Should I buy a Pentax Spotmatic or the Pentax K1000?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by altair, Apr 15, 2009.

  1. altair

    altair Member

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    Hi all! I'm not sure if this has been asked before, but here goes. I'm looking to buy either a Spotmatic (any variant, but preferably the F) or a K1000. I'm sure there's a lot of merit and also cons to each but simply...I want a reliable, fully manual (no electronics!) workhorse that will last me a long time.

    Honestly, I'm keener on the Spotmatic because of it's M42 mount...cheap lens ahoy (Spotmatic + Helios 44-2...yummy!!)! The K-mount of the K1000 also has cheap lenses, but I'm not sure about how they compare (in price) to those of the M42 lenses.

    On the other hand, I read somewhere that most of the M42 lenses uses stop-down metering...correct me if I'm wrong. The thing is, I have no clue on how this stop-down metering thing works because my only experience with a manual film SLR is with my Yashica FX3, which can meter with the aperture wide open. Is stop-down metering a pain? I have a light meter with me, so can I just forget about this stop-down metering thing and just meter with my standalone light meter?

    Another concern of mine is...is there any split-prism focusing ring (not sure if this is the right term) on the Spotmatic or the K1000? Or do they just have microprism collars (again, this might be the wrong term) in the VF to aid focusing? I find it very easy to focus using the split circle thingy on my FX3.

    I'd appreciate any feedbacks as to which one is better..and if there's any quirks to each of these cameras. It'll help me greatly in deciding what I should get. Thanks all!
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    There are lots of M42 cameras.

    There are lots of K mount cameras. You can put the adapter on these and use M42 lenses.

    Which to choose depends on what you're looking for. The spotmatic is small and light. That's either an advantage or for some it's a problem. The newest is over 30 years old the oldest over 40 years old. So no matter which you buy you should count on at least a CLA.
     
  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    I grew up on a Pentax Spotmatic II. Wonderful camera, but I tell my students to get the K1000.
     
  4. JRJacobs

    JRJacobs Member

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    If you are interested in the Spotmatic, I would suggest you get the Spotmatic F - it can do open aperture metering with SMC lenses. Otherwise, go for the K-1000.
     
  5. altair

    altair Member

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    Yup, noted...a CLA is expected and is no problem for me.

    I can do the same with my FX3 too..there's a C/Y mount to M42 mount adapter available. Not sure how well it works though. The thing is...I want another body, it's an addiction! Haha..
     
  6. altair

    altair Member

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    Hehe, and why is that? Mind telling?
     
  7. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    As for stop down metering, the older M42 lenses need this but the later models have a pin which is pushed in by a plate in the camera stopping down the aperture.

    Some cameras meter at fully open aperture, others like my SP500 stop down when the meter is switched on and open up again when it is turned off.


    Steve.
     
  8. altair

    altair Member

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    Oh, ok..thank you! But ermm, can the F meter wide open with other lenses besides the SMC glass?
     
  9. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    This is quite a common response given to anyone asking about buying old cameras but I have about thirty between twenty and fifty years old and they all seem to work well. I can't see any reason to send any of them away for CLA.

    Perhaps I have just been lucky.



    Steve.
     
  10. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Any M42 lens with the aperture stop down pin, usually marked 'Automatic' somewhere in the description (so not with the Helios 44-2).



    Steve.
     
  11. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    You cannot go wrong with either. I have had both; both are excellent quality cameras. The K1000 is a no-frills body; no stop down mechanism on the body; no meter on/off. For stop down metering with the K1000 (or the SP1000, which is the M-42 version) one must use the stop down, "manual/auto" switch on a lens; and not all lenses have that feature.

    I think it safe to say that any Pentax made after about 1960 will outlast us all, given proper care, cleaning, lubricating, and adjustment. Earlier ones might be getting a bit worn by now.

    The fact of the matter is that there is nothing (in my opinion) that the K1000 or SP1000 cannot do that any capable photographer needs to do.
     
  12. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Lots of questions there let me see...

    The K-1000 is basically a Spotmatic F with a bayonet mount. The K series cameras got lighter with time as the company replaced heavy metal with cheaper plastic. In the bodies, this was generally a bad thing...all too often metal gears in the internals were replaced with plastic gears. Quieter and lighter but, not as reliable.

    I'm not really certain on this but I don't think any of the spotmatics have the split image focusing aid. None come to mind anyway. Neither does the plain vanilla K-1000. However, K-1000 SE does have a split image focus aid - and this is the chief difference between the 'K-1000 SE' and the plain jane 'K-1000'.

    The early K-series lenses are pretty much the same designs as their immediate predecessors - the M-42. As with the bodies, K-series lenses got lighter as plastic replaced metal....sometimes that wasn't such a bad thing.

