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Pentax Super A / Super Program

Reviews Views Date of last review
32 192,557 Fri December 29, 2023
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $61.32 9.08
Pentax Super A / Super Program

Pentax Super A / Super Program
Pentax Super A / Super Program
Pentax Super A / Super Program
Pentax Super A / Super Program
Pentax Super A / Super Program

The Pentax Super Program (called Pentax Super A in some markets) is a versatile A-series film SLR featuring support for P, Tv, Av, and M exposure modes. You control the shutter speed using the push buttons on the camera, and the aperture via the aperture ring. Both can be set to auto (given you have an A-series lens or newer), which then brings the camera into Program mode. With M and K lenses Av and M exposure modes are available.

The Super Program was first Pentax with Program and Tv auto exposure and it also had TTL flash control, but even with the added electronics and mechanics the camera body is just about as compact as the original Pentax ME.

Disregarding the Pentax LX which is in a class by itself, the Pentax Super Program is the top model among all Pentax manual focus cameras when it comes to features and specifications.

Super A/Super Program
Year introduced
Meter range
1 - 19 EV
Meter pattern
ISO range
6 - 3200
DX ISO range
No DX coding
Exposure modes
P, Tv, Av, M, X, B
Exposure compensation
+/-2 EV
Exposure lock
Shutter speeds (auto)
15 - 1/2000s
Shutter speeds (manual)
15 - 1/2000s
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
Self timer
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Multiple exposures
External winder 2 fps, motor drive 2 and 3.5 fps
Built-in flash
TTL flash
P-TTL flash
Sync speed
Flash exposure comp
Autofocus sensitivity
Not applicable
Power zoom
0.82x, 92%
Viewfinder type
Diopter correction
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Image size
24 x 36 mm
Panorama format
2 x S76
Battery grip/pack
Size (W x H x D)
131 x 86.5 x 47.5 mm
490 g
Price History:

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Forum Member

Registered: December, 2023
Location: Murcia (Spain)
Posts: 77
Review Date: December 29, 2023 Recommended | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: size and compatibility with all pentax lenses
Cons: no mirror lockup

It was my second Pentax film camera, bought second-hand in 2005 for 135 euros with a Pentax-A 35-105mm f/3.5, both in perfect aesthetic and functional condition, a condition they currently maintain. I estimate €60 for the camera and €75 for the lens.
It's my film camera of choice for using my Takumar and M42 lenses because of the ease of using them in A or M modes. I also like it for Pentax K lenses, but I like my MX even more.

What I like:
1. Size, design, build and ergonomics
2. Compatibility with all Pentax and M42 lenses
3. P, A, S and M modes, with Pentax A, F and FA lenses
4. Modes A and M with Pentax K and M, Takumar and M42 lenses
5. Speeds from 15s to 1/2000s and B
6. The ease of use of my Takumar and M42 lenses

What I do not like:
1. Speed selection buttons (I would have preferred the classic dial)
2. No mirror lockup.
3. It doesn't even have a mechanical speed, so without batteries it's totally useless

In short, a good camera, compact, reliable, with a good lightmeter, comfortable to use and that can be found at a good price on the second-hand market.
New Member

Registered: November, 2022
Location: Hamburg
Posts: 4

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: October 2, 2023 Recommended | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: small, reliable, versatile, works with almost all lenses (M42 to DFA)
Cons: no AE memory lock

It was my first PENTAX in 1989 (for 499 DM). I now have 5 (all working) and I am not going to get rid of any.

What I like:
+ Small and light yet sturdy and mostly metal,
+ very reliable!
+ easy to hold and operate,
+ bright and clean finder with good information,
+ reliable metering,
+ all the modes that one needs including,
+ TTL flash metering,
+ long battery life,
+ works with alomst all PENTAX lenses vom M42 Takumars to recent DFA lenses,
+ responsive.

What I miss:
- AE lock (the K2 DMD and the P models have it),
- AV information in viewfinder in AV and M mode,
- the more quiet sound of the ME Super.

Thus the Super A / Super Program is a great little camera. Not perfect but one of the best bundles. My favourite - along with the K2 DMD and ME Super.


