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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