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02-16-2010, 09:18 AM   #1
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I Have Come Back

After selling most of my Pentax gear (with the exception of a couple of Takumars), I left the Pentax system for a few years. I left mainly because I found out that my favorite lenses--one being the 50/1.4 Super Takumar--contain radioactive substances. I do not intend here to debate over whether or not owning such lenses is safe. I have seen enough evidence and data to give me pause, and, since there are so many other fine lenses out there, I chose to err toward safety.

Anyway, I have re-embraced Pentax gear. After two of my vaunted Canon F-1Ns developed problems in colder weather, I decided to turn to an old friend, the Spotmatic. I now have an SL and an SP II (in the past, I had two Spottie Fs). I also have a Super Program on the way. After some review and analysis, I gather the Super Program could be my favorite (especially with the Motor A). Anyway, I will enjoy discussing Pentax gear again, as there are many knowledgeable and interesting persons here. I am currently deciding weather to use the Super Program with the A 50/2 I bought (a very underrated lens), or keep it with an adapter attached (i.e. for screwmount use). I find the adpater rather cumbersome to install/remove, and so I am thinking about how best to use the camera. I know that most seem to think the adapter is fairly easy to install/remove, but that has not been my experience. Thus, I will keep it in one "mode" (A "mode") or another (screwmount "mode"), and avoid switching back and forth.

Overall, I hope my Spotties and Super Program fare better in colder weather--specifically, in the 15-30F range. I did not think my F-1Ns should develop a slow mirror or problematic shutter in these conditions (as, to me, they are not that cold).

I welcome any comments.

02-16-2010, 11:21 AM   #2
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A well lubed and foamed Spottie is a fabulous cold weather cam - nothing beats a mechanical shutter. With the Super Pgm, you may end up getting under exposure or other such problems once the batteries get properly cold. That at least has been my experience with the Program Plus.
02-16-2010, 12:16 PM   #3
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Thanks, Nesster. When you state "underexposure," do you mean underexposure using a "preferred" mode, or do you mean manual mode? I ask because I use a hand-held light meter, not the in-camera meter.

Over the years, I have noticed how easily an in-camera meter is fooled. Thus, I use my Sekonic virtually all the time.
02-16-2010, 12:26 PM   #4
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FYI, I run a proper storage facility of vintage radioactive lenses.

02-16-2010, 12:34 PM   #5
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It's the meter, but it's also the electronic shutter. I haven't delved into how the Pentax one works, but I know the Yashica electronic shutter works from the fastest speed on down. I.e. without juice the GSN will fire at 1/500 and a TL Electro at 1/1000. The electronic control slows the mechanism down. So when the batteries get cold, the shutter starts firing faster.
02-16-2010, 02:26 PM   #6
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Nesster: that sounds bad. For someone (such as I) that puts a lot of effort and time into his shots, it sounds like I should just give up winter shooting...or shooting altogether. If it is not going to be accurate, why waste my time?
02-16-2010, 02:36 PM   #7
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The mechanical shutter does not have this problem, provided the lube is good.

You can always keep batteries next to your body and swap them into the camera - or rig up one of those remote battery holders which you keep under your coat.
02-16-2010, 02:51 PM   #8
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Thanks...but that sounds like quite a bit of additional effort (in addition to what I already do).

I forgot to ask: is the SP II's meter always on--as is the case with the Spot F? I remember having to keep my lens cap on the Spot F to turn off the meter. When using a hood, this can be an annoyance. Today, I had to keep swapping between the cap and hood as I composed from different angles, metered, and waited for my subject to arrive. I was guessing that the meter was on and thus did not want to drain the battery. Again, when using the hood, this was an irritating exercise.

02-16-2010, 03:11 PM   #9
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SPII and its kin only have the meter on when you push up the stop-down meter switch.


By the way, the other (cold) morning my K100D got the chills. It would meter still, but it decided it was too cold to trip the shutter. I understand from the K-x threads that perhaps using those lithium batteries the K-x comes with makes for a more cold-resistant camera. In which case, a film body that has a AA battery grip available may be more cold-resistant than the other electronic bodies. Will have to test that sometime with my ZX-L.
02-16-2010, 03:28 PM   #10
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Considering the amount of thought and worry you're putting into it, maybe you should get a medium format folder that's completely mechanical.

Vintage Folding Cameras
02-16-2010, 03:29 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
FYI, I run a proper storage facility of vintage radioactive lenses.
Heh, classic =)
02-16-2010, 03:31 PM   #12
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I have heard that the 3v lithium is quite a battery...some say it lasts almost forever. This is the battery that I plan on using in the Super Program. I also have a Motor A on the way, too.

I forgot to ask: do the AAs in the Motor A power the whole camera, or will I need the 3v in the camera, too? In either case, I am glad you have mentioned the battery issue.
02-16-2010, 04:44 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
FYI, I run a proper storage facility of vintage radioactive lenses.
What a coinkydink, so do I
02-16-2010, 07:31 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by zx-m Quote
I did not think my F-1Ns should develop a slow mirror or problematic shutter in these conditions (as, to me, they are not that cold).

I welcome any comments.


Were they kept up, maintenance-wise? Common wisdom seems to point to a new Clean/Lube/Adjust to keep these working right in colder conditions.



For your hood vs. lens-cap debate, you could invest in larger snap-in caps that would fit into the hood. eBay sellers stock many different sizes and would ease your pain on the issue.


Please share some of these cold weather shots, I'm interested to see what you are shooting at these temperatures.
02-16-2010, 07:36 PM   #15
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You'd be surprised by how fast you loose every bit of sensation in your fingers at -20C. Photography at winter is a pain.
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