Fujica ST801 vs Pentax Spotmatic F

Discussion in 'Pentax' started by Siddhartha Jain, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. The "F" is supposedly better built and more easily serviceable. The
    ST801 is supposed to have a brighter viewfinder and LED meter that is
    usable in the night. What other pros and cons to each of the cameras?


    - Siddhartha
    Siddhartha Jain, Dec 22, 2005
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  2. The serviceability is important. In a camera that old, you will need to
    replace the seals and do a CLA if it has not been done.

    The F is an unusual camera among ones that took mercury batteries,
    it will keep it's meter calibration with a silver-oxide or alkeline

    The downside to the F that I see is that they are getting rare. While one
    that looks new will always command top dollar, less than perfect ones
    will become to valuable to use.

    If you can live with stop down metering, which screw mount lenses need
    anyway, you should consider the current production Cosina. It will never
    be a classic like the Spotmatic, but it will work and is relatively cheap.

    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Dec 22, 2005
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  3. Both were unable to mount some (typically German, i.e. Zeiss Jena)
    lenses. Also - IIRC - a Vivitar 17mm wouldn't mount either (lens barrel
    gets caught on the full-aperture metering tabs).
    Chris Loffredo, Dec 22, 2005
  4. Siddhartha Jain

    Nick Zentena Guest

    Or buy an older Cosina. Some of the ones from the late 70s early 80s are
    nice. Almost free to since no one will pay for the name -)

    Nick Zentena, Dec 22, 2005
  5. And why are the Cosinas so lowly regarded?

    - Siddhartha
    Siddhartha Jain, Dec 22, 2005
  6. Could only find two K-mount Cosinas on ebay :(

    - Siddhartha
    Siddhartha Jain, Dec 22, 2005
  7. They were cheap and cheaply made. Cosina took over the Voightlander name and
    turned their cheap SLR into a finderless camera that took Leica screw mount
    lenses. That evolved into a decent rangefinder camera and a screw mount

    Along the way, they refit their SLR into several different low end Nikon
    and one Olumpus camera none of which had the build quality of Nikon
    or Olympus made cameras. See the previous discussion on the Nikon FM10
    for more comments about those cameras.

    Over the last few years they have found their market niche to be good quality
    cameras at 2-3 times the price of what they sold their bottom of the
    line cameras.

    The last review I read of any of their products was for a screw mount,
    stop down meter only camera. It was released at the same time as a
    recreation of a wonderful for its time Topcon designed lens in a screw

    Seemed to be a good combination. A big step up from the under $200 with lens
    Cosina cameras of a few years ago, in both price and quality.

    Anyone out there actually have one? How about a quick review?

    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Dec 22, 2005
  8. Siddhartha Jain

    Guest Guest

    The "F" came with different focus screens, some brighter than others and
    they are easy to service which makes it possible to have the screen
    changed to one you like. I don't know much about the ST801 but my
    Spotmatic is very solid build and even after dropping it more than once
    on hard surfaces it has survived.
    Guest, Dec 22, 2005
  9. Siddhartha Jain

    Jeremy Guest

    The F featured a meter that was activated by the removal of the lens cap.

    I use lens shades all the time, and capping the lens to turn the power drain
    off requires that I remove the lens shade, then replace it when I'm ready to
    resume shooting.

    I much prefer the combination meter switch/stop down lever that was used on
    the SP, and SPII/IIa. The meter on the ES/ES-II was activated by lightly
    pressing the shutter button. That worked all right, but the ES-II featured
    a locking mechanism on the shutter button, to prevent it from being
    inadvertently pressed. The earlier ES featured no such button.

    When I bought my first SP-F in 1975 I thought that the full-aperture
    metering and automatic activation of the meter were a big deal. No more. I
    find my SP-IIa, with its switchable meter, to be less of a nuisance. And I
    really find stop-down metering to be no problem. I shoot mainly static
    objects and I don't require full aperture metering--I have the time to set
    up the shots without being concerned about shooting quickly.

    I would have no qualms about recommending a SP-II/IIa to anyone over the
    SP-F, if full aperture metering is not a concern. The only things that were
    upgraded in the "F" were:

    1: Locking mechanism on shutter button
    2: Full aperture metering
    3: Meter activation by taking off the lens cap, with no need to use the
    meter switch. That switch was used only for stopping down.
    4: The "F" took a different battery than the previous Spotmatics.

    Everything else was the same. The "F" commands a premium over the "II/IIa,"
    even on today's used market, but it doesn't seem to be worth it, at least to
    I know nothing of the 801, so I can't offer any input on that camera.
    Jeremy, Dec 22, 2005
  10. Siddhartha Jain

    Jeremy Guest

    My understanding is that Asahi/Pentax never licensed their full aperture
    meter coupling system to any other camera manufacturer, and Cosina was
    unable to incorporate it when they introduced the TM body.

