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Pentax Spotmatic

Reviews Views Date of last review
14 63,467 Mon December 11, 2017
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
93% of reviewers $103.00 9.08
Pentax Spotmatic

Early Spotmatics were produced from July 1964 through 1965 sometime, as compared with 1965 through 1973 for the 'Late' version. It is historically interesting to note that Asahi produced their millionth SLR in 1966, so the early Spotmatics belong to the era before Asahi's millionth SLR was produced. The early models are relatively rare and can be dated to no later than 1965. There are subtle differences that give the early bodies away... differences include cosmetic differences in the self-timer lever, meter switch, top cover attachment method, and film counter height. There are also subtle differences in the focusing screen, lettering font, and even the strap triangle rings. The early part number was 231. The later model part number was 23102. Some appear to have these numbers on the baseplate, but not all. Serials can distinguish them as well... serials starting in the range 10nn800 but lower than 2016000 are early, while 2016000 and above are late models.

Standard Lenses: Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 or 55mm Super-Takumar f/1.8 with fully automatic diaphram. Distance scale: 0.45m (1.5 feet) to infinity. Filter size: 49mm. With depth-of-field scale. Equipped with diaphragm preview lever which affords visual check of depth of field. Distance Scale: 45cm (18') to infinity.

Shutter: Focal plane shutter with single non-rotating dial (dial rotates to select shutter speed but remains stationary when exposure is made - this is a reference to earlier cameras that had shutter speed dials that rotated when the exposure was made). 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. Shutter curtains of special rubberized silk.

Asahi Pentax Spotmatic
Also marketed as
Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic
Year introduced
Year discontinued
Automatic aperture stop down
Stop down, centerweight
Meter range
EV 1 to 18
ISO range
20 to 1600
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. 10° pre-advance and 160° 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
Size (W x H x D)
143 x 92 x 88mm (with standard lens)
621 g

Price History:

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Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2010
Location: California
Posts: 2,223
Review Date: December 11, 2017 I can recommend the Pentax Spotmatic: Yes | Price: $85.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Easy to use, sharp photos, indestructible, looker
Cons: Maybe TTL metering and battery - Therefore Manual Metering

I finally got my Spotmatic without battery, so I shot my first roll based on Sunny 16 and experience. Yesterday, I shot my first roll with the Spotmatic F, it was a good experience. However, I think I had more fun with the SP. Definitely it is a great camera. Here are some of the shots I took this morning (I used Neopan 100 Across developed in Perceptol (1+3) 22min @ 68F):

Fountain on a cloudy day by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

Bark by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

Bottled Water on a cloudy day by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

OPEN by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

Yes the same sign again. by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

This View by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

Another View by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

Life by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

Gardening by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

The Same Mandarine by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

I have several Spotmatic, some without the light meter, some black, etc. Here are samples of shots taken with another camera, my Spotmatic Black:

San Juan Capistrano by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

San Juan Capistrano by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

San Juan Capistrano by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

San Juan Capistrano by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

San Juan Capistrano by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

San Juan Capistrano by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

San Juan Capistrano by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

San Juan Capistrano by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

San Juan Capistrano by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

San Juan Capistrano by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

Registered: September, 2015
Location: Toronto
Posts: 4,362
Review Date: October 15, 2015 I can recommend the Pentax Spotmatic: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build, weight, durability, simplicity, reliability, dead TTL meter, plethora of cheap, fast-ish and wide lenses
Cons: Prime lens (50/1.4) yellowed, took years to clear up, screw mount can be a bit slow if you change lenses a lot

I bought mine used from a photographer friend who took pity after my ~25-year old Rollei SL35 (which I continued using for ~20-years after dunking it in salt water, without so much as a CLA) gave up the ghost. It had a dead meter too.

