Saturday, May 5, 2012

Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic SPII

From it's conception, to the final model, the Spotmatic has been a staple and strong running camera that has really been one of the all-time great 35mm SLR Cameras.  This particular model, the Spotmatic SPII, was badged with the Honeywell logo, sported a pair of PC-Sync Ports (F Sync and X-Sync) as well as an X-Sync hot-shoe.  The shutter would sync at 1/60s for electronic flashes, or 1/30s for flash bulbs.
The M42 lens mount is probably the most versatile and widely used lens mount of any camera.  Whether it is an Olympus, Pentax, Praktica, Zenit, or otherwise, this lens mount has been used on so many cameras that it is a wonder it was ever stopped.  They attempted to take it a step further for open aperture metering with the M42 Electric, or M42e, lens mount, but unfortunately it was too little too late.  With cameras becoming more and more sophisticated, the manufacturer's for these cameras opted to end the reign of the M42 mount, and switched to Bayonet style mounts instead.  This leads to the K-Mount, which Pentax still uses to this day, after it was originally introduced in 1976 coinciding with the Pentax K-1000 35mm SLR.  The K-1000 uses much of the same systems and body styling as the Spotmatic, but the K mount allowed for wide-open metering, as opposed to the stop-down metering of the Spotmatic bodies.

This particular model that I have in my possession, sadly, does not have a properly functional light meter.  It is approximately 2 stops off, even with a proper battery, so I have to take it into account when I am setting my film speeds.  If it is 100ISO film, I always set the dial to 25 instead, so that I can get near correct metering from this camera.

I must admit that I have taken some phenomenal photos with this camera, not this model, but a similar model.  In fact, my ultimate all-time favorite photo was taken on my original Spotmatic.  A photo of my eldest when we went to Port Colbourne last year and he decided that he would go off and sulk because we were heading into the town from our Hotel.  He wanted to stay back and play with his cousins, but didn't realize that they were coming with us.
Needless to say, when I had the roll developed, I was so impressed with what I saw I got it printed.
It basically sums up my son in a perfect photo.  One of those photos that, no matter how hard you could try, you probably wouldn't get another one like it again.

Took the photo on the right on Polypan F 50ISO film, which wasn't easy, considering the dial only goes down to 25ASA, so I actually had to meter for 25, than add one more stop off it.
Shot it on a Pentacon 50mm ƒ/1.8 lens, which is my one, and only, M42E lens. 

Technical Specs;

Pentax Spotmatic SPII 35mm SLR
M42 Auto-Diaphragm Screwtype Lens Mount
Horizontal Travel Cloth Focal Plane Shutter X-Sync @ 1/60s M-Sync @ 1/30s
Match the Needle type Stop-Down Metering powered by a single 1.35v Mercury Battery (small button type)
Top-Mount Hot-Shoe X-Sync For Flash
2-Front mounted PC-Sync Ports (F/M Sync + X-Sync)

If you get a chance to pick up one of these cameras, I would highly recommend it.  They are a fun, and simple camera to use.  You really can't go wrong using one, and they use one of the most widely available lens system.

Keep those shutters firing!



  1. I have managed to get a few pentax cameras. They seem to be the most plentiful ones around here in the antique shops. My first find of the year was a Spotmatic F. They are all great cameras to use. I agree with your recommendation. I think all photographers should shot with one of the Spotmatics at least once in their lives.

    1. From the first photo I took with my Spotmatic to the last photo I have taken with my K-1000, these Pentax cameras have found a solid following in me. My son (4 years old) has two Pentax cameras. A PC-50 and Espio 738. I hope to one day pass down my Spotmatic SPII to him..
      It's too bad that the Spotmatic name doesn't mean it has a SPOT Meter..