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11-10-2012, 10:34 AM   #1
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Fixing Up Pentax Spotmatic SP

Hi Everyone,

I recently just purchased a film SLR camera - an Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP, which I found at a garage sale with a case and several lenses. I'm hoping to fix/clean everything up and give it to my girlfriend for Christmas (she has wanted her own film SLR camera for a long time). She's very talented, and can even develop her own film; I, on the other hand, have hands that shake like a jackhammer and lack the artistic ability she possesses. However, the engineer in me loves to fix things...

The camera seems to function properly, but the one issue I immediately noticed was a large smudge when looking through the viewfinder. After further inspection, I found that the smudge is on the focus screen. The smudge is about 1/4" in diameter, and looks like the plastic was actually etched by a chemical (I'm assuming the previous owner used a q-tip and rubbing alcohol). At this point I would have left it alone, but the smudge takes up so much of the viewfinder area, that the camera would be miserable to use.

So I dis-assembled the top end of the camera, removed the pentaprism, and then lifted out the meter/focus screen assembly (see pictures). The focus screen assembly seems to be a box with two lenses sandwiched together, and two brass shims. One lens is a flat Fresnel lens, and the other is a curved Fresnel lens. Each is about 1.5" X 1". The flat lens is the one with the smudge it, but here's the crazy part: the smudge is actually between the two lens! How does that even happen!?

So with that wordy background story, here are the questions I was hoping those with much more camera experience/knowledge can help me with:

*The smudged lens is definitely ruined for good, but does anyone here know if I can get a replacement somewhere?
*Or if an exact replacement for this camera doesn't exist, can one from a different camera be used in its place?
*If a different focus screen can be used, are the only criteria that it be able to fit dimension-ally, or is it more complex than that?
*What is the role of the curved lens, and does it have to be matched to a specific focus screen?

Thanks in advance to anyone that has a chance to read this. I can't provide much back in terms of camera/photography knowledge, but if anyone has questions about dis-assembly of the Spotmatic in the future, please feel free to ask!

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11-10-2012, 11:49 AM   #2
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Best bet would be to go to Ebay and get a 'Needs Repair' spottie and swap screens. Make sure the other is clean.
Probably have to count shims on both and determine which count to use.
11-10-2012, 12:17 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum! Damaged and/or gooey focus screens are common on vintage cameras. The mirror bumper foam deteriorates over time into a sticky mess that gets flung onto the mirror and screen and is very difficult to remove without damage to the surfaces. You can get a replacement screen from a donor camera or you can box up the whole thing and send it to Eric Hendrickson. Eric is the recognized expert in vintage Pentax repair and has a good stock of used and NOS parts. For a reasonable fee he will replace the screen, replace the light seals and foam, fully clean and lubricate the camera and return it in as close to new condition as is possible. His Web address is:

Eric Hendrickson, www.pentaxs.com


I know I was gushing, but Eric has worked on two of my cameras and what he accomplished with my SV is nothing short of a miracle. Your girlfriend deserves as much!


Steve

P.S. Collimating the screen to the camera is a pain. In theory the original shims should be correct. Confirming that they are is not quite as easy.
11-10-2012, 02:29 PM   #4
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The real value is the lens if they are in good shape.What lenses did you get?

11-10-2012, 04:53 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by NewSpotmaticOwner Quote
The flat lens is the one with the smudge it, but here's the crazy part: the smudge is actually between the two lens! How does that even happen!?
Hey NewSpotmaticOwner.

Could you get a picture of both sides of the "smudged" screen please. If it is a smudge, then it could come off, but if it is an abrasion, then it is "pooched".



Also, try this later... and it is harmless for the most part... I've used it on an old S1a and also a KM. Find a good mild dishwashing soap and cover the screen with a good amount to soak it for a while. Give it about two to four hours and then remove to gently rub it along the lines of the fresnal if the smudge is on that side, much like cleaning a phonograph record... assuming you are familiar with a vinyl record. Wash off in warm, not hot, water and examine if any progress. If some, repeat.
11-10-2012, 10:35 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Boker Quote
The real value is the lens if they are in good shape.What lenses did you get?
...unless, of course, you are the girlfriend that the camera and kit was intended as a gift for.


Steve
11-12-2012, 06:04 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by thazooo Quote
Best bet would be to go to Ebay and get a 'Needs Repair' spottie and swap screens. Make sure the other is clean.
Probably have to count shims on both and determine which count to use.
Thanks for the reply, Thazoo.

I agree that getting a donor camera on Ebay is one route to get it fixed, but the part of me that loves the movie The Brave Little Toaster hates the idea of scrapping something as cool as one of these cameras for just one part. Still won't rule this out as a last resort though.
11-12-2012, 06:09 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Welcome to the forum! Damaged and/or gooey focus screens are common on vintage cameras. The mirror bumper foam deteriorates over time into a sticky mess that gets flung onto the mirror and screen and is very difficult to remove without damage to the surfaces. You can get a replacement screen from a donor camera or you can box up the whole thing and send it to Eric Hendrickson. Eric is the recognized expert in vintage Pentax repair and has a good stock of used and NOS parts. For a reasonable fee he will replace the screen, replace the light seals and foam, fully clean and lubricate the camera and return it in as close to new condition as is possible. His Web address is:

Eric Hendrickson, www.pentaxs.com


I know I was gushing, but Eric has worked on two of my cameras and what he accomplished with my SV is nothing short of a miracle. Your girlfriend deserves as much!


Steve

P.S. Collimating the screen to the camera is a pain. In theory the original shims should be correct. Confirming that they are is not quite as easy.


