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12-20-2012, 10:34 PM   #16
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Best for purely manual focus? Now that is an interesting question. Consistently good and easy to focus viewfinders are pretty much standard for 35mm SLRs made int the late 1970s through 1980s. The finders are generally bright and usually feature one or more focus aides along with a ground-glass donut. Focus is a snap. Now that I have stated the conventional wisdom, I will qualify it by telling you that my best camera for manual focus was made a little earlier than the dates mentioned.

That camera would be my Pentax KX. Its screen is a little on the dim side when compared to that in my Super Program or either of my Ricohs, but there is no doubt when things snap into focus. It is much better for closeup work too than any of my newer cameras. The reason is a fine fresnel coupled with a very nice ground-glass and a small microprism.


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12-20-2012, 11:01 PM   #17
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Since you want aperture-priority metering, your choices are between

c. 1976: K2
c. 1978: ME Super
c. 1984: SuperA
c. 1986: P3/30
c. 1996: MZ-M

If size matters, then decide whether you want the large K2, the very small ME and SuperA, or the P30 and MZ-M which are in between.
If age matters, consider that shock-proof durability decreases as the cameras become younger, but so does the likelihood of requiring an overhaul the moment you get the camera.
If price matters, the approximate cheap-to-expensive curve is P3 < MZ-M < ME super < Super A < K2
If ease of manual use matters, then decide whether you prefer the traditional speed dial or the up/down buttons of the ME Super and the SuperA.
If you want not just aperture-priority but shutter-priority and full-program modes, then your choices are limited to the SuperA and everything after that. In that case, you will need to make sure you buy the A or F series lenses; the prior M and K series glass does not support programmed aperture setting.

Personally, I would recommend the ME Super or SuperA -- MESuper if you can find it in good shape. However, the real question is whether you are comfortable shooting with it, which is why you should try all of them to see which one fits your hands best.

PS. If you decide manual is all you need, then your the KM, K1000, KX and MX can be added to the mix. I love the MX, but this isn't about me: it's about what works for you. Try them all.

The best lenses, by the way, are the super-Takumars of the pre-K days, but the screwmount Spotties and SVs that took them natively are a different era altogether in ergonomics.

Last edited by asaru; 12-20-2012 at 11:15 PM.
12-20-2012, 11:10 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
The MX's VF is too large IMO, the ME super is fine but doesn't offer auto aperture.
That's the first time I've ever heard of a VF being too large!

A few weeks ago I was preparing my MX for some low light shots but the meter seemed to have stopped working . Anyway, in the process I compared the VF to the ME Super's and, despite being smaller, the ME Super's was slightly brighter and easier to focus. I haven't directly compared them in daylight though.

Either of those would be a fine choice. I tend to use the ME Super in manual mode though, as I find the Av mode very twitchy and I don't like it to change the settings at the last moment.

I would also recommend the P30 or P30N, which are often ignored because they don't have the traditional old camera look or shutter sound, but are great cameras with excellent viewfinders. They're also very common and cheap. The N (and T, I think) offer Av & P modes in addition to M.
12-21-2012, 12:04 PM   #19
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What do you think of P3N? How does it hold against favourite ME Super?

12-21-2012, 12:11 PM   #20
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If you want a good bang for your buck a P30 or P3 would work just fine.
BUT IMHO Program Plus or SuperProgram will give you a better viewfinder and Av mode
The MX/MESuper have the most amazing viewfinder of them all, and not sure about the MX but the ME wil give you AvMode

The P30 T and N are the same, just the focusing scree chnges I believe

Last edited by titrisol; 12-21-2012 at 12:40 PM.
12-21-2012, 12:13 PM   #21
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I think the P3n is an under-rated camera.

The four key differences with the ME Super:

(1) It has also shutter-priority and a fully-programmed exposure mode.
(2) It features a traditional shutter-speed dial rather than the ME Super's buttons.
(3) It features film auto-load.
(4) It sets the ASA automatically based on film-container markings.

The last one I am frankly uncomfortable with.

