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03-11-2011, 11:35 AM   #1
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Spotmatic SP-II or MX

I've decided to delve into film photography and after some online research decided to go with a Pentax.

I was wondering which would be a better choice, a Spotmatic SP-II or MX? (Or another suggestion perhaps?)
I'm a little worried about the MX's LED light meter indicators as I've read they can be hard to see when in bright light.

03-11-2011, 12:40 PM   #2
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Actually, as I have both, I can tell you what can each of them do, and in what way is each better. The LEDs in the MX's viewfinder are indeed hard to see in very bright sunlight, and the needle of the Spotmatic is impossible to see in low light. So they're a bit equal from this point of view; you can use the MX with ISO 1600 film as a night camera, and the Spotmatic with ISO 100 film as a daytime camera.
The Spotmatic looks much bigger than the MX, and also feels more solid, the lenses are also all-metal for the Super and S-M-C Takumar, whereas they used some other materials like rubber focus rings and even plastic for the A series lenses. The top plate of the MX seems more prone to dings than the Spotmatic, maybe due to different materials (I don't know). But if you're aiming at compactness, the MX with a 50mm/1.7 is the one to go for.
Using a Spotmatic is a bit more awkward than any other K-mount camera, because of the battery which may be a little harder to find these days, and because of the meter which needs to be activated through a special switch, thus slowing you down considerably in shooting. The viewfinder from the Spotmatic is smaller and has a smaller magnification than the MX with a 50mm lens focused on infinity, but they're both quite lovely. Keep in mind that we're talking about great cameras, so these differences don't make the MX vastly superior to the Spottie, just different. If you're in a rush you may also appreciate that the MX has a bayonet mount, letting you to change lenses faster than screwing and unscrewing around.
But, M42 Takumar lenses have a cult status these days, which I believe is well deserved.

Edit: Sorry for my English
03-11-2011, 04:01 PM   #3
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I have an SP 11 & a range of Takumar lenses....I have them because I like the somewhat "collector" status of some of these items, which are all in lovely condition. If you are really INTO screwmount, then go for it....the screwmount range is beautiful & a pleasure to use.
HOWEVER, if you're not going to be a screwmount "nut", then I'd say that a more modern bayonet mount Pentax would be the way to go, if you're simply looking for a camera to get into film & take photos with. The cameras are more modern, easier & quicker to use, & bayonet mount lenses & accessories are plentiful.
I wouldn't go for the MX...I would go for a Super A....has a full range of auto & manual functions....a really GREAT little camera & grossly under rated. Check out the specs & see what you think.
Cheers, Pickles.
03-11-2011, 07:15 PM   #4
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The film cameras themselves can be inexpensive. It often costs more to have them checked out and adjusted.

I really miss any sort of grip when I hold an MX. Although I like the size, I just don't feel like I can hold it that well. I always end up back with my old P3n.

03-11-2011, 08:05 PM   #5
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I've never used an MX, can't speak as to that but I wouldn't give up my Ashai SPII for love or money even though I now have a DSLR. I just love that camera and I still use it all the time. Using screw mount lenses isn't something I find difficult at all and I really like the simplicity of the SPII. It's not the most technically superior camera, but when you're learning that's a big plus IMHO.
03-11-2011, 08:50 PM   #6
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Spotmatic uses Stop-Down Metering

One HUGE difference that doesn't seem to have been mentioned, is that the Spotmatic II uses a technique called stop-down metering. After you've composed and focused the scene, you push up on that black switch on the left side of the lens mount. This does two things; it turns the meter on and stops the lens down to the aperture you have selected. When you trip the shutter, the camera automatically turns the meter off and re-opens the lens to full aperture.

This means that the viewfinder can get very dark, if you're using a small aperture, like f/16 or f/22. OTOH, it acts as a built-in depth-of-field preview.

