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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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Another Black Beauty: Pentax SV
Old 09-30-2016   #1
Roger Hicks
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Another Black Beauty: Pentax SV

The title says it all, really: see http://rogerandfrances.eu/photograph...ty-4-pentax-sv

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Old 09-30-2016   #2
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Wonderful write-up; didn't Ringo Starr have one? I still using my Spotmatic.
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Old 09-30-2016   #3
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Interesting , but I would still love a Minolta SR!S in black.
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Old 09-30-2016   #4
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Gotta disagree on this one. It's strange but for a camera that has so few features, not even a hot shoe, it should be easy to design it in a elegant fashion. And yet, to my eye, this one is ugly. The oversized film counter ring with the curiously dainty wind lever. The undersized shutter speed ring and the chromed shutter release which stands out of place in the sea of black. The curve of the character line on the reflex housing above the nameplate while everything else is angular.

Now a black Minolta SR1s....
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Old 09-30-2016   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Gotta disagree on this one. It's strange but for a camera that has so few features, not even a hot shoe, it should be easy to design it in a elegant fashion. And yet, to my eye, this one is ugly. The oversized film counter ring with the curiously dainty wind lever. The undersized shutter speed ring and the chromed shutter release which stands out of place in the sea of black. The curve of the character line on the reflex housing above the nameplate while everything else is angular.

Now a black Minolta SR1s....
Have to disagree with your disagreement. I have a pedestrian chrome one with peeling leatherette in front, but in hand it is still svelte and elegant...
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Old 09-30-2016   #6
Mark C
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I've always thought these early Pentax cameras look and feel great. Black adds quite a bit to the already good looks. I have a Heiland Pentax H2 "Store Demonstrator" in black and would love to try it, but I have so many old cameras that I can't work up the enthusiasm to have it serviced.

I think I've accumulated 3 of the pre-Spotmatic bodies now but none are reliable users. I don't know if they are really unreliable or not, since even Spotmatics are getting along in years. All versions do seem to suffer from the mirror sticking issue, which I'm sure a CLA would cure. Still, I don't recall ever running across a non-working Nikon F.
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Old 09-30-2016   #7
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Originally Posted by jamin-b View Post
Have to disagree with your disagreement. I have a pedestrian chrome one with peeling leatherette in front, but in hand it is still svelte and elegant...

I agree with your disagreement of his disagreement. Acknowledging such things are a matter of personal taste, I also think they look nice in for me, a sort of undefinable way. But then I also think my Yashica TL Electro X looks and feels nice. Just heavy. And I have never understood their use of plastic for stop down aperture metering.

Even so, it doesn't quite compare to the Pentax.
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Old 09-30-2016   #8
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I remember trying out a Spotmatic ES back in the day when its electronics were quite revolutionary. I thought the camera was very well built and quite beautiful but I was by that stage already committed to Minolta (SRT-101).
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Old 09-30-2016   #9
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My “local” camera store (100K from our house) often has a nice assortment of old, used camera gear. A few year’s back they were selling a mint, black Heiland (importer) Pentax H-2. Foolishly, I passed on it.

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Old 09-30-2016   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Gotta disagree on this one. It's strange but for a camera that has so few features, not even a hot shoe, it should be easy to design it in a elegant fashion. And yet, to my eye, this one is ugly. The oversized film counter ring with the curiously dainty wind lever. The undersized shutter speed ring and the chromed shutter release which stands out of place in the sea of black. The curve of the character line on the reflex housing above the nameplate while everything else is angular.

Now a black Minolta SR1s....
The undersized shutter speed dial allows for the use of the accessory meter. And the meter also explains the lack of an accessory shoe, which is available as an accessory, as well.


Honeywell Pentax H3v by Mike Novak, on Flickr
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Old 09-30-2016   #11
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Very nice write up Roger, though you could have left the reference to the Nikon F out of it.

I have several of these old M42 Pentax cameras and I also find them to be beautiful cameras. Likewise, the shutters seem to be more sensitive to time than most. Not only do both of my SV shutters run slow, when it drops below 0 degrees F they decide to just quit working alltogether. I'm not really sure that I can fault that tendency since I also seem to quit working when the temp drops that low.

They must have sorted it out by the time that the Spotmatic came along because I haven't had that same problem with my Spotties. The shutter mechanism is supposedly identical between the SV and the Spottie but maybe there are minor changes in lubrication or metallurgy that make the difference.

I do enjoy your web sites and find a lot of very useful information and ideas when I spend some time reading your posts.

One thing I look for every now and then, but haven't found yet, is a collection of your various articles for Amateur Photographer. If you could convince them to let you post them to your site I think it would be another terrific addition.
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Old 09-30-2016   #12
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Chrome version for me, thanks!

