Pentax Spotmatic

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Snapper, Feb 25, 2010.

  1. Snapper

    Snapper Member

    Messages:
    224
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2004
    Location:
    Brighton, En
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    A colleague at work has brought in a Pentax Honeywell Spotmatic that he has inherited for me to have a look at. By the looks of it, it is in very good condition. The lens (a Super-Takuma f/1.4 50mm) looks clear, the shutter fires ok, focusing is smooth.

    The only problem I can see is that the battery cover is stuck. Is there a specialised tool (ie. one that is not a coin) that can get these off? From reading around it sounds like a PX400S battery would be a good replacement battery, if I can get the cover off.

    Any thoughts on the quality of these cameras and the lens? f/1.4 seems nice and fast - I just happen to have a roll of hp5+ on me, so I'll take it out for a spin at lunchtime and have a guess at the exposure.

    I'm not sure what my colleague wants to do with it - probably ebay it. Is the Spotmatic 'cult' enough to get a semi-decent price for it? Or will it go for peanuts?
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,523
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    They don't sell for high prices, I paid £25 for a mint Spotmatic F and f2 SMC 50mm lens, turned out i'd been at university with the original owner. A second bod was thrown in with another camera for less than £20 and some lenses again in good condition.

    You might try a drop of WD-40 overnight on the thread of the cover, I have seen batteries cause corrosion.

    Ian
     
  3. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,786
    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2005
    Location:
    Minneapolis,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There were a few variations of both cameras and lenses. None bring high prices but can still be very usable cameras delivering high quality results. Most required stop down metering (a black slide switch to the right of the lens mount as you face the camera). The Spotmatic F did not.

    The Takumar lenses were/are very good. A 50mm 1.4 lens will be more desirable than the 1.8 or 2.0. Series (over time) went from Takumar to Super-Takumar to Super Multi Coated (SMC) Takumar.

    As Ian suggests, could be corrosion holding the battery cover. Or just age. Try various coins to get the closest fit. I would prefer a drop of liquid penetrant as opposed to WD-40 in the spray form. Best to do this first to avoid marring up the bottom.
     
  4. illumiquest

    illumiquest Member

    Messages:
    915
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2010
    Location:
    Portland Ore
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The spotmatic isn't worth a whole lot but the 50 1.4 often goes for around 100$ on ebay if it's in excellent shape.
     
  5. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

    Messages:
    623
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Location:
    Canmore Ab C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The ubiquitous Pentax Spotmatic. Everyone I know personally that is still in photography seems to have started with a Spotmatic, and many still own their first one. Indeed I still have mine, I'd get so little for the thing it hardly makes sense to consider selling it.

    I bought the camera in 1966 but have barely used it in the last 30 years. I still have it and it seems to function as well as the day I bought it. The meter even corresponds correctly when compared to my F3HP.

    As for quality; just holding one of these cameras speaks volumes. I'd put the body quality up their with the Leica M stuff any day. The lenses, even though well built, are likely a little soft but I've never noticed this.

    I think the Spotmatics are worth far more than the market value, which seems to place more on rarity than quality sometimes.

    Tell him to hang onto the camera.
     
  6. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,071
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    Location:
    SF Bay area
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    If you get the battery cover off, the next challenge is finding a mercury oxide battery, since they were discontinued due to environmental concerns. Mercury oxide batteries provided a fixed 1.35v that was unwavering, not like the alkaline batteries we use today, so do not try to substitute with alkaline!

    It is possible to get Wein air cell batteries, which use hearing aid battery technology and are activated by pulling an airtight seal off the battery. Once activated, you use it up or it wears out...there is no resealing to put the battery into suspended animation. Some places like zuiko.com sell an adapter that has the form factor of the PX-625 mercury oxide, but which accept smaller silver oxide cell, and outputs a fixed 1.35v that would be needed from a PX-625 mercury oxide substitute.
     
  7. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,347
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2003
    Location:
    Sacramento,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think the spotmatics are inexpensive because of the stop-down metering.
    The build quality is certainly top-notch.
     
  8. maderik

    maderik Member

    Messages:
    99
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Location:
    Cape Canaver
    Shooter:
    35mm
    If you can't easily remove the battery cap, just use some fine screwdrivers to remove the whole bottom plate. Then you can apply solvents and/or penetrating lubricant to the threads more easily. Don't use too much force - allow time for the lube get through. It's very likely that the reason it's stuck is a corroded battery. Use white vinegar and contact cleaning solution to clean out the compartment. But it's not uncommon for the corrosion to have migrated to the solder joint and wire connecting to the battery compartment. It's possible to repair such damage, but it's easier to use an external meter or sunny f/16 rule.
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,523
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As above, that's what I had to do with a Pentax where the battery had leaked, I managed to repair the damage luckily.

    Ian
     
  10. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

    Messages:
    1,118
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2006
    Location:
    Hamburg
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Spotmatics use a bridge circuit in their meter, which makes them relative insensitive to voltage difference.
    Any battery in the 1.3-1.5 range (alkaline, silver, ect) which you manage toi fit inside (most users use a rubber O-ring or similar to help) will work fine.
     
  11. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

    Messages:
    1,118
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2006
    Location:
    Hamburg
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    IMHO Spotmatics are lovely cameras - reliable and handle marvelously.
    I keep mine as a camera for dangerous situations. The only reason I don't use it more often is because changing lenses with the screw mount is a PITA.
    (I've often dreamed of putting a Rolleiflex QBM mount on one).
    I also wish it had a centre-weighted or spot meter.

    But if you don't frequently change lenses, a lovely little camera...
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,523
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I thought only the Spotmatic F used a bridge circuit, and the older Spotmatics don't read accurately with the wrong voltage battery.

