I’ve shot and tested a hell of a lot of Pentax ME Supers over time I’ve got to grips with this fantastic SLR, this has provided me with great insight on this compact king.
The Pentax ME Super is one of the best 35mm Aperture Priority cameras ever made. Many people agree that the Pentax ME Super is perhaps better than the Pentax K1000. Sporting a small and compact body, aperture priority and manual functions and housing some incredible lenses, the ME Super is perhaps only let down by its common electrical faults. This camera allows amateurs to take semi-pro film shots with very little effort, it also allows pros to take high-quality film shots without having to worry about settings.
For the rest of this article, I’ll outline many important factors and common questions about the ME Super in 2022, everything from common issues to how to use the ME Super!
Pentax ME Super Specs
Mount – Pentax K Mount
Format – 35mm Film
Exposure – Aperture Priority/Manual
Shutter Speeds – 4 – 1/2000s
Weight – 460g
ISO (ASA) – 12 – 1600
Battery – 2 x LR44 Batteries
How Much Is The ME Super Worth In 2022?
The Pentax ME Super with a 50mm lens is worth $100-120 or £80-100 currently. This camera can be purchased for less but it’s risky considering its common electrical issues. It’s worth spending that little bit more to be sure you have a camera that’s working as it should be.
The Pentax ME Super VS The Pentax K1000
A great way to understand how good the Pentax ME Super is is to compare it to another Pentax Titan, the K1000. The K1000 being a cult classic SLR, it’s hard to overstate how brilliant the K1000 still is.
|Pentax ME Super||Pentax K1000|
|Price (2022)||$100-120 (£80-100)||$200-225 (£150-175)|
|Size||460g (Small)||600g (Medium/Big)|
|Battery||2 x LR44||2 x LR44|
|Ease Of Use||Easy||Medium/Easy|
|Aesthetics||Good (Better in black)||Tank|
|Chance Of Fault||Medium/High||Medium|
|Use Without Battery?||No||Yes|
|Shutter Speeds||4 – 1/2000||1 – 1/1000|
The key differences between the ME Super and the K1000 are the sizes, differing faults, the ME Super’s aperture priority, price and the fact that the ME Super can’t really be used without a battery (It can but only on a select few settings). A key takeaway from this is that for nearly half the price of the K1000, you can get a camera that you can take as good images on and it’ll be easier.
One of the reasons that the K1000 is probably worth more is due to its simple ‘no frills’ style, reliability and the fact that you can still use it without a light meter. Perhaps the ME Supers price is reduced slightly due to its very common electrical problems. The lens is electrical rather than mechanical and over time a lot of them have a common issue that isn’t easy to fix and it’ll probably cost you more than the camera’s worth to get a professional to do so.
Both of these cameras have pros and cons, I think that without the ME Supers’ common faults, it could be known as one of the best 35mm SLRs of its age. It’s still brilliant and I’ll cover its common faults and what to look out for a little further down the article.
What Kind Of Photography Is The ME Super Best For?
The Pentax Me Super is best for all kinds of photography, with its compact body, it’s suited to travel, street photography, documentary photography, portrait, editorial and much more. Since it has a hot shoe you can use a flash, so this camera is suited to all sorts. Obviously, from a client perception point of view, this camera doesn’t really have a ‘wow factor’, so that’s something to bear in mind if you were to use it for anything client-facing like portrait or editorial work.
This camera is ideal for someone who is trying to learn film photography, the aperture priority mode makes it a lot easier for amateurs to take better shots without having to mess around too much. I also think that this camera suits a lot of other intermediate photographers who still want to take good images without having to mess around with exposing them properly. This camera really lends itself to something like street photography.
What Kind Of Film Stock Should I Use With The Pentax Me Super?
The ME Super would suit Kodak Portra 400 or Kodak Gold for colour photography, and the fast Kodak Portra 400 would suit photography that has more movement. And Kodak Gold would suit sunny travel-type photography. Alternatively, you could shoot a black and white film stock like HP5 if you’d prefer that style of photography.
If you’re looking to buy some film but you’re not sure what to get or where from, then this link will solve all of your problems!
How To Use The Pentax ME Super?
