This guide will show you how to load film into your Pentax Spotmatic and how to make sure the camera is functioning properly. If this is your first time using your Pentax Spotmatic, make sure to read through the before you load film section.
There are many different versions of the Spotmatic. Loading and unloading all of the different Spotmatic versions is the same.
Before You Load Film
Check the Battery
The Pentax Spotmatic has a mechanical shutter so it will work without a battery. However, a battery is required to use the built-in light meter.
The earlier version of the Spotmatic used an RM400 battery, which is no longer available. Later versions like the Spotmatic F shown in the pictures uses a 625A battery, which can easily be found in stores and online.
Make Sure There is No Film Loaded in the Camera
If there is any film left in the camera, it will be ruined if it is exposed to light. The Pentax Spotmatic does not have a way to see if film is currently loaded in the camera.
To check if there is film in the camera, follow the same steps on how to rewind and remove the film from the Pentax Spotmatic. This is the same process you'll follow once you've shot all the exposures on the roll of film you're loading.
Make Sure the Pentax Spotmatic Functions Correctly
If your Pentax Spotmatic has not been used in a long time or if it is your first time using the camera, check to make sure the camera is functioning correctly before loading film.
Make sure you are able to cock the shutter with the film advance lever and the shutter fires when you press the shutter release. There is a shutter release lock, so make sure the lock is off if you cannot depress the shutter release button. Change the shutter speeds and you should be able to hear a difference in the length of time the shutter is open.
Do Not Load Film in Sunlight
You can ruin your film by loading it in direct sunlight or bright light.
Bright light increases the risk of light piping. When this happens light is able to penetrate through the light seal on the 35mm film canister.
The film is not guaranteed to be completely ruined. You could end up with varying degrees of fogging.
Fogging can produce a range of undesirable outcomes such as a loss of contrast, blown out streaks, or a completely exposed frame. If this problem occurs it should subside with progressive frames.
For Best Results, Use Fresh Film
Film degrades in quality over time. It should also not be exposed to hot temperatures like those in a car on a sunny day or attic during summer.
Expired film can be used, but you are not guaranteed predictable performance.
For the best results, use a fresh pack of film that is not expired. My recommendations are:
Step-by-Step How to Load Film
Time needed: 1 minute.
How to load film into the Pentax Spotmatic. For demonstration purposes, I am using a roll of film that has been exposed.
- Open the film door.
To open the film door on the Pentax Spotmatic, pull up on the film rewind knob. This will cause the film door to pop open. Leave the film rewind knob in the raised position.
- Load the 35mm film canister.
Load the film canister into the camera. Take note of the orientation of the film leader. The film leader is the half-width cutout at the start of the film roll.
- Push the film rewind knob back down.
The rewind knob has prongs that fit into the film canister. This keeps the film canister in place and is used to rewind the film.
You may need to turn the film rewind knob a small amount to get the prongs to align correctly with the film canister.
- Insert the film leader into the take-up spool.
Gently pull the film leader over to the take-up spool. Thread the film leader into one of the slots in the take-up spool.
- Use the film advance lever to take out the slack.
Using the film advance lever will pull the film taught so that the film door can be closed. It will also allow you to be sure that the film leader will not slip out of the take-up spool.
Alternatively, you can fold out the film rewind lever and gently wind the film back into the canister.
- Close the film door.
Carefully close the film door.
- Advance the film and fire the shutter.
Fire the shutter and advance the film several times until the frame counter is on the first frame. If the shutter will not fire, make sure the shutter button lock is not engaged.
Pay attention to the film rewind knob. It should turn when you are advancing the film. If it does not turn, the film is likely not loaded correctly.
- Set the ISO (ASA) on the camera.
To set the ISO for the film you are using, pull up on the outer ring of the shutter speed dial. You can then rotate to select the correct ISO. This is important so that the built-in light meter will give correct readings.
- Set film type. (Optional)
There is a dial under the film rewind knob that will allow you to set information about the film loaded into the Spotmatic. The design varies by the version of the camera. I find them difficult to turn due to dust getting inside and so do not bother using them.
- You're ready to take photographs.
Congratulations! Your camera is now correctly loaded with film and ready to shoot.
Once you've shot the roll of film, check out this guide that will show you how to unload film from the Pentax Spotmatic.
Where to develop film? You can do it at home, or send it off to a lab to be developed and scanned.
How to Know When a Roll of Film is Done?
The film roll is used up when you are no longer able to easily crank the film advance lever. Never force the film advance lever as you could rip the end of film out of the canister or damage the camera.
This usually aligns with the number of exposures the roll contains that can be seen on the film counter. Most rolls of film will have either 24 or 36 exposures.
You should then rewind the film back into the 35mm canister. To do this, flip out the film rewind knob lever and press the film spool lock button on the bottom of the camera. You'll then be able to rewind the film back into the canister.