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10-26-2012, 01:42 PM   #1
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What to do with Pentax ME

EDIT: Main problem solved by Hilo. Thanks again for being so generous!

Hi, I'd like to help out a friend with a pretty delicate problem.

About two years ago, he bought a non-working Pentax ME at a trade, along with a Hanimex 28mm lens. The price was not exactly "bargain", although not astronomical either. However, he also paid for a repair that never happened. More so, the repairman worsened the condition of the camera, and he didn't receive his money back, either. So the overall cost was in the territory of "high", considering what's left over.


So let's introduce the subject. I will mention all the issues that impede the camera's functionality, hopefully not forgetting any.
- the battery and winder cover are missing.
- some dings in the pentaprism and back door (!), just cosmetic issues, don't know if there are light leaks, but probably yes.
- the top seems to be disastrously assembled. The film advance lever sticks out way too far, and is very loose altogether. The mode selector dial is loose too, instead of having firm clicks, and cannot be set on "Lock" at all.
- the mirror bumper is missing and the focusing screen has some goo stains near it.
- the mirror is cracked from top to bottom, one cannot really see this in my pictures, but it does affect the viewfinder (the OOF areas appear as double or triple, interesting effect)
- the orange film indicator at the back is missing
- the film counter is not working.

Everything else that I didn't mention, assume it's working

He gave it to me so I can help him get out of this deadlock. However, I don't know what's best to do.
Clearly, any type of professional repair is excluded, because of its uneconomical nature.
The only alternatives I can see is either try and repair it myself (although I have almost no experience, if I knew what steps should I follow, it would be easier), or sell it for spare parts and get a different camera. He has no experience with SLRs, so I'd think that a camera with manual exposure control would do him better.
The catch here is that the new camera must be cheap, as in, buy it with the money earned from the old one.
Any suggestions welcome










Last edited by kcobain1992; 11-04-2012 at 02:08 AM.
10-26-2012, 02:32 PM   #2
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Can't be too optimistic from the list you gave, but they all appear to be mechanical issues, so getting a parts camera and swapping may be feasible. I've worked on older Pentax up to the MX, but never messed with an ME.
As far as a manual-meter camera being better - that depends. I'd rather start someone on a non-metered camera with an external meter; but most of today's folk don't have the patience, and manual metering is often seen as too much to mess with.
My daughter-in-law is very experienced with dSLRs, so I gave her an ME to try film. Even with the auto-exposure shutter, she only got a few usable pictures in the first few rolls. Those of us who use manual-focus all the time don't realize how foreign needing to make manual settings every shot is for today's "photographers." But she still wanted to learn, so I repaired an MX for her - but her hit rate started even lower with it. She has done much better by leaving her dSLR home and taking just the MX to get used to it.
Manual focus alone may be enough challenge for your friend at the start.
10-26-2012, 04:10 PM   #3
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It's been years since I went inside an ME or ME Super, but I have torn mine all the way down to replace a rotted rubber piece on the shutter timer. It was an hour to take apart, an hour to reassemble on every test run. Maybe I was more patient in those days?

If it can meter, cock, and fire (can't know without batteries & battery cover), then it might be worth it. The battery cover frequently was salvaged from dead bodies (it's the same across the M-, A-, and some P- bodies). That makes me wonder if it was salvageable to begin with. Can you get it to cock and fire the shutter in 100 mode? MEs could still run without batteries in that mode (you'd have to use "Sunny f/16" to guess correct aperture - old school stuff!).

The film advance lever being loose and the counter not advancing sound related - some spring that got knocked loose when removing the winder lever. I made that mistake once. Fortunately, I had a working body to study.
The mode button has a ball bearing and spring - it sounds like the ball bearing has slipped out and is dragging under the knob - or its missing altogether. "Lock" mode isn't critical - it just keeps the shutter from firing if cocked.
The winder cover is unnecessary (could be replaced with tape, if needed).
The cracked mirror - ouch. That could be hard to replace. It might be useable with a cracked mirror, but I'd be concerned about it getting wose and shedding pieces.
The mirror bumper and back cover seals could be replaced pretty easily - there used to be kits out on eBay.

