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02-24-2007, 12:31 PM   #1
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Spotmatic SPII

I've just inherited my late Grandad's camera on the condition that I actually use it. I've every intention of doing him proud, photography is something I've always wanted to get into but have lacked the means by which to do so.

The problem, my friends, is this:

I have never gotten my hands on anything more complex than your bog-standard point and click cameras. This has extra lenses, remote clicky things, little twiddly bits.. it's covered in numbers and that honestly scares the flying piss out of me because I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT MEANS!

Can't find a free manual for love nor money and am lacking in funds right now. So, dear readers, I am coming to you for help. If anyone could explain (using mostly short words please) what it's all about I shall be eternally grateful. I've fallen for this machine in a big way (though possibly just because it belonged to my lifelong hero) and it'd be wonderful to know how to get the very best out of it.

Thanks in anticipation xxx

02-24-2007, 12:48 PM   #2
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Pentax actually has an online PDF manual for the SPII here: http://www.pentaximaging.com/files/manual/SpotmaticII.pdf

It's basically a fully manual body, so you'll need to set the correct shutter speed and aperture before taking a photo. When the needle inside the viewfinder rests around the middle of the frame, you'll know that it.s OK to shoot

Good luck with using it! What lens(es) do you have?

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02-24-2007, 01:30 PM   #3
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If you could find someone to show you how to work it, that would be best. The Internet is great but it would be quicker to watch someone who is experienced.

Having said that, I'll do my best to get you started.

Make sure the light meter is working.

Remove the lens cap and look through the view finder. On the right hand side, you have a meter. It is a simple meter with a '+' on the top and a '-' on the bottom. In the center, is a little gap. The needle should be sitting somewhere between the bottom and just below the gap.

There is a switch that you push up on the left side (from the back... right side from the front) that is labeled 'S W' and has an up arrow. Push it up. The needle should move from it's previous position. If it does, your battery is good. If it doesn't move, you need to replace the battery.

Replacing the battery is easy. You can remove the battery cover on the bottom of the camera with a coin. It just screws out. Take the battery with you to purchase a replacement. This is important: don't touch the battery when you replace it. Use vinyl or latex gloves or wood tongs. Don't use metal tweezers or you'll short out the battery. The oil from your skin will drastically reduce the life of the battery. It will still work if you touch it but it won't last as long.

OK... let's assume you have a working camera and a working light meter. We'll also assume your shutter doesn't stick. If your first roll contains some pictures that are half dark, that's another problem we'll get into at that time.

Really, a camera is simply a light tight box that holds the film in the correct location for the lens to focus an image on. A shutter opens and closes allowing light to get through for a period of time. That's all the camera does. The key is figuring out what the correct period of time is.

All those knobs and dials....

Actually, there are only three knobs you need to concern yourself with to figure out the correct exposure. Those are ASA (now called ISO), shutter speed, and aperture. ASA and shutter speed are on the same dial. Aperature is that ring at the base of the lens labelled, "2 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16"

Let's talk about ASA first (someone will step in and correct me on this because it's now called ISO but it was ASA back then and is labelled 'ASA' on your shutter dial. If you look closely, you will see a tiny window that probably says, '100'. If that is the case, make sure you purchase 'ISO 100' film and you're good to go. To adjust ISO, pull up on the outer rim of the sutter speed dial and turn it until the ASA number indicates the same number on your film. To shoot ISO 200 film, set the ASA dial on your shutter wheel to 200 and so on. The film will expose the same if this is not set but your light meter will not be calibrated correctly so you will will end up over/under exposing all your shots. I suggest you stick with ASA/ISO 100 speed film but it really doesn't matter.

Next is the shutter speed. It's on the same dial. It is labelled, "B 1 2 4 ... 500" Those numbers are 1/x. In other words, if you set it on 125, that is 1/125 of a second. Note every number is roughly double the last number. In other words, every click as you increase the number on that dial halves the time the shutter is open. Fair enough?