The ME Super may seem confusing to use at first, but after a few pointers, you’ll understand how to shoot with this nifty little camera!
How to change the settings? On the right-hand side of the top of the camera, there are some settings that read ‘L, AUTO, M, 125X, B’. To switch between these settings you need to press the cream-coloured button just to the right and rotate the switch to the setting you want. L = Lock, Auto = aperture priority, M = Manual, 125X and Bold. Mostly, you’ll probably use Auto unless you’re using flash, in which case you’ll use 125X.
How to change the ISO? This can be confusing if you aren’t accustomed to it being called ASA, ISO = ASA, you can see your ISO number in the small white window next to the green letters ‘ASA’. To change your iso you need to pull upwards on the outer silver ring and rotate, this will change this ISO for you. If you’re struggling to change the iso it may have become stiff over time, you will just have to be persistent. On the same ring is 1/4x – 1/2x etc, this is exposure compensation, so you can either under or overexpose your image slightly by choice.
How to change the aperture? The aperture is found on the lens, in this case, it goes from F1.7 – 22, you can change the aperture by rotating this ring and your light meter will respond to any change in the aperture by reducing or increasing the shutter speed. The other numbers which are further along the lens relate to how close or far away you are focusing. On this lens, the blue numbers or Feet and the beige numbers are Meters, this lens can focus from 0.45 meters to infinity.
The self-timer is this black, silver and beige lever, all you have to do is wind it back and it will start to return to its starting place, at which point it will take a photograph.
To remove the lens, there is a small lever below the self-timer which you have to press while rotating your lens.
To remove and replace the batteries there is a small compartment located at the bottom of the camera, you need to use a coin to open it. If you are having trouble opening your battery compartment, it may be because someone has previously left batteries inside and they have corroded and your compartment has become stuck, it is not advised to keep trying to open it at this point as you will make it worse.
How to load film? Loading film with the ME Super is a little bit different than most other cameras. First, open the backup and throw some film into the left-hand side, then pull your film across until you can feed the tip in between the weird little white bars, you can feed it through quite a bit, be sure that the release on the bottom of the camera is pressed down or else you won’t be able to move anything properly. Then you can take a shot and wind it on while the back is open to see that the film Is definitely loaded properly, then close your back up and get shooting!
Common Faults With The ME Super
There are a few common faults with the ME Super but the worst of them is the electrical fault that seems to be its biggest downfall.
The ME Super’s Electrical fault is a big problem because the shutter and mirror are electric which means the whole camera can become useless with one fault. This fault seems to be characterised by not shooting when you press the shooting button, sometimes the camera does shoot and then the winder won’t catch over and over again. It renders it useless and it’s not easy to fix, this is why i suggest spending a little more on your camera to ensure that you save yourself the hassle.
Light leaks are of course common with all old SLR cameras, they are quite simple to fix and I would recommend finding a good youtube video and replacing them yourself. If you don’t replace your light seals then your images will have light leaks right the way through them and ruin your shots!
Fungus is also common with vintage SLR lenses, this usually looks like branches crawling over the inside of your lens. If there isn’t too much fungus then you shouldn’t worry, if there’s a lot then it’s definitely not good at all, it’s very hard to dismantle a lens and I wouldn’t suggest trying it if you haven’t got experience. Also, there can be small pieces of dust in your lens, usually, that is not a major issue but it’s worth keeping an eye out for.
My Experience & Opinion
I genuinely really like the Pentax ME Super, I think I like it so much because I learned to shoot on a camera very similar, the Nikon EM. The fact that the ME Super is an aperture priority camera that can house great lenses is why I think it’s so great.
To have a fairly affordable 35mm camera that does a lot of the work for you is a wonderful thing. It makes things like street photography a lot easier and allows you to focus on the things that actually matter, rather than worrying about your settings.
I’d definitely love to see this being produced again since Pentax has announced they could be producing film cameras again. I think the key thing that lets the ME Super down is that it’s hard to come by one that works properly, due to its electronic shutter. If Pentax produced this again, I think it’d be an amazing go-to camera for street photography.
In short, I’ve got a soft spot for the ME Super and Pentax’s crazy 50mm 1.7 lenses.