The more I shoot indoors the more I feel the need for a 1.4 normal lens. So when looking around the auction sites for either a Mamiya/Sekor or SMC Takumar, of course I stumbled on this beauty instead:
A Pentax ESII with an S-M-C 50mm f/4 macro lens? Yes, please. The starting bid was pretty fair, assuming you wanted both items and not just one, but I can’t imagine many people wanting to pay more. I don’t always agree with everything Ken Rockwell says, but when it comes to bidding on Ebay, we’re practically on the same paragraph of the same page, though my SOP is modified somewhat. If it’s something that I’d like but either I can’t be there for the end of the auction or am a little bit on the fence still, I put in a low bid, say exactly what the starting price is. If someone else wants it, then it wasn’t meant to be and my bid won’t drive up the price by more than $0.50, and if no one else bids, then it must have been fated to be mine.
Well, the camera wasn’t quite as functional as the descriptions led me to believe. It’s taken a couple bad hits it appears: the lens has a few dents on the filter ring (to be fair, I saw these from the photos and it shouldn’t be too hard to fix though I haven’t tried yet), the mirror stuck in the Up position every time you advance film, the automatic functions didn’t work, and the film door didn’t close properly. The film door wasn’t too big of a problem, it took some hammering and seems better now; I suppose shooting a roll through it will tell for sure. The mirror and auto exposure problems though, I wasn’t too happy about those and would need to get them fixed.
I certainly wanted both the lens and the body, and hate the idea of paying return shipping, so I wrangled a deal with the seller getting half my money back, figuring I’d be putting that money toward a full CLA from my local camera store (God knows how much it would cost though, with the mirror and AE problems; they couldn’t give me an estimate over the phone). Still, I hate spending money I don’t have to, so I started looking around the internet for a more cost-effective alternative and was able to find the information I needed. I’m hardly a techie, not very electronics-savvy, it’s always frightened me to do anything more than very basic repairs; my crowning achievement was being able to change out the pinch roller on my cassette portastudio. Compared to that, this was a breeze. It’s really not that hard. You can do it, I promise.
Anyone with a Spotmatic problem where the mirror sticks in the Up position, check out this helpful tutorial. If anyone is interested, I used trumpet valve oil (Al Cass is my brand of choice) administered with a Qtip and toothpick.
The AE problem was even simpler: pushing the shutter is supposed to trigger the light meter, but it wasn’t making contact and because of this, I wasn’t getting but one shutter speed in Automatic mode. It’s actually the same problem mentioned here, but I only found this later. Epoxy is a very nice solution! I just used tweezers to bend the contacts until they were back in proper alignment and wrapped the thing in electrical tape.
With that though, I now have a fully-functioning Pentax ESII to add to my ever-growing M42 collection. It took all of half an hour to fix.