Registered: December, 2007
Location: In the most populated state... state of denial
Posts: 1,837
Review Date: May 17, 2021 Recommended | Price: $30.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Lightweight, excellent lightmeter
Cons: vf display dims over time

Probably the best MF Pentax except for the LX
Handling is excellent, with the pastic grip is easy to hold even when it rains.
Lightmeter is very good, and does its job very well, in A or P modes

The LCD inside the viewfinder becomes dimmer with age, but can't blaem it after 30 yrs
New Member

Registered: February, 2019
Posts: 15
Review Date: July 15, 2019 Recommended | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: It does what it is supposed to do
Cons: If it's a working version, no problems!

Neat little fine camera that ticks all the boxes for a perfect film camera. Same as an ME Super but with the "A" series viewfinder lighting readout system. As with all cameras by Pentax, this works so it's fine. Remember that it's the lens you put on the front that makes the difference. I don't like that as the ME Super readout if much clearer, but each to their own. As with the very similar Program A version, this Super A is fully electrical so make sure you buy one without fault as the replacement parts are impossible to locate. Some sellers tend to artificially push up the price of the "Super A" so don't get ripped off as there is absolutely no reason why this should be more expensive than an ME Super.

Registered: November, 2014
Location: South Bend, IN, USA
Posts: 23,013

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: June 14, 2019 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 


According to my records, I took my first photo with this camera on Feb 5, 1983; I "retired" it in September 1995. but then used it in 2005 when the camera that replaced it "had issues". I still use it on occasion,sometimes with a Takumar 50mm f/1.4, sometimes with one of my modern lenses. It has never had a "spa day" {aka CLA} - it just keeps on quietly working, so I decided to give it a moment of tribute here.
Veteran Member

Registered: April, 2010
Location: NY
Posts: 523
Review Date: March 6, 2017 Recommended | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Compact. P, A, M modes. TTL flash.
Cons: Needs batteries

Can't believe I haven't reviewed this camera.
I've used it a long time.
Normally it has the Tokina super zoom it had on it when I bought it.
I've only ever used a nifty 50 on it a couple times.
I usually botch 2 shots per roll. The rest are decent.

I like being able to watch the little computer decide aperture and shutter speed as I look around metering.
It's fun to watch the balance change and how the engineers tried to anticipate how the camera would be used under different lights.
Your don't really notice it on modern DSLRs. It just happens.

For some reason I ruin more film with this camera then with my mechanical ones. And even my little MV (which is jus a striped down version of the Program).
I think I'm more careless with it then the others because it does such a thorough job. It's a bit like my D200....just smaller and with film.

Registered: May, 2016
Posts: 3,721

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: August 13, 2016 Recommended | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: compatibility, small, good quality
Cons: mode dial lock on auto, discontinued

Definitely a product from the 80s, with an interesting mix of electronic and mechanical components. It is fun to use within its limits. This camera is very compact, but the two-piece plastic grip makes it easy to hold. Feels solid and nice to use, and for the most part it gets out of your way. Not like a work of art, just functional but well built.

It has and lcd on the top and two lcds in the viewfinder, the latter which can be illuminated either by ambient light or via a lamp (button under flash mount).
The shutter is fairly quiet, but sounds a bit ... echoey. 1/2000s is pretty fast, and while it requires batteries to release the shutter, they seem to last a long time. The meter is center-weighted and seems accurate. Exposure compensation of +/-2 ev is enough for most cases, and in manual mode the viewfinder lcds actually show up to +/-3ev, after which they start to blink.

The greatest thing about this camera is that it is works like a classic camera and has a proper winding lever, yet it is compatible with my digital pentax lenses (limited, macro 100); the ttl flash works just fine with a cheap modern unit (200fg) in addition to the pc port. Not to mention that the ka mount is able to read the aperture setting on manual lenses.

edit: For some reason, a super program in good condition is cheaper than a similar me super. I paid $50 for two of them (gave one as a gift), now there are some around $40 on ebay. I've never used an me super so I can't compare them, but the lack of a mechanical shutter is a non-issue, given how long the batteries last you're much more likely to not have spare film.
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2014
Location: Caesaraugusta
Posts: 104

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: June 6, 2016 Recommended | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: small body and good handling, viewfinder and nice/bright focusing screen
Cons: no exposure lock, LCD in viewfinder difficult to read at times

For the cost these little cameras sell for, they are a bargain. I am extremely happy with my near-mint SuperPROGRAM that I have recently bought, together with its unused ever-ready case, strap and user manual. I only had to change the light seals/mirror dumper, since they were starting to deteriorate – well, actually, they were pretty much gone after using the camera for a few rolls.