Some people may be surprised that I put 'dead meter' as a positive aspect. It wasn't until I was forced to get a hand-held meter (a cheapo Sekonic autoleader) that I realized how much I hate manual TTL metering. It's a stupid pain in the ass that is far from bulletproof, and a significant distraction from picture-taking. Hand-held metering is also far from bulletproof, but it gets the job done and isn't a PITA (IMO).

Anyhoo, back to the spotmatic. Someone once said that a camera body is just a box you stick lenses on. This is absolutely true of the spotmatic and its ilk. This here is the main positive aspect: there's a crazy ton of easily obtainable screw mount lenses in the wild that are generally built to last (like most all photo gear, back in the day). No plastic here, nosiree. The lenses range as you might expect from optical rubbish to optical gold, in a surprisingly low price spread.

I own a couple of modern, all-auto (focus, exposure, film advance & rewind) film bodies, with kit zooms, and they are not easier to use than the spotmatic. They generally yielded roughly the same quality negatives, albeit with consistently 'perfect' exposures (how boring is that?). A door latch spring on my plastic Canon Rebel Ti broke after only a couple of years of use (I can still use it, but I have to be pretty careful with that latch. Anyway I don't use it, and that's the point). I still use an all-auto point-and-shoot film camera (an Olympus Stylus Epic).

I do miss the bayonet mount on the Rollei SLR -- even though I got an m42 adaptor so I could use screw mount lenses on it too.
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2015
Posts: 6,380
Review Date: September 25, 2015 I can recommend the Pentax Spotmatic: Yes | Price: $30.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Battery-independent, tough as nails.
Cons: No hotshoe, no split prism, bulky and boxy compared to more modern bodies

Curiosity overcame me to the point where I just had to get one of these cameras to see what it was like. I haven't been disappointed. Controls are easy once you get the hang of them. Manual stop-down metering (with the meter switch on the camera closing the aperture in auto mode) is the big difference from all the K-mount bodies and the late-model Spotmatics, but this is a feature you expect when you deliberately buy an early Spotty and cannot be counted against the camera. It's substantially bigger and more boxy than any of the other Pentax film bodies I own, and this takes a bit of getting used to - it's a world away from the moulded grips of the K-5 - but once again this was a feature back in the day. I wouldn't at all mind a smaller version, about the size of an MX, but with everything else the same.

I have quite a few Takumar (mostly SMC, some Super-Takumar) and third-party M42 lenses already, and it's refreshing to not have to mount an adapter before putting them on.

Film loading is trickier when compared to the P3 and P30T that brought me back into film, and I've messed up the loading of one roll already, only to figure it out several shots in (regretfully disposed of). It makes you appreciate just how clever and brilliant the P3-series' loading system was. Patience is required here. If you're in doubt, wind on a couple extra shots before you close the back and make sure all is going well and the film tongue hasn't slipped out of the holding groove. Better to miss out on a couple of frames than lose the whole roll!!!

Mine is a Honeywell; it came with a clip-on cold shoe (possibly bought later, as it is labelled Asahi Pentax) that attaches via the eyepiece slot and sits where future Pentax SLRs would have theirs integrated into the pentaprism. I cannot speak to flash performance as I have neither a PC cable nor a flash that can accept one. This makes it more or less a daylight camera, but I bought it in part for its independence from batteries where necessary.

Metering with a modern 1.5V SR41/392 battery (and rubber grommet to hold it in place) is in agreement with all my film bodies and only one stop faster than my DSLR with the same lens mounted in all cases. I will update this review when I get the first fully-metered roll of film back.

Inexperienced users should bear in mind that at least with the native Takumar lenses mounted and switched to auto, the aperture requires closing down with the metering switch on the left of the lens mount in order to get a reading, HOWEVER, subsequent shots taken with the same exposure settings (i.e. until the light changes or a significantly differently lit subject is chosen) do NOT require this; the shutter will stop down and reopen automatically, and refocusing can be done "wide open". Thanks to the helpful, classic book "The Asahi Pentax Way" for this important piece of information.
Veteran Member

Registered: October, 2012
Location: Colorado
Posts: 1,437
Review Date: September 5, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax Spotmatic: No | Price: $3.99 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Ergonomics, known quantity, good quality
Cons: Stupid batteries.

