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Guide me to a Spotmatic
Old 04-22-2019   #1
B-9
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Guide me to a Spotmatic

Looking for a Spotmatic to play with.

Thinking the SP1000 as I hate self timer levers.

What are the go to lenses for you Pentax guys?

What are the odds of getting a working meter?

Batteries? Relevant info for a spot newbie?

Plan is to look around garage sales this summer as they seem to be pretty common around here I just have never been interested until now.
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Old 04-22-2019   #2
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There is a sub-topic in this forum dedicated to Takumar lenses, you should start there and join in the discussion. I am particularly fond of the early Auto Takumars myself, most will say start with the Super Multicoated Takumar 50/1.4, though. I have never even bothered putting a battery in any of my Spotmatics, either a hand-held or shoe mounted meter or Sunny 16 works well enough for me. The early bodies will need the accessory accessory shoe attachment for a shoe mount.
Also to be considered for their simplicity are the pre-Spotmatic Pentax cameras, I think the S3/H3 bodies top out at 1000.
If in-camera metering is a priority, the Spotmatic F would be the way to go, as it can use a modern button-cell battery, otherwise you will need to use zinc oxide hearing aid batteries for the meter.
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Old 04-22-2019   #3
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I've just been building a Spotmatic system -- fun, since the lenses can be very cheap. WRT battery, the word from Googling is that the Spotmatics have a bridge circuit for the meters, which means they can handle 1.5v cells, instead of 1.3v mercury cells. My Spotmatic came with a working 387S. Those cells are 5 for $10 from Amazon. In test shots with T-Max 100 and Ektra 100, the metering has been good. (Just a few frames per roll, as I sometimes run a test roll through 6 or 7 cameras at a time.)

As Greyscale noted above, that Takumar thread is great, and was a motivator, to me. I started out picking up an S-M-C 35mm f3.5 from KEH, for $26 ($18 + 8)... an as-is bargain that did need work. Using web tutorial, I took it apart, cleaned up the aperture, and removed light fungal threads from the second element from the front.

This gave me confidence to buy a Super-Takumar 135mm f3.5 from a thrift shop, for $20. With light fungus evident, I expected to have to go into it. But, it was just the front and rear elements, and, they cleaned up easily (household hydrogen peroxide 1:1 with amonia).

Pentaxforums has been a great reference. Here are a couple of links:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/...c-meter-2.html

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/...-database.html

Let me see if I can post a couple... Must be reduced to 500 pixel width, since they're not hosted anywhere. Not great for examination, but, I am pleased with the images.

The BW is with the 35mm, color shot is with 135mm, both at f5.6.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Spottie 1 35mm_002_edit_reduced.jpg (51.2 KB, 26 views)
File Type: jpg Spotmatic No1_003_edit_small.jpg (69.4 KB, 20 views)
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Old 04-22-2019   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B-9 View Post
Looking for a Spotmatic to play with.

Thinking the SP1000 as I hate self timer levers.

What are the go to lenses for you Pentax guys?

What are the odds of getting a working meter?

Batteries? Relevant info for a spot newbie?

Plan is to look around garage sales this summer as they seem to be pretty common around here I just have never been interested until now.


I believe the meters tend to be reliable still if the camera is well cared for and stored.

On the subject of batteries I believe that all Spotmatics are not sensitive to minor differences in battery voltage due to the design of the circuits (the old mercury batteries being lower voltage than the more modern silver replacement). There are few if any other classic cameras that can claim the same.

If starting out with a Spotmatic why not just do what many original owners did. Back then the most usual three lenses owned were either a 55mm f1.8 or if an enthusiast a 50mm f1.4 plus a 35mm f3.5 and a 135mm f3.5. These three lenses took care of 95% of shooting needs. Due to their abundance they are quite cheap to buy today and can usually be found in excellent condition by hunting around. All of these lenses are excellent performers and if you find you like Takumars you can get addicted like I did ( ) and buy more exotic variants later. Pentax tended to upgrade their lenses regularly so I ended up quite often owning multiple variants of essentially the same lens just for the fun of trying them out. They were that cheap it was not a problem and in any event could always be sold for basically what paid if I wanted to cull the herd. One thing to be aware of is that Takumar lenses can be subject to sluggish aperture stop down due to dirt or oil on the aperture blades. It is easily fixed by a technician (or skilled amateur) but should be checked for and taken into account price wise when buying or better yet, bypassed. Other old lenses from other makers of course can have this issue too but I suspect that Takumars seem a little more prone than some due to the specific design of their stop down mechanism.

