Spotmatic Family Traits

 

Spotmatic with Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 55mm f/1.8 (non-standard lens) - Click to EnlargeSpotmatic II with Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 120mm f/2.8 - Click to EnlargeSpotmatic II with Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 150mm f/4.0 - Click to Enlarge

Stereographs | Trick Photography Techniques | Old Trick Photo

 

The following side-by-side table enumerates the many properties of the various Spotmatic-family of cameras.  As the Spotmatic evolved from a basic SLR with a TTL meter, it took on different characteristics.  It was offered in a meter-less version (the "SL"); stripped versions without self-timers, a limited range of shutter speeds, and base lenses (Sp500 and Sp1000); increasingly sophisticated versions of the original Spotmatic (Spotmatic, Spotmatic II, IIa, and F); and finally a run of electronic, automatics, the "end" of the M42, screw-mount cameras from Asahi (The Electro-Spotmatic, ES, and ESII).

Within each of these ranges, are numerous smaller variations.  For example, the early Spotmatics had different external (most visible are the self-timer lever, meter switch, top cover attachment method, and film counter height) and internal features (shutter, meter, and other mechanical changes) than later Spotmatics.  These important but constantly changing variations are largely left unaddressed in this table.

This table provides the Spotmatic aficionado as well as the neophyte a way to identify features across the range and perhaps identify the camera in hand, discover new properties, or make a selection from the many varieties of Spotmatic-family cameras available in the used market, based on personal preference, or perhaps based on collection needs...

The specifications cited in this table are derived from Asahi Pentax publications and verified with first-hand observation.  Over a period of nearly 30 years, Asahi Optical Company were remarkably consistent in the data published about their products.  I have found it to be precise, consistent across various company sources, and most often cited in the same manner.  This has made it possible to compile this data with a high degree of confidence with regard to its accuracy.

However, for the lawyers and PDML members (c'mon, smile, you know who you are...) who will find and wish to challenge this chart, I make no claims of perfection.  I'd have to be dead and gone to heaven or something... 

One particular area of data that is vexing is that Asahi cited weights and dimensions based on the "standard" lens.  However, until the early 1970's, they offered two "standard" lenses on their cameras yet only quoted one weight with standard lens...  It "looks" like they were speaking of the 55mm f/1.8 or f/2.0.  But they changed mid-stream...  If you are really concerned about the weight of a particular camera/lens combination, go weigh it!

I have also had to extrapolate some technical data about the Electro-Spotmatic.  The example I have in hand provides evidence that it was largely identical to my ES from a visible feature standpoint, though it is well known that the mechanical and electronic properties of the two cameras were quite different in many ways.  For those who do not like the format of the chart, I submit that you should have gotten a Minolta SRt...

Thanks to Philip Barton who triggered this insane project, completed in one sitting over a three hour period.  Phil, I'm going to read the rest of my email now - I should have never opened yours! :-p