I changed the light seals myself, using EVA “rubber” (EVA 1.5mm-thick sheets are very easy to find, cost nearly nothing, and one sheet is enough for 30-50 cameras!). I don’t mess with liquid glues, just a double-sided bonding tape where needed. It is a very easy DIY that, in the end, works very well and... so long sticky foam! Unfortunately though, I have not been very careful with the removal of the old mirror dumper. Some foam goo went into the focusing screen, on the side of the prism (did I write that I dont like foams? ). I wanted to clean it but I was a bit discouraged after reading somewhere that only tech service can change the focusing screen of a Super PROGRAM/A. Well… kinda misleading statement! It takes only a few secs to get access to the screen: by removing the two little screws above the mirror dumper, the cradle holding the screen comes off, indeed. I used an air rocket blaster for dust removal and a pincel, and all went well. Mirror, screen, and all light seals are like new - actually even better!

This SLR is small and has a handy grip. The viewfinder is rather nice too, though certainly not the best one. What I don’t like is that it does have no exposure lock (but the exposure compensation works well for me), and the difficult reading of the digits in the viewfinder in case of not much light.

My main use of this camera is “street photography”, in Av mode, combined w/ a 28 or 35mm lens.
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2014
Location: Nagoya
Posts: 577

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 23, 2016 Recommended | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Handling, lens compatibility, size, weight
Cons: Viewfinder LCD sometimes a little hard to read

I love this camera, and it is by far my most used manual focus Pentax body. It has all the modes you could want (I use Av 99% of the time), it's compatible with every single K mount lens (FAJ and DA in P and Tv only), is light and compact enough while still feeling solid and handles very well with its little grip.

If I had to be picky, I'd say that the little LCD panels that display shutter speed and aperture in the viewfinder can be quite hard to read and the backlight that has to be activated manually is rather ineffectual. But those really are minor gripes and do nothing to stop me recommending what is a great camera.
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2013
Posts: 1,740

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: August 11, 2015 Recommended | Price: $35.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: AE shutter and aperture priority,program mode, TTL and "real" fully manual, good motordrive, easy to hold, nimble
Cons: Iffy 80s electronics, poor LCD display, no interchangeable screen,totally relying on batteries

After receiving a body and lens in not working conditions (bayonet could not read the aperture of the lens, which had a stuck diaphragm) I played again the Super A roulette and this time I received a working camera...well almost: the light in the display doesn't work and the A 50 mm f1.7 has a stuck filter on the front.

However, I shot a test roll and the camera behaved correctly, all 38 exposures came out as they should, I used the A 50mm f1.4 and here there are my impressions:

1) In comparison to other two cameras of the same class I own (Canon A-1 and Fujica AX-5) the Super A is a step forward the Canon because it allows a fully manual mode, yet without showing the lens aperture which is annoying, while the AX-5 has an overall better display with two rows of leds (one for the aperture and one for the shutter speed) so you always know what you are doing. The Super A shows the lens aperture just in program and shutter priority mode.

2) Somebody says the top plate is made of metal, this is incorrect as it's polycarbonate: you can notice because when it "debrasses" (for instance, on the corners close to the strap) you see a base material which looks copper red, not yellow. With time the copper red also worns out and you see the real base material, white plastic. Button plate is as traditional in these camera made of brass for durability, but it's not a camera completely made of metal like the MX.

3) Building quality is IMO inferior to the Spotmatics, K series and M series I own, after the 70s the main builders started to cut strength to manufacture light cameras, the Super A is tiny but handles well thanks to the front and rear grib, it's more solid than other cameras from the 80s but still not outstanding. The additional grips make the camera easier to handle than a M series

4) The A motordrive is the best of the Pentax range, almost on pair with the one of the Canon F-1N even if it's slower. It's a pity because it proves that Pentax could have made a semi-professional camera out of the Super A. I also miss the interchangeable screens on the MX

I forgot to mention that mine is one of the limited series "European camera of the year" that were supposedly made in 1983 to celebrate the victory of this award, it's like a normal Super A with a sticker on the front, a special cap for the lens and a nice strap. The serial number of the camera is 1344267 and the lens 1672269. My understanding is that the package also included a AF200T flash but this one came without it and however the right unit for the Super A is the 280T. Here there's a pic of the camera:

In conclusion I am a little disappointed by the Super A, it could have been a great camera but it's not, still I would recommend it IF you can get one in working conditions and for cheap and of course if you need program or shutter priority or TTL flash.
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 8,068

5 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 7, 2015 Recommended | Price: $30.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Lots of program modes, TTL flash, good build and nice black finish..
Cons: No MLU or Exposure lock.

