Pentax Spotmatic

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The Pentax Spotmatic refers to a family of 35mm single-lens reflex cameras manufactured by the Asahi Optical Co. Ltd., later known as Pentax Corporation, between 1964 and 1976.

Asahi Pentax Spotmatic
Honeywell-Pentax Spotmatic.jpg
Maker Asahi Optical CO
Type SLR
Image sensor type film
Image sensor size 24 x 36 mm
Film format 35 mm
Lens mount M42 screw mount
Focus Manual focus
Exposure Manual exposure
Flash FP or X
Flash synchronization 1/60
Shutter Mechanical
Shutter speed range 1000 - 1 , B
Exposure metering Average, through the lens (TTL)
Viewfinder pentaprism eye-level viewfinder with a microprism focusing screen
ASA/ISO range 20 - 1600
Film speed detection No
Battery Mallory RM640, but 1.5 V silver oxide batteries can be used
Released 1964
Made in Japan

All Pentax Spotmatics used the M42 screw-thread lens mount which was developed before WW2 by Zeiss and Praktica. Asahi Optical used the name Takumar for their lenses. These were high-quality, progressively improved lenses, later versions of which featured multi-coating and were called Super Multi Coated Takumars.

The cameras allowed to focus the lens at maximum aperture to give a bright viewfinder image, then a switch at the side stops the lens down and switches on the metering which can be determined by a needle located on the side of the viewfinder. The use of stop-down light metering was at the time revolutionary, however it limited the capability of the lightmeter specially on low light situations. Later models Spotmatic F, Electro Spotmatic, ES, and ESII were capable of open-aperture metering when used with Super Multi Coated (S-M-C) Takumar lenses with an aperture coupling prong in the lens mount.

Honeywell was the U.S. importer of the Spotmatic. Cameras officially imported by Honeywell were labeled Honeywell Pentax, instead of Asahi Pentax. The Spotmatic IIa was only available as a Honeywell Pentax; it was sold exclusively in the USA and had an electronic interface for specific Honeywell Strobonar electronic flash units.

History[edit]

The original 1964 Spotmatic was one of the first SLRs on the market to offer a through-the-lens (TTL) exposure metering system. The camera was presented as a prototype at Photokina 1960, and was originally designed to use spot metering. Shortly before production Asahi decided that spot metering would be too difficult to use, and so the metering system was altered to use average metering. The change took place too close to production to change the name, and so Spotmatic stuck.[1][2][3][4] The camera had a mechanical shutter with speed range from 1000 to 1 and Bulb. The lightmeter is activated by a lever on the side of the camera, which also stopped down the lens. Mercury battery (1.35 V Mallory RM640) was used to power the light metering system; however due to the way the circuit is designed, silver oxide batteries can be used instead.[5]

Pentax Spotmatic
Pentax Spotmatic
Pentax Spotmatic

Model Range and variations[edit]

The model range includes the original Spotmatic (SP), which had an accessory "cold" shoe for flash

Two budget models: the SP500 and SP1000 were also available and some features from the original Spotmatic were removed. The fastest shutter speeds were designated by the model number, the SP500 having a top speed of 1/500 s and the SP1000 having a top speed of 1/1000 s. These two models had no self-timer. There was also the Pentax SL, which was identical to the Spotmatic except that it did not have the built-in light meter.

Spotmatic II (SPII) which heralded the arrival of the SMC lenses. Among some improvements were better metering system (Max ASA was increased to 3200) and film transport. A hot shoe for flash was added and the synchronization (FP or X) was placed on a dial switch located below the rewind crank.

Spotmatic IIa camera
Pentax Spotmatic IIa

Spotmatic IIa was made exclusively for the American market. It was made to couple with the Honeywell Strobonar electronic flashes using an electronic eye that was located at the top-left of the camera.

Electro Spotmatic

In 1971 the Electro-Spotmatic was the first aperture-priority, electronic, automatic SLR but was only sold in Japan.[6] It success was followed by the ES sold internationally from 1972. The ES had standardized and improved circuity that addressed reliability issues in the original version.[7] Two years later it was followed by the ES II. Special models could be special ordered with accessories such as Motor Drive, Data Back, etc.

In 1973 the Spotmatic F joined the line. This camera, together with a revamped line of Super Multi Coated (S-M-C) Takumar had the capability of metering without stopping the lens down.

Legacy[edit]

The Pentax Spotmatic chassis was the basis for the Pentax K2, KX, KM and K1000 models with bayonet mount.

Noted users[edit]

Noted users of the Pentax Spotmatic include the American poet and photographer Ira Cohen.[8]

References[edit]

  • The Asahi Pentax Way, Herbert Keppler. 11ed 1979. Focal Press.
  • Asahi Pentax and Pentax SLR 35mm Cameras 1952-1989, Danilo Cecchi. 2006. MBI Publishing Company.

External links[edit]

Media related to Pentax Spotmatic at Wikimedia Commons