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Pentax ME F

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7 52,278 Mon July 30, 2018
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $62.50 8.86
Pentax ME F

Pentax ME F
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Pentax ME F
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Pentax ME F
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Description:
The Pentax ME F was Pentax's first autofocus camera. The autofocus motor was built into the lens. Although it was ahead of its time, only one autofocus lens was ever developed for it: SMC Pentax-AF 35-70mm F2.8. This lens's autofocus mode can only be used with the ME F. Neither the ME F nor the lens supported automatic aperture: only Av and M modes were available.

The ME F was a bold attempt at autofocus by Pentax, but the AF system was not reliable and a redesigned AF system / lens lineup was deployed for the SFX / SF1 in 1987. That that point, the competition was already way ahead of the game, and the Pentax SLR system would never become as big as it did in the manual focus era.

Today, the Pentax ME F is a rare camera that is prized by Pentax collectors, especially when combined with the AF lens.

ME F
Year introduced
1981
Mount
KF
Meter range
1 - 19 EV
Meter pattern
c
ISO range
12-1600
DX ISO range
No DX coding
Exposure modes
Av, M, X, B
Exposure compensation
+/-2 EV
Exposure memory lock
No
Shutter speeds (auto)
4 - 1/2000s
Shutter speeds (manual)
4 - 1/2000s
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
1/125s, B
Self timer
Yes
Mirror lock-up
No
Auto bracketing
No
Multiple exposures
Yes
Winder
External winder 2 fps
Built-in flash
No
TTL flash
No
P-TTL flash
No
Sync speed
1/125s
Flash exposure comp
No
Autofocus
Yes (1 point)
Autofocus sensitivity
4 - 16 EV
Power zoom
No
Viewfinder
0.87x, 92%
Viewfinder type
Pentaprism
Diopter correction
No
Exchangeable screen
No
Depth of field preview
No
Image size
24 x 36 mm
Panorama format
No
Battery
4 x S76
Battery grip/pack
No
Size (W x H x D)
132 x 87.5 x 49 mm
Weight
480 g
Price History:



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Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 5,868
Review Date: July 30, 2018 I can recommend the Pentax ME F: Yes | Price: $75.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Good sized P&S film body with a 1/2000 shutter speed.
Cons: No DOF preview and MLU. Uses four batteries.

The Pentax ME F was released in October 1981 and is Pentax’s first attempt at an Auto Focus system. The ME F is based on the ME Super body that was released the year before. The AF feature only worked with the one M35-70/2.8 zoom, so it was not really that popular of a camera and was in production for only three years. Pentax’s first true AF system was the “F” Series cameras/lenses, which were released in February 1987.

The ME F has all the same features of its older brother the ME Super, so you get a maximum shutter speed of 1/2000, +/-2 exposure compensation, split-image/micro focusing screen, 1/125 flash sync, a “Mode” shutter dial instead of a shutter speed dial and so on. You also don’t get TTL flash support, DOF preview and MLU.


Observations:
- Size wise the ME F is the largest of the “M” Series film bodies, so for me it’s the best handling. Adding the bottom half of the Eveready case and you have a decent handling camera.

- The ME F’s vertical meter display located on the left side of the viewfinder, is an improvement over the ME’s and I also like it better than the half dial in the MX. Like the ME, ME Super and MX, the ME F uses the same GPD center-weighted meter & sensitivity pattern.

- You also get a manual metering mode, which was not available on the original ME. The shutter speed is adjusted with two push buttons next to the shutter mode dial. This is painful to use, so I stick to the AUTO mode.

- The ME F also has the new “M” series “magic white needles” film loading system. So you can insert the film leader into any slot on the spool, instead of the dedicated slot on the “K” Series cameras.

- Other features on the ME F are a selectable ASA range from 12 to 1600, film memo holder, exposure compensation of 1/4x, 1/2x, 1x, 2x and 4x and self-timer. There is no DOF preview on the ME F or MLU, both are sorely missed. The ME F came with a split-image microprism focusing screen, which was not user changeable like the MX.

