Spotmatic F

Discussion in 'Equipment & Media' started by Chris Bennett, May 5, 2018.

  1. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    When I was a nipper, several family friends owned Spotmatics and I always saw them as something rather special. A bit more than a decade ago, I read an article about them on a website and was reminded about how I had thought about them back in the days of short trousers, idly thinking, yes, if I ever see one for a good price, I ought to get myself one of those.

    Then I forgot about it.

    Though I'm sure that if I had stumbled across one in a charity shop for a tenner, I would have snapped it up. ~But I didn't"

    Anyway, since then, I have become a bit more engaged in photography and recently started experimenting with adapters to mount our old Pentax lenses (used with an MX, ME Super and P30 35mm bodies) to my Canon DSLR. This was fun! It also made for more enjoyable photography because I had to go back to thinking things through more carefully.

    So this is how things started...


    Then, it dawned upon me that some great old lenses could be bought for extremely low prices and I started to hoover up an arsenal of them. I found some astonishing bargains, including a lovely little Hoya 35-70mm f4, still in the original box and wrapping for well under a tenner and a beautiful Pentax-M 80-200mm for £0.99p! So, I ended up with about 20-odd new lenses, which I suppose might be seen as a trifle obsessive, but the real stars of the show were the Takumars, which I completely fell in love with. I bought 3 - a 55mm f2, a 28mm f3.5 and a 135mm f3.5. Turns out that these were the lenses originally used with the jolly old Spotmatics.


    There was nothing else for it, was there?

    What can a poor lad do?

    So I managed to find a rather lovely Spotmatic F for the princely sum of £23. And here it is.

    Pete Askew likes this.
  2. Dave Farnes

    Dave Farnes Well-Known Member

    Wow, those are very good prices! I remember the days of the Spotmatic, I used a Zenith E at the time...
  3. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    There were too many bargains to mention. Of all those lenses, the most I paid was twenty pounds for the 135 Takumar in the image above and everything else was less than fifteen. I even managed to snaffle up 2 Zeiss lenses with a body for £7!!
    The Taks are nicer though.
  4. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    After having the first couple of rolls of film from the Spotmatic developed, here are some of the results. It seems that the scanner that they used to make me the image files with was somewhat grubby, so there are a few white spots and lines on them. I shall be finding an new place to take my custom in future.
    Not too bad photos for me - I can see where I could have done better though!






    Last edited: May 20, 2018
  5. Dave Farnes

    Dave Farnes Well-Known Member

    They look good. I do like the dramatic sky in the first one and the range of colours in the stonework of no.4 and 5 is remarkable.
  6. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Those three are my favourites too!
    I had been meaning to visit the telephone exchange stonework with a camera for years and it was one of the first things I thought of as a subject when the Spotmatic arrived. The 'Senior Girls' entrance was just about 100 metres away from it.
  7. Rob MacKillop

    Rob MacKillop Edinburgh Correspondent

    Good stuff, Chris. This is the joy of analogue photography. What film did you use?
  8. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Just some Fujicolour C200.
  9. Brian Moore

    Brian Moore Moderator

  10. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

    A super set of images, Chris and a fine, classic camera. I'm glad you're enjoying it.
  11. Derick Miller

    Derick Miller New Member

    The old Pentax screw mount lenses were frequently good and sometimes outstanding. In those days, I think the lenses were still being hand ground. :)
  12. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Too true Derick.
    The Takumars I have collected are great. In particular, the 135mm pre-set one in the photo in the first post is constantly amazing me. So much so that it is one of the most frequently used lenses on my Canon DSLR too.

    So far, apart from the 135, I've swept up:
    • a mint 200mm f/4
    • 28mm f/3.5
    • 35mm f/3.5 (also superb)
    • 3 x 55mm (!) - an f/2 and 2 x f/1.8
    Of the above, the most I have spent is £25 for the 200mm
    Derick Miller and Pete Askew like this.
  13. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Since I started on this adventure of rediscovering old lenses, I have accumulated close to 40 pieces and the two items that I really wanted to own but was a bit cautious of pursuing because of their potential cost are now in the bag. So, apart from the occasional opportunistic snipe at something silly cheep on Ebay, I think I am probably done.

    The last two pieces?
    A really wide angle lens for the Spotmatic and a Takumar 50mm f1.4.