It's the first and prototypical Spotmatic. It's a great and fine camera and at the time would have been a fantastic option. In today's market, however, you can pick up an SPII with its hot shoe, an SPF with better metering and the ability to take batteries that are still in production, or any of the other Spotmatics. Since an SPF isn't much more than this camera, I couldn't, in good faith, recommend this one over an SPF unless the F is a LOT more money.

Are there Spotmatics I would recommend this one over? Absolutely. The SP 1000, SP 500, and SPIIa should all be passed up for this model (all other things being equal.) The Spotmatic add the self-timer that the SP 1000 and SP 500 lack. The SPIIa has a not un-earned reputation for light leaks around the flash sensor. So, this is the typical and run-of-the-mill Spotmatic. It will last you a very long time, be reliable, and work well. And you will enjoy using it all the time. That, I think, is the highest accolade that can be paid to a camera.

New Member

Registered: November, 2013
Posts: 9
Review Date: March 30, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax Spotmatic: Yes | Price: $265.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: fully mechanic SLR, working horse
Cons: nothing, perhaps batteries

I've got two items of this SLR. My first Pentax. Love ist very much

extreme reliable.

excellent wide angle, standanrd and small tele single lenses for M42 screw mount available

I've made a lot of very nice analogue photos with it.
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 7,545
Review Date: March 10, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax Spotmatic: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Incredible classic rugged build & simple design.
Cons: No hot shoe or MLU switch.

I got my Spotmatic and a couple Super Takumar lenses from a retired fellow I used to work with. He was the original owner who bought the kit in 1968.

Incredible classic rugged build. Lots of metal, a real workhorse that will last for decades.

Meter on/off switch. Even though the meter is a stopped down design, it’s nice to have an on/off switch. This is a lot better than the K1000, where the meter is turned on/off when you remove/put on the lens cap.

Simple design. This is a great looking camera that is the perfect size. The “K Series” film bodies that I love are based on the Spotmatic chassis

Not really many negatives other than there is no hot shoe or MLU switch. You can get a clip-on shoe for the Spotmatic and get the mirror to lock up by tapping the shutter button, however this is less than ideal.

I really like the Spotmatic and it’s a true classic, the camera that really made Asahi Pentax a household name.

Compared to the K1000, I would pick the Spotmatic as a better camera. The SP was the best camera Pentax made at the time and the K1000 was a stripped down design and the bottom of the K Series camera tree.

However if I had to recommend either the SP or K1000 to a new film shooter, I would probably go with the K1000. You can use any K-mount or Screw-mount (via adapter) lens on the K1000, with the SP there is no way to use any Pentax K-mount lenses. That’s the biggest shame with these Screw-mount film bodies, they were basically made obsolete in June 1975 when Pentax introduced the “K Series” . This has made the Pentax Screw-mount bodies more of a collectors item than a practical everyday camera.

I bought my Spotmatic as part of a full camera kit, so I can’t really estimate the cost of the camera alone.
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2010
Location: Yorkshire
Posts: 1,501
Review Date: January 24, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax Spotmatic: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 

Pros: It's a real looker!

I haven't really used the Spottie much since buying it to be honest... Only ran a couple of films through it to check it worked (one before new seals and one after) although it does have half a roll of film it it (no idea what's on the film though!!)
As such I've not rated it

I kinda decided I had to have one... And for some reason I kinda decided it had to be a Honeywell one... So this one was shipped from Israel as I couldn't find one in the UK...

It is the centrepeice of my camera collection... Something about the Spotmatic's design is timeless. It's beautiful, stylish, elegant and built like a tank... My livingroom would not be the same without it... So in my livingroom it shall stay... Until death do we part...