    Ian
     
  13. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

    Messages:
    1,118
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2006
    Location:
    Hamburg
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My Spotmatic and SP 1000 both have alkaline cells in them and the meters are spot on....
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,970
    Joined:
    May 3, 2006
    Location:
    Ryde, Isle o
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I thought all Spotmatics used a bridge circuit and were not sensitive to voltage variations. My non F model is fine with alkalines as is my SP500.

    It's easy to tell. If the meter position for proper exposure is in the centre and the meter needle goes to that position when the meter is switched off, then it's a bridge circuit and an alkaline or silver 1.5 volt cell will do.

    The meter in a bridge circuit displays the difference in voltage between two potential dividers. At correct exposure, this difference is zero so it cannot vary with cell voltage.

    If the exposure is set by lining up one needle with another then it is not a bridge circuit and will be sensitive to voltage change


    Steve.
     
  16. Shangheye

    Shangheye Member

    Messages:
    1,094
    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2007
    Location:
    Belgium
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The camera is repairable if you are lucky, but the lens is a gem so hold on to it and can be used with any number of cameras with a suitable convereter...it is my low light lens on my EOS with an M42 to EF converter...
     
  17. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,727
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The only problem I can see is that the battery cover is stuck. Is there a specialised tool (ie. one that is not a coin) that can get these off? From reading around it sounds like a PX400S battery would be a good replacement battery, if I can get the cover off.
    *******
    A routine problem. Sometimes the only solution is to drill out the cover and replace. Having been faced fairly often with this problem, we made our own tool. A large screwdriver. We ground the head of the screwdriver to match the curve of the Pentax slot. Then we could apply plenty of push (to preclude buggering the slot) and plenty of turn at the same time.
     
  18. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,970
    Joined:
    May 3, 2006
    Location:
    Ryde, Isle o
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    My father had a Spotmatic (I think I have it now) on which the battery cover resisted almost all attempts at opening. It had been abused by a previous owner and the coin slot looked more like a ploughed furrow.

    The only way we could open it was to drill two small holes in it and use a pair of needle nosed pliers to apply rotation. There is a risk of drilling into a mercury cell with this method though.



    Steve.
     
  19. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,071
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    Location:
    SF Bay area
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Spotmatics (original, II, F) all used mercury oxide batteries, and given the stable voltage from those batteries it would be surprising that a bridge circuit would have been used. Nevertheless, the Olympus OM-1 is absolutely dependent upon constant 1.3v, its meter does not align two needle but is similar in appearance to the Spotmatic (align needle to center of indicator area), its needle swings out when power is off.
     
  20. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,005
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It will go for peanuts on E-Bay.

    I would forget about the battery. Just get a hand held light meter, or learn to guess exposure, and you will get far better exposures than the in-camera meter would give you anyhow (and it will be far less of a PITA than stop-down metering anyhow).

    If the battery corrodes (which it probably already has, or will) and ruins the camera (which it probably will not), just throw it away and get another one for $25. Sad that it is at this point, but it is.

    If you must, just take the camera to a repair person and let them get the meter running for you.

    Whatever you do, I would grab the camera. They are great.
     
  21. Pumal

    Pumal Member

    Messages:
    580
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That's what I do. I bought my first Spotmatic in 1964. I have 5 now. I think they are excellent càmeras and the Super-Multi-Coated Takumars are top notch.
     
  22. zumbido

    zumbido Member

    Messages:
    123
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Surprising or not, it's a fact. I have six of them, all rehabbed by myself. I'm quite sure of it. :smile:

    As someone else said... trying to force the battery cover off is a good way to screw it up. Take off the bottom plate and soak the whole shebang... try a light vinegar solution first, that will usually do the trick without anything toxic. If the simple soak doesn't do it, use a sharp blade to pop off the hump that covers the battery on the inside of the cover, and try the soak again. The hump is easy to re-affix. From there, if still no luck, move on to stronger solvents. But I've never needed it, and I've worked on some that were really burned and frozen.
     
  23. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,071
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    Location:
    SF Bay area
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Ah, good, the voice of real experience and expertise, not one of mere speculation!!!
     
  24. zumbido

    zumbido Member

    Messages:
    123
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    That said, I only use silver batteries. I avoid alkaline in cameras on general principle unless they were built specifically for it.
     
  25. elekm

    elekm Member

    Messages:
    2,058
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2004
    Location:
    New Jersey (
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    The Spotmatic continued life as the K1000. They're nearly identical mechanically, although the K1000 is lighter in weight.

    I just sold both of my Spotmatics. Lovely cameras, but I had plenty of lovely cameras that weren't being used. Both had f/1.4 Takumars -- an early version and a late version.
     
  26. zumbido

    zumbido Member

    Messages:
    123
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Similar, though I wouldn't go so far as to say "nearly identical". Sort of true but with a few important differences. Biggest--the gearing and interlocks under the baseplate that co-ordinate film advance and shutter cocking was improved in the K1000, such that they have a *far* lower instance of the classic "film advance jam" issue. (One wheel had its shape changed to be more oblong in later Spotmatics, which improved matters but the K1000 went further.)

    The K1000 also discarded stop-down metering, with the trade-off of losing DOF preview, which contributed to some re-arranging of the assembly on the face under the lensmount plate.

    In the end, I prefer Spotmatics these days. Somehow I've always found them easier to correct, and the screwmount is a lot less cumbersome for me than the bayonet. I used K mount for nearly a decade before I got into M42 and "Leica" screwmount, but the screw quickly became my favorite. Touch it to the body at any position, spin it backwards til there's a click, then forwards. With the bayonet I'm always looking for the orange dots and fumbling around, lest I cause metal to grind on metal and put my teeth on edge.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2010