The Classic Camera Repair Forum used to have pretty good guides on tearing down an ME-Super. They are mechanically very similar.

Good luck!
10-26-2012, 04:13 PM   #4
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Unfortunately, your friend is in pretty bad shape.

Having sold a couple of ME's in the past, I can attest that they're not worth very much on the used market. In working condition, they might gain $20 USD, but for parts, they're not worth much at all--maybe $5.

Eric Hendrickson could probably get the camera working for less than $100 USD, but IMHO, the ME is not a great camera, and your friend will probably never make back this investment.

Here's what I recommend to your friend--dump the camera for parts and hunt for a used ME on Ebay. If he looks hard enough, he may find one in working condition for less than $20. Probably not a black one, however.

If he's lucky, your friend might be able to find a used ME Super or MX on Ebay (both of these hold their values better than the ME) for $50 - 100. If the camera has a lens, he may be able to dump the lens and make back some lost cash. I once bought an ME Super on Shopgoodwill.com for $50, and sold the M 50/1.7 for $49. A working ME Super for $1.

Hope this helps!

10-26-2012, 08:51 PM   #5
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I once heard of something called the "Canon Toss". Perhaps it is time for a Pentax-themed variant in Romania? Sorry, but I think your friend's camera is a little too far gone.


Steve
10-26-2012, 11:20 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Normally I find every good analog camera worth the effort and cost to repair, but this sounds dramatic.

I have the same camera lying around, also black and in fine shape. You and your friend can have it for what would be the postage from The Netherlands. With the condition you do as Steve suggested, ha !
10-27-2012, 01:01 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hilo Quote
Normally I find every good analog camera worth the effort and cost to repair, but this sounds dramatic.

I have the same camera lying around, also black and in fine shape. You and your friend can have it for what would be the postage from The Netherlands. With the condition you do as Steve suggested, ha !
Now that's what I call problem solving.
10-27-2012, 05:59 AM   #8
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I'd take up Jake's offer. As much as I hate to say it, I think the camera is a gonner.

Perhaps you could try this: a funny idea

K.

10-27-2012, 11:29 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the responses, I will let my friend know about your suggestions and let him make a decision.

QuoteOriginally posted by TomB_tx Quote
...
I don't know, I got accustomed very fast with manual focus on my first camera, dad's Zenit (not a bright viewfinder!). Or, so to say, it was the least of all my problems Now I use manual focus exclusively.

QuoteOriginally posted by THoog Quote
If it can meter, cock, and fire (can't know without batteries & battery cover), then it might be worth it.
As I said, everything I didn't mention, assume it's working. So... yes.

QuoteOriginally posted by THoog Quote
The film advance lever being loose and the counter not advancing sound related - some spring that got knocked loose when removing the winder lever. I made that mistake once. Fortunately, I had a working body to study.
The mode button has a ball bearing and spring - it sounds like the ball bearing has slipped out and is dragging under the knob - or its missing altogether. "Lock" mode isn't critical - it just keeps the shutter from firing if cocked.
You're right, those two seem related. I fiddled around with it today, didn't repair it but dismantled the counter piece and saw the spring that you're talking about.

QuoteOriginally posted by THoog Quote
The Classic Camera Repair Forum used to have pretty good guides on tearing down an ME-Super. They are mechanically very similar.
Unfortunately, not anymore. So I'd appreciate some guidance, if I decide to repair it.

QuoteOriginally posted by jakeblues Quote
...
Thanks for the advice, I don't know about spending the $50 - it's hard to recover the $49

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I once heard of something called the "Canon Toss". Perhaps it is time for a Pentax-themed variant in Romania? Sorry, but I think your friend's camera is a little too far gone.
I can't find it on google, maybe can you send a link so I can see what it's about?

QuoteOriginally posted by Hilo Quote
...
That's very generous of you, thanks! I'll tell my friend and see what's his opinion. In the meanwhile, I think I'm going to fiddle with this camera a liitle more.

QuoteOriginally posted by womble Quote
I'd take up Jake's offer. As much as I hate to say it, I think the camera is a gonner.