Aperture is one of the more difficult ideas to comprehend. There is an adjustable diapghram inside the lens that will choke off the light in varying degrees. You probably have an f2.0 lens. That means the lowest number on the aperture ring at the base of your camera is a '2'. '2' is fully open and '16' is as closed as it gets. Each time you click that ring twice to get to the next higher number index, you half the amount of light getting through the lens. There is that half thing again. These are called 'f-stops'.

You can half or double the light getting through the lens by going up two clicks or down two clicks respectively. You can half or double the light getting to the film by halfing or doubling the time the shutter stays open by adjusting the shutter speed dial up or down one click respectively. Because of these relationships, you can balance between the two quite easily. 1/125, f8 is the same as 1/250, f5.6 which is the same as 1/500, f4. All three of these combinations of settings let the same amount of light onto the film. Think about it.

Here is the procedure to take a picture with a Spotmatic camera.

- remove lens cap
- aim the camera at your subject and adjust the focus. The correct hand position is to adjust the focus with your left hand, palm facing up, while you hold the camera body with your right hand around the right hand side of the camera such that you could press the shutter release with your index finger. Practice this. It is more important than you probably thing.
- Once focused, advance the film with the film advance lever. Do not advance the film if you are not going to take a picture and do not leave it advanced when you are not shooting.
- push that black switch on the side of the lens housing up to turn on the light meter.
- I suggest you set the shutter speed to 125 and leave it there for your initial outdoor shots. Indoor will require a flash or fast film unless you have a tripod and are shooting stationary objects. We'll leave that discussion for later.
- The only thing you need to adjust once you push that black switch up is the aperture. That's the black ring at the base of the lens. Twist that back and forth while you keep the subject in frame until that needle rests somewhere in the gap on the right side of the viewfinder.
- with the needle in the gap, your exposure is correct. Slowly exhale (don't let anyone notice you doing this or you will feel like an idiot) and hold your breath as you SLOWLY press the shutter button.
- congratulations. You just took your first SPII picture.


Loading and unloading film:

On the left side of the top of the camera body is a knob with an arrow 'R ->'. That arrow indicates the rotation of the spindle to unload the film.

Loading film:

- Remove the leather protective case from the camera by unscrewing the knurled knob on the bottom of the case.
- pull up on the knob on the top left of the camera body. It will be labelled, 'R->'
- It pulls up about 1.5 cm and clicks.
- From the elevated position, pulling it up a little more (gently) will cause the door to the film case to spring open. You're in.
- Open the door and you will see a spindle on the right side with a slot and an open space on the left side.
- Put the film into the left hand space and pull out a little film so you can push it into the slot on that right hand spindle. The right hand spindle can be turned to line up the slot for loading by using your thumb on the bottom of the spindle. Be gentle.
- With the film in the slot, make sure the holes in the side of the film line up horizontally with the advance sprocket just to the left of the slotted spindle.
- With the sprocket and sprocket holes lining up, advance the film with the film advance lever once. Any slack in the film should be taken up, a little film will be drawn out of the canister and some film should roll up onto the slotted spool. It should look tight.
- Close the film case door.
- with the lens cap on, press the shutter release button
- advance the film again and press the shutter release button again.
- You will probably have to do this three times to get to '0' on the current picture indicator. That indicator is in a little window atop the film advance lever.
- You're ready to go. Remember, don't leave the film advanced.
- don't forget to put the protective leather case back on


Unloading an exposed roll of film:

- Remove the leather protective case from the camera by unscrewing the knurled knob on the bottom of the case.
- On the bottom right side of the camera, directly under the shutter release button, is a tiny silver button. Press it. It should stay in. This is the spindle release clutch.
- There is a folding lever on that knob on the top left of the camera housing. It's the knob you pulled up to open the film case door. Flip that lever out and start cranking in the direction of the arrow.
- Crank carefully and listen. You will hear a faint click when the flim unthreads from the slotted spool. Depending on your film length, you'll have to crank about 25 times and then there will be a tiny click sound. You can stop there. If you don't hear the click or forgot to pay attention, turn that crank about 75 times to make sure you've retracted the entire length of film into the film canister.
- pull up on the knob on the top left of the camera body. It will be labelled, 'R->'
- It pulls up about 1.5 cm and clicks.
- From the elevated position, pulling it up a little more (gently) will cause the door to the film case to spring open.
- You can now liberate your freshly exposed roll of film from it's position on the left side of the film case.
02-24-2007, 01:31 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mo Quote
Pentax actually has an online PDF manual for the SPII here: http://www.pentaximaging.com/files/manual/SpotmaticII.pdf
lol!