The MX is part of Pentax' second generation of k-mount cameras. It has the necessary linkage, as do all Pentax k-mount lenses, for the lens to communicate the selected aperture to the camera. The meter then reads the light coming through the lens, subtracts the necessary factor for the selected aperture and uses this to indicate when you have selected the correct shutter speed.

I grew up, photographically, on a Spotmatic, so stop-down metering doesn't bother me. Some people, who learned on more modern cameras, find it awkward and annoying.

Both are fine cameras. If you find a copy in good condition, or have it tuned up, either one will perform very well.

The Spotmatic is, in fact, bigger than the MX, so if you have big hands, you might find the Spot preferable to the MX.

Another choice, if you like the ergonomics of the Spotmatic, is the K-1000. Introduced in 1976, it didn't go out of production until 1997, so there are plenty of good ones around, at affordable prices. It is basically a Spotmatic F, with a bayonet mount lens and no self-timer. The Spot F, one of the last screwmount Pentaxes, used Super-Multi-Coated Takumar lenses, which had the aperture linkage, and could therefore use wide-open metering. It uses the same match-needle type meter that the Spotmatic family used.

A good working K-1000, with a 50mm, f/2 lens, can be had on eBay for $50-75.

I have a couple of Spotmatics, a K-1000 and an ME Super (similar size to the MX). I have big hands, so I find the ME Super feels better with the motor drive attached. I wouldn't give up my Spotmatics, either.
03-11-2011, 09:10 PM   #7
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Yeah I originally intended on getting a k1000 due to it's simplicity but thought it wouldn't be as good quality as the MX. I'm also worried about having the fact it doesn't have an auto-off or switch for the meter, forgetting not to replace the lens cover when walking about the streets would, I imagine, kill the battery far more quickly than preferable.

I'm not too worried about having to use the stop-down metering, but I can't know for sure how I'll respond to it without using it. Same goes for the M42 or PK lenses.

I'm a little...concerned about getting an camera with automatic features; which is why I hadn't considered any of them. I've used DSLR's for a couple years and half the time I end up using some form of auto. One of the reasons I wanna get into film photography is to learn how to properly photograph, a manual camera would force me to do this. I don't wanna end up habitually switching to auto.
03-11-2011, 09:23 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jgriffin Quote
I've used DSLR's for a couple years and half the time I end up using some form of auto. One of the reasons I wanna get into film photography is to learn how to properly photograph, a manual camera would force me to do this. I don't wanna end up habitually switching to auto.
Nevertheless, I'd say the Super Program is quite tempting. It's my favorite Pentax MF SLR as it's got excellent build quality and is very compact, and also allows you to shoot in M, Tv, Av, or P. Since it can be locked in M mode, shooting manually is a breeze.




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03-11-2011, 10:01 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Nevertheless, I'd say the Super Program is quite tempting. It's my favorite Pentax MF SLR as it's got excellent build quality and is very compact, and also allows you to shoot in M, Tv, Av, or P. Since it can be locked in M mode, shooting manually is a breeze.
Is that not the U.S. version of the Super A?
Cheers, Pickles.
03-12-2011, 04:09 PM   #10
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What DLSR's have you got?
You can also check out the Zenits if you fancy screw mounts.. just kidding. Stay away from anything that has any kind of soviet origin, and I'm talking from experience.
03-12-2011, 05:39 PM   #11
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There is an absolutely mint black SP 11 on ebay at the moment.
Cheers, Pickles.
03-12-2011, 07:38 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by kcobain1992 Quote
What DLSR's have you got?
You can also check out the Zenits if you fancy screw mounts.. just kidding. Stay away from anything that has any kind of soviet origin, and I'm talking from experience.
I'm using a T2i at the moment. I borrowed some older Canons from a friend of mine, specifically the AE-1...did not like it at-all :ugh:
03-13-2011, 12:36 AM   #13
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Buy the Spotmatic with a Takumar 1.4/50, there's one right now on ebay and the seller doesn't even know what he's selling, so you have a chance at getting it cheap. You can also use the Takumar lens with great success on your Canon with an adaptor.
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