Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP

The Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP was the first in a long line of very successful Spotmatics, and is known as one of the first SLR cameras with TTL metering that actually sold well. My favorite thing about this camera is that it is the native mount for all of my beloved Takumar M-42 lenses. The Takumars are incredibly well built pieces that are as smooth as a hot knife in butter even after decades of hard use. The SP was released in 1964.

The first spotty I got was a mess. Everything worked on it but the cloth shutter curtain had mold all over it. It’s buried somewhere deep in my closet in a sealed plastic bag. Then I got the black one shown above. It works well but the previous owner tried to do a touch up paint job and it looks horrible. I would much prefer to just see the brassing and may even try to remove the touch up paint at some point. My third spotty was the one shown above with the silver finish. It looks really nice and I may send it in for a thorough CLA when I’m back in the U.S. next year.

I’ve taken a few photos with each camera and they here are here.

I’ve added photos of a bunch of M42 lenses. Some of these are older than me but the focus rings are still buttery smooth like the day they were made.

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9 Responses to Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP

  1. kenneth says:

    I am trying, without too much success to find a really- really nice one of these, black or chrome either is fine and any of the Spotmatics and Super Takumar lenses various

    • revdocjim says:

      At the local stores here in Tokyo there are rows and rows of these but most are in very poor condition. Common problems include messed up shutter especially at slow shutter speeds, sticky mirrors, horizontal line through the viewfinder, moldy curtain, etc. But the guy who worked on my ESII (pentaxs.com) can completely re-work an old spotty and make it good as new for a very reasonable price.

      • Thierry LE GUENNEC says:

        Spotmatic sticky mirrors are very easy to cure most of the time. I just followed KRG ‘s tips (that’s “trucs” in french, him being a “french Spotmatic fan”) and my Spot 1000 and my ES II (both in deep trouble) went back to life at once. 1 ) Unscrew the baseplate 4 screws . 2) Lubricate with a VERY tiny drop of oil the axle of the cog (see krg photos). 3) Fire the camera at all shutter speeds and especially on slow speeds. 4) If mirror return is not constant ? Try another “mini drop” of oil on that bloody axle ! 5) Put back the baseplate in place “if and when” everything runs smooth. 6) I ‘ll bet your Spotty is then alive and kicking for the next 50 years . A “spotless Spotmatic” “jammed because of sticky mirror” costs nowadays 10 or less € here in France at garage sales or on “Le Bon Coin”. I’m about to service one next week (Spotmatic 1000 + Takumar 1,8 55 mm) bought them for 20 €… I don’t do it for money but for fun and out of respect for a hell of an outstanding camera: Spotmatic are stylish, sturdy, iconic…

    • Tom says:

      Hi Kenneth, I purchased one of these with a Takumar f1.4 lens for $60 Canadian from a lady who lost her husband to cancer. The camera and lens are in terrific shape. I guess in his later years he didn’t do much photography. When I opened the back there was a roll of film not quite used up. I am in the process of having Camera Works Barrie look at it to make sure it is fully functional. They are still out there, keep looking. The action is still silky smooth. Good Luck, Tom

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  5. Metti says:

    Hello there. I just stumbled on this page today. Since I also live in Japan, I could really relate to the photos. I especially like the B&W ones.
    It’s a bit funny that after going digital to Pentax from Canon, I’m going back to Pentax for analog. Spotmatic was my choice. I have the SP versions as well. Both are chrome : One early and one late. With some cosmetic differences, they both are mechanically similar. The early one needed some cleaning, but the late one was almost mint. The meters are spot on. Mechanics smooth. Being still usable after 45 to 50 years of use is plain phenomenal. Hats off to the engineers at Asahi who did a fantastic job. My plethora of Takumar lenses match up well whith these Spotmatics.
    I’ve been shooting mostly color, but your B&W photos inspired me to give B&W some serious consideration.
    I believe those who started photography with digital have no idea what photography is all about. Let them be.

  6. revdocjim says:

    Metti, glad you are enjoying your SP. They are fun cameras indeed. To be honest though, when shooting film I almost always pick up one of my medium format cameras these days so the 35mm stuff is feeling a bit lonely on the shelf. I shoot B&W film for the joy of home developing and also because it forces me to look at things very differently, focusing more on light than color. But when shooting landscapes I use slide film and send it out for development.

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