Pentax Spotmatic SP1000
By Rob Turner
19 Aug 2008
I got my Spotmatic around a year ago from a local camera shop for the small cost of £50 ($100), this included a standard 50mm/f2 lens. But I found when I got home that the lens had fairly bad fungus (because of this I now obsessively check second hand gear), but this was a blessing in disguise, as it was replaced with a much smoother f1.8 model. The SP1000 is a stripped down version of the original Spotmatic camera (so called because it was to feature a spot meter, but was changed to center-weighted at the last minute), with the main difference being its lack of self timer, witch is no problem for me. It is fully mechanical except for the built in meter (which, thankfully works correctly with a standard 1.55 Volt silver oxide battery thanks to its design) and features stop-down center-weighted metering, which works well, and gives the advantage of a depth-of-field preview, which is lacking in similar cameras (such as the K1000). It has shutter speeds from 1 second, right through to 1/1000 of a second.
In general, the build quality of the camera is excellent, especially when compared to current models. The heavy use of metal, rather than today's plastic gives the camera an air of quality. One small problem (possibly only with my model) is that the switch to activate the meter seems a little on the flimsy side, but I am rather nitpicking here. The lenses are also of excellent quality, with the super Takumar line being one of the leaders of its time, and they still stand up well today. The standard 55mm lens is a brilliant general purpose lens, sharp, reasonably fast, and with very smooth focusing. I also possess a 35mm/f3.5, which is also a great lens, and proves very useful when a slightly wider view is needed, this lens was picked up for £20 ($40).
The use of the M42 screw lens mount is also a very good feature, this lens mount has been used by many manufacturers, and pentax's super Takumar lenses are excellent, and very cheap to buy. The lens mount can be slightly (and I emphasize, slightly) slower than a bayonet mount when it comes to changing lenses, but this has never really proved to be a problem to me in the slightest.
In conclusion, if you are after a very rugged, hard waring, yet graceful mechanical 35mm SLR, with affordable, high quality lenses and construction, the Spotmatic series should top your list. I would also recommend it to photography students rather than the much recommended K1000. The Spotmatic is pretty much the same model, only with a screw rather than bayonet mount and with the addition of a very useful depth of field preview. The Spotmatic also has the advantage of being a fair bit cheaper due to the demand from students pushing the prices of the K1000 up. I really enjoy my Spotmatic, with it being one of my favorite cameras, I hope this article inspires a few people to give one a try.