Battle of the Classic Giants: Pentax Spotmatic vs. Nikon F

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Cursitor Doom, Apr 9, 2014.

  1. Hi,

    Two giants of the film SLR world of 1970. Both had their unapolagetic
    proponents. Both were used by the most famous film stars, artists,
    fashion, sports and news photographers of the day. Grand claims were
    made for the ruggedness, image quality and reliability of each by both

    But now, 44 years on and with the benefit of hindsight, which was the
    true King?
    Cursitor Doom, Apr 9, 2014
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  2. Cursitor Doom

    nospam Guest

    those were two different cameras for two different markets. nikkormats
    were more of a spotmatic competitor than the nikon f.

    however, pentax pioneered a lot of what became standard in slrs.

    they're both important cameras of their day.
    nospam, Apr 9, 2014
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  3. Cursitor Doom

    Noons Guest

    Hmmm.... They were not really direct competitors...
    But I saw a LOT more Spotmatics in the hands of amateurs than Fs.

    Only got my F in 1982. It was in a plastic bag, in pieces:
    had been flooded in an underwater housing and I got it for 50 bucks to try and repair it.
    Which I did and 1 year after, it was working as good as new!
    Amazingly, it's still with me and I still use it occasionally.
    Noons, Apr 10, 2014
  4. I remember they (Nikon) ran an ad campaign about a photojournalist
    covering the Vietnam war who got his two F's wet crossing a river on a
    mission and decided the best thing to do was keep 'em wet until he got
    back to civilisation, so he placed them both (unopened of course) in a
    bucket of water and had them transported back in that. They and the
    pictures survived just fine. Doubt you could say the same for today's
    digital cameras in the same circumstances!

    I think as our mutual friend has suggested, the Pentax was something
    of a 'poor relation' to the F to some extent, but the build quality of
    both was ***so*** much better than anything around today.
    Cursitor Doom, Apr 10, 2014
  5. I sold, serviced and used both at the time. Agreed, not directly
    comparable. The F was far more durable and far more flexible. Almost
    exclusively a working pro's camera. The Spotmatic was more pleasurable
    to use, for the tasks it could accomplish, and the lenses were equally
    good - and perhaps more consistent across the line.

    Personally, I preferred the F, though I was very happy when the F2
    premiered, and smoothed off the sharp edges of the body.
    Scott Schuckert, Apr 11, 2014
  6. Which of the F2 models would you say is today the most sought-after by
    collectors? I've seen huge variations in sale prices on fleabay.
    Cursitor Doom, Apr 11, 2014
  7. If there's any justice, it should be the F2AS with the DP-12 finder.
    Though I do see some fascination with the earlier F2SB.
    Scott Schuckert, Apr 12, 2014
  8. Cursitor Doom

    Noons Guest

    Yeah, I'd say you're spot-on. I still use my F2AS regularly, it has a
    fantastic meter. But I've got a soft spot for the F2SB.
    (and a 2nd F2 body waiting for the SB head when they drop in price in epay!)
    Noons, Apr 13, 2014
  9. I've got a Nikkor f1.4 50mm fast prime lens in superb condition
    waiting for the right classic body to come along for it.
    Interestingly, there doesn't seem to be any discernable difference in
    quality between this lens and its Pentax SMC takumar equivalent which
    I have parked alongside it to admire daily. Looks like it was
    something to do with the bodies that swung it for Nikon to be the
    choice of the serious Pro?
    Cursitor Doom, Apr 13, 2014
  10. Pretty much. Nikon had an early start on building their reputation for
    quality lenses; they also had a wider range, including some pretty
    exotic pieces. Wider range of accessories, too, including various
    interchangeable viewfinders.

    Realistically, how many people bought the 200mm Medical Nikkor, or the
    DA-1 Action Finder? Very few, but you always imagined kicking yourself,
    somewhere down the road, because you needed one and had chosen the
    "wrong" system. Matter of fact, back in the day everyone wanted to be
    selling a "System" camera - even companies whose most exotic add-on was
    an eyepiece diopter.

    The other thing was that the Nikon F, and to a somewhat lesser degree
    the F2, were almost literally bullet-proof. I kept a tired old F body
    around the shop; I'd drive nails with it if asked about durability.

    Of course, you had to hit the nails on just the right spot...
    Scott Schuckert, Apr 13, 2014
  11. Cursitor Doom

    Noons Guest

    Heh! Got one of those lenses too! Mine is AI-S and it still gets used!

    The F body had an interesting feature few folks know about:
    the shutter trigger was connected to the film winding sprocket and had a
    little red dot in it.
    One rotation of the dot was one exact frame in length and perfectly
    registered. Absolute mechanical precision!
    We could set the rewind ring without disturbing the shutter button and
    then wind back as many frames as desired to double expose any previous
    image, in perfect registration! Just counting the red dot revolutions
    did the trick. One could then wind back up to the current position by
    simply counting how many turns the red dot made! Once the rewind ring
    was reset to advance, it remained registered to the frame boundary,
    avoiding the "half-frame-shot" of so many other cameras of the era.

    I used that for double exposures in my F quite successfully. Back when
    I actually took notes of each frame taken and how! It worked like a

    I think only the F, F4 and F6 allowed for exact repositioning of any
    frame for double exposure. The F2, F3 and F5 had a double exposure
    switch but they didn't have an exact registered repositioning facility.
    Or rather: I don't know of any! Of course, one could take multiple
    exposures with them but just on the last frame shot.

    Pentax had a pro camera that I absolutely loved: the LX. It had a
    fantastic metering and prism system. I was often tempted to change to
    Pentax back then. The only reason I stayed with Nikon was the
    underwater housing I bought had an inbuilt prism and flash system that
    only fit F and F2 gear and Nikonos flashes. It was sooooo expensive I
    couldn't possibly afford to change it for a Pentax specific one.

    And then digital happened and the whole thing ended up being a moot
    exercise. Now I use a little Oly TG2 - soon to be a TG3 - that is just
    fantastic and always gets me superb results. And since I'm too old for
    deep dives, 15metres is more than enough for what I do now!
    Noons, Apr 14, 2014
  12. Cursitor Doom

    PeterN Guest

    My old Nikkormat is built like a hockey puck. And yes it still works. My
    F3 is still operational, but it doesn't feel as solid as my Nikkormat.
    My daughter "borrowed" the Nikkormat many years ago, but now both are
    nothing but well used paperweights. For some reason I can't bring myself
    to sell them. But I had no problem selling my old Rollei, and would
    happily sell my Bronica.
    PeterN, Apr 15, 2014
  13. Cursitor Doom

    PeterN Guest

    I stopped using mine when I got the D800. but it still is a nice piece
    of glass.
    I still use my old 20mm for street. It makes my camera look inconspicuous.
    PeterN, Apr 15, 2014
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