The Pentax Spotmatic SP 500 that is now in my arsenal was one of those second-hand finds that geeks adore. It was (and is) in pristine condition with a similarly unscathed camera bag (rigid sides, faux leather), and along with the Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8 lens, it came with a Vivitar 28mm f2.5 wide-angle lens, Vivitar 252 flash (an energy hog, but I’ll probably never use it anyway), reverse adapter, cable release, various Tiffen filters, cleaning supplies still in packaging, extra strap, camera case and body cover — and the original owner’s manual. Drool. This one clearly was the equivalent of a “gently read” first edition hardcover book: Someone enjoyed it, but rarely.
Spotmatics were manufactured by Asahi in the 60s & 70s, and for a while became a “go-to” for pros; Honeywell was the U.S. importer back then, so mine looks like this (but without the little letters floating around). It was one of the first, or maybe the first, to feature through-the-lens metering — which is exactly what it sounds like, and which became so dominant in 35mm photography that everyone forgot there were other types of metering. It also has that weighty metal body that we traditionalists love.
Look, I’ve owned a Yashica, a couple of Fujicas (because they were soooo cheap), a Canon, my brother’s Nikon for a while, our family’s old Brownies, and I had a brief fling with my sister’s long-ago Hasselblad. But I love Pentax, and I’ll snap one up whenever I find one: when I refer to “my Pentax MX” I actually mean my two Pentax MX bodies, which I keep loaded with different films and interchangeable lenses. They’re like Clydesdales: elegant workhorses, beautiful in their simplicity. Not a lotta bells & whistles. They eschew all the gadgetry and leave it up to me.
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Flora spotmatica, 1, 5, 4, 2, 3, c. 2012
Honeywell (Asahi) Pentax Spotmatic SP500, Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8 lens