The Pentax Super A camera was released in 1983 as the flagship body for the new “A” Series lenses. It takes full advantage of the “A” setting on these new lenses and the Super A is the first Pentax body to feature a “Program” & “Shutter Priority” mode.

The Super A was renamed as a “Super Program” for the North American market and the finish was changed to the less expensive chrome. The two cameras are identical otherwise and there was no chrome Super A nor a black Super Program.

The Super A won the European camera of the year award in 1983 and Pentax released a commemorative version to celebrate this award. It came in a presentation box with an A50/1.7 lens and AF200T flash. This Super A had a gold “European Camera of the Year 1983” emblem next to the X-Synch socket and a special camera strap. The A50/1.7 also has a commemorative lens cap. This version of the Super A seems to have an s/n starting with 127xxxx - 134xxxx in the Pentax forums serial number database.

Here is my commemorative Super A, without the flash or presentation box.

- If you own a ME Super then you’ll feel right at home with the Super A. As the Super A has a similar top dial layout as the older M Series camera. There is no traditional shutter speed dial like with the ME Super and the dial serves more as a mode dial. Moving the dial to “AUTO” lets you use “Program” or “Aperture Priority” modes. Move the shutter dial to “M” lets you use “Shutter Priority” or “Manual” modes. There is also a “B” setting for long exposures and a “125X” for non-dedicated flashes. The actual shutter speed is adjusted with two buttons and there is a top LCD widow indicating the selected shutter speed. Looking through the viewfinder you will see two boxes on the bottom, the left indicates the shutter speed and the right the aperture. Refer to the camera manual for various symbols/characters appearing in these windows for certain program modes. The Super A needs working batteries to function.

- Which modes you can use on the Super A depends on the mounted lens, here is a list:

K or M Series: Aperture Priority and Manual modes
A, F, FA or D FA Series (with aperture ring): Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual modes.
FAJ or D FA Series (with no aperture ring): Program and Shutter Priority modes.

As most of my lenses are K Series I mostly use the aperture priority and manual modes. The Program mode leans towards DOF, so the shutter speed selected is usually around 1/60. If you want faster shutter speeds then use shutter priority or manual modes.

- The Super A also has two flash modes, TTL Auto and Programmed Auto. These modes are determined by the type of flash used and the settings on the flash unit. I bought a Pentax AF280T for TTL flash support, but have not tried it yet on my Super A.

- The Super A is slightly higher than the ME Super & MX and has a removable front grip, so I find it easier to hold. The Super A is still not as comfortable to hold as my K Series or LX bodies, but much better than my MX. The Super A still has enough metal in it to make it a durable non plastic camera.

- Other features on the Super A are shutter speeds from 15 seconds to 1/2000, exposure compensation of +/-2EV, a DOF preview switch and self timer. The only things really missing for me on the Super A are MLU and exposure lock.

- The ASA/ISO setting is on the ring used for exposure compensation and you can select between 6 and 3200 ASA/ISO. Thankfully there is no DX coding on the Super A. Film is loaded into the “magic white needles” introduced with the M Series and there is also a little window on the camera back that shows red stripes if the film is loaded properly. For continuous shooting the Super A uses the Motor Drive A and the ME II Winder.

I wasn’t sure if I would like the Super A when I bought it, as it’s so different from my K Series bodies. But after using it for awhile and sending it for a CLA, it’s quite an impressive camera to use and look at! I would have given the Super A a perfect 10 if it had MLU and exposure lock, but instead I give it a 9.5 rounded down to a 9.

Here is how I rank the Super A in my Pentax K-mount manual focus body collection:

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

I bought my Super A as part of a kit with the A50/1.7 and paid 60GBP. So my estimate for the Super A is half the cost, which is 30GBP.
Both the camera and lens are in EXC++ condition.