ppro

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Camera
SL
Asahi Pentax Spotmatic Manual - November 1969
Early Spotmatic
Asahi Pentax Spotmatic Manual - November 1969
Late Spotmatic
SP500 Download Pentax SP1000 Manual
SP1000
Asahi Spotmatic II Operators Manual
Spotmatic II
Read instructions below to download the Download Pentax Spotmatic IIa Manual
Spotmatic IIa
Spotmatic F Operating Manual
Spotmatic F
Electro-Spotmatic
ES
Pentax ES II Operating Manual
ESII
Features                      
Chrome Finish X X X X X X X X Unk Unk X
Black Finish X X X     X X X X X X
Coupled External Meter (Optional) X N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Built-In Meter N/A X X X X X X X X X X
Built-In Meter Range (ASA) N/A 20 - 1600 20 - 1600 20 - 1600 20 - 1600 20 - 3200 20 - 3200 20 - 3200 20 - 1600 20 - 1600 20 - 3200
Built-In Meter Range (EV) @ ASA 100 N/A 1 - 18 1 - 18 1 - 18 1 - 18 1 - 18 1 - 18 3 - 18 1 - 18 1 - 18 1 - 18
Meter Range Warning Signal Window N/A X X X X X X N/A N/A N/A N/A
Viewfinder Magnification Ratio
 (50mm lens)
0.88x 0.88x 0.88x 0.88x 0.88x 0.88x 0.88x 0.89x
-0.1 dioptry
93% field of view
0.89x
-0.1 dioptry
93% field of view
0.89x
-0.1 dioptry
93% field of view
0.89x
-0.1 dioptry
93% field of view
Viewfinder Magnification Ratio
 (55mm lens)
Approx. life-size Approx. life-size Approx. life-size Approx. life-size Approx. life-size Approx. life-size Approx. life-size life-size life-size life-size life-size
Exposure Meter Switch
(Front-Mounted, with Depth-of-Field Preview)
N/A X X X X X X N/A N/A N/A N/A
Meter Switch Light Activated N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A X N/A N/A N/A
Meter Switch Shutter Button Activated N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A X X X
Exposure Factor Control Dial
(Over/Under Exposure 4x 2x 1x 1/2x)
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A X X X
Depth-of-Field Preview/Stop Down Metering Mode Switch5 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A X X X X
Open-Aperture Metering N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A X X X X
Stop-Down Metering N/A X X X X X X X X X X
Camera back film roller X N/A X N/A X X X X X X X
Lens Mount 42mm threaded 42mm threaded 42mm threaded 42mm threaded 42mm threaded 42mm threaded 42mm threaded 42mm threaded 42mm threaded 42mm threaded 42mm threaded
Film Speed Reminder Dial X N/A N/A N/A N/A   N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Loaded Film Indicator X2 X3 X3 X3 X3 X4 X4 X4 X4 X4 X4
Accessory Fitting Groove X X X X X X X X X X X
Optional Accessory Shoe (removable) X X X X X N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Built-in Accessory Shoe N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A X X X X X X
Hot Accessory Shoe
(FP-synch)
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A X N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Hot Accessory Shoe
(X-synch)
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A X X X10 X X X10
FP/X switch rim N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A X N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Strobo-eye switch rim N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A X N/A N/A N/A N/A
Integrated Strobo-Eye Flash Sensor N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A X N/A N/A N/A N/A
Flash Synch PC plug
(X)
X X X X X X X X X X X
Flash Synch PC plug
(FP)
X X X X X X X X X X X
Flash Synch Speed (X) 1/60 sec 1/60 sec 1/60 sec 1/60 sec 1/60 sec 1/60 sec 1/60 sec 1/60 sec 1/60 sec 1/60 sec 1/60 sec
Self-timer X X X N/A N/A X X X N/A N/A X
Self-timer delay 5-13 seconds 5-13 seconds 5-13 seconds N/A N/A 5-13 seconds 5-13 seconds 6-12 seconds N/A N/A 5 - 11 sec
Interruptible Self-Timer N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A X
Cocked Indicator X X X X X X X X X X X
Shutter Button Lock Lever N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A X9 N/A N/A X9
Mechanical Shutter (range) B,
1-1/1000 sec
B,
1-1/1000 sec
B,
1-1/1000 sec
B,
1-1/500 sec
11
B,
1-1/1000 sec
B,
1-1/1000 sec
B,
1-1/1000 sec
B,
1-1/1000 sec
B,
1/60 - 1/1000 sec
B,
1/60 - 1/1000 sec
B,
1/60 - 1/1000 sec
Electronic Shutter (range) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 1 sec - 1/1000, B 1 sec - 1/1000, B 8 sec - 1/1000, B
Electronic Shutter Speeds
Continuously Variable
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A X X X
Viewfinder Shutter Blinds N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A X
Viewfinder Indicators N/A +
center gap,
meter needle,
-
+
center gap,
meter needle,
-
+
center gap,
meter needle,
-
+
center gap,
meter needle,
-
+
center gap,
meter needle,
-
+
center gap,
meter needle,
-
+
center gap,
meter needle,
-
Shutter speeds (1 - 1/1000 sec)
TTL meter needle
battery check mark
Shutter speeds (1 - 1/1000 sec)
TTL meter needle
battery check mark
Shutter speeds (8 - 1/1000 sec)
TTL meter needle
battery check mark
Battery Test N/A X6 X6 X6 X6 X6 X6 X6 X7 X7 X7
Battery N/A Mallory PX-400,
RM-400-R
or equivalent
Mallory PX-400,
RM-400-R
or equivalent
Mallory PX-400,
RM-400-R
or equivalent
Mallory PX-400,
RM-400-R
or equivalent
Mallory PX-400,
RM-400-R
or equivalent
Mallory PX-400,
RM-400-R
or equivalent
Mallory PX-625
Eveready E-625N
or equivalent.
6V silver battery
(Eveready #544).
6V silver battery
(Eveready #544).
Eveready S76E
 Mallory MS-76H
Standard Lens Super-Takumar
55mm f/1.8
50mm f/1.4
Super-Takumar
55mm f/1.8
50mm f/1.4
Super-Takumar
55mm f/1.8
50mm f/1.4
Super-Takumar
55mm f/2.0
 
