The Pentax SPII or Spotmatic II is a well built mechanical SLR and because it uses the ubiquitous M42 thread for its lens mount there are a multitude of old lenses that can be used with it. You could try to find a solution for the fact that it originally used 1.35V mercury cell batteries including using newer 1.5V silver batteries but I personally don’t even bother with a battery. With its completely mechanical shutter you can measure with a hand held meter or digital camera and then just set the aperture and shutter speed as needed.
The Spotmatic cameras are minimalist in their design but also very attractive in my opinion.
In my previous post Contax G1 I talked about this camera and its features and operation. I can sum that up in two words ‘flawed beauty’. Although a fantastic camera by many measures there were a few issues that bothered me particularly the focusing and the small viewfinder. If I’m going to use a rangefinder I much prefer a larger viewfinder, that said the technical reasons for the small viewfinder (being able to adjust to different focal lengths) are understandable, it is more complex in itself than many entire cameras.
All this is forgiven when you factor in the lenses such as the 45mm f2 (6 elements in 4 groups) which is just incredible. The camera is a technological tour de force but perhaps trying to be all things at once it detracts from the essence of photography. Don’t get me wrong maybe what is needed is more time shooting with it but it comes across for me as a very large point and shoot with fantastic lenses. An incredibly well made beautiful feature rich really big point and shoot…..okay there was nothing else like this camera at the time and maybe it shouldn’t be compared to anything.
I loaded some Kodak Portra 400 into my trusty Pentax Z1p and took it with me on a trip into the Cariboo region of British Columbia. I’ve always tried to stay away from using 400 ISO film in daylight but this is touted as being extremely fine-grained so I relented. Technical details can be seen in Kodak Technical Publication e4050 . The film was upgraded in 2010 using technology previously used in the Vision motion picture line of film but I don’t have any samples from the previous formulation to compare, the film in its current state though is incredibly versatile. It costs me about $8 per roll vs $5.50 for Ektar so with Ektar being yet even finer grained it’s not a replacement for that film. compared to Fuji Superia 400, Portra 400 has a much tighter grain and less colour mottling and seems to have a much smoother tonal range.
Here are a couple of 100% crops from the film so you can see for your self. The negatives were scanned at 3200 DPI and would provide 11×14″ prints at 300DPI. From a normal viewing distance the grain would be visible but not unpleasantly so. With a very slight amount of processing in Lightroom this grain could be greatly reduced if that is what you wanted, I don’t.
Here are more images I hope you enjoy. On a side note I refered to Kodak’s Vision film earlier and I’ve purchased 4 rolls of Cine Still Film 800 Tungsten which is motion picture film processed and packaged for still photography I’m really looking forward to trying it out.
To go along with my previous post about Kodak Portra 800 here are some more images from my first roll.
As much as I’ve always loved shooting slides the extra costs involved have limited my use of it. The choice will soon be even easier as the slide film available dwindles. Kodak of course has exited that business and Fuji has a limited selection. So almost every time I shoot using positive film in the back of my mind is that this may be the final time. In this case I shot Kodak E100Vs positive film. VS stands for vivid saturation so as you might expect the colours are vivid and saturated (That really was the best I could come up with) I had the film in my Pentax PZ1p for several months so there is a variety of scenery amongst the images. Despite the roll being 36 frames the shots are limited in number as my more personal ones are not included, but I am as pleased with those as well.
Some more images from the Kodak Retina IIIC. It is a great camera which makes it all the more of a shame that the 50mm lens has damage. And look I managed to sneak in another blossom image.
When you shoot film you tend to try to make every exposure count, at least more than with digital. These images are from the same 36 exposure roll of Ektar 100 that I used for testing the camera.