Vintage Pentax cameras
Vintage Pentax cameras are cameras made by the Asahi Optical Company. Founded in 1919, the company didn’t make its first camera until 1952, which incidentally was Japan’s first SLR. 1957 saw the first ‘Pentax’-named camera – with a pentaprism and an M42 lens mount. 1964 saw the debut of the Spotmatic, one of the most influential cameras of all time.
In 2007 Pentax was taken over by the Hoya Corporation (famous for lens filters), who subsequently (2011) sold Pentax on to Ricoh.
Pentax Spotmatic F
Country of origin: Japan
Meter: TTL CdS – averaged, at full aperture with SMC lenses
Shutter: Horizontal cloth focal-plane
Speeds: B, 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000
Flash synch speed: 1/60
Lens mount: M42
Standard lens: SMC Takumar, 55mm, f/1.8
Stops on standard lens: 1.8, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, with unmarked half-stop between.
The F was the last of Pentax’s Spotmatic cameras to be launched, and this is a late example. In spite of the name, I believe that every Spotmatic (including this example) had average metering rather than spot metering (‘Averagematic’ isn’t a catchy name!).
A nice hefty camera, weighing in at 1lb 11oz (842g), and the shutter sounds reassuringly mechanical. An unusual feature of this camera is that there is no on/off switch for the meter – it’s turned off by replacing the lens cap. I usually display cameras with the lens cap removed (dust is easier to remove than fungus), so I remove the battery when not in use.
All Spotmatics used bridge (or similar) circuits for their meters, so although mercury batteries were originally specified you can use a Silver-Oxide equivalent. Alkaline batteries are not recommended, as their discharge graph is not helpful – the circuit will cope perfectly with a new battery, but once the battery becomes discharged the voltage can dwindle down too low (unlike the original mercury battery which just dies completely). To reiterate – if you use the equivalent Silver Oxide cell you do not need to use any exposure compensation – the needle will tell the truth (if the meter is working of course). If you’ve got a Spotmatic SL you can ignore this advice – the SL doesn’t have a built-in meter!