When I got mine (chrome!) I was struck by how much more compact it looks and feels compared to my Spotmatic and SL. The modest extra space under the top on the Spotmatic-series cameras makes a big subjective difference.

Unfortunately, even after a CLA by Eric Hendrickson, the mirror on mine hangs up in cold (freezing-ish) weather. Overall, though, I've been quite delighted with it.
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Old 09-30-2016   #13
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I have several cameras in this series and they are gems. Pick one up and you realize they feel like Leica LTM cameras with a pentaprism. Maybe not quite so robust feeling but nice and compact with a lovely form factor. Of this series the SV is my favorite.
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Old 09-30-2016   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greyscale View Post
The undersized shutter speed dial allows for the use of the accessory meter. And the meter also explains the lack of an accessory shoe, which is available as an accessory, as well.


Honeywell Pentax H3v by Mike Novak, on Flickr
Oh yes. That is much better looking. Much.

(Akshully I do find the chrome version infinitely better looking than the black one)
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Old 09-30-2016   #15
gb hill
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Nice write up Roger. I have a SPII silver & black. I doubt they even made an all black SPII. Suprised the camera had a SMC 35/3.5 mounted instead of the SMC 50/1.4. Very happy about that because I have a 50 already from a Spotmatic I already had. Paid $15.00 for the SPII.
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Old 09-30-2016   #16
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Quote:
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Nice write up Roger. I have a SPII silver & black. I doubt they even made an all black SPII. Suprised the camera had a SMC 35/3.5 mounted instead of the SMC 50/1.4. Very happy about that because I have a 50 already from a Spotmatic I already had. Paid $15.00 for the SPII.
Agreed, great writeup. The Pentax SV is one of my all time favorite cameras. I have a mint chrome one. Looked for a black one for a long time...

FWIW, they did make an all black SPII


Black Spotmatic SPII by Colton Allen, on Flickr
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Old 09-30-2016   #17
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I have two black Minolta SRTs ,but my original sRTs were chrome, including anew SRT 101d on close out which I never used .(deliberately).
They seem to align within my X-Pro 1 somehow.
I guess my Spotmatic is slightly more compact than an SRT ,but my chrome SR1s with rounded corners is reminiscent of a Leica M .
I have no problem with Pentax , but it was relief to move onto open aperture metering following a Chinon clone.
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Old 10-01-2016   #18
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Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Oh yes. That is much better looking. Much.

(Akshully I do find the chrome version infinitely better looking than the black one)
the brassing on that black SV sure looks good, nevertheless I find the chrome looking nice too, even without the optional meter or hotshoe mounted


Pentax SV
+ Super Takumar f3.5/35mm by andreas, on Flickr


Pentax SV with fisheye Takumar f4/17mm, taken with Super Tak 150/4
by andreas, on Flickr


here with it's predecessors Asahiflex IIA and Pentax AP, also referred to as the "Origianl Pentax"
the Asahiflex with Takumar 2.4/58mm, the AP with Takumar f2/58mm and the SV with the Auto Takumar f1.8/55 "zebra"


early Pentax SLRs
by andreas, on Flickr


early Pentax SLRs
by andreas, on Flickr
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Old 10-01-2016   #19
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Mechanical Pentax 35mm SLRs - M42, ES, and K-mount - make great classic user cameras.
In USA we are blessed with the services of an excellent repairman named Eric Hendrickson
who can make any of these old beauties work like new at very reasonable cost.

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Old 10-01-2016   #20
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My silver SV was my favorite screwmount body. The black SV featured should go to Eric Hendrickson. he worked some real magic getting mine back to 100% function, and SVs are pretty to look at but even better to use.

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Old 10-01-2016   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
Chrome version for me, thanks!

When I got mine (chrome!) I was struck by how much more compact it looks and feels compared to my Spotmatic and SL. The modest extra space under the top on the Spotmatic-series cameras makes a big subjective difference.

