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05-20-2011, 01:07 PM   #1
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Spottie vs KM vs MX usability report #5482-d

I had been shooting with an MX for a very long time until this year, but gear acquisition syndrome took a small hold on me in January and February this year, and I wound up with an SL, a KM, and briefly using a borrowed Spottie.

I can't say it made any difference to my technique, obviously, or all that great a difference to my results, but several things really stood out with respect to usability.

To my surprise I preferred the matchneedle to the LEDs. SP ~ KM > MX.

To my even greater surprise, I was blown away by the optical qualities of the normal Takumar lens. SP > KM ~ MX.

To my lack of surprise at all, I preferred the bigger and looser shutter speed dial on the Spotties and the KM, and really appreciated the fact you could wind it around from 1 to B to 1000. SP ~ KM > MX.

The stop-down metering on the spottie was no big deal, most of the time I shoot in bright daylight. MX ~ KM >~~ SP

All three had DOF preview one way or another, but the MX/KM right-hand switch felt more natural than the lens-barrel left-hand Spottie/Takumar switch. I liked that it was dedicated on the KM rather than shared with the autotimer as on the Spottie. KM > MX > SP.

I never really used the auto-timer feature, but I appreciated the decidacted start button on the SP rather than the imprecise push of the timing crank on the MX and KM. SP > KM ~ MX.

I liked the availability of the exposure info in the viewfinder of the MX, and have never found it obtrusive. MX > SP ~ KM.

Some people have made a point about the different film wind feel on each of the three cameras, but, although it is noticeable, both in the lever shape and in the wind action, it's not something I attach preferences to.

But all this was nearly dominated by overall size, heft, and balance. Preference: MX ~ Spottie >> KM.

And, very important, the big MX viewfinder was something I really missed in the others. MX >> KM ~ SP.

And one last usability factor: the Spottie has a (left-hand) shutter on-off switch; the MX has a right-hand shutter lock that functions as a meter on-off switch; the KM has neither, and the shutter goes on/off with the lens cap. Right-hand>left hand. Overall, definitely, for the metering on-offness, MX > Spottie > KM.

Overall: MX >~~ Spottie (with wistful awareness of missing something in each that's present in the other) > KM.

Well, that's all, for what it's worth.

Sorry if instead of starting a new thread I should have put it into one of many already existing. I guess the thing is that I'm explicitly comparing three generations of cameras rather than two.


Last edited by asaru; 05-21-2011 at 01:36 PM.
05-20-2011, 01:28 PM   #2
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Thank you for sharing your take -- For me I'm coming into this in reverse order from you: Spottie (and ES-II) -> KX -> MX.
The best viewfinder for me is KX - the perfect double match needle where one needle points to your selected shutter speed and you match it to the light read meter. And the vf screen, though not the largest or brightest, snaps into focus very well.
I do get a kick out of the MX LEDs though.

With the Spotties, they are beautifully made, and the Takumars are great lenses... Two cameras that address the meter/stop down location are the Fujicas (a 'push in' button that falls under one of your right hand fingers) and the Yashica (the slide switch is at the bottom right, where you can reach it with either hand).

I'm still getting the measure of the MX, but I don't think it will pass the KX in my esteem.
05-20-2011, 01:34 PM   #3
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I think I'll get the M42 adapter ring and use it on the MX. If only they kept the matchneedle on it!

The 55mm f1.8 Takumar is sublime. That's all I can say.

Last edited by asaru; 05-20-2011 at 05:51 PM.
05-20-2011, 03:59 PM   #4
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I have the Auto which I don't use nearly enough... and the SMC which when I got the ES-II fixed, you should have seen my glee. Agreed!

And Takumars on K mount film SLRs are a thing of beauty also - they just work that much better than with the dSLRs.

05-20-2011, 06:54 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
Two cameras that address the meter/stop down location are the Fujicas (a 'push in' button that falls under one of your right hand fingers) and the Yashica (the slide switch is at the bottom right, where you can reach it with either hand)...
...Oh, yeah, Mamiya/Sekor would make it three. Depressing the wind lever stand-off turns the meter on with my 1000 DTL. (Very handy, I have found.)


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05-20-2011, 06:57 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by asaru Quote
MX ~ Spottie >> KM
I am surprised that you rank the Spottie over the KM for size, heft, and balance. They are the same body with the exception of the K-mount and the larger diameter of the K-series primes. I would rank them equal with an over all edge to the KM for open-aperture metering. In fact, I think I would rate the KM higher over all...but, then again, I have large hands and the MX is just too teeny.


