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02-16-2019, 03:37 PM   #1
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Pentax Spotmatic Meter Shutting off in Medium to Low Light

Hello all,

I've had a Pentax Spotmatic for a few years that has served me very well. A couple months ago I was having problems in low light conditions where the meter would jump up and down like crazy and the shutter would occasionally get stuck at slow shutter speeds. I sent the camera off to Garry's Camera Repair. Got the cameras back and not only is the shutter still sticking every now and then but now the light meter doesn't activate/turn on in low to medium light conditions. It's almost like the auto lens shutoff feature is telling the meter to shut off even when the lens cap is off. The only time I can get the meter to work correctly is if I point it directly at a light source. Simply standing outside with my back towards the sun does not give the camera enough light to turn on the light meter. I am very frustrated after spending money to Garry to "fix" this camera. I emailed him about this and he seemed very hesitant to help me out or atleast give me my money back.

Does anyone know the source of this issue? Is it even worth trying to repair this spotmatic or should I just buy another body online? I appreciate all the help I can get because I love using that camera.

02-16-2019, 10:13 PM   #2
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I also love my Spotmatic and recently decided to send it to Eric Hendrickson for a CLA. It's working better than ever now and have no regrets. It was $92 for the CLA.
02-17-2019, 01:38 AM   #3
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Refund

Anyone who want a person to pay for no work done that made a difference is bound to be hesitant to offer a refund, so demand one. As far as the camera goes, it you can't sort it out then why not use a hand-held light meter? An old "Master V" that works well is better than an in-camera one and it only costs a fraction of a camera service; which may, or may not, fix anything as a messed up camera metering system.
02-17-2019, 05:31 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nick Crumpler Quote
Anyone who want a person to pay for no work done that made a difference is bound to be hesitant to offer a refund, so demand one. As far as the camera goes, it you can't sort it out then why not use a hand-held light meter? An old "Master V" that works well is better than an in-camera one and it only costs a fraction of a camera service; which may, or may not, fix anything as a messed up camera metering system.
I certainly do like the ease of using the in camera light meter. I have never considered using a hand held light meter. I wouldn't really know where to start when purchasing one.

02-17-2019, 05:32 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by ojay Quote
I also love my Spotmatic and recently decided to send it to Eric Hendrickson for a CLA. It's working better than ever now and have no regrets. It was $92 for the CLA.

I have heard only good things about Eric. I think I am going to go that route.
02-17-2019, 08:39 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by evilash1996 Quote
I have heard only good things about Eric. I think I am going to go that route.
You may want to search these forums more carefully.
02-18-2019, 12:48 AM   #7
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Using a lens cap to turn off the meter is a K1000 feature. If the meter doesn't work in dim light you may have a meter cell that has gone non-linear with age. That means that the the meter could be calibrated for bright light but might be a few stops off in dim light. It also could be the shutter speed resistor is bad or dirty. Another thing to check is if you are out of the meter's range. If you are using a slow shutter speed and high ISO/ASA you may be out of the meter's range. The shutter speed index mark should be black. If the mark is red, you are outside the meter's range and it will shut off. It can also shut off with a high shutter speed. If you are using Ilford Pan F you will find the index turns red a 1/1000 sec and the meter will turn off. I don't have a camera or manual handy to tell you possible low end shut offs.
02-18-2019, 08:41 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaxus Quote
Using a lens cap to turn off the meter is a K1000 feature. If the meter doesn't work in dim light you may have a meter cell that has gone non-linear with age. That means that the the meter could be calibrated for bright light but might be a few stops off in dim light. It also could be the shutter speed resistor is bad or dirty. Another thing to check is if you are out of the meter's range. If you are using a slow shutter speed and high ISO/ASA you may be out of the meter's range. The shutter speed index mark should be black. If the mark is red, you are outside the meter's range and it will shut off. It can also shut off with a high shutter speed. If you are using Ilford Pan F you will find the index turns red a 1/1000 sec and the meter will turn off. I don't have a camera or manual handy to tell you possible low end shut offs.
The camera is setup correctly and I am definitely in the meter's range. I am only using 400 speed film so it should all be working correctly. There is definitely something malfunctioning with the camera.

03-06-2019, 12:42 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by evilash1996 Quote
I certainly do like the ease of using the in camera light meter. I have never considered using a hand held light meter. I wouldn't really know where to start when purchasing one.
If you carry a phone, you can download an app and use the phone as a light meter. Alternatively, go to Ebay and buy the one I suggested for $30. Just check it's fully operational before you buy it. Simples! And a lot less expensive than another CleanLubeAdjust.
03-24-2019, 01:01 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by evilash1996 Quote
The camera is setup correctly and I am definitely in the meter's range. I am only using 400 speed film so it should all be working correctly. There is definitely something malfunctioning with the camera.
That last is possible, though a few tidbits of information might be in order:
  • Your meter has a limited range of linear sensitivity
  • Using faster film does not increase that sensitivity
  • When light levels are above or below the linear range the meter may provide readings indicating more or less light than what is actually there or unexpected "dipping" of the meter needle.
  • Readings with a spent battery will be unreliable
Something to consider:
The Spotmatic is cool in that it provides a visual indicator of when the meter is outside its linear range. The triangular index for the shutter speed is red rather than black, the meter readings are probably not reliable. Set the ASA at 400 and note that the index goes red at 1/2s. Put ASA at 64 and note that it goes red at 1/1000s. The user manual includes a table showing the accurate meter range by shutter speed and film speed. The location varies, but the page is generally headed, "Range of Light Measurement" or similar. The table mirrors the behavior of the shutter speed index color though with additional information.

That being said, it is probable that there is a problem with the meter circuit that may require replacement of parts.


Steve
03-24-2019, 02:22 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
The Spotmatic is cool in that it provides a visual indicator of when the meter is outside its linear range. The triangular index for the shutter speed is red rather than black, the meter readings are probably not reliable.
I wasn't aware of this. What is the 'triangular index'?
03-24-2019, 02:49 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by nickthetasmaniac Quote
I wasn't aware of this. What is the 'triangular index'?
The mark on the top plate that one sets the shutter speed against. It is a window, not paint. This feature was new to me as well until about a year ago.


Steve
03-24-2019, 06:51 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
The mark on the top plate that one sets the shutter speed against. It is a window, not paint. This feature was new to me as well until about a year ago.


Steve
Huh, that's new to me... Was this also a thing on the Spotmatic F? Mine looks very much like black paint and no matter where I point it I can't make it go red.
03-24-2019, 07:26 PM - 1 Like   #14
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The Spotmatic F certainly does not have this feature. Also as an update, just got the camera back from Eric Hendrickson and the camera is working beautifully now.
03-24-2019, 08:42 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by nickthetasmaniac Quote
Huh, that's new to me... Was this also a thing on the Spotmatic F? Mine looks very much like black paint and no matter where I point it I can't make it go red.
Good question regarding the Spotmatic F. If the feature is on that camera, it should be red with the ASA dial set to 100 and the shutter speed set to 1/2s. Is suspect it was dropped on cameras having open-aperture metering, though the range of light table is still in the Spotmatic F user guide.

Note that for models having the feature (referred to as "warning signal" in the user guides), the red indicator is based on the combination of set ASA film speed and shutter speed. It is there even with the lens cap on and no batteries in the camera.


Steve
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