    Keep in mind too that with the exception of the Spotmatic F, all spotmatics used mercury batteries - which have long been unavailable in the USA. There are work arounds but, really none are very good. With old spotmatics, one usually gets used to shooting sans meter. Shooting street with B&W film, it really isn't even difficult...with a little practice.

    Don't worry too much about stop down metering. All it means is that when you turn on the meter to take a reading, the lens stops down...no big deal. You just get used to focus first then meter then shoot. Tripping the shutter on the spotmatics turns off the meter and opens up the aperature again so that you can focus. (but, see my comments above about meters in general).

    The K-1000 meter is "always on". It just draws "not much" current when the lens cap is on. This is a little un-nerving at first...but, it's really not a big deal. Many K-1000 meters (well, four out of the five that I have owned in the past five years or so) are kinda...hmmm, unstable or irratic. That is, they don't always give the same reading fro the same light...maybe, I'm just lucky. Spotmatic meters suffer a whole host of ills of their own - they react slowly, they have kinda a memory and generally,...well, as you can probably see by now, I don't have a very high opinion of the spotmatic meters...they were a wonderful innovation at the time but...that time has long since passed. I love the spotmatics - and own and regularly use mine but, rarely bother with their meters anymore.

    Note that metering with a K-1000 is much easier than with the FX-3 that you're used to. With the FX-3 you must press slightly on the shutter button to take a meter reading - which makes adjusting shutter speed kinda hard while metering.

    Finally, get yourself a copy of The Pentax way by Herb Keppler. It explains everything you need to know about all things pentax...There are many editions and they covered the models that were current at the time of publication as well as a few of the older models so, try to get an edition that covers what you're interested in. I think the fourth edition may be a good place...not sure. Will have to look at my book shelf when I get home tonight.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 15, 2009
  13. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    General advice: If you don't change lenses very often, go for the Spotmatic.
    At least for me, stop-down metering isn't a big deal, but changing
    screw-mount lenses very often is.

    The Spotmatic F can only meter wide open only with certain later Pentax/Takumar lenses (I doubt if all SMC glass works).
    On the negative side, the full-aperture metering cams sometimes prevent mounting M42 lenses of other brands (especially a number of German lenses).

    One advantage of an M42 mount is being able to use some excellent glass (though the original glass is often very good, it isn't always the best or the cheapest): Mamiya, Fuji, Zeiss Jena, Schacht, Arsat, Russar and Schneider are the first that come to mind.

    The K1000 is essentially a Spotmatic with a bayonet mount.
    What it's missing of the ability to stop down (DOF preview), a light meter switch (you really need that lens cap) and build quality in the later models.
    While many sheepishly go on about the K1000 being so "ideal", other models (K2, KX, KM) are better and sometimes cheaper.

    My advice:

    1) Get an earlier Spotmatic and do a CLA only if it really needs one (unless you have money to spare). If your 1/1000 isn't too far below 1/700, just grin and bear it (it won't get that much better even after a CLA).
    Try to put some Zeiss Jena & Schneider glass on it.

    Or if you do change lenses often, get a K- model, not necessarily the 1000.

    Have fun!
     
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  15. zenrhino

    zenrhino Member

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    Pittsburgh Camera Repair put a split-image finder in my Spotmatic IIa. Works like a charm. I definitely suggest getting any Spotmatic you buy CLA'd if for nothing else to get the shutter and meter tuned.
     
  16. zenrhino

    zenrhino Member

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    Preach on. Ive got two Mamiya/Sekor M42s that are just awesome.
     
  17. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Good advice...I sold all of my spare screw mount lenses for this exact reason. Changing screw mount lenses in the field is not fun. Now, I just have one lens per screw mount body. Makes life easy.
     
  18. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Is that two Mamiya/Sekor lenses?

    I have been thinking about giving away some of the camera gear I have but dont use. Amongst the candidates for adoption is a Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL body.

    If you would like this as a matching body to to go with the lenses you have, send me a PM.


    Steve.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 15, 2009
  19. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I have had a fair amount of experience with both the Spotmatic F and M42 lenses. The Spot F is very well crafted, and M42 lenses are a superb value, usually going for pennies on the dollar.

    I ended up go with a later Pentax body, the Super Program, because I prefer having a camera that offers an optional winder, motor, or grip. I do not really need the speed of a winder or motor, but I much prefer using a camera with a winder, grip, or motor attached, as handling and balance are greatly improved.