Unfortunately, even after a CLA by Eric Hendrickson, the mirror on mine hangs up in cold (freezing-ish) weather. Overall, though, I've been quite delighted with it.
Sadly the S1a and Sv were not as well built as the Spotmatic.
The SP was astonishing in use. Extremely reliable.
Cold weather, near freezing even in South Africa posed mirror problems.
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Old 10-01-2016   #22
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Sadly the S1a and Sv were not as well built as the Spotmatic. . . .
Disputable. I have met plenty who reckon that when Pentax built a new factory in Tochigi in 1968 the quality (or at least the quality control) declined, at least temporarily.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 10-02-2016   #23
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Roger..that 50mm macro is an SMC Takumar. On all the SMC lenses, the auto/manual switch will not work unless the lens is mounted on a camera
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Old 10-02-2016   #24
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Roger..that 50mm macro is an SMC Takumar. On all the SMC lenses, the auto/manual switch will not work unless the lens is mounted on a camera
right, and it's a truly great lens! one can find a tiny metallic shining pin on the mount which gets pressed when the lens is fully mounted. Of course one also can press it when it's not mounted to then be able to move the switch. ( I once had bought a used Takumar in a shop in Osaka for little as the shopowner said that the M/A switch was broken. It actually wasn't, he just didn't know that it needs that pin pressed to work. I told him, he was grateful and sold me the lens for the cheap price anyways )
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Old 10-02-2016   #25
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Roger..that 50mm macro is an SMC Takumar. On all the SMC lenses, the auto/manual switch will not work unless the lens is mounted on a camera
Gosh, I didn't know that! Thanks!

Does anyone know why this feature was introduced? The advantages are not immediately obvious.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 10-02-2016   #26
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Yes, Roger, that change was made for the Pentax ES and Spotmatic F which used open-aperture metering. Those cameras had an annular recess on the lens mount so that the pin would NOT be pressed when mounted. Thus one uses the meter switch on the left side of the mirror housing to stop down, notifying the meter of the change. You'll see some related bits on the rear of the lens, such as a calibration lug that engages a sliding part on the body just inside the mount.

One can use these SMC lenses as normal on older screw-mount bodies (which press the pin), and the ES and F bodies can function ok with older lenses but of course with stop-down metering. Compatibility both ways... Clever design but a last gasp for the screw-mount!
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Old 10-02-2016   #27
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Disputable. I have met plenty who reckon that when Pentax built a new factory in Tochigi in 1968 the quality (or at least the quality control) declined, at least temporarily.

Cheers,

R.
Possibly, but the Spotmatic chassis was unquestionably a better design with a vastly improved lens mount attachment. The earlier Pentax models used the stamped brass front mirror box cover to hold the lens mount. It would bend out of alignment rather easily when roughly used with very large, heavy lenses. These models did not attach the body flange to a stiff cast mirror box frame the way the Spotmatic series does.
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Old 10-02-2016   #28
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I really like my simple SP1000.
Think Spotmatic SP without self-timer.
Unfortunately it was never made in black.

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Old 10-02-2016   #29
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Before I sold my screwmount kit, I had a 28, 35, 50, and 135 SMC-Takumars. All with proper caps. And my bodies were a black Spottie, an ESII and the SV. (One manual/stop down body, one AE body, one meterless...kinda perfect )

After painstakingly acquiring the SMC lenses for my ESII I realized that the kit didn't do anything my LX and K-mount glass wouldn't do, but better. As pretty as the screw mounts were, I let them go to better homes.

I don't regret it, but they were wonderful cameras.

leica M2 and Pentax SV by Erik, on Flickr

Untitled by Erik, on Flickr
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Old 10-02-2016   #30
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I had a black AP with it's original black paint Takumar 58mm f/2 lens. I still have a black paint K in a box somewhere. The only weakness in these Pentaxes is that the shutters curtains get dry and wrinkly, causing them to stick.
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Old 10-02-2016   #31
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Quote:
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Yes, Roger, that change was made for the Pentax ES and Spotmatic F which used open-aperture metering. Those cameras had an annular recess on the lens mount so that the pin would NOT be pressed when mounted. Thus one uses the meter switch on the left side of the mirror housing to stop down, notifying the meter of the change. You'll see some related bits on the rear of the lens, such as a calibration lug that engages a sliding part on the body just inside the mount.

One can use these SMC lenses as normal on older screw-mount bodies (which press the pin), and the ES and F bodies can function ok with older lenses but of course with stop-down metering. Compatibility both ways... Clever design but a last gasp for the screw-mount!
Dear Doug,

Makes sense. Thanks!

The piece is now amended with thanks to you and MrFujicaman and a link to RFF.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 10-03-2016   #32
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That pin is a trap for those who mount SMC lenses on Mamiya or Zenit cameras - they have screws in the face of the lens mounting ring. The pin drops into the screw recess, and locks the lens onto the camera.
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Old 10-03-2016   #33
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That pin is a trap for those who mount SMC lenses on Mamiya or Zenit cameras - they have screws in the face of the lens mounting ring. The pin drops into the screw recess, and locks the lens onto the camera.
Dear John,

Ah... THAT's the origin of that problem. Now that you mention it, I remember reading about it; but as it never affected me, I didn't pay much attention.

Thanks,

R.
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