An alternative to the Spotmatic cameras are what I refer to as "Pre Spotmatics" such as the S1, S1a, Sv etc (also named H1, H1a etc in USA). They are smaller and to my eyes prettier cameras than the Spotmatics and feel a little like a Leica LTM camera in the hand. They do not have a light meter though (although a clip on meter can be found and these may be still working as they use cadmium sulphide not selenium , the latter tending to die with age). In any event the lack of a meter is not a major deficiency as print film is easily exposed adequately using an exposure guide based on the "sunny 16" rule) and they do look prettier without the clip on meter which looks a bit ungainly. Alternatively you can download a light meter app for your smart phone and use that. This kind of makes shooting with these older variants more fun and you can still use basically the same lenses as I mentioned above although be careful as I believe that the mirror in some early Pre Spotmatics can clash with the rear element on some 50mm f1.4 variants. I do not recall details but others will be able to advise if that is of interest to you.

Here is a picture and you will note - no self timer lever on these variants.

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Old 04-22-2019   #5
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American Spotmatic, $25

in Paasadena Camera show
Pasadena, Los Angeles County

a taipei-metro image

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Old 04-22-2019   #6
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I used a SP kit with 50/1.4 and 135/3.5 that a ollllldddd girlfriend had and it was fun way back then.

I figured the 55/1.8 and 50/1.4 would be the first.

Cheap is basically the motivation. Ive cleaned up enough camera gear. I can grab a cheapie here and there with room to spare.
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Old 04-22-2019   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
An alternative to the Spotmatic cameras are what I refer to as "Pre Spotmatics" such as the S1, S1a, Sv etc (also named H1, H1a etc in USA). They are smaller and to my eyes prettier cameras than the Spotmatics and feel a little like a Leica LTM camera in the hand.
+1
These pre-Spotmatic cameras are the real gems in the Pentax line IMHO. The shutter release is so smooth and the sound of the shutter is so melodious that all other SLRs feel quite crude in comparison.

Cheers!

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Old 04-22-2019   #8
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ooh the S1a is maybe my winner?
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Old 04-22-2019   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B-9 View Post
ooh the S1a is maybe my winner?
It is a handsome camera (here with Honeywell branding).


Honeywell Pentax H1a with Super Takumar 55/2 by Mike Novak, on Flickr
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Old 04-22-2019   #10
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That in black. Spot on my spottie crush.
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Old 04-22-2019   #11
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Find an SV and you can enjoy the benefits of a self timer, without having to endure the presence of a timer lever. I confess I'm a little curious about that. I have an SV myself that I must get around to using at some stage and I do understand why people rate the feel of the older Pentax SLRs highly, it's well made and super smooth.
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Old 04-22-2019   #12
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Even the self-timer variants of the pre-Spotmatics have no lever, the timer is set via a dial around the film rewind crank.
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Old 04-22-2019   #13
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And if you cannot live without a meter, Pentax has got you covered (I think only the self-timer variants can used the coupled meter, as there is a notch on the shutter dial for the coupling). You can see the V for the timer on the right.


Honeywell Pentax H3V with Auto-Takumar 55/2.2 by Mike Novak, on Flickr
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Old 04-22-2019   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B-9 View Post
Looking for a Spotmatic to play with........Plan is to look around garage sales this summer as they seem to be pretty common around here I just have never been interested until now.
I found a mint, black Spotmatic with a 50/1.4 lens at a local antiques show a few years back. The meter works and the shutter doesn't cap. Only $35.00. Definitely a keeper.

