Monday, December 6, 2010

Asahi Pentax Spotmatic

Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP

Why a Spotmatic?

It was the first SLR that I had in my hands, I should have been about five.
My uncle Jorge bought one with a lot of accessories. At that moment I decided that SLR was the kind of camera that I was going to use when I grew up.
In fact I've been using SLR cameras for more than twenty five years.
It took me more than forty years to get a Spotmatic.
Now, thanks to my parents, who gave me one for my last birthday, I have this beautiful black specimen.

Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP

Some Facts about it:

The Pentax Spotmatic was presented in Cologne at the 1960 Photokina, as a prototype, by the Asahi Optical Co. Ltd.
This prototype had in fact a spotmeter, that gave the name to the camera.
The production version, that was introduced in the market in 1964, had an average meter, that later was substituted by a centre weighted one.

The Spotmatic was one of the pioneers of the TTL metering and became a cult camera among both professionals and serious amateurs.

An interesting fact is that the Asahi Optical Co. Ltd. changed it's name to the name of its product: Pentax Corporation.
The name Pentax was given to SLR cameras with a pentaprism, as opposed to the older models, with waist level finder, the Asahiflexes.

Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP

Main Features and review:

In the picture above, you can see the double flash pc sockets, for electronic flash or flash bulbs, and the exposure meter switch, marked SW.
When it's on the up position it closes the diaphragm, on the lens, to the chosen aperture and gives us the light meter readout.

TTV Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP In the picture on the right you can see a TTV picture of the Spotmatic viewfinder with the meter off and the lens fully open.TTV Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP
In the picture on the left the meter is on and the diaphragm of the lens closed to the chosen aperture.
You can see now that the meter needle is between the brackets.
When the shutter is released the lens diaphragm opens and the meter is turned off, automatically.

This is called stop down metering.
It also allows to check the depth of fileld, once the diaphragm is closed.

Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP

On this top view you can see, on the left, the film rewind crank, surrounded by a film reminder, the prism casing, with some abrasion marks, made by an accessory shoe.
On the right, the shutter speed selector, that doubles its function as ASA selector by pulling it up and turning to the value corresponding to the film we are using. The shutter index, turns to red if the parameters of film sensitivity and or shutter speed are out of the meter range.
The shutter release and barely noticed, by its right, the reminder of the film advance state, if it's black the film it's not yet advanced, if it's red it's ready to shoot.
Finally the advance lever with the exposure counter. This exposure counter is reset when the film door is opened.

Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP

What can we say about this side, we have the iconic SPOTMATIC  logo, the self timer lever and the amazingly sharp SMC, from super multi coated, Takumar 55mm 1:1.8 lens.

Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP

Even the lens cap is great.

This is a very nice and perfectly usable camera. With its forty something years of work it still delivers a pin point metering, with an adapted battery, the shutter speeds are perfect and the lens is sharp.
Another positive point is that I can use all my m42 glass with it and I have some.
In conclusion I'm very pleased with this camera and its results, that you can see on the end of the page.

Features list:

Type - 35mm single-lens reflex with built-in light meter.

Film and Picture Size - 35mm film, 24 x 36mm.

Standard Lenses - Super -Takumar 50mm f/1.4 or 55mm f/l.8 with fully automatic diaphragm. Filters and lens hood size: 49mm. Equipped with diaphragm preview lever which affords visual check of depth of field. Distance scale: 45cm to infinity.

Shutter - Focal plane shutter. Speeds: B, 1-1/1000 sec. Film speed (ASA) setting dial and window on shutter speed dial. Built-in self-timer releases shutter in 5-13 seconds. Cloth shutter curtains travelling horizontally.

Out of Range Warning Signal -The index of shutter speeds turns to red when the shutter and film speed settings are off the meters measurably range.

Viewfinder - Pentaprism finder with microprism Fresnel lens for instant focusing; 0.88x magnification with 50mm lens and approximately life-size with 55mm lens

Reflex Mirror - Instant return type with special shock absorbers for minimum vibration.

Film Advance - Ratchet-type rapid wind lever (for film advance and shutter cocking). 10° pre-advancing and 160º advancing angle.

Film Advance Indicator - A red disk appears in a small window alongside the shutter release button when the film is advanced and the shutter cocked, and blacks out when it is released.

Film Exposure Counter - Automatic reset type

Lens Mount - 42mm threaded lens mount.

Flash Synchronization - Equipped with FP and X flash terminals. Electronic synchronization at 1/60 sec.