I really like to look at it... Sometimes I like to hold it... Mostly I just look at it... Yeah... Bit weired...

Here it is...

Registered: August, 2012
Location: Queensland
Posts: 4,068

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: November 18, 2012 I can recommend the Pentax Spotmatic: Yes | Price: $95.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Quality and what photography was all about.
Cons: Nothing important. No hot shoe or open aperture metering.

I now have a range of Spotmatics from the SP500, SP1000, Spotmatic, Spotmatic 11, and four versions of the Spotmatic "F" plus an ES11. They are very similar in most ways. True the "F" is the final development of the pure manual Spotmatics, but somehow that doesn't diminish the attraction of the "lesser" models, or even the pre-Spotmatics which have a charm all of their own.

It is the direct involvement with a manual camera that fascinates so many of us, and that input has a reward that automation can't meet. It is true that the manual cameras of this era can't shoot 7 frames a second or auto focus in a split second, or select the correct light temperature and a multitude of other demands. The point is that how often does one really need to have these things done for one? When I want to enjoy taking a photograph, my K5 stays in it's bag, and I choose from one of my thirty plus manual jewels.

You won't go wrong enjoying one of these pieces of history. By the way don't worry about batteries, if you can fit a silver oxide cell into it such as a LR41 with rubber washer spacer, it will work. I even found the LR41 would do the trick on my SP2, as the Spotmatic will adjust for the higher 1.55volt voltage.
Senior Member

Registered: November, 2011
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 167
Review Date: November 1, 2012 I can recommend the Pentax Spotmatic: Yes | Price: $75.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Ergonomics, M42 lens options, "cool" factor, built to last
Cons: If you own other cameras, you'll probably use them more

I'm too young to know for sure, but an older friend assures me that this was THE camera to have in Europe in the 1960s.

I loved the ergonomics, lenses, and general usability of my Spotmatic. I used it with Super-Tak 50/1.4, 28/3.5, and 105/2.8 lenses. The camera never got in the way of a picture. And as anyone who has used Pentax's M42 line of lenses can attest, it is impossible to overstate the build quality and pleasure of using Super Takumars.

I sold the camera after about a year, as I was using other cameras much more often. I had 4 SLR systems, and after the shutter on the Spottie jammed, it collected dust for about a year before I sold it. This is perhaps the camera's only downside: if you have other systems with more features, you'll likely use them more often.

So I suppose my advice is make this camera the only one you own, keep it well-maintained, and you'll be a happy clam.
Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2010
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Posts: 1,465

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: September 21, 2012 I can recommend the Pentax Spotmatic: Yes | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: classic design
Cons: meter, shutter

This is my all-time favourite camera. I have the black version, which is kind of a pain to use without scratching. I'd recommend this camera to absolutely anybody, from the total beginner to the pro photographer. It's that good. M42 lenses in particular are jewels. I like that the shutter speed dial turns from B to 1/1000, and the mirror lockup flick, which they kept until the ME Super (last was MX). The fact that it relies on mercury batteries is false, it has a bridge circuit that can adapt to both alkaline and silver oxide batteries. It can use the following contemporary batteries: AG9, AG3, Energizer/Camelion/Varta/whatever 389, Energizer E387S. There are probably more.
This camera is from the age when DOF preview was a necessity for metering, not a special feature, and flash shoes were an accessory.

IMGP8016.jpg by kcobain1992, on Flickr

IMGP5697.jpg by kcobain1992, on Flickr
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2008
Location: Florida Hill Country
Posts: 17,313
Review Date: May 16, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax Spotmatic: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: well made
Cons: bigger than the AP/S/K and SV series

This thing is a reliable well made body with an integrated mirror that doesn't detract from its form factor. It is beefy compared to the "AP" or SV bodies.
Senior Member

Registered: September, 2007
Location: Boardman, Oregon
Posts: 106
Review Date: December 17, 2010 I can recommend the Pentax Spotmatic: Yes | Price: $165.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Ease of use, reliability, metering accuracy.
Cons: No hot shoe.