    Just before Christmas, I splurged and paid many times more for a lens than the previous high of £26. In return, I received a Tamron Adaptall 2 17mm f3.5.
    I love this lens and it has allowed me to think about photography in an entirely different way and I am finding myself using it a lotsince it arrived.

    Not too much though, as ultra wide angle shots are definitely something that should not be overdone, in my opinion.

    So the final thing was to track down a Takumar 50mm f1.4. These seem to sell for a much higher price than I have been used to paying and I had almost come to terms with the idea that I ought to hang on a bit before I took the plunge. (I am a tight fisted enthusiast of all things and, like most people, I have plenty of other demands on the cash in my wallet).

    Absent-mindedly noodling around the backwaters of Ebay last weekend, I spotted a potential winner that might pay off for soeone willing to take a risk. The advert was listed in the 'Job Lots' section under the photography category. The title of the listing was something like 'Two Cameras'. There was no mention of brand names or models. These were also missing from the description.


    Those two thing can potentially cut the number of potential bidders down significantly...drastically.

    Looking at the picture, one of them was certainly a Pentax SLR, so I clicked it. It looked like a Spotmatic F and a Praktica something or other. A squint of another photo showed a Takumar lens with a bad dent on the business end. Another pointed to it being the SMC 50mm f1.4 but the objective end looked like someone had been at it with a mushroom infested Brillo pad. The next photos were of the Praktica. An LTL with a Zeiss Tessar 50mm f2.8. I wasn't interested in the camera, but the lens looked nice and it might be in better condition that the one I already owned, so that added another potential plus to the deal. The last image of the Pentax made me think that the lens dent might only be affecting the Skylight filter that was screwed onto it.. The risk being that if the filter thread was mashed, then I wouldn't be able to get inside to clean off any fungus that the Brillo pad might have left. On the other hand, all that mess could've been on the filter anyway.

    Starting price, £21.
    It's got to be worth the risk.

    So, with 9 seconds left on the auction and no other bidders, I punched in the number 38, expecting disappointment.
    Turns out that someone else had been thinking the same thoughts as me and they placed a cheeky last minute bid too. That drove my price up to £27 and a bit of silver, but I won!

    The parcel arrived today.
    The lens is fabulous. Condition is utterly fantastic. The images are superb. Online reviews say the lens is very soft at full aperture, and who would expect anything else of a 1.4 lens? Not this one! It is very useable. Extremely good indeed.

    So, as my last foray into lens acquisition (that's what I keep telling everyone, including myself), I have probably scored my biggest bargain - I see other people paying as much as £200 for this lens. The odd one sells for £50-ish, but in fact, if I had paid £200 for this one, I think I would still have felt as though it had been a good investment.

    The Praktica is functional but rather uninspiring. I shall probably put a roll of film through it to check that it works OK and , if so, give it away to a photography student. Its lens, the Tessar is rough as a bear's botty. The focus ring would require a set of Stilsons with a scaffolding pole stuck on the end to rotate it from stop to stop. I might dismantle it and see if it can be cured.

    The Spotmatic F, on the other hand, appears to be largely a going concern.
    Which is quite funny, because my wife jokingly mentioned that it would be an excellent move for the serious Spotmatic owner to have a second one handy in order to be able to shoot colour or black and white at will!

    She really was joking.
    But then...
  14. Rense Haveman

    Rense Haveman Well-Known Member

    Pentax Spotmatic rules!

    I so very much love my SP's with the Taks, nothing analogue can beat it. And that 50/1.4 is a bargain, indeed :eek:. A colleague of mine and also had one for almost nothing with her SP on ebay, but mostly they are expensive. But if I had to get rid of all my lenses, but could keep only a hand full, I would keep my Taks. I own a 50/1.8 the 28/2.8, 135/3.5, 105/2.8, and a 50/4 macro on a bellow. And then I might forget one or two.... :( They are small, handsome, built like tanks.... Good old days, plastic free and shiny...

    Sorry, I have to stop...:D Concrats with your new acquisition, I hope it will serve you well! Enjoy!!!!
  15. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    I'm just about to go out with the new stuff to give it a proper try. New Spotmatic camera with a known entity lens and new lens on a digital body so I can quickly see what it is capable of. The Praktica can wait. Looking forward to it!
    Rense Haveman likes this.

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