- The ME F has a flash sync of 1/125 for non “dedicated” flashes. If you use one of the dedicated Pentax flashes (AF-200S, AF-160, AF-280T and AF080C) you don’t have to move the shutter mode dial to 1/125, as the ME F will automatically do it when the flash is mounted and turned on. I tested the ME F with my AF-280T and you will need to use the flash in one of the two Auto flash modes. (Green/red) The Automatic Exposure Check on the AF-280T also works with the ME F. Better than nothing, but still a long way from TTL flash support.

- For continuous shooting the ME F uses the ME and the newer ME II Winder.

- The ME F requires four 1.5-volt S76 batteries and not two like the ME Super. The ME F has a different battery chamber and the cover is released with a special button on the bottom of the camera.

- The ME F has a dedicated Eveready case, with “ME F” marked on the bottom of the camera half case. You could also special order a larger front case that would hold the M35-70/2.8 zoom lens. The regular front case is small and will only hold a smaller “M” Series lens, like the M50/1.7.


Auto Focus/TTL Electronic Focus:

The main feature of the ME F was the ability to auto focus the M35-70/2.8 zoom by pushing one of the two focusing buttons on the lens. You did this until the lens stops turning and the green light appears in the ME F’s viewfinder. (The ME F has a special focusing display located in the center bottom of the viewfinder) I don’t have this zoom, so I can comment on how the AF system works.

The other feature of the ME F was the "through-the-lens" electronic focusing guide for manual focusing lenses. To use this feature you need to turn on the focusing system and select one of the two apertures listed, ~2.8 or 3.5~. (Basically 2.8 is for lenses with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or larger and 3.5 is for lenses with a maximum aperture of f/3.5 to f5.6) You then turn the lenses focusing ring in the direction of the red arrows in the viewfinder, until the green LED light is on. That indicates the subject in the viewfinders split image circle is in focus. If you get the two red arrows, then the focusing system does not have enough light or the contrast is too flat. Unfortunately this feature is more of a novelty than being useful, so for me it’s just a waste of battery power to use it.


Summary:
The Pentax ME F, like the ME Super, is an improvement over the other “M” Series “shutter mode” film bodies, but nowhere near as good as the next generation “A" Series Super A/Program. The ME F makes a good decent sized “P&S” SLR, for those days when you don’t want to lug around a camera bag or kit and mess with manual metering. The ME F does not have enough features to be considered as an all-purpose film body, but it’s still fun to use occasionally. I just ignore the auto/electronic focus part and treat the ME F as a larger ME Super. Overall I rate the ME F an 8.5, rounded down to an 8.

Here’s how I rank the ME F in my Pentax K-mount manual focus body collection:

1) LX, 2) K2DMD, 3) KX, 4) SUPER A, 5) K2, 6) MX, 7) ME F, 8) P50, 9) KM, 10) ME, 11) K1000SE, 12) K1000



Price:
I paid $100.00CDN for my silver ME F and it’s in excellent condition.
   
Forum Member

Registered: November, 2007
Location: Gwynedd, Wales
Posts: 50

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: August 1, 2017 I can recommend the Pentax ME F: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Bright viewfinder, the focus confirmation, durability
Cons: No DOF lever, flimsy battery door.

I bought this camera in 1984. It came with an A series 1.7 50mm. It was the camera I used 95% of the time from then until 2007 when I got a K100D .

I have a sight impairment which made the focusing aid very useful to me , although I had 'managed' with my previous cameras ( a Zenit-B followed by a Chinon CE4-s) Never had a problem with the buttons for speed selection. The mechanism seems very durable and with my camera I've never had any winding problems that seem to plague the ME Super. Maybe because it has had pretty regular use for most of its life, even though now it is semi-retired.

Bonus - its very easy to swap focussing screens. Undo two screws and the frame swings down like the MX - I haven't tried to fit an MX screen though, because the existing one is fine.

Unfortunately I can't give it a 10 (I'm going to send it off for a CLA instead) because of two issues - no DOF preview (why didn't they fit the simple MX method to all the M series?) and it was the first camera to suffer from the Pentax flimsy door malaise - I have had to have mine replaced twice.