    Even though I have a number of M42 adapters, I ended giving up most of my M42 lenses, as some are radioactive (i.e. treated with thorium). I understand well that the amount of radiation emitted is quite small, but I would rather err on the side of safety--especially with so many nice Pentax A-series lenses available. Some have commented that exposure to the sun (and other things) is a source of radiation. While this is true, I note that, in most situations, the sun is quite difficult to avoid, whereas I can avoid Takumar lenses quite easily...and not lose any performance in opting for an A-series lens.
     
  20. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Just curious, which ones?

    Many of the lenses made for 35mm Rolleiflexes and branded as Rolleinar (or sometimes Voigtländer AR) were made by Mamiya.

    I've tried or tested most of them (comparing them directly to their Zeiss counterparts): Since they were apparently the same optical schemes used by their M42 line, I can only say that they are very very good. Often just *slightly* beaten by the Zeiss' in some parameters, but that is actually a great compliment!
     
  21. filmamigo

    filmamigo Member

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    I have a Spotmatic F and love it. I will never get rid of it. I used it for years with lenses that wouldn't do open aperture metering -- not really a problem, just a different way to work. I have recently "upgraded" to an SMC Takumar, and with open aperture metering, it seems like a whole new camera!

    If you go to the K-mount, pick a later body than the K1000. The "cult" status means you pay $100 more than a slightly later (and often better) camera.
     
  22. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    "I want a reliable, fully manual (no electronics!) workhorse that will last me a long time. "

    'Nuff said, get the spotmatic. The K mount lenses are in high demand, are fetching a much higher price than I think they are worth, and besides the slower 50mm lenses there are not many available. The pentax m42 lenses are excellent and there are many available. The other brands include some nice glass including german and Japanese manufacturers.

    If you are OK with not having much auto, then run, don't walk, to the spotmatic.

    Regarding metering. Early cameras did not have any linkage between the lens and camera. So you would have to keep the lens stopped down to the intended aperture while focussing. This is hard in low light.
    Later lenses would stay fully open until a pin in the back was pressed (by the camera) and then it would close down during exposure. Most lenses that have this pin are labeled "auto". -Except for the pentax lenses, im not exactly sure how those are labeled to indicate the pin.

    Cameras using this feature had some design problems. There was nothing telling the camera what aperture was selected. In order to manually set the exposure, you would have to first stop the lens down, then choose the settings, then open the lens back up and take the photo. That certainly wasnt much better. Some cameras used off-the-film metering, meaning there was a sensor that pointed to the film and read any light reflected back at it. Think of this as 'just in time' metering.
     
  23. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    I have 3 Spotmatics and 2 K1000. I wouldn't get rid of them for anything. The Super-Multi-Coated Takumars are unbeatable in terms of resolution and bokeh. I definitely prefer ols metalloic fully Manual cameras.
    A sample from the Takumar:
    [​IMG]
     
  24. JRJacobs

    JRJacobs Member

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    Not quite. Only the lenses marked "SMC" can be used with the Spotmatic F for open aperture metering. These have an additional lever that communicates the aperture to the camera. "Automatic" lenses are an earlier "innovation" that seperated them from even earlier M42 lenses that required the user to reset the aperture after each shutter cycle.
     
  25. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Go for the K mount. It's newer and uses a currently available battery. If you want M42 lenses get the adapter.
    There are a couple of statements made that are not accurate in some of the above posts.
    Corrections(?) follow.... Spotmatic F gives full aperture metering ONLY with the last iteration of M42 lenses. There is a coupling for the meter that does not appear on earlier lenses. It does work with older lenses in stop down mode so there's no advantage if you want to use older or non Pentax lenses.
    The K1000 does have a meter switch. It is electronic and controlled by a cds cell over the eyepiece. When you put the lens cap on the circuit won't conduct and consume the battery.
    The Spotmatic meters other than the F are activated by pushing the metering switch next to the lens upwards. It should latch in position, at that time the lens stops down & you take your reading. At the same time you can view the DOF change.. When the shutter is released the switch should move downwards & the lens reopen.
    As mentioned above the K1000SE had a split screen. It should be possible to replace a micro prism with SI the only consideration is cost.
    None of the Spots or K cameras used OTF metering. Or TTL flash capabilities(just in case)
     
  26. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Just to clear up another thing: Batteries are NOT an issue with the Spotmatics.

    Their meters use a bridge circuit, which is relatively insensitive to voltage differences. Any battery which fits and is within the 1.3-1.5 range will work fine.

    Also, using an M42 lens on a K-mount body with an adapter is a PITA.

    Based on my own experiences (Spotmatics I've relatively recently come across and given a check-up), at least 50% still work well without a CLA.
    As far as age goes, a 45 year-old Spotmatic is far more reliable than any modern electronic miracle (I have a Spotmatic & lenses handy for difficult/dangerous/suicide situations).