I have a softspot for these old manual Pentax cameras so I thougth I'd share instructions. I was just about to take some pics and label the parts in my image editor.


... or he could just read the Pentax manual.


Welcome to the site, memma.

I take it you are a young man who just came into a beautiful camera. I was in your shoes once. It was a wonderful time. Much luck and let us know if we can help. It's a beautiful hobby and you'll always be able to look back at your pictures and remember life past.

02-24-2007, 09:54 PM   #5
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The first thing you should do is learn exposure. An understanding of the relationship between aperture, shutter time, and film speed is required to operate your camera and also for good photography. For newbies, "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Petersen is a good book to start with and it is readily available at many bookstores. After that, follow your heart.

For beginners, a working light meter is very beneficial so you might want to get that checked out. However, its important not to rely on the meter 100% of the time as they are not always accurate in every situation. I pretty much ignore the meter in my cameras most of the time. Two of my cameras don't even have meters.
02-24-2007, 10:13 PM   #6
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By the way, if anybody at a pro camera shop insists that the meter will never be accurate because your Spotmatic used 1.35v mercury batteries are wrong. Mercury batteries are banned in many countries now but you can use 1.5v silver-oxide battery instead. Pentax used a special bridge circuit that allows the meter to function properly despite differences in battery voltage.
02-25-2007, 05:23 AM   #7
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Outstanding reply, Tom!

Tom Brown's response is superb! His reply could be used as a template for how to use any manual film body (with model-specific changes, of course). Should this be a sticky thread under Film SLR discussion?
02-25-2007, 11:59 AM   #8
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Welcome to photography. The camera you now own will allow you to take photographs that can be considered a form of art. Suggest you check for a local school that has a photography class you can join. Have fun!
Dave..

02-26-2007, 03:33 AM   #9
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Thank you everyone for your responses, you've been incredibly helpful!

I've done a little exploring based on what you've said, the battery needs replacing but apart from that I'm starting to get to grips with it all. I'm dying for some reasonable weather now so I can get out and see what this thing can really do!!

Mr. Brown.. for the record, I am in fact a young woman (a shaven-headed tomboy but a woman nonetheless!). Very special thanks for your instructions, they're idiot-proof enough that even I understand them And that's exactly what I needed.

Thanks again guys, you have my undying gratitude and you can bet I'll be back to post more once I start to have some fun with this! xxx
02-26-2007, 04:23 AM   #10
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Memma,

Here is a link to a camera simulator. It will help you better understand the ISO - Aperature - Shutterspeed relationship.

The SimCam: Film and Digital Camera Simulator - Photonhead.com

Tim
02-26-2007, 04:32 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by atupdate Quote
Memma,

Here is a link to a camera simulator. It will help you better understand the ISO - Aperature - Shutterspeed relationship.

The SimCam: Film and Digital Camera Simulator - Photonhead.com

Tim
Excellent stuff! That actually explains a lot, thanks a million! xxx
03-02-2007, 02:52 AM   #12
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Best wishes, memma. I hope this hobby brings as much joy to you as it has to me.
03-02-2007, 09:46 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by atupdate Quote
Memma,

Here is a link to a camera simulator. It will help you better understand the ISO - Aperature - Shutterspeed relationship.

The SimCam: Film and Digital Camera Simulator - Photonhead.com

Tim
Hi Memma! Not much I can say to help you out! All the guys here have given you really great responses.

Also wanted to thank Atupdate for this link. This will help out a few people (including myself )

Have fun!
07-12-2007, 11:07 PM   #14
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I just want Mr Tom Brown to know that his post is quite magnificent for instructing on how to use a manual camera ! Thank you sir
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