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Old 04-22-2019   #15
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I received a Spotmatic in 1969: brand new. I still have it. It came with the 50mm f1.4 (thorium). Quickly, I purchased a 28 f3.5 (still have it), then stupidly acquired a 200 f4.0 also new; but the 200mm was a bad move because it wasn't a length that I would use much. I had a CLA by Hendrickson (SP) about 8 years ago and he fixed the meter which is why I sent it to him. He also repaired the 28mm (slow leafs). So 50 years of great service, easy repair, easy solid dependable camera.

One of my first shots:

Panama' Door 1971 by John Carter, on Flickr
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Old 04-22-2019   #16
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Another vote from me to look at the pre-Spotmatic Pentax's. I find them to be beautifully elegent, both aesthetically and in use. Similar in design ethos to an SLR version of the early mechanical M's (I have an M2).

Personally I think the SV is the pick of the bunch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
I believe that the mirror in some early Pre Spotmatics can clash with the rear element on some 50mm f1.4 variants. I do not recall details but others will be able to advise if that is of interest to you.
The basic rule for pre-Spotmatic Pentax's:
- Green 'R' on the rewind knob - cannot be used with any Takumar 50/f1.4.
- Red 'R' on the rewind knob - can be used with any Takumar 50/f1.4.

Several models, such as the S2 Super and SV, had a green R on early examples and a red R on late example.

Another oddity with the early M42 Pentax's - several had a 'hidden' 1/1000" shutter speed. Budget models like the S1 and S1a had the 1/1000" speed removed from the shutter dial to differentiate them from the more expensive S3 and SV, but the internal mechanics remained the same. If the dial is set to the blank area past 1/500", it will fire at 1/1000" (although this speed wasn't factory calibrated).

https://www.pentaxforums.com/camerar...m-slrs-c5.html
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Old 04-22-2019   #17
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Peter is right about Spotmatic batteries... These cameras have a "bridge circuit" that makes them relatively insensitive to battery voltage. The silver cell S625PX at 1.55v works as well as the original 1.35v mercury one.

I have a Spotmatic Motor Drive model, an ES, and an ESII...
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Old 04-22-2019   #18
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I started out with an SP, but the meter switch was sticky, and they supposedly usually crack when you (un)screw it for repair. So I switched to the meterless SL. A black paint SV would be nice to get because of the Ringo Starr connection, but I haven't pulled the trigger yet.

Go to lenses for me are the 28/3.5 and 135/2.5 Super-Multi-Coated Takumars.
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Old 04-22-2019   #19
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I've been given a ton of these. I probably have 12 or 13 now. My favorite is a black Spotmatic F that was my grandpas camera. One of my favorite possessions. Beautiful open aperture metering when couples with the SMC version Takumars
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Old 04-22-2019   #20
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As people have already pointed out, batteries are no issue, even alkalines work OK. Most meters work. And your reasoning about self timers is correct IMHO, if I were to buy another spotmatic it would be a 1000 because the self timer lever cuts into my ring finger, otherwise the spotmatic is absolutely perfect ergonomically. I don't have any lenses other than the 50 1.4 which is great. Be aware that there aren't a lot of fast wides, that's the downside of an old lens mount. One that I'd like is the CZJ Flektogon 35 2.4, but I'm still on the fence because I already have a perfect 35 for a different system and it's not my favorite focal length. Another I'd like is a Jupiter 9, none of the focusing issues that the ltms have with western leica standard mount cameras and a lot cheaper than the excellent Pentax 85s, but of course softer and manual stop-down.
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Old 04-23-2019   #21
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“Just hold a Pentax” as the adverts used to say. Still remember handling one for the first time, all those decades ago. What’s wrong with self-timers? No-one will force you to use it, and at least it’s properly mechanical, and not a nasty bleeping and flashing electronic excrescence. If there are no issues with the batteries, my only slight quibble would be the lenses. The common lenses (28 f3.5, 35 f3.5, 135 f3.5) are widely available and cheap, but anything else might take a little tracking down. If you come across the 105 f2.8, buy it!
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Old 04-23-2019   #22
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The S1a is the clear winner for me. That extra metal on the front and the lower top plate make them the best looking of the lot. Pure controls with nothing you don't need. But expect shutter capping/drag on the fast speeds.
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Old 04-23-2019   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malcolm M View Post
If there are no issues with the batteries, my only slight quibble would be the lenses. The common lenses (28 f3.5, 35 f3.5, 135 f3.5) are widely available and cheap, but anything else might take a little tracking down. If you come across the 105 f2.8, buy it!

