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05-13-2016, 08:17 AM   #1
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The Dodgy Pentax Project.

A while ago, I obtained a Spotmatic SP500 body as a parts camera, with which to practise tear-down procedures so that I didn't have to risk a fully functioning body.

This (the body only) is what I got:



The mirror box is filthy, the seals are nigh-on gone as is most of the leatherette, the mirror itself is not in the best condition, and I can't get the battery door off with the time-honoured coin - ANYTHING could be lurking in there. (No blowback on the unnamed seller, please; it was EXACTLY what I asked for and EXACTLY what he sold me.)

It looks like something that spent thirty years lost and neglected in the mustiest corners of some attic somewhere.

On the other hand, it winds and fires, and the shutter speeds sound roughly okay to the ear and the aperture stop-down mechanism is fully functional. Mechanically, it appears to work.

Time and a busy workplace have prevented me from doing anything much with it, so far - apart from a half-baked attempt to dismantle the shutter-speed dial which might have screwed things up even more - but today I find myself with the camera, my 35mm Super Takumar, and a roll of Kodak Gold 400, and the impulse to put it through, shoot the roll unmetered, and see what happens, purely for the hell of it. It'll be going off to a photo lab, so no fancy post-production tricks, but hey, apart from a cheap roll of film from Walmart and the processing costs, which I am content to swallow, WHY NOT?

I was going to get an equally dodgy lens for it, but I figure it's time to just bite the bullet and see what I get from at least half-decent glass (per my single-in pics from January, of which the image above is one).

IF the results aren't too terrible, I will be getting into it with a view to cleaning out the cobwebs and putting it together in such a way that it still works. If I can't get it back together, I'll probably ship the whole disaster to Eric for spare parts.

05-13-2016, 08:36 AM   #2
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Interesting project. I might have started with a slightly better candidate if I had hopes of making it work but it still sounds like fun. I hope that you get some properly exposed shots. You may have spurred me to buy a roll for a film body I have. Last year I met a distant cousin for the first time and, as I shoot Pentax and he Canon, gave me a film body and an A 50 1.7 that he tried out on a lark. I told him I would give it a shot but haven't so far. Now where did I stash it...

Last edited by TomTom; 05-13-2016 at 08:37 AM. Reason: typo
05-13-2016, 08:40 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by TomTom Quote
I might have started with a slightly better candidate if I had hopes of making it work
Like I said, this was originally for tear-down practice only, but I finally couldn't resist putting a roll through to answer the question "Just how abused and deranged can a camera actually be before it will not take a decent picture?"
05-13-2016, 09:17 AM   #4
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Hey, that's pretty much the way Lomography started you might be onto something big!

05-13-2016, 09:34 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
apart from a half-baked attempt to dismantle the shutter-speed dial which might have screwed things up even more
Been there, done that. For more fun have a go at the rewind mechanism.
05-13-2016, 09:44 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
Just how abused and deranged can a camera actually be before it will not take a decent picture?
In the case of Spotmatics: they can take abuse modern cameras couldn't withstand. I have heard stories of spotmatics partially frozen in ice* left on a sunny windowsill for a week or two return to fully functional form.

* A Spotmatic F, with bulk film back and motor drive were used for a time-lapse shoot where an animal who apparently took offense to being photographed knocked over the tripod and submerged the left half of the camera into water on a freezing cold night in Canada.
05-13-2016, 09:50 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
"Just how abused and deranged can a camera actually be before it will not take a decent picture?"
Your description reminds me of an SP I received from a marketplace listing a few years back. I mostly wanted the lens, which was in much better condition, and was able to negotiate a "lens only" price with the seller since the "working" (it wasn't) body was described as being in very good condition. I should have taken a "before" picture, but as with your camera, the body was very rough and would not fire (mirror stuck in up position). The cleanup was a bit of an effort and I was able to fine a replacement battery cover (amazing!) after having to waste the original removing it. Replacement leather from Aki-Asahi and new seals all is good. Yes, everything works, though I prefer my SP II for shooting.