Update August 25, 2015
I liked the Super A so much I just picked up an EXC++ Super Program for $20.50CDN. The indicated price is now an average of the two cameras in USD.
Senior Member

Registered: December, 2012
Location: Vienna
Posts: 205

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 31, 2015 Recommended | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Full metal body, small size
Cons: Suffers from typical M-series defects when aging

Back in '83 this was the camera of my dreams. It offered everything a camera could have back then apart from an AE-lock button and spot-metering. I Bought it in the first months it appeared on the European market and kept it in operation till late '98.
It had many advantages:
  • Fully built from metal - and no, the top cover is not plastic (I can prove it, on my camera the black color is worn off on all the edges and brass shines through).
  • It is almost as small and ligth-weight as the ME, but it is more handy due to the detachable grip
  • It´s got an almost perfect view finder
  • It offers fully automatic program - or any variant of (semi-)manual operation
  • Most important of all: It introduced TTL-flash metering.
Things that I sometimes missed during the 15 years I have used it:
  • There is no dedicated double-exposure feature. As with most of the Pentax SLRs you have to press the rewind-button and then hold the rewind-crank while turning the wind lever. As a young guy I had many crazy ideas for double-exposures, therefore I found this issue quite cumbersome
  • In few occasions I would have desired spotmetering
  • In even less occasions I missed the AE-lock button
Later on, during the AF-age I used a MZ-3 (very similar to the US model ZX-5n), but this one has plastic exterior and it feels like plastic. Now I'm using the K-5 which somewhat comes close to the Super A, but still, I miss my bright and large viewfinder that the Super A had.

Last but not least: My Super A took some 12000 shots, sometimes got rough treatment, but never had to go for repair. Basically it is operational even today, however the light seals and the mirror damper call for replacement and on top of it, it no longer likes fast winding. In short, after 32 years it calls for CLA.
Senior Member

Registered: August, 2012
Location: Berlin
Posts: 122

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: November 19, 2013 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: features, small size, handling, metering
Cons: none that I'm aware of

This was my second Pentax SLR after the rather simple MG and compared to it the "Super A" (as it was called in Germany) was a very feature-rich high-end consumer product. First I disliked the full automatic "propgram-mode", because I thought the photographer would loose too much control over the process of picture taking (funny, compared to current DSLR-features ), but then I realized the Super A could offer mynax modes of taking picturees in one camera body: Aperture und Shutter priority for advanced users, programm mode for taking snapshots and, finally, M- and Bulb-mode for complete manual control. The TTL-flash system was very handy as well. I bought the camera with the 1.7 50mm, 2.8 28mm and 2.8 135mm SMC-A lenses, which I still own and love (now mainly used on the K-5). All in all the Super A still is my favourite film camera due to it's accuracy, ease of use and very rich feature set. If You manage to find a copy in good condition, go for it (as I will probably do myself ).

Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2012
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Posts: 464

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: February 18, 2013 Recommended | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: retro design, size, 1/2000 shutter speed, build-in grip
Cons: Need battery. Focusing screen canot be placed, plastic top cover

Owned Super Program for over 2 years. For me this is my first film camera (shame on me ), however this one opens the door for me.
Generally speaking compared with KX & MX, the size of this one is in the middle. However the reason why i love this one so much is the front and back grip. This made the whole handling become very comfortable. Furthermore the clear LCD under focusing screen is good.
Forum Member

Registered: September, 2008
Location: Rochester
Posts: 73

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: August 13, 2012 Recommended | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Feel (grip),A settings. ttl metering is spot on. motor drive.
Cons: none that is was not built for ( af- 8000 shutter etc. :)

I wish that years ago when learning about Pentax this camera would have been more mentioned than others. I have picked up now 4 of these (one being a super a) and have not paid more than $20 for any of them. Most were said not to work and after a fresh set of batteries .... presto another camera to use. I would not at the price point i have picked them up for hesitate to bring one anyplace i may roam, rain or shine.
Now i know they were not so called "pro" cameras but with over 20 years of abuse and still going strong i say that it is more that good enough for me.
I have the motor drives for 3 of them and the winder for the other though i seldom use it. The TTL metering with my af400t or 280t is always spot on.
I do not make reviews saying... of it don't have 250 sync or 8000 shutter or auto focus... cause it don't and was never meant to have. What it does it does well and that is all i can ask for or want.
On a side note when breaking out this camera with the motor drive af400t and lens... i always get attention... attention i use to bring people into the Pentax brand.

((( if it has any week points ... ok dim finder. notifications in viewfinder are dim( without using light ) )))
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