I'm not sure where you get that idea? Takumar's come up for sale all the time! In the past few weeks I've seen good examples of the 20/f4.5, 24/f3.5, 50/f1.4 '8 element', 50/f1.4 '7 element', 55/f1.8, 85/f1.9, 105/f2.8, 135/f2.5 and 200/f3.5.



The availability and affordability of Takumar lenses is one of the best things about a M42 system!
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Old 04-23-2019   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickthetasmaniac View Post
I'm not sure where you get that idea? Takumar's come up for sale all the time! In the past few weeks I've seen good examples of the 20/f4.5, 24/f3.5, 50/f1.4 '8 element', 50/f1.4 '7 element', 55/f1.8, 85/f1.9, 105/f2.8, 135/f2.5 and 200/f3.5.



The availability and affordability of Takumar lenses is one of the best things about a M42 system!
Yes I agree most of the range are more than readily available as well as cheap. A few are more expensive due to high demand and lower quantity in circulation, but still are easy to find on auction sites etc if you are prepared to pay the asking price. The 85mm f1.8 is a little like this, though I have to say it's a superb lens and only "expensive" by comparison with other Takumars. By comparison with other lens marques of comparable quality it is still reasonably priced.
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Old 04-23-2019   #25
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BTW I am gratified that so many agree with me about the "Pre Spotmatics" which I think are superb. I was kind of expecting to be told why I am wrong a little on this call.
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Old 04-23-2019   #26
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I used to like the pre-spotmatics better visually, but bought a spotmatic, the earlier cameras are rarer here in Europe where in their time, German cameras still reigned supreme. As my Spotmatic has grown onto me, I've come to find its taller shoulders more attractive looking. And as it fits my hands so well, the GAS for the lower shouldered bodies has gone away.
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Old 04-23-2019   #27
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The OP asked for way to a Spotmatic!
The many (very lucky) users of pre- Spotmatic advocates may have missed the boat.
I started with S1a and Sv Pentax cameras (Hia and Hv) and it was pure horror.
They were built for true amateur use and not for the long haul.
20+ rolls in an evening shoot doing fashion, wiped out a S1a..!
So let's focus on Spotmatics..

I was told about the coming Spotmatic by Herbert Keppler of "Modern Photography".
My 1st Spotmatic was in 1st batch to South Africa.
I had recently purchased my Leica M3(brand new) that arrived without Rangefinder parts..
I had to wait a week as missing bits were fitted by local Leica agency..

The 1st week with Spotmatic was simple joy!
A meter that was accurate with color slide film, Kodachrome.
My older screw mount lenses all fitted the new box.
Battery never a problem!
Bad news? Yes! The viewfinder even with 50mm f1.4 is dark, but EASILY focusable.
Most Spotmatics at this time don't have working meters..
My Leica meter CDS version was finished after 2~3 years..,
Large prints made 20" x 24" and larger.
I still use my Spotmatic system, alongside my Nikon-F and Leica M.
Yes! I still have that M3!
One of my Spotmatic body and lenses was lent to other photographers on trips around the world.
One was borrowed from family member by Press corps at Olympic event!
Untold miles of film went thru it, making a recess on pressure plate!

Go for it!
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Old 04-23-2019   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leicapixie View Post
The OP asked for way to a Spotmatic!
The many (very lucky) users of pre- Spotmatic advocates may have missed the boat.
I started with S1a and Sv Pentax cameras (Hia and Hv) and it was pure horror.
They were built for true amateur use and not for the long haul.
20+ rolls in an evening shoot doing fashion, wiped out a S1a..!
So let's focus on Spotmatics..
It’s quite possible the OP, as a ‘spot newbie’, doesn’t even know that the pre-Spotmatic M42 Pentax’s exist. Most people who aren’t familiar with early Pentax/Asahi lore assume all screw-mounts are Spotmatics...