But even though I give it a 9 you'd have to take it out of my cold dead hands to get it off me.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2007
Location: In the most populated state... state of denial
Posts: 1,102
Review Date: August 31, 2015 I can recommend the Pentax ME F: Yes | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: FInder, Size, Focus-confirmation
Cons: Finding the AF lens

Excellent camera, built on top of the ME Super.
Super bright viewfinder, and a usable focus-confirmation system.

It is a tad thicker than the ME, but it works great.
The focus confirmation is very usable, not so much in low light though.


Works great with all the old lenses (K-A-M)
   
Forum Member

Registered: May, 2012
Location: North Coast, NSW, Australia
Posts: 50

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: May 24, 2012 I can recommend the Pentax ME F: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: reliable, solid metal body, small & compact
Cons: full autofocus feature only works with one dedicated lens

i recently 'acquired' this camera, as a result of buying a 'package' on eBay, as the 'package' contained some items that i wanted for my original ME -- the ME-F camera was a 'bonus', that i intended to on-sell.
but i am KEEPING it
the 'green-light' auto focus indicator still works, with all the lenses i have tested -- of course, the lens must be manually focussed -- M, A, F, & FA series lenses all work (i don't have a K-series lens)
even a DA-L series 18-55 lens works, outdoors in good light, as it is 'locked' on f22 on the manual SLR camera, and the results with the lens on 18 are very interesting -- try it.
the batteries are easy to get, from my local camera shop -- i have not tried supermarket/hardware store.
i have fitted it with a winder-ME-II, and it works like a charm
lenses are easy to find, on eBay, at B&H, etc, as any lens with an aperture ring is suitable
i have had no trouble with any of my lenses, either Pentax or 3rd-party.
i have used my ME-Super only once since i got this camera

if you are interested in exploring 35mm film photography, these cameras are a really good way to do it

Rob

i have now had the camera 'working' for a while
it has a Winder ME II, and is a great addition
an 80-200 lens (purchased 'used' from B&H) , with a 'plain-label' 2x TeleConverter, gives the old camera great 'reach'
a new cosina 19-35 ultra-wide zoom lens now waits to be tested with my next roll of film

Rob
   
Forum Member

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Norfolk
Posts: 83

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: December 8, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax ME F: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Light, compact, sophisticated spec
Cons: No depth-of-field preview

I still have mine. All the advantages of the excellent ME Super with the added bonus of electronic focus confirmation (visual or audio signal), a very useful feature in difficult shooting situations.

Only grumble is the lack of d-o-f preview, an omission that annoyed me on the ME so I waited for the ME Super, and still Pentax left it out. Inexplicable.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2009
Location: Indianapolis
Posts: 262
Review Date: September 4, 2010 I can recommend the Pentax ME F: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Bright viewer, Classic Pentax camera (first autofocus)
Cons: The autofocus is soooo slow and it hunts

Pros Bright viewer, Classic Pentax camera (first autofocus)
Cons The autofocus is soooo slow and it hunts
Rating 7
Price (U.S. Dollars) 0
Years Owned 0

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Heavy lens, glacially slow autofocus, small body.

Camera Review
I never owned this camera, but have used it some. It ONLY autofocuses with the 28-70mm f2.8 F lens. It is very slow, it sounds like you are skinning a live cat when you use it. The lens is quite heavy. But who cares? This is arguably the first autofocus body of any maker (Olympus has a similar claim to fame). The 28-70mm f2.8 is actually an excellent lens, just don't expect autofocus with your other bodies.

Own it to own a piece of history.
   
Moderator
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2008
Location: Florida Hill Country
Posts: 17,246

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: May 8, 2010 I can recommend the Pentax ME F: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Huge finder
Cons: quirkie AF & only 1 lens supported

Pros Huge finder
Cons quirkie AF & only 1 lens supported
Rating 9.5
Price 75
Years Owned 2

I can recommend this camera
: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
This camera has a nice finder.

Camera Review
I had this body reworked by the legendary Eric Hendrickson last summer. It is essentially like using an ME Super when an M series lens is used on it. I have the matching AF 35-70mm lens for collectible reasons. This is part of my working Pentax collection. It will also work with the ME II Winder. This camera is just as nice as the ME Super and is essentially that body with extra electronics to run the lens pictured below.

ME F with AF lens and ME II Winder are pictured above.
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