The lens in the photo is not the one that came with the camera. That one is an early ST 55/1.8 with reverse-direction aperture ring and would have been original on an earlier (S1, S3, or SV?) body. It currently lives on my SV (see HERE).


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 05-13-2016 at 10:00 AM.
05-13-2016, 11:43 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
In the case of Spotmatics: they can take abuse modern cameras couldn't withstand. I have heard stories of spotmatics partially frozen in ice* left on a sunny windowsill for a week or two return to fully functional form.

* A Spotmatic F, with bulk film back and motor drive were used for a time-lapse shoot where an animal who apparently took offense to being photographed knocked over the tripod and submerged the left half of the camera into water on a freezing cold night in Canada.
I think that's true of most cameras of that era except for the cheapest, they were made from really strong and corrosion-resistant materials. Beats the hell out me how a rubberized cloth FP shutter could last well over 30-years. Of course they were comparatively expensive as well, you would be hard-pressed to find an SLR body new for under $200 in the '70s, which probably translates to over $500 in today's devalued currency, unless you bought soviet-bloc stuff (I spent way too many hours poring over ads in the back of Popular Photography &ct.).

05-13-2016, 01:51 PM   #9
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I just bought a 50mm F2 lens for $5. the seller mentioned it had some sort of dust in the lens that's only visible in a certain light. I bought it so that I can take it apart and see if I can clean and put it back together. If I can't, then it's just $5 (+ shipping). I'm also curious to see how these things work, and do have an old asahi pentax 110 and also a Nikon FM10 with some lens that I might take apart and see what makes it work.
05-13-2016, 01:56 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by dsmithhfx Quote
I think that's true of most cameras of that era except for the cheapest, they were made from really strong and corrosion-resistant materials. Beats the hell out me how a rubberized cloth FP shutter could last well over 30-years. Of course they were comparatively expensive as well, you would be hard-pressed to find an SLR body new for under $200 in the '70s, which probably translates to over $500 in today's devalued currency, unless you bought soviet-bloc stuff (I spent way too many hours poring over ads in the back of Popular Photography &ct.).
In CPI Adjusted dollars a $200 item from 1970 would be over $1200 today. (USD)
05-13-2016, 03:50 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
In CPI Adjusted dollars a $200 item from 1970 would be over $1200 today. (USD)
05-13-2016, 05:46 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by dsmithhfx Quote
To be completely fair the consumer price index numbers vary a lot in terms of accuracy across categories and things like cameras are now ubiquitously available in cell phones and so whole categories of products have vanished and calculated prices may not reflect anything really other than relative buying power total not within a segment of the market.
05-26-2016, 08:36 AM   #13
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Update - the first film is done, and it was actually a lot of fun. Shooting rules were Sunny Sixteen and a bit of help from the light meter app in my smartphone (we shall see how that one works out).

I'm tempted to slap on my radioactive Tak 50/1.4 and shove in a roll of T Max 400, but I really ought to wait for the colour film to come back and see if there's any evidence of a major light leak. If there is, it'll potentially be a demonstration body for me to teach my kids with (if I ever get it back together after tear-down). If not, I might just keep it as my scungy, grotty, go-everywhere and risk-everything film body for unmetered shooting only.
06-25-2016, 12:45 PM   #14
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Update - the experiment was far more successful than I could ever have dreamed. With the exception of the usual dead frame or two at the start and one embarrassment in the middle, everything came out beautifully. I'm almost shocked.

Metering was educated guesses informed by Sunny Sixteen for some shots, David Quiles' Lightmeter Free app running on a Samsung Galaxy S5 for the rest.

Pics will go up later tonight or tomorrow..
06-25-2016, 01:50 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
Update - the experiment was far more successful than I could ever have dreamed. With the exception of the usual dead frame or two at the start and one embarrassment in the middle, everything came out beautifully. I'm almost shocked.

Metering was educated guesses informed by Sunny Sixteen for some shots, David Quiles' Lightmeter Free app running on a Samsung Galaxy S5 for the rest.

Pics will go up later tonight or tomorrow..
Nice can hardly wait
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