Vintage Camera collection – Pentax ME Super with SMC Pentax M 50mm f/2.0

I picked up this Pentax ME Super for a very reasonable £15 from ebay uk because the seller thought it may be broken. He sold it as ‘spares or repair’ because the ‘plate behind the film has lines on’. I took this to mean the shutter and I took a gamble that it was probably ok because I know my Pentax P30 has similar ‘lines’ on – the shutter is not a cloth which rolls up, but a metal shutter  made of individual pieces which are held together with the bands which the seller was describing.

As it turned out the gamble paid off because the camera seems to function perfectly, although it is a bit scruffy and dirty. The biggest mark is a large gash on the front of the camera next to the ‘ME super’ markings, which are themselves quite worn and faint. One of the strap connectors has lost some chrome, and the back of the camera has also lost some paint, but considering the price, it’s not bad.

The lens looks to be pretty good – the focus ring has a point in its travel where it has a very slight increase in resistance, but it doesn’t detract from focusing the camera, and in every other way it performs as expected. It’s a slight shame that it’s the f/2 version of the lens rather than the f/1.7 which was also one of the supplied kit lens with this camera, but I can always use the lens from my P30 if I need the extra 1/2 stop.

Included with the camera was a Chinon S-250 zoom flash which will join my small collection of cheap and cheerful electronic flashes, which have all been included with various cameras I’ve bought from ebay.

My first impressions of the camera are that it is really quite small and light. It is quite a bit smaller than my SP1000 spotmatic and noticeably smaller than my Miranda Sensorex (admittedly quite a large unit). It would certainly be more comfortable to carry around all day than one of the larger SLR’s.

Exposure System

This camera offers aperture priority automatic exposure as well as manual exposure. The control layout is very simple, because there is just one rotary control and a couple of push buttons. With the rotary control you set the exposure mode – either ‘Auto’, M, 125X or B which are Aperture priority auto, Manual mode, 1/125 sec flash sync or Brief time. The two push buttons adjust the shutter speed in manual mode. When I first received the camera I thought the mode dial was broken – I couldn’t turn it at all and assumed this was the reason the ebay seller had sold it as faulty. An internet search revealed that the small white button on the mode dial has to be pushed in order to turn the dial. Once I knew that it was pretty obvious, but when I first looked at it I just thought the white dot was a position marker rather than a button.

The modes the camera offers are fairly obvious, but the 125X has an additional function in that it is a fully mechanical mode. Normally the shutter is electrically powered, from the two SR44 batteries fitted in the base of the camera. That means that if the batteries run out the camera stops working. To combat that situation, Pentax built the 125X mode which, as well as providing the flash sync setting, will also work without batteries. Obviously, the metering wouldn’t work, but if you used an external meter, or the Sunny 16 rule, you could still carry on shooting without batteries. 

The exposure information is all shown in the viewfinder down the left hand side of the display. There are a range of LED’s which light to show the selected shutter speed and if the picture will be under, or over exposed. In auto mode this shows the shutter the camera will select as you adjust the aperture, and in manual mode it shows the shutter speed the photographer selects with the two small buttons next to the mode dial.

The film ISO is set with a dial under the rewind crank, which is a fairly standard location, and this dial also has an exposure compensation adjustment.

Viewfinder

As well as the exposure information mentioned above, the ME Super viewfinder has a large and bright view of the picture being taken. There is a split level rangefinder style focusing aid in the centre of the viewfinder, along with a microprism circle and a ground glass outer screen. On my particular example, there are a few dust marks on the mirror unfortunately, but since they wouldn’t affect the picture I will probably leave it alone. Since the mirror is on the top of the glass in SLR’s it would be pretty difficult to clean it without damaging the mirror surface itself.

Other features

The one missing feature which would be really useful is depth of field preview.

Other features of the camera include a cable release socket which is incorporated into the shutter release button, a ‘hot shoe’ fitted above the prism, a self timer which is slightly non-standard because it is initiated by pushing the self timer bar itself rather than the shutter button, and a rewind indicator which apparently flickers if the film is being rewound correctly.

  • Pentax ME Super 35mm SLR
  • SMC Pentax 50mm f/2.0 lens
  • Pentax K mount bayonet lens mount
  • Open aperture metering
  • Self timer
  • Wide shutter speed range 4sec to 1/2000 + B
  • Push button shutter speed adjustment in manual mode
  • Exposure compensation of +/- 2 stops
  • 125x flash sync + mechanical shutter
  • X flash sync + hot shoe.
  • Aperture priority auto exposure and Manual exposure.
  • Powered by 2 SR44 batteries.
  • Motor drive attachment available.
  • Body Ser No: 3070054
  • Lens Ser No: 4176988

7 thoughts on “Vintage Camera collection – Pentax ME Super with SMC Pentax M 50mm f/2.0

  1. Hi Simon. Please forgive a bit of “silliness” but based upon the images that you have posted – there does not appear to be anything amiss that a quick and sympathetic steam clean followed by a very short drying off in a preheated oven at Gas Mark 2 would not cure.
    Seriously though !!! The lens alone has got to be worth that never mind the bit of bribery to a grandchild to take-up the hobby from the an early quality stalwart “Modern Camera” perspective.

  2. You’re not alone in getting caught-out by that little white button. It got me too for a few moments – although I have no excuse, having owned one some years before.

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