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  1. #1

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    Spotmatic SPII meter needle

    Hi all,

    I'd just like to crosscheck an issue with some other Spotmatic users out there. I was reading "The Asahi Pentax Way", which said that when the meter is switched off the needle rests in the centre. In other words with the meter switched off it looks like it is showing correct exposure. I have two SPII bodies and on both of them when the needle is at rest with the meter switched off it points significantly lower than the centre "correct exposure" position. It's not way down low by any means, but as I mentioned it is significantly lower than centre. Is that what other Spotmatic users here see in their cameras too?

    The reason I'm asking is that I've noticed that my cameras' "correct exposure" actually seems to be one to two stops overexposed on both of my bodies. For example, in a "sunny 16" situation (confirmed by my hand-held meter) the meter on one body indicates correct exposure at at f11 and on the other body it is the click-stop between f8 and f11. Both cameras had their light meter photo cells replaced about three years ago, so I was wondering if the reason was something as simple as the needle being out of calibration.

    If a few people could check their SP or SPII bodies and let me know where their needle rests I'd really appreciate it. I believe the SPF used a different kind of meter so that model may not have any relevance to my cameras.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    The off position and the correct exposure position should be in the same place. i.e. the centre of the needle's travel. This is because correct exposure is shown when there is no current flowing through the coil of the meter.

    This is why these cameras meter correctly with any cell you can fit in there and make contact with regardless of voltage. It even shows correct exposure if it's put in backwards but moves the wrong way for under and over exposure.

    If your needle is bent out of place then correct exposure will be at the place it rests when switched off. You can do a quick check on that using the sunny 16 rule.


    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  3. #3

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    I don't know exactly how far adrift the needle is from your words "significantly lower than the centre". With the meter switched on, you could measure by varying the aperture setting how far from the centre in stops the needle is resting. Spotmatic meters tend to vary quite a bit anyway, both in terms of their actual reading and the speed of response of the needle. Also, whilst the Sunny 16 rule is a handy stand-by, it's far short of 100% accurate and I wouldn't even try to compare a hand-held meter's reading with the Spot's TTL system. You don't suggest that you've had any poor results from either camera, so it could be that you're worrying unnecessarily. There's an old saying that "If you go looking for trouble, you'll usually find it."
    Hope you resolve the issue.
    Steve

  4. #4
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Roberts View Post
    Also, whilst the Sunny 16 rule is a handy stand-by, it's far short of 100% accurate and I wouldn't even try to compare a hand-held meter's reading with the Spot's TTL system.
    I agree. I wasn't suggesting it would be as accurate but if a sunny 16 reading (or a reading from a different meter) shows similar settings to the Spotmatic needle using its (currently wrong) off position as the correct exposure position then I think it's safe to consider that the meter's needle has been bent out of place.


    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  5. #5

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    Thanks to both Steves for the quick replies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Smith View Post
    The off position and the correct exposure position should be in the same place. i.e. the centre of the needle's travel. This is because correct exposure is shown when there is no current flowing through the coil of the meter.

    This is why these cameras meter correctly with any cell you can fit in there and make contact with regardless of voltage. It even shows correct exposure if it's put in backwards but moves the wrong way for under and over exposure.

    If your needle is bent out of place then correct exposure will be at the place it rests when switched off. You can do a quick check on that using the sunny 16 rule.


    Steve.
    What you're saying backs up my suspicions. The needles don't appear to be physically bent, so it appears that they are just resting in the wrong position. I'm hoping that there's some kind of calibration that can be done on that in the long term, but in the meantime I now have a workaround to just set the exposure to the needle's normal resting place.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Roberts View Post
    I don't know exactly how far adrift the needle is from your words "significantly lower than the centre". With the meter switched on, you could measure by varying the aperture setting how far from the centre in stops the needle is resting. Spotmatic meters tend to vary quite a bit anyway, both in terms of their actual reading and the speed of response of the needle. Also, whilst the Sunny 16 rule is a handy stand-by, it's far short of 100% accurate and I wouldn't even try to compare a hand-held meter's reading with the Spot's TTL system. You don't suggest that you've had any poor results from either camera, so it could be that you're worrying unnecessarily. There's an old saying that "If you go looking for trouble, you'll usually find it."
    Hope you resolve the issue.
    Steve
    The next step will be to try your suggestion of varying the aperture and seeing if it reads what I think it should read when the needle lies at its normal resting place. I realise the Sunny 16 rule wouldn't be 100% scientifically accurate for this kind of experiment, however it was a nice sunny day and the rule says the exposure should be correct with the camera set to 1/125 at f16 with my 100 iso film, and I backed that up with a meter reading with my Sekonic L308S meter, so I'm pretty confident that the Spotmatic meters should read the same if they were functioning correctly. It's also true that I haven't had any poor results yet from the cameras, but I'm ashamed to say that I'm about a year behind with my developing so there may be some surprises waiting for me there.

  6. #6
    Hatchetman's Avatar
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    I do not comprehend. I have two Spotties. Both recently CLA'd by reputable sources. When off, the meter needle rests way down towards underexposed on both of them. If the needle rested in the middle, you'd constantly forget to turn on the meter. You'd think you were metering correctly when in fact the meter was off.

  7. #7

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    It sounds like yours is similar to mine Hatchetman. And what you say about the risk of thinking that the exposure is correct when in fact the meter is switched off is exactly what the "Pentax Way" book that I was reading warned about. Until I read that section in the book I didn't realise that the meter was supposed to be centered when switched off. A few days ago when shooting I was thinking to myself that the shutter speeds I was selecting via the meter seemed too slow for the sunny conditions, and then after reading that chapter of the book I started to put two and two together...

  8. #8
    Hatchetman's Avatar
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    I have no clue, other than to say both of my cameras meter perfectly as far as I can tell. I rely on the in-camera metering entirely. One of them was a new-in-the box 1973 version.

    If you really want to get to the bottom of this, I suggest contacting Eric Hendrickson, Pentax "guru." http://pentaxs.com/

  9. #9
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Spotmatic II user manual doesn't mention it. I recall my dad's Spotmatic II needle was down slightly at rest. This makes sense as a "feature" because it will prevent you from mistakenly shooting with the meter off.

    You know how to do a battery check, right? Set ASA at 100 and Shutter at B (one of the invalid combinations). Then when you slide the switch up the meter needle should drop rapidly.

    Spotmatic F is different, it is always on.

    Without battery in the F the needle rests in the middle. I recall being "bugged" by this because I can't just fire away if needle is in the middle. I have to check it responds to f/stop changes "just to be sure" the battery didn't connect. I have a hunch if I was already used to the practice, (if the SPII rested in middle) I wouldn't have been bothered with how the F works.

    Maybe the author mistakenly attributed a feature of the F to the II.

  10. #10
    DarkroomDan's Avatar
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    I have both a Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic and an Ashahi Pentax Spotmatic SP II. I bought both of them new and in both the needle angles down when the meter is off. They have always done this.

    Dan
    Daniel Williams
    Enumclaw WA USA

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