    They argue that this makes it possible to mount virtually any brand of M42
    lens, but that seems a bit hollow, because Pentax M42 bodies could mount any
    other screwmount lenses, except a mere handful whose rear element protruded
    back far enough to interfere with the reflex mirror.
    Jeremy, Dec 22, 2005
  11. Siddhartha Jain

    DunxUK Guest

    Thw build quality of Fujicas is high, you should find them every bit as
    serviceable as Pentaxes. The ST801 isn't an ideal choice for me; it is
    set up for open aperture metering so stop-down metering is a little
    more awkward than usual, you would want to fit its own lenses. However
    I'd happily use one! Should take the 50mm F1.4 SMC Takumar too, my
    ST605 does. Good luck!
    DunxUK, Dec 22, 2005
  12. Many - over half - of my (non Pentax) lenses couldn't be mounted on an
    ES & ESII as well as on a Fujica ST801.

    These include some of my favorite lenses (not to put Pentax down in any

    The decision to not copy the Pentax full aperture meter coupling seems
    to be a good choice after all.
    Chris Loffredo, Dec 22, 2005
  13. The 801 uses batteries that are currently available, which eliminates
    an ongoing annoyance with the Spot F - especially since the F doesn't
    have a meter switch. The F does work reasonably well with off voltage
    replacements, though

    Lenses for full-aperture metering are scarce for either - but scarcer
    for the ST801. Latching the aperture closed for stop-down metering is a
    pain for either, but the Spotmatic is a least a slide and not a twist.

    Me, I like the 801. The better finder does it for me.
    Scott Schuckert, Dec 22, 2005
  14. That's sort of a misstatement. The F works properly with any battery
    around 1.5 volts that fits. So 1.35 volt mercury battery, a 1.56 volt
    alkeline or a 1.5 volt silver oxide all work properly.

    Most cameras meter by combining a resistive photocell and a known resistance
    and that combination is what moves the meter. Let's say that at enough light
    to require 1/125 at f16 the photocell lets through 1.28 volts from a 1.35
    volt battery and the meter requires .1 volts to center. So we have to have
    enough resistance provided by the camera to drop the voltage 1.17 volts.
    This is done by combining resistive elements for the shutter, apeture
    (if it is a full apeture metering system) and film speed.

    Now you can see the problem. A mercury battery is 1.35 volts from the day
    it is made until almost the day it dies. No voltage regulation is needed.
    The same with silver oxide batteries, so theoreticaly, if you added enough
    resistance to lower the voltage from the battery through the circuit to
    equal the previous combination you could get it to work with silver oxide

    The alkeline batteries don't have the same property. They start
    out at 1.56 volts and decline gradualy to around 1.2 volts before becoming

    Pentax, however did not use the same design. They used a more expensive
    bridge circut the compares the difference between the output of the photocell
    and the resistance from the combined film speed, apeture and shutter settings.
    The disadvantage was cost. Not only does it have a few more components,
    but the meter instead of reading 0 to 1.35 volts or something like that,
    will have to read a zero at the center with positive and negative flows
    moving the needle in proportion and oposite directions.

    The advantage is that any reasonably close battery will work without

    AFIK no other camera uses this system.

    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Dec 22, 2005
  15. Siddhartha Jain

    Tony Polson Guest

    Full aperture metering is available on the Spotmatic F and ESII models
    with SMC Takumar lenses. It isn't available on the Cosina M42 bodies.
    Tony Polson, Dec 22, 2005
  16. Siddhartha Jain

    Peter Chant Guest

    Scott Schuckert wrote:

    My Uncle's got one of the Screw mount Fujicas. I managed to find a 28mm
    Tamron Adaptal with the Fujica adapter. There seem to be far more Adaptal
    lenses than screw Fujicas.

    Assuming you get lucky and find an adapter...
    Peter Chant, Dec 23, 2005
  17. I only had the ST801 briefly; I quickly got rid of it when I found I
    couldn't use my favourite lenses with it. In that brief time, I wasn't
    especially struck by its handling or any other feature.

    The spotmatics, on the other hand, are very sweet cameras: Dependable
    and handle very nicely.
    You might consider an earlier Spotmatic to insure lens compatibility. If
    you do want FA metering, you have a vastly wider choice of Pentax lenses
    than Fuji.
    Chris Loffredo, Dec 23, 2005
  18. I don't own any Fujica lenses. What I have is a Pentax Super Takumar
    50mm f1.4, a Mamiya-Sekor 60mm f2.8 Macro and a Jupiter 200mm f4. So I
    guess I won't be using 801's open aperture metering and will have to
    use the stop-down metering itself. What interests me in the 801 is the
    brighter viewfinder and 1/2000sec max shutter speed.

    - Siddhartha
    Siddhartha Jain, Dec 23, 2005
  19. Siddhartha Jain

    DunxUK Guest

    ...except the Fujica of course...
    DunxUK, Dec 23, 2005
  20. OK... Hold in mind that even on a recently calibrated ST801 that's
    going to be more like 1/1600 to 1/1800. That's the best mine have ever
    done. But I do really like the finder.
    Scott Schuckert, Dec 23, 2005
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