There’s something to be said about a solid camera in your hands. It gives you a sense of being in the zone, a healthy weight, the feel of the mirror slamming up to expose the frame. Meet the Spotmatic, and this is one beast of an SLR. It’s clunky; it’s heavy, and yet feels so right to shoot. The Pentax Spotmatic was one of the first SLRs on the market to feature full open aperture TTL metering. And then there are the lenses, which focus smoothly and are super sharp.
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Make: Asahi Optical Co.
Model: Pentax Spotmatic SPII
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 135, 35×24
Lens: Interchangeable, M42 Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1971
I’m a sucker for heavy duty mechanical cameras, and the SPII fits the bill. The SPII already gets top marks from being an all mechanical camera with only the light meter (which is match needle) requiring a battery to function. Despite being a heavy camera, it’s not an overly heavy camera; it’s solid. All the controls are easy to operate. Film advance throw is okay, a little on the long side you won’t be doing any fast shooting on this one. But the strongest part of the cameras is the lenses, most Takumar lenses, of any ilk are super smooth focusing, sharp, and is a benefit to anyone who will use them.
Like any camera of the same vintage as the SPII the number one issue, is that it takes a mercury cell battery. Although being mechanical it’s not really a big deal since you can use Sunny-16 or an external meter to take care of things. That is pretty much the only downside to this camera that I can find.
While I would not stop someone from buying this camera because they are a great solid photography machine. There’s enough issue that it might be best to look for something a little more modern if you’re just starting out. A Pentax K1000 or previous KM would be a better starter camera. In fact, there are even cheap adapters out there that you can save the excellent Takumar glass and use them on your K-Mount cameras.
All Photos Taken in Oakville, Ontario
Pentax Spotmatic SPII – SMC Takumar 1:1.4/50 – Kodak TMax 400 (TMY) @ ASA-200 – Blazinal (1+50) 8:00 @ 20C