Pentax SP500

A few months ago I received an email that was sent from the donate page here on Utah Film Photography. It was a message from a local named Eric and he had a camera to donate. Fantastic! I sent him an enthusiastic message back and thanked him for his donation. After another round of email exchanges, we setup a day to meet in downtown Salt Lake City. A few days prior to our meeting, I was thinking about Eric and his last name. I haven’t included his last name in this post to keep him anonymous, here’s why. Eric has a unique last name, and it made me curious. I looked for him on Facebook, nope, not there. I looked for him on Google+, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Not there, or there, or there, or there. The last place, which should have been the first place to search, was Google. And Google knows everything. I found several online news articles that mentioned Eric and they all had the same detail in common, “Eric [last name], a Special Agent for the FBI in Salt Lake City.” This agent had received special awards and notoriety for a some very high profile cases. A few days later when I met Eric, sure enough, he stepped out of a black SUV with tinted windows. He handed me the camera and told me that his mother’s husband had recently passed away. Eric said the camera looked too nice to throw in the trash, so he decided to find someone local that would use it. I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to ask him about his profession, but it was just too interesting to pass up. I asked him, “Are you a Special Agent with the FBI?” He responded, “How did you know?” I told him about my Google search and the newspaper articles I found. Again, Google knows everything. Before we went our separate ways, I thanked him again for the camera and told him it would be put to good use. Thanks Eric for the donation, and thank you for keeping the bad guys off the streets.

The Pentax SP500 was manufactured by Asahi Optical Corporation in 1971. It was made as a budget model after its predecessor, the Pentax SP1000. What’s the difference between the SP1000 and the SP500? Nothing. The shutter speed dial on the SP500 shows the maximum shutter speed as 1/500th of a second. However, if you turn the dial one-click beyond the 500 mark on the dial, you get 1/1000th of second, making it identical to the SP1000. The camera has a match-needle exposure system that is activated by moving the switch on the left side of the camera up. This activates the CdS TTL meter, stops the viewing lens to the set aperture, and gives you a depth of field preview. I tested the SP500 with Kodak Tri-X 400 during an outdoor car show at Peach Days in Brigham City, Utah. The majority of my images were shot with the shutter speed dial set on that extra click. I’ve been told by other photographers that it may not be accurate to 1/1000th like the SP1000, but closer to 1/750th of a second. Like the Spotmatic series, the SP500 uses screwmount M42 lenses. The Super-Takmur 50mm f/2 lens is tact sharp. Overall, a great SLR that’s easy to use.

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About Shaun Nelson

Learning to shoot analog in a digital world. UtahFilmPhotography.com is dedicated to sharing information, sharing experience and sharing knowledge about film photography and vintage cameras. View all posts by Shaun Nelson

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