Steve
05-20-2011, 07:32 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I am surprised that you rank the Spottie over the KM for size, heft, and balance. They are the same body with the exception of the K-mount and the larger diameter of the K-series primes. I would rank them equal with an over all edge to the KM for open-aperture metering. In fact, I think I would rate the KM higher over all...but, then again, I have large hands and the MX is just too teeny.
Yes, you know, I was a little surprised too. As I posted here earlier, I started by playing with the SL... I found that I really liked its feel in the hand, but eyeball metering was a little intense. So I got a KM, thinking it's a Spottie with K-mount as everyone says. But there you go: it didn't feel the same to me. I then tried the Spotmatic for two shoots. Same balance as the SL, which makes sense, but the KM is somehow different. Perhaps -- I don't know -- it has to do with the way the wider lens-mount undercarriage sits in the left hand.

The MX is small, but though I'm 6'3 with hands to match I've always liked small things.

I was pretty sure it would be MX ~ KM ~ Spotmatic, but, as I wrote, the feel wound up MX ~ Spotmatic > KM. Actually the >> above is wrong.

Not slagging any of the cameras, of course, far from it. All the shots from all of them were recognizably my own, except for the wonderful way the Takumar lens -- which I wasn't used to -- handles the blur and the soft/sharp transitions at the edge of focus.

Last edited by asaru; 05-20-2011 at 07:38 PM.
05-21-2011, 12:10 PM   #8
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Remember the Spotmatic F guys, Takumar lenses and open aperture metering with SMC Takumars. Just sayin'.

05-21-2011, 02:27 PM   #9
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Actually, having grown up with the Pen FT with it's non-coupled meter, I find the constantly-on meters cause me to intentionally ignore their output - e.g. I've metered what I want and don't care if there's more back light or such. In this situation, and with print films, the stop down thing isn't a huge draw back.

What's worse is the auto exposure cameras, where I can't seem to get used to applying exposure compensation.

That's why the KX is such a good compromise for me, and I have a hole in my head for not sending it to Eric already!
05-21-2011, 05:48 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
Actually, having grown up with the Pen FT with it's non-coupled meter, I find the constantly-on meters cause me to intentionally ignore their output - e.g. I've metered what I want and don't care if there's more back light or such. In this situation, and with print films, the stop down thing isn't a huge draw back.

What's worse is the auto exposure cameras, where I can't seem to get used to applying exposure compensation.

That's why the KX is such a good compromise for me, and I have a hole in my head for not sending it to Eric already!
I tend to agree. I grew up with a Ricoh Singlex TLS with stop-down metering and the general approach is similar to that of using a hand-held or other non-coupled meter. You meter the subject, open the lens back up and shoot until either the light or subject changes. It is that simple. If the subject is back-lit, you apply compensation.

There is much discussion about "rapidly changing light", but in practice, it really does not change much unless there are clouds which alternately expose/obscure the sun placing your subject in skylight rather than sunlight. Even in environments with huge dynamic range of values, your subject typically is in one light regime and stays there. For situations where the light is actually changing, a follow-needle camera such as the KX is the optimum solution since it show your current setting and indicates what the meter would suggest. No surprises.


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05-21-2011, 06:51 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
All else being equal full-aperture metering is preferable...

Indeed, that is the case. Given the choice of shooting an adapted M42 lens versus its K-mount equivalent (say the Tak 55/1.8 vs the K 55/1.8), I will take the K 55 any day of the week for shooting with my K-mount cameras. On the other hand, for native M42 bodies, the case is not quite as clear.

QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
...Were you to go back to using your old Pen or Singlex cameras full-time I'm sure you'd agree
Not so. Therefore, I must protest. I do use my Singlex and my Mamiya 1000 DTL on occasion in regular rotation and the metering system is not an issue. I focus and shoot wide open the same as I do on my KX. I just don't worry about light unless it changes. I also just finished a roll in my Yashica-44 and the Kiev-4A, both of which lack a built-in meter. Again, no big deal. I have a compact CdS meter that is as accurate for most purposes as the built in meters in my other cameras. In fact, most of my film shooting is done with non-metered cameras and again, it is no big deal.

I think you are also aware that Jussi (Nesster) is very active with his antique cameras, none of which are metered.


Steve

(P.S. FWIW...in my opinion, almost any Av auto-exposure SLR wins hands down over a KX, KM, K1000, or any other metered manual body when it comes to ease-of-use and day-to-day practicality. Most are small, light, fast, and very easy to use. They have their foibles, but usability is not one of them.)

Last edited by stevebrot; 05-21-2011 at 07:00 PM.
05-21-2011, 07:05 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
I too would choose a non-metered SLR with handheld meter
over one I am forced to perform stopped-down metering with.

Chris
I didn't say that.
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