Question about Pentax ME Super 35mm SLR Camera

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I have a pentax me super, film camera. i've been using it recently and it has been working fine, suddenly today the light senor stopped working. it still lights up when you half press the button just way under what it should be (on around 2s unless it is pointed directly at a light in which case its at about 2 levels higher than that) and adjusting the f-stop doesn't do anything either. is there anything i can do or shall i take it to jesops? the only camera shop around

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The first thing you need to ensure that the battery chamber and contacts are clean and not corroded, if so then the next step is to try is a replacement battery. But if that fails the camera is going to need to be replaced or to be professionally repaired. Don't use Jessops for this as you'll just be paying a middle-man. Unfortunately, many repairers won't touch your thirty year old camera with a bargepole: the ME Super is VERY labour intensive to dismantle due to so many soldered joints and many of the parts are simply unavailable now, especially the electronic ones such as the flexible pcb assembly which is is the next most likely culprit after the battery. Even if the repair is successful, there's a very high chance of your camera failing soon after repair so the repairer runs the risk of a return for additional unpaid work during which they may discover an entirely unrelated fault that many owners will not agree to pay for. If your ME Super is faulty, then the most realistic and cost-effective option is to sell it for spares or repairs and to obtain a replacement. If you do this, sell the lenses separately. It's not all doom and gloom: many 35mm SLR's now either sell for peanuts or are given away free. Except for collectable models, most are virtually worthless, especially the cheaply-made plastic bodied later AF models. Early 1980's SLR's will all be potential liabilities and will either work or not; most will require at least an investment in silver oxide batteries and a roll or two of film (preferably slide) just to check that they are functional and exposing correctly. Many will have been designed for use with mercuric oxide batteries which are no longer available, so will need silver oxide equivalents and either exposure compensation, a voltage-reducing adaptor, or a meter recalibration as silver oxides have a higher voltage. Lithium cells are far cheaper but unsuitable due to unstable voltage output. Unless recently serviced, all will be needing replacement foam light seals and mirror buffers and a general CLA service (Clean, Lubricate, Adjust). As with yours, if actual repairs are needed then few repairers will touch them unless they are professional grade models or unless it's something really simple and easy for them to fix such as sticky shutter magnets. There are a few independent camera repairers offering fixed price CLA and foam replacement on eBay, just enter the model number you're interested in followed by the word "service". Good, fully-functional, ME Super examples are somewhat collectable but prices remain low unless the camera is very good and has a service history. But such examples are like hen's teeth or fresh **** ****. Comparable models such as the Olympus OM2n (aperture priority and fully metered manual exposure, really lovely to use) are widely available and many have lasted very well, but you'd need to sell your current lenses and replace them. Best of all, many late AF auto-everything consumer-grade SLR's from the turn of the century such as the Nikon F75 and Canon EOS500 are even more widely available, often with their kit lenses, and I've yet to pay for a single one. They are pretty much totally uneconomic to repair and buyers are scared off by potentially shonky electronics and the (incorrect) perception of poor build quality and so I've obtained a few such models via my local FreeCycle and Freegle groups. Some have been perfect, boxed and only used for a single holiday, others have been a bit scratched but perfectly functional other than either a duff body or a duff lens, but mixing and matching results in a win. Pentax are not big sellers compared to Canon and Nikon so you'll be lucky to replace your with another, and when they are available they get snapped up quickly due to their scarcity and the fact that virtually all K and KA lenses will fit current Pentax Digital bodies. Prospects for you ME Super may be bleak, but at least I hope that I've given you a few realistic options at minimal financial outlay. Please take a moment to rate my reply.

Posted on Sep 08, 2010

Testimonial: "great response, very useful and provided other information that could be useful. thanks"

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  • philandrews1 Sep 09, 2010

    Thanks. unfortunate that it is unable to be repaired but i guess its pretty old. i do have another one of exactly the same camera, which until today i thought was in fine working order. it appears the light sensor is fine etc. however when you wind the film on (i did this without a film in there) and press the button there isn't the normal resistance and then click signalling the open of the shutter, it just presses down as if it hadn't been wound on at all. sometimes though it does work fine. im assuming, and hoping that this is something that can be fixed?

  • philandrews1 Sep 09, 2010

    also if there are any other film cameras similar to the me super (i checked out the nikon and cannon you mentioned) that you could recomend? i prefer ones that aren't autofocus. thanks

  • Obertelli
    Obertelli Sep 09, 2010

    Thank you for the feedback:-)

    If you want a non AF Canon contemporary of your ME Super, then there's really only one choice: The AE1 Program. But these are all really old as Canon were an early adopter of AF and huge numbers of them are now seizing up, so it's best ignored unless you can find one which has been fully serviced within the last five years AND regularly used since then. If you can find one then they're nice to use with plenty of cheap/free FD mount lenses around but they are rather heavy compared to your ME Super. The last of the FD mount models were the Canon T-Series and although some of these were really good (T70) or even pretty fantastic (T90) they're best avoided. They were highly dependent upon electronics which may well be shonky by now, and they had an internal battery with a five year maximum lifespan which could only be replaced by dismantling the camera. The AE1 Program will also often have dodgy electronics, but as it's a far simpler model it's easier to check that they're all working and the 6.2v battery (PX28) is easy to change and still available but stick to the silver oxide version if you want correct exposures.

    The nearest Nikon equivalent is probably the F3 or the closely related F3HP. A real classic and built like a brick, but unfortunately it means that even now they're still expensive. Some spare parts are hard to get, but they're easier to obtain and easier to service and fix than a broken Canon of the same era. Because of the high prices, I cannot really recommend them.

    Both the Canon and Nikon alternatives are bigger and heavier than your ME Super, so the Olympus OM2n (which was their flagship pro model until the OM3 and OM4) is still the best alternative to your old camera. It's actually a bit smaller than the ME Super and once you're used to the lens speed ring being around the lens throat and the aperture ring being in front of the focus ring they're really great to handle and by counting the click stops you can alter the exposure settings without taking your eye from the viewfinder. Avoid the later and even lovelier OM2SP though as the electronics haven't aged well. The OM4 was amazing but also best avoided for the same reason and the OM4TI (titanium bodied) had a far superior circuit board, but they are definitely collectable and so very expensive. The OM3 is fully mechanical, fully manual and so if the fantastically advanced (for the time) electronic metering fails the camera remains fully usable. OM3's are rare and prices are stratospheric. Plain OM2 models are an earlier version of the OM2n. The main difference is the dedicated flash confirmation lamp in the viewfinder, so they're just as good as an OM2n but as they're rather older are more likely to have issues by now.

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