Landon asked in Consumer ElectronicsCameras · 2 months ago

I’m switching from a Vivitar 400/SL. What is the best M42 mount camera you recommend that is similar to the 400/SL?

I don’t want a crazy expensive one, just a good, reliable upgrade. I was thinking about the Spotmatic, is this a good camera?

3 Answers

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  • Frank
    Lv 7
    2 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    There aren't really any M42 bodies that are "crazy" expensive, unless you start looking at some of the very first and rarest models or some of the higher-end models like the Pentax ES Super which can cost more than $125.  The rare M42 models can easily cost more than $300+.  But for the most part, $50 is about what you should expect to pay for a excellent/mint copy of a Pentax Spotmatic.  The Spotmatic is an iconic screw-mount body and since it's so popular you should have no problem finding a repair shop to fix it with cannibalized parts.  

    Unlike a DSLR, an SLR cannot have any affect on image quality.  There's nothing but air between the rear element of the lens and the surface of the film.  Using the same M42 lens on a $5 SLR and a $5,000 SLR will result in the same image quality.  

    The differences in SLRs in terms of the control that you have and how they work and how they feel in the hand are the most important bits.  Some cameras have internal meters, which lets be honest, are not likely to still be in working order, so you'll need an external light meter if you don't already have  one for your Vivitar 400/SL.  But some have mirror lock up which is critically important for those shooting macro.  Some have better ergonomics than others.  Unfortunately, you aren't able to put one of these cameras in your hands prior to buying one.  Some look "cooler" or more "retro" than others...if that sort of thing is important to you.

    The thing about Pentax's screw-mount bodies is that they were so incredibly popular and common.  Support for them (repair wise) is going to be far better than just about any other M42 SLR.

    I would take a look at the Pentax K1000 (which came in M42 and the current K mount), the Spotmatic, ES and S2.  See if you can find reviews or maybe even download a manual.  Read through the  manual and note the various features.  Then decide which camera has the features that you want or need.

  • John P
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Almost any SLR is better than a camera by Vivitar, except possibly the East German Praktica or the Russian Zenith. Indeed a Pentax Spotmatic is good, as are the early Olympus SLRs before the OM series. Fuji produced quite a good series. Vivitar used, in the 1960s and early 1970s, to be a good brand of independent lenses. Then it was taken over by Hanimex, which was the kiss death as far as quality was concerned.

    Just remember that any screw-mount SLR is over 40 years old, or nearly so.

  • 2 months ago

    The Spotmatic was a great camera - simple, reliable and robust!  But you've asked for something that's both similar and an upgrade, so I'm confused!  There's also the problem that you're asking about a camera possibly more than 50 years old - a lot will depend on how well it's been looked after.   

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