Exposure Meter - Built-in meter measures the brightness of the ground glass, and couples directly to shutter and film speed settings. Film speed (ASA) setting ranges from 20 to 1600 (LV1-18 for ASA-100 film with standard lens.) Meter is powered with a mercury battery.

Film Rewind - Rapid rewind crank for speedy film take-up. Film rewind release button on bottom of camera body rotates while film is being rewound.
Loaded Film Reminder - Loaded film reminder dial underneath film rewind knob is marked PANCHRO (black and-white), COLOR and EMPTY.

Dimensions - Width143mm x height 92mm x thickness 88mm.

Weight - 868 grams with standard lens, Body alone: 621 grams.

Photo Examples:

Blessed Trip
Blessed trip by RaúlM.

Saint Catherine
Saint Catherine by RaúlM.

Grandeur in death
Grandeur in death by RaúlM.

I let you be the judge of the results.

Stay tuned (o;


  1. oh man, your camera porn is so fracking nice. :)

    dá vontade de gastar um rolo inteiro numa....
    grande blog que tem aqui...


  2. Mais uma maravilha, uma máquina destas nos nossos tempos de juventude devia ser qualquer coisa de único...

    A minha Asahi Pentax 67, vinda da mesma casa, também fotografa que dá gosto!

  3. Good work! Post more, please!

  4. Estimado RaúlM, muy sorprendido de encontrar una Zeiss Ikon Ikonette en su colección. Tendría mucho para contar de esa cámara de plástico. Lo más bizarro fue que cuando trabajaba en la filial Zeiss, recibimos orden de recuperar los modelos del mercado para destruirlos, por un grave defecto del plástico que se deformaba con el calor. Saludos desde Argentina. Rogelio.

  5. I just found one of these in my local camera shop...its without a battery for the light meter but outside of that Ive been told its in perfect working order. (100euro without battery)

    I am an absolute novice, no idea of what Im looking for and what camera i should start with...would you recommend this as a good place to get my photography off to a flying start?!...or is there anything else would would recommend?

    I really appreciate your help and advice!


  6. @ Raul PC:
    Esta é uma máquina mítica, como eu já disse foi, para mim, um grande empurrão em direcção a esta paixão.

    @ Mrfoxtalbot:
    Thank you. I will now that I have some time to dedicate to this.

    @ Rogelio N. Rozas:
    Esta como lo puedes veer está perfecta, después de todos estés años.

    @ Noreile:
    A completely manual camera like this is what I recommend to anyone who is starting in this grand adventure of the analogue photography.
    That's a camera that you'll remind forever.

  7. I enjoyed this posting on your blog about the Spotmatic. I have a feeling there is a lot of great information on your site that I would like to see, but I'm not sure how to navigate. Is there a menu structure somewhere showing the contents? Or do you just have to do searches or wade through everything?

  8. @Jim Peterson:
    Thank you.
    This as a blog, that is, the navigation goes by search.
    Anyway I'm working on some pages directing visitors to specific contents, i.e. camera types, brands, etc.
    Stay tuned and, for the time being, be patient (0;

  9. OK, thanks! I was able to figure out that the archive list on the right does open up and show more detailed contents after I posted the question.

    I'm using wordpress for my blog and they have a very nice feature of being able to make static pages, similar to a regular home page.

    See how I've set mine up at

    Anyway, thanks again for a great site with tons of excellent information!

  10. Nice review! Just bought a black Pentax Spotmatic on internet. Hope that it is as nice as yours.
    Greetings from Sweden

  11. When I was 14 I start to learn photography and one time I talked about it to my dad who said that he had a pentax spotmatic, He gave it to me with some lens, since then I never left it. I brought it all around the world, I learned pretty much everything I know about making photo with it. Very nice gift to have.

  12. Eu tenho um "caso de amor" com essa câmera, gosto tanto das Pentax Spotmatic que tenho 6 delas (4 "Asahi" e 2 "Honeywell"). É uma câmera fantástica: sólida, precisa e suave, simplesmente deliciosa de usar... Ou melhor, de desfrutar...

  13. That was a fine overview of a great camera.I just got my old Spotmatic back from getting a good CLA. I quickly put a roll of Kodak TX-400 B&W film through it and I hope they come out ok. I found myself taking a lot more time to take the photos because I had to think about aperture and shutter speed more than I would with a DSLR. Great camera, highly recommend it.

  14. why a pentax spotmatic :)