5 frames with...

5 Frames With a Pentax Spotmatic F – By Ray Goodwin

The Pentax Spotmatic is a camera I had wanted for a very long time. I had owned various M42 bodies over the years such as Zenits and Prakticas; these were built like tanks but I had always found they inevitably broke down at some point. And as they are cheap to buy and charity shops usually stocked them I found that they were somewhat expendable.

After a load of Zenits had bit the dust, I wanted to get something that was built well and reliable. I went over to Soperfect Images in Plymouth and found a Spotmatic F on the shelf for a reasonable price. I decided to purchase the Spotmatic F on the spot, and so began my life with the Pentax.

The Spotmatic F was one of the last models in the Spotmatic series before Pentax switched over to the K Mount. The only thing that really differentiates it from other models is that it allows full aperture metering instead of needing to stop down the aperture. I must add that the only lenses that allowed such full aperture metering were the later versions of the Super Takumar lenses, which had small notches on the rear of the lens to couple with the body.

Since September 2017, it has been my main shooter for 35mm film. It’s no frills simplicity creates such an easy camera to use, and the M42 mount has a wealth of lenses to be used on the Spotmatic, as well as my Canon 5D. It’s been used for personal shooting and for university projects, but once I coupled it with the legendary Super Takumar 55mm f/2, t created a perfect match for what I shoot. But, as the M42 mount has a wealth of lenses available from all price points, it’s an easy system to get into. And as an added bonus you can convert that glass to fit on your digital cameras.

March 2018 came around, and we were hit with a freak blizzard – ‘The Beast From the East’ or the ‘Hysteria from Siberia’. University was closed and I was stuck in my town. The snow created the perfect opportunity to take some photographs. I had never shot in the snow as it never really happens to this extent in the U.K, so I seized the opportunity and went for it. I walked around the River Dart in Totnes with the Spotmatic F, 55mm F2 and a roll of Ilford HP5+. HP5+ is my go-to black and white film; it manages to stay tonally flat for those who like to work on their images and the grain is well controlled for a 400 speed film (depending on what developer you use, of course). Whilst I had a blast freezing my extremities and taking photographs, the Spotmatic wasn’t all to0 keen. Some of the snow had melted on the camera and waterlogged the body, but there’s nothing a dry cupboard and a box of rice can’t fix. Thankfully it was back up and running once the water had been absorbed by the long grain.

These five images were shot on Ilford HP5+ and developed in Rodinal at 20°c and at 1+50 dilution at home, and then scanned with an Epson V750 Pro at university.

I hope you enjoyed what I have created, you can find more of my work here – raygoodwinphotos.tumblr.com

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    JR Smith
    August 7, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    Nice choice of camera. I have all of the Spotmatics: SP, SPII SPF and ES. Simple, elegant cameras with amazing lenses!

    • Reply
      raygoodwinphotos
      August 10, 2018 at 2:54 pm

      I wouldn’t mind finding a black SP. I much prefer black cameras purely on the visual aesthetic. I also wouldn’t mind finding an ES II either.

  • Reply
    Kodachromeguy
    August 7, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    Nice job in the snow. The Spotmatics were amazingly perfect for the era. They were reliable, beautifully crafted, fit comfortably into the hands, and were reasonable cost. And Asahi Pentax made some of the finest lenses in the 1960s and 1970s, most of which still perform perfectly, with minimal issues of haze and lost lubricant that plague many other brand lenses. Let me suggest you buy one of the 50mm Super-Multi-Coated or SMC Takumar 50s to take advantage of open aperture metering. Also, the 35mm f/3.5 is a gem, and is inexpensive:
    https://worldofdecay.blogspot.com/2017/03/testing-35mm-super-takumar-lens-in.html

    • Reply
      raygoodwinphotos
      August 10, 2018 at 2:52 pm

      I have the exact 50mm on the camera that you’re suggesting in the article. It’s a great lens.

  • Dan Castelli
    Reply
    Dan Castelli
    August 8, 2018 at 4:29 am

    Nice posting. You made some good winter shots. I remember seeing on the forecasts that the UK got blasted with bad winter weather.
    Winter here in the northeast US is to be endured; I do most of my d/room work then.
    Ah, the Pentax. Beautiful camera, much like a vintage Italian sports car. I was using a Nikon F back in the mid-70’s and it was like a truck.
    Good luck with it.

    • Reply
      raygoodwinphotos
      August 10, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      Thank you. It’s such a robust camera, despite it being effected by the melted snow, it was soon fine after it had dried out.

  • Reply
    Michael Burchard
    August 8, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Nice essay about a nice camera. I have a Pentax SL, which is the non-metered version of the Spotmatic, as well as an H3v and an SV, which were (non-metered) predecessors of the SL & Spotty. Screwmount Pentaxes are excellent 1960s 35mm cameras, imho every bit the equal of the Nikon F of the same period (which I also have and can therefore compare directly).

    • Reply
      raygoodwinphotos
      August 10, 2018 at 2:56 pm

      They’re certainly build to last. I have always felt that Nikon 35mm SLRs are another league though. I recently bought a Nikkormat FTn and it feels so much more premium. Once I get a bit more used to that and shot some more film through it, I may write a review for this blog. Stay tuned.

  • Reply
    Richard Ferguson
    August 8, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    Love the article and I absolutely adore the camera. I’ve had some issue for some time in trying to obtain a new battery for the spotmatic F. I’m from Canada and it seems impossible I feel, but I was wondering if there are any UK shops you recommend for purchasing film, batteries or even accessories?

    • Reply
      raygoodwinphotos
      August 10, 2018 at 2:51 pm

      If you are in the Plymouth area, I would highly recommend Soperfect Images. Russell is friendly and highly knowledgeable – He also has a lot of stock, so if you are looking for something, he probably has it somewhere. You can also try Mr Cad and Ffordes. All the best!

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