‘Horror’? That seems a bit hyperbolic... The number of Pentax users still happily shooting S-series bodies suggests they do fine for the long haul
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Old 04-23-2019   #29
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No! I am right.
The Spotmatic was a big, no huge jump in quality.
It's release was delayed to achieve perfection.
Most of mine incl. daughters have never seen a service.
The "pre" cameras were and are exception.

Many makes here on forum did not do well as regards reliability.
Om-1, Bronica S series, Late model konica SLR's etc.
I was a PJ and reliability a major requirement.
If I was again, Leica digital with 9 months wait for sensor, would be behind my Bronica demon..
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Old 04-23-2019   #30
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Thinking on this,

I may prefer a (working) built in meter.

Hmmm. I do like smaller tho!
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Old 04-23-2019   #31
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Over the years I have been on this forum, I remember Roger Hicks writing that the Pentax SV/H3v was a favorite of his. One of my favorites also. An H3v and a few lens's is a wonderful kit and won't cost much. The 28mm f3.5 and 35mm f3.5 are wonderful and available at low cost as are many others. Understand also that the Spotmatic has an averaging meter, not a spot meter as the name seems to imply. Joe
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Old 04-23-2019   #32
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Quote:
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No! I am right.

Ah, right. OK...
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Old 04-23-2019   #33
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Quote:
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Thinking on this,

I may prefer a (working) built in meter.

Hmmm. I do like smaller tho!

If you really want/need a meter, I would look at the Spotmatic F and 'SMC' Takumar lenses to get full open-aperture metering.
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Old 04-23-2019   #34
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Quote:
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If you really want/need a meter, I would look at the Spotmatic F and 'SMC' Takumar lenses to get full open-aperture metering.
An advantage for sure! Note that the contemporary models ES and ESII may be easier to find than the F, and offer aperture-priority auto exposure along with the same open-aperture metering with SMC Takumar lenses and still compatible with earlier glass. The ES was the first Pentax with auto exposure...
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Old 04-23-2019   #35
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If one wants smaller, the MX (full mechanical, great diode meter) and ME-Super are smaller than Leica M!
Screw mounts are easy t adapt to K-mount.
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Old 04-23-2019   #36
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The cost of some of my Spotmatic body.
On average at C$10~25.oo!
50mm f1.4 Super Takumar C$10.oo!
Working meter version usually more expensive.
Best Pentax Takumar lenses, 55mm, 50mm, 35mm f2.0,
28mm f 3.5, 50mm Macro, 105mm f2.8 and 85mm f1.9.
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Old 04-23-2019   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leicapixie View Post
The cost of some of my Spotmatic body.
On average at C$10~25.oo!
50mm f1.4 Super Takumar C$10.oo!
Working meter version usually more expensive.
Best Pentax Takumar lenses, 55mm, 50mm, 35mm f2.0,
28mm f 3.5, 50mm Macro, 105mm f2.8 and 85mm f1.9.
Right on!

I do not mind stop down metering.
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Old 04-23-2019   #38
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Unlike earlier Pentax SLRs, all Spotmatic models have a built-in TTL exposure meter, a handy modern convenience.

I too love the simplicity of the SP1000; it's the Spotmatic model I chose to keep.
The SP500 has an unmarked ~1/1000th shutter speed setting and is essentially the same camera without hot shoe;
IMO it even better looking.

Eric Hendrickson (pentaxs.com) can make any older Pentax model work like new.

Chris
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Old 04-23-2019   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisPlatt View Post
Unlike earlier Pentax SLRs, all Spotmatic models have a built-in TTL exposure meter, a handy modern convenience.

I too love the simplicity of the SP1000; it's the Spotmatic model I chose to keep.
The SP500 has an unmarked ~1/1000th shutter speed setting and is essentially the same camera without hot shoe;
IMO it even better looking.

Eric Hendrickson (pentaxs.com) can make any older Pentax model work like new.

Chris
The SL is a Spotmatic without a built-in meter. It will take the same clip-on meter as the SV.
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Old 04-23-2019   #40
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To throw another spanner into the works yet another option is a K 1000. It is essentially a Spotmatic with a Pentax K mount giving access to all their lovely bayonet mount lenses..
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