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My First Camera

February 04, 2022

Every photographer has a first serious camera. Sure I went through the Kodak Instamatics and the Polaroids but those cameras were little more than toys. My first serious camera was the Pentax Spotmatic with its standard lens, and the 500mm Takumar telephoto lens.

There is a story or admission about the Spotmatic. I was canoeing with a buddy at Alouette Lake in Golden Ears Provincial Park east of Vancouver, B.C. Alongside a creek leading into the lake was a rock ledge that dropped straight down into three metres of very cold glacier fed water. Well, Hans the intrepid adventurer, decided to step from the canoe onto the ledge. You can guess the rest. The canoe drifted away from the rock ledge but the rock ledge ledge itself remained stationary so Hans and his Spotmatic went into the frigid creek. I had to make a deep dive, for me, to retrieve my camera.

I dried out the camera without any special tools or chemicals, and sure enough it worked just fine. I eventually gave it to my brother and he used it for several more years.

My next camera was the Nikon F2 with the Nikkormat 58mm F1.2 (the fastest lens I've ever owned or used).


The Pentax Spotmatic refers to a family of 35mm single-lens reflex cameras manufactured by the Asahi Optical Co. Ltd., later known as Pentax Corporation, between 1964 and 1976.

All Pentax Spotmatics used the M42 screw-thread lens mount which was developed after World War II by Zeiss and Praktica. Asahi Optical used the name Takumar for their lenses. These were high-quality, progressively improved lenses, later versions of which featured multi-coating and were called Super Multi Coated Takumars.

The camera used Through The Lens (TTL) light metering, originally it was supposed to be a Spot meter but it ended up being a center-weighted meter. This camera allowed one to focus the lens at maximum aperture with a bright viewfinder image. After focusing, a switch on the side of the lens mount stopped the lens down and switched on the metering which the camera displayed with a needle located on the side of the viewfinder. The use of stop-down light metering was at the time revolutionary, but it limited the capability of the lightmeter, especially in low light situations.
Later models Spotmatic F, Electro Spotmatic, ES, and ESII were capable of open-aperture metering when used with Super Multi Coated (S-M-C) Takumar lenses with an aperture coupling prong in the lens mount.

Honeywell was the U.S. importer of the Spotmatic. Cameras officially imported by Honeywell were labeled Honeywell Pentax, instead of Asahi Pentax. The Spotmatic IIa was only available as a Honeywell Pentax; it was sold exclusively in the USA and had an electronic interface for specific Honeywell Strobon


Asahi Pentax Spotmatic


Pentax SpotmaticPentax Spotmatic

Takumar 500mm F4.5(four elements)