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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I think the spotmatics are inexpensive because of the stop-down metering.
The build quality is certainly top-notch.
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.
As above, that's what I had to do with a Pentax where the battery had leaked, I managed to repair the damage luckily.
Spotmatics use a bridge circuit in their meter, which makes them relative insensitive to voltage difference.
Originally Posted by wiltw
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.