Perhaps you could try this: a funny idea

K.
Oh, weird idea. I was expecting the one with the camera turned into a flower pot. Too bad the post is recent, and we can't see the complete evolution. I kind of pity it, though
10-27-2012, 12:46 PM   #10
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Here's the CCRF article:
Favorite Classics > Pentax ME Super Ramblings

And here are numerous Pentax service manuals, courtesy Mark Roberts: unfortunately, they were written for a camera repair facility, so there are a lot of assumptions. Still, better than nothing.
http://www.robertstech.com/manuals.htm
10-28-2012, 07:11 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by kcobain1992 Quote
- the battery and winder cover are missing.
Bummer.

QuoteOriginally posted by kcobain1992 Quote
- some dings in the pentaprism and back door (!), just cosmetic issues, don't know if there are light leaks, but probably yes.
As long as the dings don't reach into the circuit or rupture the coat to the pentaprism, then it is fine.

QuoteOriginally posted by kcobain1992 Quote
- the top seems to be disastrously assembled. The film advance lever sticks out way too far, and is very loose altogether. The mode selector dial is loose too, instead of having firm clicks, and cannot be set on "Lock" at all.
So the retention screw underneath is gone or loose? The advance might have been reassembled wrong and off sync with cycle?

QuoteOriginally posted by kcobain1992 Quote
- the mirror bumper is missing and the focusing screen has some goo stains near it.
It sounds like some foam cleaning was done hastily and look out for scratches under the goo.

QuoteOriginally posted by kcobain1992 Quote
- the mirror is cracked from top to bottom, one cannot really see this in my pictures, but it does affect the viewfinder (the OOF areas appear as double or triple, interesting effect)
Sounds like someone pried it open due to it being in stuck up position and look out for broken arm that controls the let-off of the mirror and reset.

QuoteOriginally posted by kcobain1992 Quote
- the orange film indicator at the back is missing
In your last picture it seems to be sitting inside the mode setting arms.

QuoteOriginally posted by kcobain1992 Quote
- the film counter is not working.
Part of my guess was the winder was taken apart and it might be missing some springs that set the counter ratchet.

...or I could be all wrong.
10-29-2012, 05:21 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by MysteryOnion Quote
As long as the dings don't reach into the circuit or rupture the coat to the pentaprism, then it is fine.
It's fine. Just cosmetic, as I stated.

QuoteOriginally posted by MysteryOnion Quote
So the retention screw underneath is gone or loose? The advance might have been reassembled wrong and off sync with cycle?
(...)
It sounds like some foam cleaning was done hastily and look out for scratches under the goo.
(...)
Sounds like someone pried it open due to it being in stuck up position and look out for broken arm that controls the let-off of the mirror and reset.
(...)
Part of my guess was the winder was taken apart and it might be missing some springs that set the counter ratchet.
Yes, you're right with some of the assumptions, and possibly right with the others. The mirror was stuck up, I can tell you that. And the gooey screen is because of improper cleaning. The cracked mirror theory sounds plausible, and so does the advance lever. Springs may be missing, the ball bearing holding the mode selector, at least, I know that one is.

QuoteOriginally posted by MysteryOnion Quote
In your last picture it seems to be sitting inside the mode setting arms.
I didn't quite understand this part, but I can take more pictures if it is of any help to you.
So that's what it is? It seems glued there, no way I can move it from there. Are you sure it's not just the "cocked" indicator?


Here's the picture that I promised. Hope it helps.

Last edited by kcobain1992; 10-29-2012 at 06:02 AM.
10-29-2012, 09:21 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by kcobain1992 Quote
- the orange film indicator at the back is missing
Sorry, I was looking at the other indicator... the one that lets you know you loaded the film correctly.

The bright orange and black striped flag looks to be in the wrong place. The entire arm is bent back into the control arm compartment instead of under the crank lever.


10-29-2012, 02:20 PM   #14
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Could it be that the previous repairman thought it belonged there and glued it there? I thought it was for the orange "cocked" indicator shown here, it lays right over it:
10-29-2012, 05:33 PM   #15
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Wow, quite a mess.
Yes, maybe it was the assumption or he lost the original orange flag and considered it a good substitute.
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