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Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP Test Roll Review

Ashi Pentax Spotmatic SPI recently bought this camera to replace my beloved Canon FTb QL. The FTb decided to give up on me with the rewind mechanism slipping. I decided it best to replace it and fix the FTb at a later date once I had more time. I used my FTb mostly with M42 lenses via the Canon P adaptor and as I don’t have a huge collection of Canon FD glass, I decided it best to go for a Pentax Spotmatic as a replacement.

I was looking for a Pentax Spotmatic F but then this very tidy Pentax SP caught my eye. Already serviced, all speeds checked and adjusted where needed, I just could not resist it.  I bought it a week before the Gosporteers Auto Show, the same show that I did a test review of the Fujica ST605 twelve months ago. I thought what a great show to test the camera out at, and maybe I should do these reviews every year.

The Pentax Spotmatic SP is the same size than the Canon but oddly it’s body weighs slightly less. One thing you notice straight away is the Pentax has no flash hotshoe, this is not a problem as there is an adaptor that just slots over the eye window and plugs into the sync sockets on the front of the body. Let’s not compare too much technical differences, as there aren’t a great deal, but lets look at how the camera felt and performed in comparison. Loading film is different and I have to say I prefer the simplicity of Pentax over, Canon’s “has it grabbed the film” Quick Load system.

With my beloved Fomapan 200 loaded in the camera and my Carl Zeiss 50mm Pancolar attached, off I went looking for vehicles to photograph. The camera felt nice to hold and I especially liked the way it felt robust like a tank.

Taken with Pentax Spotmatic SP

The meter gets some getting use to, there is a switch on the side of lens housing that one has to press to activate it. This switch also stops down the aperture when using the lens in Auto mode.  I like the idea of having both functions on one switch but I found myself thumbing around looking for the switch while framing my shot. Aside from getting use to the placement of the switch, the camera is very easy to use and I really could not fault it in any big way.

Taken with Pentax Spotmatic SP

Unlike, when using a M42 adaptor, where sometimes the lens unscrews when focusing, this never happened once with the Spotmatic. I did kind of expect it to, as the 50mm Pancolar has developed a stiff focus ring of late. This I realised straight away because it annoys me so much when it happens, especially when your time has passed with that would be great shot, if  only you weren’t faffing around with the lens.

Taken with Pentax Spotmatic SP

If I had to sum up the two cameras, I think I would say that the Canon is the slightly easier camera to use. This is simply because the meter and stop down button on the Canon is activated by pushing the self timer arm towards the lens housing. To me this seems such a natural place to have it and is easier to find when framing a shot. That said I do like the build of the Pentax SP, it is a very solid camera and I feel it will go on working for many years to come. For me this makes this camera a keeper!

Taken with Pentax Spotmatic SP

Test Roll;

  • Fomapan 200
  • Rated @ 160

Develop details;

  • d-23 1:3
  • 21c
  • 17 minutes
  • Agitation first 30 seconds then once every minute

Lens used;

  • Carl Zeiss Pancolar 50mm 1:8
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Fujica ST605 Test Roll Review

Fujica ST605 Vintage SLR Film Camera and Fujinon 55mm 1:8 Lens ReviewI recently bought this camera to purposely do a light seal replacement tutorial for a good customer. It sure was great fun to do, the tutorial can be seen here.

I enjoy using slr’s as a general walk around camera and especially for events/shows. Most often I will reach for my Canon FTb QL which I use with the P mount converter and Carl Zeiss lenses which have the M42 mount. A quick look in the local rag revealed the Gosporteers Auto Show coming up, personally I could not think of a better opportunity than to get acquainted with the Fujica ST605 and what a surprise it was!

The Fujica is noticeably smaller than the Canon but oddly it’s body weighs only 20g less, either that or I need a new set of scales. Let’s not compare the technical differences but just deal with how the camera felt and performed in comparison. Loading film is different and I have to say I prefer the simplicity of Fujica over Canon’s “has it grabbed the film” Quick Load system.

With film loaded in the camera and a nice original 70’s strap attached off I went looking for likely candidates to photograph. The camera felt great to hold and I was snapping away without familiarising myself with the operators manual, not many cameras you can do that with. The meter I found very simple to use, although I did forget to compensate for using 1.5v batteries. Unfortunately my test photo’s came out slightly underexposed, although one thing confirmed is that the replacement light seals were doing their job.

Taken with Fujica ST605 Vintage SLR film camera and Fujinon 55mm 1:8 Lens

I always like to use the depth of field focus button, its of great help in getting an idea of how much will be in focus and the Fujica has the button placed in a very comfortable position. Because it was a slightly over cast day with sudden bursts of sunlight, I shot mostly at large apertures and the DOF button was used quite a bit. I always find the Canon FTb stop down, (DOF) button or whatever you want to call it a bit cumbersome to use. So again this is a thumbs up for the Fujica.

1934 Austin Taken with Fujica ST605 Vintage SLR film camera and Fujinon 55mm 1:8 LensMy only gripe was when the sun did come out I found myself wanting to select a faster shutter speed while keeping a shallow DOF, unfortunately the Fujica ST605 fastest shutter speed is 1/700. This was very disappointing as I felt forced to use a smaller aperture which gave me an undesirable larger DOF. This is where the canon FTb has a slightly upper hand.

Ford Taken with Fujica ST605 SLR vitage camera and Fujinon 55mm 1:8 LensI have to admit though I’ve had great fun with this camera as you can see and that my perception of the older Fujica’s SLR’s has changed as a result of the ST506. In fact so much so that I am going to treat myself to the next model up, the higher end Fujica ST801 and only because it has the faster shutter speeds I was looking for on this camera.

Swamp Bitch Taken with Fujica ST605 vintage SLR film camera and Fujinon 55mm 1:8 LensI really didn’t expect much from this camera but the ST605 really does pack a punch for a medium end SLR and it certainly gives the canon FTb a run for its money. It really has made me think that if the ST 801 proves to be as good as its smaller sister then it might be goodbye to my old friend the FTb. That said I won’t sell the FTb as I’m sure I can find a box, cupboard or maybe draw to hide it in.

Austin Mini Taken with Fujica ST605 vintage SLR film camera and Fujinon 55mm 1:8 Lens

Test Roll;

  • Fomapan 200

Develop details;

  • d-76 1:3
  • 24c
  • 12 minutes
  • Agitation first 30 seconds then once every 30 seconds

Lens used;

  • Fujinon 55mm 1:8