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01-07-2014, 03:47 AM   #1
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My recently CLA'd Spotmatic is having problems

Hi all!

It's great to find a forum dedicated to Pentax users. I've had an Asahi Pentax Spotmatic for 9 years (since my photo teacher gave it to me in high school!), and have been using it as my exclusive photo device despite the rise and near domination of digital photography. It's the only camera I bring with me on trips, and it's always in my bag. I love it and have come to regard it as a part of me.

I recently got a CLA at a local camera repair shop, but have been on an ongoing battle with them after finding multiple problems with the camera that did not exist before the CLA. I'm hoping you could help me figure out what's wrong with my camera, and help me in my argument to get a refund.

So, my story in full begins with the CLA. I recently started noticing light leaks and dark spots in my photos, so I thought it was due time for a CLA, since I've never had one done before. I brought the camera over to my local repair shop (with really great reviews on yelp) to get it serviced, and after waiting a week and paying $120, I got the camera back. However, I noticed during my first roll of film that the advancer was REALLY tight…to the point where I felt the film ripping. Despite my nearly 10-year history with my Spotmatic, I'm actually not very knowledgeable on film cameras, so I stopped what I was doing and brought it back to the repair shop. They took out my film and tested another roll of film to see what was up with the advancer. The guy at the counter confirmed that the film winder was unusually tight in both advancing and rewinding, so he advised me to leave it at the shop and have the tech guy take another look at it.

I came back a week later and was told that there was nothing wrong with the camera. I was confused but was leaving for Asia the next day, so I took his word on it and brought it with me on vacation. While in Asia, I took a test roll to double check that everything worked well. A couple of times, I noticed the mirror getting stuck (first I heard it, then I took some shots with the lens off and confirmed), and when I got the prints back, nearly half of the photos were cut in half by black (I've attached an example). And not to mention, the advancer was still slightly tight -- not to the point where the film ripped, but still not as smooth as it was before. Additionally, I also noticed that the shop switched out the battery on me. I had put in a brand new Energizer 387S before giving the camera back to the shop the second time around, and when I realized that the light meter was not working while taking that test roll in Asia, I took out the battery to find a different one! I can't tell you what kind of battery it was now, as the camera is currently back at the shop, but it was definitely not the one that I had originally put in. Needless to say, all of this really upset me. The combination of the battery and the camera still not being fixed after two visits to the shop (and me missing out on photos in my Asia trip!) has really made me feel as if the shop was out to cheat me of my money. I've also begun to think that maybe they didn't even service my camera...

When I went back there today for a refund, they said that they needed to take a look at it one last time before being able to give me a refund. They pulled out this bogus "3 time service before issuing refunds" policy that was never mentioned to me before. They also played dumb about the battery. I am extremely upset at this point, and put up as big of a fight as I could, but being a passive and my lack of knowledge in film cameras had me on the weaker end of the argument. I told them not to fix anything, as I no longer trust them, but my fear now is that they will try to cover up their mistakes and refuse me a refund.

So, given all that I said above, do you have any idea what might be wrong with my camera? What should I check for when I get the camera back to win my argument and finally get my refund?

Thank you all so much.

Attached Images
01-07-2014, 06:49 AM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Perrineville, NJ
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Bummer, sorry for your pain.

Not sure if your Spotmatic has any well-know battle scars, but is there any chance the shop switched the camera body with another one they had lying around? Do you know your old serial number? I doubt the shop would do this - hate to suggest they would be unethical or add to your paranoia - just thought it would be one easy enough thing to check when you get the camera back.

That said, the old bodies are durable/fixable. Even if they screwed something up, it will be ultimately fixable, so I wouldn't worry too much about them having another go at it.

There is another guy named Eric (search around here) who a lot of PF members trust for really, really good repairs on old bodies and lenses, if the shop doesn't come through.

Last edited by Tanzer; 01-07-2014 at 06:56 AM.
01-07-2014, 07:23 AM   #3
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Location: ON, RH
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Sounds like the camera shop didn't know much about the specs of the Spotmatic and they just did what they thought should be done.

My advise as well will be to get in touch with Eric.
Is a pain to pay twice for the same thing, but I am sure Eric will get it right!
01-07-2014, 07:46 AM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Venice, CA
Posts: 4,263
Insist on a refund. If they haven't gotten it right by now chances are they never will. Inform them you will file complaints with the Better Business Bureau, State/Local Consumer Protection/Affair, Society of Photo-Technologists (many camera repair are members) and Yelp. You can always go to small claims court.

Document times and dates and summary of all contact - store visits, telephone calls, email. Keep any documents - cancelled check, invoices, work orders, estimates, claim tickets etc.

Eventually send the camera to Eric for CLA. He will probably charge significantly less. You may want to send it to Eric first to get a detailed estimate of what needs to be done before confronting the shop again.

What ever you decide, good luck.

PS: The SPT should be able to tell you if the store or tech (get his name) are members or not.

Eric's Website

01-07-2014, 02:56 PM   #5
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Don't delay!.....Send it to Eric. It will come back to you "AS NEW".
01-08-2014, 06:23 AM   #6
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Join Date: Jan 2014
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Original Poster
Tanzer, considering I've had the camera for 9 years, you'd think I would know every little ding and scratch on the thing...but I don't. I'm very bad at noticing small details.

To everyone else, I will definitely look into sending the camera to Eric. Thank you all for your responses!
01-12-2014, 02:00 AM   #7
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Location: Queensland
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It looks as if the rear shutter curtain caught up with the leading curtain half way through the exposure.
01-12-2014, 07:41 AM   #8
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Join Date: Jan 2014
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Original Poster
Hi All,

I was able to get my refund, so I'll be sending it over to Eric. Thanks again for all of your advice!


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