This is a post about the latest addition to my vintage camera collection – a Pentax Spotmatic SP1000.
This is a camera which I’ve wanted to own since I was a 12 year old boy and first realised what an iconic SLR the spotmatic was. Although I’ve seen them on ebay uk regularly over the last few years they have either been body only or a complete kit but with a ridiculous price tag. I’d resigned myself to having to buy just a body when I saw one with lens for £20 with no bids. I put a £25 bid on with only a few seconds to go and luckily no one else bid so I got this example for £20.
The camera itself looks to be in very good condition – in fact, looking at some of the body only units for sale on eBay, I think it’s almost immaculate. It also seems sound mechanically. I’ve checked all the speeds and certainly the slower ones seem right and each faster one definitely seems faster than the previous one. The winder works and increments the frame counter and also turns the film advance sprockets in the camera. The battery compartment at the bottom to the camera is empty so I can’t confirm the metering yet, but at least it doesn’t have a battery corroded inside. Each of the other controls certainly seem to do what it is supposed to do or at least turns. The only part where there is any dirt that I can see is around the wind on lever.
The model I have is a simpler, cut down version of the classic spotmatic and was released a few years after the original version. The SP1000 indicates the minimum shutter speed of 1/1000 sec (there was also an SP500 version which went to 1/500 sec) and this version has no self-timer mechanism. It came fitted with a Takumar 55mm f/2.0 lens, which I believe is basically the same design as my 55mm f/1.8 takumar, although this is slightly newer because it’s an SMC Takumar rather than a Super-Multi-Coated Takumar. A somewhat tatty, although original, ever ready case was also supplied which has the really nice Ashai Pentax logo button fitted to it.
The shutter speeds are settable from 1 second to 1/1000sec and the iso film speed is set on the same control by lifting the outer ring and turning it. The Iso range is from 20 to 1600. The lens, which is fitted to the camera with an M42 thread, has f/2.0 to f/16 settings including half stops. As I said above the lens is one of the SMC Takumar series, which was the last series before they became Pentax branded lenses (and K Mount). There are strap lugs fitted to the front corners of the top plate, fitted with triangular strap holders.
There is no hot shoe fitted to the camera, although I’ve seen an accessory cold shoe which allowed you to mount a flash above the camera and wire it to the flash sync sockets on the front of the camera body.
I think it’s the look of the camera that is so appealing; It’s so simple yet somehow just looks right for taking pictures.
In operation this is a simple camera to use. There is a switch on the side of the lens mount which is pushed up to take a meter reading. When you operate this switch the lens is stopped down so it’s possible to adjust the aperture and shutter speed to get the exposure right. The correct sequence to take a picture would be
- Wind the film on to an unexposed frame.
- Compose the shot through the viewfinder. The view will be nice and bright because the aperture will be fully open
- Focus the picture on the subject.
- Push the switch to the up position – the lens will stop down to whatever aperture it is set to
- Set the aperture / shutter speed combination to whatever settings you want. The correct combination will centre the exposure meter needle in the display which is off to the right of the viewfinder
- Press the shutter to expose the picture – the viewfinder will go bright again after the exposure as the exposure switch will drop to it’s down position
- Repeat as required.
Once you have done this a few times the sound of the shutter is also really appealing. It’s much more solid and purposeful than a lot of cameras and certainly makes my K5 sound mushy in comparison.
- When you wind on the film, a small dot next to the wind on lever goes red.
- Underneath the rewind lever there is a small dial which is used to remind the user the type of film in the camera
- There is no split level focusing screen but there is a small fresnel circle in the centre of the screen
- The exposure counter has the 20 and 36 positions marked in red.
This is one of the film cameras which I will run a film through – once I get some developed film back I’ll post the images.