Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP 500

35mm MF film SLR camera

Specification

Production details
Announced:April 1971
Also known as:Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic SP 500
System: Asahi Pentax M42 (1957)
Imaging plane
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:M42 [45.5mm]
Imaging plane:36 × 24mm film
Shutter
Type:Focal-plane
Model:Mechanical
Speeds:1 - 1/500 + B
Exposure
Exposure metering:Through-the-lens (TTL)
Exposure modes:Manual
Physical characteristics
Weight:820g
Dimensions:143x92x88mm

Manufacturer description #1

If you've got an eye for great results, but your budget is a bit on the slim side, then this is a camera you should consider.

It has classic Pentax craftsmanship and design, plus most of the features of the Spotmatic II - at a lower price.

The world's best full-format through-the-Iens metering system makes good exposures fast and easy. Trim styling, conveniently located controls, precise handling and the naturally good "feel" unmistakably identify this camera as a member of the Honeywell Pentax family of fine photography.

The Honeywell Pentax SP 500 is equipped with a 55mm f/2.0 Super-Takumar lens. Top shutter speed is 1/500. And there is no self-timer.

Manufacturer description #2

This is the Pentax SP 500 - another proud member of the world-famous Pentax family whose name has become synonymous with design innovations and precision craftsmanship in 35mm single-lens-reflex cameras.

When the first Pentax Spotmatic was introduced to the public at the 1960 PHOTOKINA, the world's largest photographic fair, in Cologne, Germany, it attracted the instant and close attention of photographers and photographic engineers alike. Not available for purchase at that time, it was a model of the advanced design and features that would be incorporated into cameras of the future. Pentax cameras and other brands as well.

Several years of extensive research preceded its introduction, and four more years of research and experimentation followed before the meticulous Pentax engineers and technicians felt the camera was truly ready. At last, in late 1964, it reached the eager hands of serious amateur and professional photographers around the world. Like that early Spotmatic, Asahi Pentax SP 500 is a computer camera. Hidden within its body, its unique, behind-the-lens exposure meter utilizes two highly sensitive Cadmium Sulphide sensors to accurately measure the light gathered by the camera's lens as it is reflected from the subject being photographed. Therefore, by measuring the light as it passes through the lens and matching the exposure needle as seen through the viewfinder, you can be assured of properly exposed pictures under all but the most impossible lighting conditions. Whether you're using special, macro- or microphotographic lenses, telephoto lenses, or simply filters on normal lenses, Asahi Pentax SP 500 will give you correctly exposed photographs without the use of external meters or the need for difficult, time-consuming exposure calculations!

SP 500 may also be set manually the same as any other quality 35mm camera if special lighting or selective focus effects are desired. Just leave the exposure meter switch in its OFF position and select the f/stop and speed settings for the desired effect.

The traditional classic design and simple elegance associated with earlier models of the famous Pentax have been retained in the SP 500 despite the incorporation of many highly advanced features and many internal improvements that have been developed over the years.

Like the other members of the Pentax family, the Asahi Pentax SP 500 has a 42mm threaded lens mount that accepts any of the superb Takumar lenses from the ultra-wide-angle 17mm Takumar to the super-telephoto 1000mm Takumar, a wide range of optics that will satisfy the demands of even the most critical professional.

Moreover, the list of fine accessories is always growing - to help you keep growing photographically.

***

TYPE: 35mm single-lens reflex with built-in light meter.

FILM AND PICTURE SIZE: 35mm film (20 or 36 exposures). 24mm x 36mm.

SHUTTER: Focal plane shutter, with single non-rotating dial. Speeds: B, 1-1/500 sec. Film speed (ASA) setting dial and window on shutter speed dial. Shutter curtains of special rubberized silk.

WARNING SIGNAL: The index of shutter speeds turns to red when the shutter and film speed settings are off the meter's measurability range.

FINDER: Pentaprism finder with microprism Fresnel lens for instant focusing; approximately life-size magnification with 55mm lens.

FOCUSING: Turn the distance scale ring until the subject image on the ground glass comes into focus.

REFLEX MIRROR: Instant return type with special shock absorbers for minimum vibrations.

FILM ADVANCE: Ratchet-type rapid wind lever (for film advance and shutter cocking). 10 deg. pre-advancing and 160 deg. advancing angle.

'COCKED' INDICATOR: A red disc appears in a small window alongside the shutter release button when the shutter is cocked, and blacks out when it is released.

FILM EXPOSURE COUNTER: Automatic re-set type.

LENS MOUNT: 42mm threaded lens mount.

FLASH SYNCHRONIZATION: Equipped with FP and X flash terminals. Electronic synchronization at 1/60 sec.

EXPOSURE METER: Built-in meter measures the brightness of the ground glass, and couples directly to shutter and film speed settings. Film speed (ASA) setting ranges from 20 to 1600 (LV1-18 for ASA-100 film with standard lens). Meter is powered with a mercury battery.

FILM REWIND: Rapid rewind crank for speedy film take-up. Film rewind release button on bottom of camera body rotates while film is being rewound.

LOADED FILM INDICATOR: Loaded film reminder dial underneath film rewind knob is marked "PANCHRO" (black-and-white), "COLOR" and "EMPTY".

From the editor

The weight and dimensions are indicated for the camera body with the standard lens mounted.

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35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm
  • Area: 864mm2

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Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.

Format

Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),

where:

CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.

Mount

A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance can also be different.

The flange focal distance (FFD) is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.

Speed

The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Electronic manual focus override is performed in the following way: half-press the shutter button, wait until the camera has finished the autofocusing and then focus manually without releasing the shutter button using the focusing ring.

Manual diaphragm

The diaphragm must be stopped down manually by rotating the detent aperture ring.

Preset diaphragm

The lens has two rings, one is for pre-setting, while the other is for normal diaphragm adjustment. The first ring must be set at the desired aperture, the second ring then should be fully opened for focusing, and turned back for stop down to the pre-set value.

Semi-automatic diaphragm

The lens features spring mechanism in the diaphragm, triggered by the shutter release, which stops down the diaphragm to the pre-set value. The spring needs to be reset manually after each exposure to re-open diaphragm to its maximum value.

Automatic diaphragm

The camera automatically closes the diaphragm down during the shutter operation. On completion of the exposure, the diaphragm re-opens to its maximum value.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/ on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.

Weight

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front and/or rear lens elements over multi-coatings.

Filters

Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.

Teleconverters

Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.