SMC Takumar
55mm f/2.0
 
Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f/1.4
Super-Multi-Coated Takumar  55mm f/1.8
Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f/1.4
Super-Multi-Coated Takumar  55mm f/1.8
SMC Takumar 50mm f/1.4
SMC Takumar  55mm f/1.8
Super-Takumar1
55mm f/1.8
50mm f/1.4
Super-Multi-Coated
Takumar 50mm f/1.4
Super-Multi-Coated
Takumar  55mm f/1.8
SMC Takumar 50mm f/1.4
SMC Takumar  55mm f/1.8
Width 143mm (5.6") 143mm (5.6") 143mm (5.6") 143mm (5.6") 143mm (5.6") 143mm (5.6") 143mm (5.6") 143mm (5.6") 143mm (5.6") 143mm (5.6") 143mm (5.6")
Height 92mm (3.6) 92mm (3.6) 92mm (3.6) 92mm (3.6) 92mm (3.6) 93mm (3.66") 93mm (3.66") 93mm (3.66") 98mm (3.86") 98mm (3.86") 98mm (3.86")
Thickness 88mm (3.4) 88mm (3.4) 88mm (3.4) 88mm (3.4) 88mm (3.4) 88mm (3.4) 88mm (3.4) 88mm (3.4) 91mm (3.6")8 91mm (3.6")8 91mm (3.6")8
Weight
(body)
598 grams (1 lb. 3 oz.) 621 grams (1 lb. 6 oz.) 621 grams (1 lb. 6 oz.) 610 grams (1 lb, 6 oz.) 610 grams (1 lb, 6 oz.) 622 grams (1 lb, 4 oz.) 622 grams (1 lb, 4 oz.) 642g (1 lb. 5 oz.) ? ? 678g (1 lb. 6 oz.)
Weight
(body with standard lens)
798g (1 lb. 10 oz.) 868g (1 lb. 14 oz.) 868g (1 lb. 14 oz.) 820g (1 lb. 13 oz.) 820g (1 lb. 13 oz.) 853g (1 lb. 11 oz.) 853g (1 lb. 11 oz.) 894g (1 lb. 13 oz.) 940 gr. (2 lb. 1 oz.) 940 gr. (2 lb. 1 oz.) 930 gr. (1 lb. 14 oz.)
                842g (1 lb. 11 oz.) with 55mm lens     879g (1 lb. 12 oz.) with 55mm lens
Camera
SL
Asahi Pentax Spotmatic Manual - November 1969
Early Spotmatic
Asahi Pentax Spotmatic Manual - November 1969
Late Spotmatic
SP500 Download Pentax SP1000 Manual
SP1000
Asahi Spotmatic II Operators Manual
Spotmatic II
Read instructions below to download the Download Pentax Spotmatic IIa Manual
Spotmatic IIa
Spotmatic F Operating Manual
Spotmatic F
Electro-Spotmatic
ES
Pentax ES II Operating Manual
ESII
Footnotes                      
 X indicates feature is present

N/A indicates feature is NOT present

Entries with numbered superscript notation have additional comments below.

