Pentax Spotmatic 35mm
As some of you might know I have a bit of a collection of vintage cameras in the studio. The majority of them will work still with the right films (a couple 35mm, 110 and 120) but right now I’m loving this mint 35mm beauty that I bought off a friend.
The Pentax Spotmatic 35mm film camera (or “Spotty” as it is sometimes affectionately known) from Asahi was released in 1964. According to Caemerapedia, it was the first camera to sell well which had light metering built in that you saw when you looked through the lens (like you do with today’s SLR’s) and soon became the professional’s choice at the time.
Apart from the light meter, which was powered by a mercury cell battery (now illegal to use due to the environmental effects), the camera was totally mechanical and it really feels it. It’s totally solid, a cracking looking camera; lovely to hold and even better to use. Ours has the Pentax Super-Takumar 55 mm F/1.8 lens, but being the awesome M42 lens thread I also have a very beaten Russian Helios 44-2 58mm F/2 lens which is cool to use as gives mad ghosting and flares but I think this is due to it looking like it’s been through a few wars, which it quite possibly has if you saw the Zenit E it came with…I’m also after a Carl Zeiss 50mm to see what all the fuss is about over Zeiss glass…anyhow…I digress…
Being as busy as we are and being heavily involved in the digital world means that apart from our customers prints we actually tend to forget to print a lot of our own photographs of family outings, events and just random things that people take photos of. Which was the main reason for wanting to start using film again for family things, so that we’re forced to develop the films. We’re not knocking the digital age as it’s quite obviously awesome but for me there’s nothing quite like holding photographs, the feel of flicking through them knowing that this has frozen a piece of time and in some cases are the only copies of this event. I like seeing the detail in the photograph, the colours and also seeing the different types of colour rendition that various film types create….that’s the geek in me – other people just know that they like a certain style but won’t care why or how it was done. I like to know why it’s like that so I can do it again. Always learning.
Off the same friend (Alex from AF Imaging) I got 3 rolls of 10 year old Konica Minolta “Centuria 200” film and recently shot one roll on the Spotty. The film is renown for it’s lovely pastel shades and subtle film grain which you can clearly see in the scans below. In hipster terms it gives that vintage/instagram/oldie worldly type effect.
I’ve only put a few shots from this roll up as I didn’t want to bore you with home photos that are only really of interest to our family… It’s worth noting that these were all shot without the use of the light meter as the battery has long since died so were shot using just my instinct for what the settings should be. I’m hoping to find a replacement battery soon. These prints were scanned in and the only editing was to put our URL on them.
It’s definitely refreshing to shoot film again. Personally, it makes me really think about the shot I’m taking. Especially shooting without a light meter you have to think about your settings, the lighting and how that will affect the shot. All of that slows down your photography making it more human rather than just blasting away with the digital camera on auto and hoping you get the shot like I see people doing. I thought it might be a bit annoying going back to film (not being able to see the image right away – and yes I do catch myself glancing at the back of the Spotty after I’ve taken a shot sometimes….who hasn’t done this when going back to film? ). I find it exciting not knowing if you’ve nailed the shot until you get the film processed (If you’re wondering, I got this developed in 24hours at Boots for £5.99 as I’m too impatient to save a couple quid and send it away for processing).
I’m going to try one of my favourite films soon – the Ilford HP5 Plus. This particular black and white film is what I base some of our black and white edits we do in the digital realm as I love the contrast it produces. I also got given a Canon EOS SLR film camera by my Sister for Christmas which will fit ALL of our Canon EF lenses so that will be interesting to see how they work. It’s a lot more modern than the 1960’s Spotty so seeing if there is any difference in quality will be interesting.
I urge anyone who likes digital photography to shoot film from time to time and if you’re one of the few die hards left who ONLY shoot film still…then I salute you!