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07-16-2020, 12:34 PM   #1
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A question about ES/ES II/Spotmatic F

I'm looking to add to my collection of one with a nice open aperture metered m42 body. I thought I was dead set on a Spotmatic F, but I find myself reconsidering the ES and ES II. My concerns over the two automatic bodies lie mostly in reliability of the electronics. With the F, I at least know that if the meter goes on it, I'll have a nice mechanical and manual body to use. The other two, while partially mechanical, do have the limited number of shutter speeds to choose from. Are my concerns warranted? Is there anyone with both an F and one of the ES models that can give me a comparison of their use and reliability? Is there anything else I should be paying attention to when it comes to these cameras? I do shoot mostly Av on my digital bodies, so the non-manual mode probably wouldn't bother me on the ES. Are there any other quirks to pay attention to?

07-16-2020, 01:13 PM   #2
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I don't know about the ES or ES II but the F is a durable camera. I had one that I used exclusively up until about 4 years ago and it never gave any problems.It is solid, rugged, and has seen more than it's fair share of abuse. I had a CLA afew years back just to ensure continued functioning. I still love how it feels.

As far as things to be aware of the battery for the meter runs when ever there is enough light entering the front of the camera or through the view finder so when not in used keep those dark. On the F the meter is balanced so using a 1.5V batter is fine I believe that I I have a 625 battery in mine. It fits properly and it works. The other thing is that the camera does not do spot metering despite the name it is closest to center weighted average with a fairly large center area. If you aren't familiar with Ansel Adams zone method it will greatly improve your results. Lots of sites overly complicate things but the easiest way is to try and guess what is +2 and -2 stops in the image compared to the middle brightness and then expose so that you can get something usable out of the -2 area and then in developing recover the +2 area. Film handles overexposure better than under exposure so it works while this would likely result in clipping on digital and in digital you can do better with bringing up the shadows in post. So it is just something to be aware of.
07-16-2020, 04:33 PM   #3
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For the record, I have both the Spotmatic F and the ES 11 fully functional. The latter needs 4 batteries in a compartment under the mount. The ES11 is the most reliable of the Electro/ ES series. Parts are the problem (circuit boards) for the earlier models.
As for which to obtain, that depends on how much you like automation and how much dependability is a factor. Clearly, the less there is to go wrong, the less will go wrong. Film cameras are cheap enough to have both.
07-16-2020, 04:55 PM   #4
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I have a couple of ESII, an ES and a SPF. I have owned one of the ESII for as long as I've had my SPF. I find them both equally reliable. But, being that they are 40+ yrs old, the metering on both is off by a couple of stops. So, having open aperture metering isn't as big a deal as a result because I can't rely on their metering. If you want to use open aperture metering, its more important to buy something you can test first...either at a shop that has some, a local seller, or a good mail order store that will properly evaluate the camera and offer returns.



07-16-2020, 05:33 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by arnold Quote
For the record, I have both the Spotmatic F and the ES 11 fully functional. The latter needs 4 batteries in a compartment under the mount. The ES11 is the most reliable of the Electro/ ES series. Parts are the problem (circuit boards) for the earlier models.
As for which to obtain, that depends on how much you like automation and how much dependability is a factor. Clearly, the less there is to go wrong, the less will go wrong. Film cameras are cheap enough to have both.
I have both, also. If I remember correctly, the circuit boards in both the ES and ESII use discrete component electronics, so, unless the boards themselves fail (probably through material breakdown or damage) any failure should be capable of rectification. Having said that, I canít recall if there were any specialist components that might be hard to source now, but Iím sure someone here will know, if thatís the case.

Both the SP-F and the ES cameras use fabric shutters, so thereís no advantage with either in that respect. I also have a K2DMD, which has a vertical metal shutter, which is probably more robust and should be considered, even if you have a good collection of M42 lenses. I successfully used my K2DMD for years with a couple of adapters and (mostly) M42 Takumars.
07-16-2020, 06:24 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
Both the SP-F and the ES cameras use fabric shutters, so there’s no advantage with either in that respect. I also have a K2DMD, which has a vertical metal shutter, which is probably more robust and should be considered, even if you have a good collection of M42 lenses. I successfully used my K2DMD for years with a couple of adapters and (mostly) M42 Takumars.
I wouldn't be leery of fabric shutters. I have Leica models from 1929, 1932, and 1935 and the shutters are still working fine. The only valid weakness is on a rangefinder camera where there is no mirror in front of the shutter, letting the lens point toward the sun with a wide open lens can indeed burn holes in the silk fabric. But even with these RF cameras, once you get in the habit of not letting the lens point up, there is no problem.
There can be issues with the fabric ribbons on the curtains, but that's also very rare.
07-16-2020, 09:17 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by TomB_tx Quote
I wouldn't be leery of fabric shutters. I have Leica models from 1929, 1932, and 1935 and the shutters are still working fine. The only valid weakness is on a rangefinder camera where there is no mirror in front of the shutter, letting the lens point toward the sun with a wide open lens can indeed burn holes in the silk fabric. But even with these RF cameras, once you get in the habit of not letting the lens point up, there is no problem.
There can be issues with the fabric ribbons on the curtains, but that's also very rare.
A matter of experience, I guess. Iíve had no issues with any of mine, but a friend of mine repairs a lot of rangefinders and film SLRs with shutter fabric and ribbon issues. I havenít heard of any problems with the Copal metal shutters, but of course that doesnít mean there havenít been.
07-18-2020, 10:43 PM   #8
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Can't help on Spotmatics, but I have/have had a couple of electronic M-series Pentaxes and have never had the electronics fail. I wouldn't hesitate to buy another Pentax with an electronic shutter. And BTW the accurate timing and long-exposure ability is really terrific.

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