Unk indicates property is unknown

Bold notation denotes changed or new feature starting with this model

                     
                       
1 Electro-Spotmatic and ES Super-Takumar lenses featured open-aperture metering index lug, aperture simulator and Auto/Manual lock pin, but were not Super-Multi-Coated.
2 Loaded Film Indicator (Color or Panchro) incorporated into Film Speed Reminder Dial on SL (Color-coded Film speeds)
3 Loaded Film Indicator Film Type (Color or Panchro) Markings Only
4 Loaded Film Indicator Film Type (Color Tungsten, Color Daylight, B&W, EMP) and Number of Frames (20 or 36)
5  On cameras with open aperture metering, the depth of field preview switch built into camera bodies allows for the use of lenses that do not support open-aperture metering.  However, in all cases, the meter power is turned on via other means
6 Battery Test via Shutter Speed Dial
7 Battery Test via dedicated push-button
8 Thickness measured with 50mm 1.4; All other thickness measures are with 55mm 1.8
9 Shutter Button Lock also serves as Time Exposure lock with shutter set on B
10The hot shoe flash contact turns to "hot" (switched on) only when you insert a shoe-mount electronic flash. It remains cold (disconnected) even when using an electronic flash with its cord plugged into the X terminal on the body front. This eliminates the danger of electric shocks.
11 Unmarked shutter speed above 500  may offer 1/700 ~ 1/1000 sec exposure but is not factory-guaranteed

 

 

Some more comments:

Observation:

The "subjective" questions that I asked about meter sensitivity (in low light, of course) and finder brightness are not going to be found in the literature.

Response:

The goal of the work I did was to capture the documented "technical" differences. I don't expect to include brands outside Pentax in this table.

In fact, though I have data for several predecessors of the Spotmatic and though it would be interesting to include that data for comparison, I felt that would take it away from being a Spotmatic focus.

I made a conscious effort not to include subjective assessments; I can say that a meter has a specified range with more confidence than I can say I think this meter works better in low light than another. For example, my experience with the Spotmatic F's that I own leaves me very unhappy with the meter in low-light situations - it actually goes off rather than give me a reading. But that's pretty well covered by saying the EV range because if I take a hand-held meter that shows EV, I can translate that to something specific, rather than just have a general expectation of low-light limitations.

As far as the engraving, I believe that would be nearly as comprehensive as the technical specs to document and could well take another table. And so with S/N ranges. The table does not substantially differential small differences between cameras of the same model designation. As these fall under the running and regional changes that I allude to in the lead-in material, I didn't cover it, though it is very compelling and useful in it's own right.

I don't think finder brightness is something that can be described in very reliable objective terms without instrumentation and a large set to use for measuring and averaging. I believe we observe that the finder brightness increases as a function of evolving models. That is to say the early Spotmatics are darker than the later; the Spotmatic II's are darker than the Spotmatic F, etc. But I believe the difference across Spotmatics to be relatively small, so again, it's not that easy to quantify or meaningful to report. It cannot be independently assessed and "fixed" by all observers.

The meter sensitivity row is pretty flat but it does highlight the issue with the Spotmatic F. Also, remember, there are the ASA range, and in the case of the Electro-Spotmatic, ES, and ESII, other indicators of meter properties. This gets the user into the realm of composite data. Here again, I have not done any A + B = C columns because it may be somewhat subjective. But the dedicated observer may make some conclusions using a combination of fields.


Observation:

I have enough different M42's and K's to realize that there can be a marked difference in finder brightness as well as microprism quality, and as you know, I favor the Fujica ST701 for  that very reason.

Response:

The chart does not span to cover cameras outside the Spotmatic Family.


Observation:

Example - my spare Spot body for sale says "Honeywell Pentax" on the front, "SPOTMATIC" above the self-timer on the top front chrome, and 1/1000th top speed. S/N is 1042441. There is no shoe on the top.  Your image of the SP1000 does not have "SPOTMATIC" on the front, so that's not the model. Closest resemblance would be the "Asahi Pentax Spotmatic", rather than Honeywell, with a different name.

The other item that would be handy would be some kind of reference by serial number ranges. Dario has "years of production" on his site, so perhaps you could work something out to integrate that. 

Response:

As far as the engraving, I believe that would be nearly as comprehensive as the technical specs to document and could well take another table. And so with S/N ranges. The table does not substantially differential small differences between cameras of the same model designation. As these fall under the running and regional changes that I allude to in the lead-in material, I didn't cover it, though it is very compelling and useful in it's own right.

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