I'm gonna get a bit of camera geekery out of the way and walk you through the controls and features of the Spotmatic F and then we'll get in to the more important business of sharing some images taken with it.
The controls are well laid out - there's a shutter control dial (pictured below left) which incorporates ISO setting and next to that is the film advance lever which is well positioned and ergonomically curved with a smooth action and quick return so it's easy to rattle off a few shots in quick succession, on the opposite side of the camera is the film rewind lever and a helpful dial which you can set with details of the film loaded (B&W, Colour, Tungsten number of frames on the loaded film) this is just visual guide in case you forget what film you've loaded it doesn't control any settings in the camera.
The thing that sets the 'F' model apart from other cameras of it's age is that it also includes the ability to use 'open aperture metering' when used with Pentax own branded lenses (which are in themselves legendary) this means that it can be used as an Aperture Priority camera thanks to the the built in light meter - what's that? Yawnsville Arizona you say??! how VERY dare you! I'll have you know that this was ground breaking stuff back in the day!! ;)
On mine the meter is slightly out of whack by a couple of stops so I usually use my iphone light meter app to double check exposure and then just correct it whilst im shooting. If you wanted to use non brand M42 mount lenses on this camera you can do but without the open aperture function - in the second image from the right (above) you can see on the side of the lens mount a switch which you can use to activate the stop down metering function.
Looking through the viewfinder the classic simplicity continues - you get an elector mechanical needle read out on the right hand side which tells you if you are under/over exposing the scene and a focus screen with a circular etched centre to allow you to visually check focus and that's it! nothing else to clutter the view and get in the way of your eye and the subject - lovely!
They just don't make em like this anymore....it's as silky smooth to operate as the day it was made (although obviously I have no way of double checking that unless i can literally go back in time - maybe it was even silkier and smoother back then). The design is simple with classically understated clean lines which I like very much but it's the superb construction, fine handling and top notch build quality that really sets it apart from the crowd.
I picked mine up for a measly £30 on evilbay which included the amazing Pentax SMC 55mm 1.8 lens and is therefore a complete bargain!! the low price was due to the very visible dent on the prism viewfinder casing but it doesn't affect the use of the camera so whilst it would be nice to have a mint copy I don't want to pay £100 for one! it is otherwise in mint condition though and mechanically excellent with a very satisfying 'schtick' shutter sound.
t's so nice to use that in the first couple of weeks of owning it I burned my way through 8 rolls of film which is something i haven't done before with any of my film cameras (and probably won't again as it's a very dear doo) but the Spotmatic F is such an enjoyable camera to use that it kind of makes you want to shoot more and more!
It's a little heavier than my OM2n and whilst it's only a bit of a difference after a day lugging it round you do notice so on long hauls I would probably go with the Olympus if only for it being so light - the reason that the Pentax is heavier is becuase it hails from a time when no expense was spared on the internal moving parts of the camera which are therefore predominantley brass as opposed to the plastic of the slightly later OM2n so whilst it adds weight it also adds to the smooth handling and feeling of quality.
The lenses are totally amazing also - i was dimmly aware prior to purchasing the camera that the 'Takumar' range of lenses were very highly regarded by the internet (which in real terms means basically nowt most of the time) but I am very happy to report that it is indeed true! these are very very very good lenses - so much so that I very very very quickly added a 135mm 3.5 lens and a 35mm 3.5 AND most i just the other day added the almost legendary 50mm 1.4 lens to my collection. So yeah I could probably pontificate on the pentax's perfect performance inperpetuity - but leaving my alliterative allusions aside...I won't - I'll save the lenses their own mini reviews for a future date as I'd like to get them involved in some digital action with the old SONY NEX3n as well.
So in summary then I flipping well LOVE this camera it is quite firmly on my list of cameras that I would never part with, it's a very well made and very simple camera with no bells and whistles, it just does what you need it to do without getting in the way which is what all the best cameras should do, if you have the chance to try one or even better own one then I heartily recommend you do it!
All of these images were shot on a visit to Brighton earlier this year on the Pentax Spotmatic F (of course) on Fomapan 200 and Ilford FP4 film (except for the one below which is Fuji Acros 100) and using either a Chinon 35mm 2.8 or an SMC Pentax 55mm 1.8 lens.