Pros Ease of use, reliability, metering accuracy.
Cons No hot shoe.
Rating 9
Price (U.S. Dollars) $165 with 55mm f1:1.8 Super Takumar lens
Years Owned Bought new in July, 1969.

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
This camera has been around the world, spent over two years in West African dust and rain, and never missed a beat. Used Kodachrome (ASA 25) and Tri X for years. I don't think that the spot meter ever missed the exposure, and it has always been easy to focus.

The only thing wrong is that you can't put a modern lens on it!

Camera Review
I went camera shopping with some friends before our departure to Africa in the Peace Corps. We ended up with different brands, a Nikon, a Minolta, and a Pentax. I thought that I got the best deal because it was the lightest and smallest of them all. It turned out that I was right. I don't think that we even saw a Canon at that time.

My father had a Nikormat a few years later, but he borrowed my Spotmatic for a trip to New Zealand, because the Nikormat was not reliable enough. After he came back, with great photos, he bought another Nikormat. Go figure!
Junior Member

Registered: May, 2010
Location: Gold Coast, QLD
Posts: 32
Review Date: October 19, 2010 I can recommend the Pentax Spotmatic: Yes | Price: $1.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Robust body,accepts lots of lenses
Cons: Uses mercury batteries, no hot shoe

Pros Robust body,accepts lots of lenses
Cons Uses mercury batteries, no hot shoe
Rating 10
Price (U.S. Dollars) 1
Years Owned 3 months

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
surprisingly robust construction
Can use external flash units using FP/X sync contacts
Accepts a wide variety of M42 lenses

Camera Review
What a excellent screwmount Pentax camera-the Spotmatic is very beautiful with a surprisingly robust construction.

The controls are placed perfectly and quite easy to get to grips with and despite being a metal bodied camera it's not tiring to hold at all.

As it has a M42 mount, you can use lots of lenses that were made in that mount.

I use 2 Takumar lenses with the camera and the viewfinder is bright and sharp.

Only downsides would be the use of mercury batteries and no hot shoe for external; flash units (you can use one by connecting it to the FP or X sync contacts and the shutter speed set to 60x)

Overall a impressive Pentax camera from the 1960's and it's just great to use everyday.

Registered: December, 2007
Location: In the most populated state... state of denial
Posts: 1,420
Review Date: October 13, 2010 I can recommend the Pentax Spotmatic: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Construction, reliability, ease of use
Cons: Viewfinder can be a bit dim

Pros COnstruction, reliability, ease of use
Cons Viewfinder can be a bit dim compared to modern cameras
Rating 10
Price (U.S. Dollars) ~300 (my father bought it new in 1973)
Years Owned Inherited from my father in 1985

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
This camera is the gold standard for manual cameras.
Excellent lightmeter; good viewfinder and wonderful ergonomics even 40 years after it was introduced.
I know many people fuss about batteries, but mine has used AgO batteries since the 1980s and got good results even with slide film.

Camera Review
I remember seeing this camera when my father came back form Japan in 1973, and always cherished it as the best camera. Have used it through the 80s and 90s; even for some professional gigs when other guys where scoffing at the camera. I think it beats the K-1000 by several miles.
Ergonomics are great, controls are logically placed and easy to handle. Shutter is reliable, and with a good maintenance every 10yrs or so it keeps working.
Lightmeter is very good, and works fine with AgO batteries (in mine at least)
Optics (SMC takumars and Super Takumars) are second to none and with some practice this camera is world class!

The only weak point is the stop-down metering which was very good in the 1960s and was solved in the F version. However, once you understand how that works is just intuitive.

PS (2021) My 16yr old wantes to learn about film photography, and of course I gave her the Spottie to learn photography with a basic camera. She has enjoyed the process of taking pictures and has gotten a lot better.
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