Pentax screw mount cameras

Two excellent pages are available with description of before spotmatic cameras and Spotmatics. Some brief information is also available at the Pentax FAQ page. I don't want to repeat it here.


I consider Spotmatics as one of the best screw mount cameras available and have and use extensively two - the Spotmatic (SP) and Spotmatic F (SPF). They are very well made and perform well. The only problem with spotmatics is that they are overpriced. This is espicially true now, because of high ebay prices on spotmatics.
Spotmatic F, the latest of Spotmatics, is often considered to be the best camera of the series. It may be true, but if you buy one, you must be prepared that some lenses will not fit it. For example, Russian made Zenitar 16/2.8 Fish Eye would not mount on the camera. Another Russian lens, the Rubinar 500/5.6 mirror, causes sticking of the mirror at the up position on my Spotmatic F. There are no problems with the Spotmatic SP.

To quote from [1]: "If the objective is to buy a lightweight, quiet and reliable camera outfit that delivers top-quality images at the modest price, then a Pentax Spotmatic or SV/S1a outfit must be a strong contender. If you are also concerned to achieve a financial return on your investment, then the Pentax is rather less attractive."

From Gary Eschman:
While I've been a serious photographer for approximately 50 years, I float in and out of the seriousness I bring to the game. At one low-ebb photography period, in 1968, I purchased a Honeywell Pentax SP 500 merely to produce some transparencies for a real estate project.
I subsequently started using the camera for vacation transparencies while viewing the results solely via a slide projector.
Ten years later, I began making medium format black & white negatives for the media to produce 16 X 20 prints, exclusively for sale. The Pentax SP 500 was relegated to an office drawer where it remained for a number of years.
After moving into a house where the walls required large ‘artwork' I went back through some 20 year old transparencies I'd produced with the SP 500. I found a couple that were appropriate and had them enlarged by The SlidePrinter in Denver, Colorado to approximately 3 X 4 FEET. The sharpness of the prints was stunning!
I instantly began looking at my old Pentax SP 500 through new eyes. I gradually acquired a few more Takumar lenses and eventually another body, via the Internet.
While I retain two medium format cameras and a Nikon 35 mm I use my Pentax on almost a daily basis. Great workhorse. I recently acquired a Pentax ES II body to supplement my system.
Yeah. . . it's still kinda of a pain switching lenses anywhere between 20mm and 200mm but the payoff is the quality and sharpness. At one time, I had owned a Leica and the sharpness of the Takumar lenses compare favorably to the various Leica lenses I had at that time.
Currently my complete photography operation is digitized; Adobe PhotoShop, high quality CD scans, Epson Stylus 2000P printer, etc. That is, except for the camera. I continue to use my various Pentaxes, SP 500, IIa, ES II, etc. These cameras and their respective Takumar lenses are gems and can currently be acquired at almost give-away prices.

From Paull:
(About Spotmatic SP1000). Awesome old tank! Others have been thru and fallen to bits, but that old pentax just soldiers on! It has fallen and been dropped, taught kids, and gathered dust and had a shower or 2. It even does work with a modified 35mm lens to pinhole standards and i am still scanning some of the original slides into the computer and the nikon scanner still can't do justice to the images on Kodachrome 25.

From Jim Scheffler:
My first "serious" camera was an un-metered Asahi Pentax SV bought at a pawnshop outside of Ft. Carson, Colorado in 1967. I used that camera in Vietnam for a year and there bought several Takumar lenses and the clip-on CdS meter in the PX. I still have the SV. My first new serious camera was a black SPII which I imported direct from Hong Kong. It came in with a gummy substance covering the Asahi name in deference to the Honeywell company. It was a great camera also. I think the screw mount Pentaxes were of very high mechanical and optical quality. They still remain a pleasure to use, despite the now antiquated stop-down metering on earlier models and the somewhat dim focus screens. They are certainly affordable. I recently bought a chrome Spotmatic with 35/3.5, 50/1.4, and 135/3.5 Super Takumars, cases, and an original Pentax rechargeable flash, all for $4 at a garage sale. Since I buy and sell camera equipment to supplement my retirement, this was a great buy. I may have to run a roll through it before putting it on my table at the next show!

From Dave M.:
My Pentax SPII got me back into 35 mm SLR photography and even though I also have 2 digital cameras in the house, it is one of my favorite cameras. You just can't beat a well designed product no matter when it was made. I work in the car industry and I feel a good camera is like a classic car, you can cherish it and put it in a museum but only in driving one can you truly appreciate it.

From Gary Gordon:
I have had my Spotmatic SP since 1969. I bought it new in Saigon at the PX in Cholon for a princely sum of $125.00. It has been my only camera for 34 years. I have had it serviced about 4 times over the 34 years and it continues to take superb pictures. It has made four trips to the top of Mt. Rainier a trek through Russia in 1972 and has been in 42 countries, countless little league games, and boy scout adventures. It is simply the best, most durable SLR ever produced at any price. I have literally worn out the strap lugs from having it hang on my neck for so many years, yet it keeps on working flawlessly. I liked it when I first picked it up and still like it.

From Jim M Wasata:
I purchased my Pentax Sp in 1971 in Japan while in the navy. I taken hundreds of photos over the years and seems to be my only 35 mm camera used. After years of service the camers seemed not to work properly. I thought about replacement but first i thought about repairs. I took the camera to a repair shop. I told the repairman that the meter didn't seem to work and pictures were dark and grainey. Well, a week later he made all necessary repairs,including new mirror gaskets, and general cleaning. He told me not to sell this particular camera as it was a metal body as still perferred by fasion photographers because of the manual characteristics.There is only a few problem with the Pentax SP. First the screw in mount is inconvienant and lenses are hard to find. manually reading the apperture chart on the back of the flash to set f stop is slow and cumbersome. All in all the photos are still great after 31 years of service. Now I'm starting to look at her replacement with a 5 pixel digital camera, but am not convinced yet.

From John Hickman :
I bought a Honeywell Pentax H1a in January of 1966. Over the next few years, I photographed two college yearbooks with it and a 28mm Vivitar and a 135mm Spiratone (plus the 55mm Takumar). At the time, this was an up to date kit. The lenses were sharp, the camera was bulletproof. I purchased a Spotmatic in early 1969 and only in the last few years have started to trust the lightmeter even though it's always right, I learned photography with a $30 Knight Kit that got stolen in 1995. In 1971, the shutter went out of the H1a, and I never had it fixed, and I later bought an Asahi SL, then a Chinon CE-3 (auto exposure), a ESII, and finally another Spotmatic. The first Spotmatic had a shutter rebuild, the ESII had a meter rebuild, and the Chinon has always been a little idiosyncratic. In general, the Spotmatics work well and can be fixed. The Chinon is the most delicate, and I find myself using the Spotmatic and the ESII most of the time. Most have been dropped with no damage. In my opinion, the best Japanese SLR for the money. My original Spotmatic is almost 35 years old and still works perfectly. I've got so many lenses, there isn't much point in changing- but while the cameras seem ageless, I can't focus as well myself. How about an autofocus lens for the screw mount?

From Wayne Thurston :
I have enjoyed my Spotmatic F immensely through amatuer and professional uses. In fact, I had to buy a second SP-F to quick change from BW and Color film. Although I have used Mamiya 6 x 7 for studio work, my SP-Fs have been the workhorse cameras of my 'fleet'. I now own an ME (estate sale) but choose the SP-F for the majority of my scenic work and everyday 'grandkid' photos. I am now considering the *istD but will still continue to use the workhorse for many years to come.

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