posted 20/11/2010 - 13:17
I've just fished my ES II out of the wardrobe and you know what? It isn't that bad...

There's a bit of scuffing and paint loss and the self timer problem which I've no idea how to sort out (the bolt sheared when I tried to unscrew it so I have a snapped bolt stuck in the hole), as well as the missing battery door (bodged with plastic sheet, copper tape, and gaffa tape to get it working).

I might well try taking the top plate off and sorting things like the bent rewind crank/scruffy film speed dial/rusty screws and the fact that the wind on lever doesn't seem to spring back (you have to push it back in a similar manner to the later K series bodies, the Spotmatic doesn't do this so I suspect something is jamming).

It winds on and fires at all speeds, and the metering sort of works albeit a little uncertainly so it's probably worth a go at a full restoration...

Shooting the Welsh Wilderness with K-m, KX, MX, ME Super and assorted lenses.


Link Posted 21/11/2010 - 11:38
I have two Spotmatic F's and think they are really good solid manual cameras. I have had some good results and some not so good results but I really think a good service is required and I would definately suggest this is a good idea to have done on any purchase you are likely to be keeping for some time.

I like that black ES11. I'd like a black Pentax but haven't seen too many about really.....
K5, K200 and several film Pentax cameras!


Link Posted 21/11/2010 - 11:53
To be fair, the Spotmatic's metering circuit isn't exactly sophisticated. I seem to remember reading somewhere that the official Pentax service manual said that the tolerance was half a stop either way, so it's probably safest to regard it as a guide rather than a firm instruction! Bear in mind that these cameras were made in the days when only a serious photographer would have owned an SLR, said individuals would most likely have had a handheld light meter and their own experience to draw on in picking the correct settings. I'll bet that if you went back to the clubs and trade organisations then you'd have heard people moaning about how these new TTL meters were making it too easy and how handheld/MK1 eyeball metering was better!

Mine seemed to struggle with backlit shots and tends to produce slightly underexposed negatives, but this is easily sorted in processing (either by the GIMP after scanning or by extending the exposure/developer times in a wet darkroom). I'll definitely be looking for cheap M42 fit lenses now that I have a body capable of using them well. Just hoping the SV I've now got a film in is as good - I couldn't see any signs of shutter capping at 1/500 but the 1/1000 setting is too fast to see.

Shooting the Welsh Wilderness with K-m, KX, MX, ME Super and assorted lenses.


Link Posted 21/11/2010 - 12:20
I've been working on learning Sunny 16 as a guide (largely because of my Fed 2!) and get my best photos when the meter says it's over exposing slightly. It's no hard and fast rules with an indicator like that! I suppose simply having the lightmeter working at all is pretty good!

But, they're just really nice cameras to use. I have a pair of really nice SMC Takumars for them too!
K5, K200 and several film Pentax cameras!


Link Posted 28/11/2010 - 22:00
Well there has been some interesting reading regarding the Spotmatic variants and their characteristics. I have just picked up a Spotmatic F. When it arrives there will doubtless be more questions. Oh it also comes with it's manual and a "Never" Ready case...

Retired at last - now all that time for photography - you would think: wink:


Link Posted 28/11/2010 - 22:39
I have a Spotmatic F, and I say buy one, if you can find one, that is.


Link Posted 28/11/2010 - 23:43
mayday wrote:
... it also comes with it's manual and a "Never" Ready case...

You sound well set up!

I have two SP-Fs and they are very solid and reliable. However, being somewhat long in the tooth (and probably never serviced since new), you may find some small difficulties with the shutter sticking at the slower speeds (below 1/30th sec) or a sticky shutter blind (resulting in a graduated dark edge to the print (unexposed section of the negative).

Both problems are easily fixed with a CLA.

I have found the silver oxide (1.5v) button batteries work the exposure meter just fine, BUT you must use the exposure meter "intelligently" for best results. (Treat it as if it were a hand-held, reflected light meter, and you should be OK) And, remember that only the SMC lenses will give you open aperture metering. For all other M42 lenses, use stop-down metering. (Additionally, there are some lenses -particularly some zoom lenses- marked SMC which also require to be stopped down to meter)

As regards metering, I usually adjust the exposure to what I consider to be a substitute mid-grey object (grass, dirt, weathered bitumen, mulch or wood chips -mind out for and avoid glare) then shoot whatever,as the other tones simply fall into place and are taken care of automatically (as is side and backlighting).
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