Thanks, Stevebrot. After looking at other posts about Eric Hendrickson on this site, I can see you're not the only one gushing. While I prefer working on things myself, after checking out his site it looks like for $63 plus the cost of this lens I can have a very nicely fixed up camera, that I know will last. I hadn't really given much consideration to the other things you mentioned (i.e. light seals, deteriorating foam, lubricating the gears). I would hate to have fixed the lens problem myself, only to have something else break after my girlfriend has been using it for a while.

According to Eric's website, he says once the estimate is out and the work is paid for, it only takes 3 or 4 days until he's done with the repairs. This easily meets my Christmas deadline, but do you have any idea how long it typically takes him to return an estimate once he receives the camera?

11-12-2012, 06:23 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Boker Quote
The real value is the lens if they are in good shape.What lenses did you get?
My lack of camera knowledge is going to show here, but hopefully the pictures help out. The lenses pictured, plus the bellows, and the camera all came in the case pictures. That nasty foam has got to go! I'm going to clean it all out and cut out some new foam to pad everything. Here's the info I can read off the lenses in order from left to right:

* Asahi Opt Co., Lens made in Japan 993200 Super - Takumar 1 : 3.5 / 28
* Asahi Opt Co., Lens made in Japan 623859 Super - Takumar 1 : 2.8 / 1.05
* Soligor Tele-auto 1: 3.5 f = 200mm No. 1671268
* Caspeco T 1 : 6.3 f = 400mm No. H62635
* Kapil folding belloscope

They don't appear to have any scratches on the glass, but the paint on the outside is a little worn.
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11-12-2012, 06:34 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by MysteryOnion Quote
Hey NewSpotmaticOwner.

Could you get a picture of both sides of the "smudged" screen please. If it is a smudge, then it could come off, but if it is an abrasion, then it is "pooched".



Also, try this later... and it is harmless for the most part... I've used it on an old S1a and also a KM. Find a good mild dishwashing soap and cover the screen with a good amount to soak it for a while. Give it about two to four hours and then remove to gently rub it along the lines of the fresnal if the smudge is on that side, much like cleaning a phonograph record... assuming you are familiar with a vinyl record. Wash off in warm, not hot, water and examine if any progress. If some, repeat.
Hi MysteryOnion,

I've attached some better pictures of just the screen. The problem is, I don't think it is a smudge. When you look really close you can see that the lens is physically deformed. I actually tried the warm soapy water suggestion just in case, but it made no difference (either positive or negative)

Also, I have a decent record collection that I enjoy, so your analogy made perfect sense, even though technically they're a little before my time.
Attached Images
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Nexus S 4G  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
Nexus S 4G  Photo 
11-12-2012, 09:11 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by NewSpotmaticOwner Quote
do you have any idea how long it typically takes him to return an estimate once he receives the camera?
My experience has been that Eric returns an estimate in about a day. Other users may chime in with their experience.


Steve
11-12-2012, 09:46 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by NewSpotmaticOwner Quote
My lack of camera knowledge is going to show here, but hopefully the pictures help out. The lenses pictured, plus the bellows, and the camera all came in the case pictures. That nasty foam has got to go! I'm going to clean it all out and cut out some new foam to pad everything. Here's the info I can read off the lenses in order from left to right:

* Asahi Opt Co., Lens made in Japan 993200 Super - Takumar 1 : 3.5 / 28
* Asahi Opt Co., Lens made in Japan 623859 Super - Takumar 1 : 2.8 / 1.05
* Soligor Tele-auto 1: 3.5 f = 200mm No. 1671268
* Caspeco T 1 : 6.3 f = 400mm No. H62635
* Kapil folding belloscope

They don't appear to have any scratches on the glass, but the paint on the outside is a little worn.
The 28mm and 105mm are very good lens,the 200mm and 400mm I know nothing about but should be useable,don't know what the other is but might be a telescope adapter or bellows for macro
11-12-2012, 09:48 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by NewSpotmaticOwner Quote
Here's the info I can read off the lenses in order from left to right:

* Asahi Opt Co., Lens made in Japan 993200 Super - Takumar 1 : 3.5 / 28
* Asahi Opt Co., Lens made in Japan 623859 Super - Takumar 1 : 2.8 / 1.05
* Soligor Tele-auto 1: 3.5 f = 200mm No. 1671268
* Caspeco T 1 : 6.3 f = 400mm No. H62635
* Kapil folding belloscope

They don't appear to have any scratches on the glass, but the paint on the outside is a little worn.
The Super-Taks are decent optics and worth shooting with. The 28/3.5 is the earlier, large version. The 105/2.8 should be a decent portrait lens. As for the Soligor and Caspeco, they might be good...they might not. Give them a try, they might surprise you!


Steve
11-13-2012, 04:13 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by NewSpotmaticOwner Quote
The problem is, I don't think it is a smudge.
I was afraid of that... it looked as if it has been in a fire... just the screen. Acetone I recall is what can kill the screens and It looks as if someone tried to use such to clean it. I would hope that Eric can swap a new one in for you.
11-13-2012, 06:13 AM   #15
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That 28mm f3.5 is a gem. I picked that model up a few years ago, and have been very pleased. The redesign was more to reduce size than improve quality. The older Takumar lenses have a build quality that it top notch. I'm still looking for the 105 f2.8.
Eric may have a backlog at present, as his wife died in September, but the cameras kept coming in to him. However he seems to be catching up now. I had sent him 3 SV bodies just before hearing of his wife, and he finished them and they came back last week. Tell him when you need the camera back, and he'll let you know if there is any problem.
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