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01-01-2012, 04:40 PM   #1
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Good price for Spotmatic + lenses?

I found a Spotmatic with Super Tak 55mm f2 and 135mm f3.5 for $100. Is this a good price? He says price is firm.

01-01-2012, 04:50 PM   #2
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That sounds about right. Neither of those lenses are particularly expensive, maybe $25-30 for the 55mm and $40-50 for the 135mm. Camera varies a lot depending on condition. If I were buying to re-sell I would pass but it is a fair price if you are keeping.
01-02-2012, 10:44 PM   #3

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I agree. $100 for the camera/lenses pictured seems fair, if they're all in as good a condition as they look.

Does the meter work? The meters on old cameras are often non-functional or wildly inaccurate. The 400 mercury battery for these cameras is no longer available due to environmental and worker safety concerns. Wein makes a zinc-air replacement that you can probably get at a decent camera store or you can get it from any number of online sources. I'm told that there are more common hearing aid batteries that will work and that the Spotmatic is not dependent on the battery voltage being precisely 1.35v. Search the web. If it doesn't work, you can always use a hand-held meter.

Do all the shutter speeds seem accurate? While it takes specialized equipment to measure the speeds accurately, you can tell just by the sound, if they are changing when you change the setting on the dial. YOu should be able to tell by ear the difference between the shutter speeds.

Does the shutter drag? Sometimes, the spring tension on the shutter curtains gets loose. The leading shutter can slow down before it has made its full travel and allow the trailing shutter to catch up. Open the camera back and excercise the shutter through all its speeds. You should be able to see light through the lens at all speeds.

Check the foam. There is a strip of foam on the underside of the prism housing that cushions the mirror as it flips up during exposure. There is foam in the small channels around the camera back. All this foam can deteriorate over the years and turn into a gooey mess. Fortunately, this is an easy, DIY replacement.

Do the focusing rings on the lenses turn smoothly. The Super Takumar lenses are nicely damped, but should turn smoothly and relatively easily. They should stay where you leave them, though.

Same for the aperture rings. They should turn easily and have nice, firm detents. The aperture blades should open/close quickly and easily. Push the actuating pin on the lens mount. The aperture blades should close down quickly when you push and snap back just as quickly when you release. If not, check for oil on the blades. Removing oil requires dissassembling the lens and cleaning the blades with solvent. Not a DIY task, unless you're very confident of you abiltities.

Check for fungus on the lens elements. This appears as thin spider webs on the surface of the lens, often starting from the edge. Very mild cases MAY be treatable, but the fungus destroys the lens coatings. IMHO, these lenses are as common as dirt and the cost to completely remove fungus is probably more than they are worth. If they are in good condition, they're very nice lenses.
01-03-2012, 06:44 AM   #4
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Good advice so far. However, if you want a reliable user, mentally add about $75 to the purchase price and send it to Eric for a CLA. He'll give you an exact quote for free, and will stand by it. I've picked up about a dozen Spotmatics in the last couple years, and although most seemed fine when you looked them over, only one was really reliable without a CLA. After having Eric do several, I've started tinkering with them myself as a hobby.
Some percentage of the CDS meter cells have gone bad, in which case the meter may calibrate OK in bright light, but way underexpose indoors. Eric will replace them if needed. (I've collected some parts cameras to swap out such things.)
Back in the 60s the 50 and 135 were the most popular SLR lenses, as the 135 was enough of a telephoto to show off the benefits of the SLR over the (still popular) rangefinder models. The 55 f2.0 was a greatly under-rated lens, usually relegated to the lower-cost H1a camera (which I had in '65). But my Leica-using friends were amazed at the sharpness and contrast of that lens. Likewise the 135 f3.5 was their bargain telephoto, but a nice performer. Mechanically these lenses were made better than you will find today.
So for about $175 you could have a very usable, like-new set for a fraction of what it cost even in 1965 dollars.

01-03-2012, 07:26 AM   #5

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I wouldn't consider that a good price unless the body has already been CLA'd and tested for accuracy. but thats just me. the price isn't unfair, just more than id pay, especially for a body that may need servicing. unless the seller specifically states that it has been CLA'd I am actually often more worried with bodies in such good cosmetic condition, because that means they likely didn't get used much. little use means they are far more likely to need servicing. looks can be deceiving, and good looks don't guarantee a good working body.

as for the batteries, all spotmatics have a type of 'bridge circuit' that adjusts for difference in voltage. no need to seek out expensive zinc air batteries. just use a standard 1.5v silver oxide.
01-04-2012, 09:43 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by séamuis Quote
I wouldn't consider that a good price unless the body has already been CLA'd and tested for accuracy.
I tend to agree, though as a two lens kit, the price sounds about right ($70 for the lenses + $30 for a clean body that is probably functional). I say, go for it.


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