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Pentax Spotmatic IIa Review RSS Feed

Pentax Spotmatic IIa

Reviews Views Date of last review
2 23,478 Sat January 11, 2020
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
50% of reviewers $45.00 8.00
Pentax Spotmatic IIa

Pentax Spotmatic IIa
Pentax Spotmatic IIa

The Spotmatic II was released in 1971, along with the introduction of the S-M-C line of Takumar lenses. The meter and film transport was improved from the original Spotmatic, a hotshoe was now included and the ISO range was increased to 3200. The Spotmatic IIa adds a flash sensor and dedicated coupling for a Honeywell flash. Having the flash sensor in the camera allowed for easy flash photography also with the flash hand held at a distance from the camera. This model was only sold in the US and only under the Honeywell brand name.

Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic IIa
Year introduced
Automatic aperture stop down
Stop down, centerweight
Meter range
EV 1 to 18
ISO range
20 to 3200
DX ISO range
No DX coding
Exposure modes
Manual, B
Exposure compensation
Not applicable
Exposure memory lock
Shutter speeds (auto)
Not applicable
Shutter speeds (manual)
B, 1 - 1/1000s
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
B, 1 - 1/1000s
Self timer
Yes, 5 - 13s
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Not applicable
Multiple exposures
Ratchet type rapid wind lever. 10į pre-advance and 160į advance angle
Flash hot shoe
Built-in flash
TTL/P-TTL flash
Flash sync speed
FP and X terminals - 1/60s
Flash exposure comp
Not applicable
0.88x (with 50mm lens)
Viewfinder type
Pentaprism finder with Fresnel lens + microprism
Diopter correction
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Image size
24 x 36 mm
1.3V mercury PX-400
Battery grip/pack
Size (W x H x D)
143 x 93 x 88mm (with standard lens)

This model was only sold in the US and only under the Honywell name
Price History:

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Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2014
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 2,383

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: January 11, 2020 Recommended | Price: $45.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Spotmatic build quality, works sans battery
Cons: Unnecessary flash meter port, could leak light

I bought my Spotmatic IIa with an S-M-C Takumar 50/1.4 and 135/3.5 basically just to get the lenses. The camera was mis-listed as a Spotmatic F. When I got the camera it was in much better condition than expected and cleaned-up nicely. Even the meter works with a Wein Cell 400 zinc-air battery.

The only difference between this camera and the SPII is the flash metering CDS cell and exposure controls. Iím sure the Strobo-Eye System was quite the perceived innovation, however remote flash sensors were introduced around the same time and didnít require a one camera only special flash. The SPIIa can use any Hotshoe or PC cord flash, not just the Honeywell Strobonar with Strobonar Eye System, they just wonít use the camera sensor. I know of only three Strobonar-Eye flashes for the SPIIa, the handle type 770 and 882, plus a single shoe mount rechargeable unit, the Strobonar 462. Shown here:

So, the SPIIa is just an basic Spotmatic with a unique, and now useless feature. Seriously, I would not trust any fifty plus year old high voltage appliance that close to my face! The SPIIa is a fine, full screen averaging meter, all manual Pentax, no more, no less. Iím keeping mine as an occasional use curiosity and displaying it with the very hard to find Strobonar with Strobonar-Eye 462 flash.
Inactive Account

Registered: December, 2008
Location: Chicago IL USA
Posts: 19

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: December 29, 2011 Not Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Ergonomics, reliability, M42 mount
Cons: light leak from front-mounted flash sensor

The Spotmatic IIa has a special sensor for controlling exposure when using a flash and if you take a lot of flash pictures it helps. I had a light leak which ultimately turned out to be from that flash sensor on the front of the camera. I had it blocked from the inside and problem solved. I don't use flash anyway... it's a long story why I ended up with an SPIIa instead of an SPII.

I bought my SPIIa new in 1973 and it's still the camera I shoot 95% of the time. I've used it for so long that I may be biased here. It has classic Spotmatic ergonomics which to me are so close to perfect. After 38 years of using it, it's part of my hands... it's not even like I'm holding a camera at all. I can't imagine ever using any camera other than a Spotmatic since the ergonomics are so good and every other camera seems clunky, distracting and intrusive into the creative process. I'm even left-handed, and the right-handed orientation of the Spotmatic body is a zero issue for me.

I am totally comfortable with the "dumb" averaging light meter. I know it so well I never ever need to bracket a shot - even with tricky back lighting, shadows, etc. I don't have a problem with the stop-down metering since you compose the shot with the lens in auto mode... it's wide open... and then it stops down very briefly when you use the light meter.

Haven't changed the mercury battery in 10+ years. It hasn't leaked and it still works.

The reasons I wouldn't recommend this camera body are: 1. The later Spotmatic F has more features with no compromise in ergonomics. I think it may use a later battery.. and 2. If you want a classic Spotmatic, why get the SPIIa version which is probably hard to find, anyway?
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