Last edited by asaru; 12-21-2012 at 01:45 PM.
12-21-2012, 01:01 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by titrisol Quote
If you want a good bang for your buck a P30 or P3 would work just fine.
BUT IMHO Program Plus or SuperProgram will give you a better viewfinder and Av mode
The MX/MESuper have the most amazing viewfinder of them all, and not sure about the MX but the ME wil give you AvMode

The P30 T and N are the same, just the focusing scree chnges I believe
QuoteOriginally posted by asaru Quote
I think the P3n is an under-rated camera.

The four key differences with the ME Super:

(1) It has also shutter-priority and fully-programmed exposure modes.
(2) It features a traditional shutter-speed dial rather than the ME Super's batteries.
(3) It features film auto-load.
(4) It sets the ASA automatically based on film-container markings.

The last one I am frankly uncomfortable with.

I'm pretty sure that the P3n/P30T will give Av mode (only with Aperture ring) but IIRC, they will not give Tv (shutter priority) If a DA lens is used or Aperture ring is set to "A", camera will default to P mode regardless of where shutter dial is set.
They are great little cameras but the DX coded ISO only can be a problem. If you plan on always shooting film at box rated speed, they are a real bargain.

For not much more money, a Program Plus is basically the same feature set with an ISO dial. Your loose the shutter dial and diagonal split though.
12-21-2012, 01:44 PM   #23
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^Yes, I stand corrected. The P3 series has manual, aperture-priority, and programmed metering, but not shutter-priority. I've corrected my original post. Thank you.

12-21-2012, 02:50 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
ME super is fine but doesn't offer auto aperture
Huh? It does not offer in-body aperture control, but definitely does support auto-aperture as do almost all 35mm SLRs made since the early 1960s.


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12-21-2012, 03:32 PM   #25
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The P3 series are underrated gems. Good VF, lightweight but sturdy, look more like classic cameras than the later plastic monstrosities, and very cheap. Oh, and they don't have foam lightseals to replace.
12-21-2012, 04:20 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Huh? It does not offer in-body aperture control, but definitely does support auto-aperture as do almost all 35mm SLRs made since the early 1960s.


Steve
Don't confuse auto aperture and open aperture metering, with body controlled aperture
12-21-2012, 05:50 PM   #27
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The ME Super has got body controlled aperture. Its aperture is controlled by the human body. ;-)
12-21-2012, 08:02 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Don't confuse auto aperture and open aperture metering, with body controlled aperture
Excellent advice and a way of stating what I was trying to point out. As those of us of a "certain age" know:
  • Auto aperture means the lens stops down "automatically" at exposure time and reopens after exposure
  • Open aperture metering means you can meter through the lens with the lens wide open. This is a very handy feature with auto aperture lenses (see above).
  • Body controlled aperture (also termed automatic aperture control, Pentax-talk from the early 1980s) means that the body is capable of setting the aperture, usually as part of programmed exposure automation or shutter-priority exposure automation. All body controlled aperture lenses support both of the above features.
There would be so much less confusion over these terms if Pentax had put a big "AE" (like Canon) or "P" (like Ricoh) or simply marked the smallest aperture in red (like Nikon) on the aperture ring. I don't know how many times I have seen posts from people complaining that their new <name the model> Pentax dSLR won't expose properly in other than M-mode with their Auto-Yashinon (or Auto-Rikenon or Auto Vivitar or ...).


Steve
12-21-2012, 08:16 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by ihasa Quote
The P3 series are underrated gems. Good VF, lightweight but sturdy, look more like classic cameras than the later plastic monstrosities, and very cheap. Oh, and they don't have foam lightseals to replace.
I agree completely, though I was unaware that they lacked foam seals. As noted above, and the only reason I returned the P3N I purchased several years ago, is the fact that the camera has no other way to set the ISO/ASA other than the DX encoding on the film canister. Too bad, since many of us shoot at other than box speed or shoot film that is not packaged with DX encoding.

That being said, there are ways to hack the DX code and it is also possible to buy DX stickers for various speeds.


Steve
12-21-2012, 10:07 PM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by ihasa Quote
The P3 series are underrated gems. Good VF, lightweight but sturdy, look more like classic cameras than the later plastic monstrosities, and very cheap. Oh, and they don't have foam lightseals to replace.
I just noticed from specs that P3N viewfinder is even smaller than k-x (DSLR) which I wish was little bigger & brighter. So just wondering how good P3N would be for manual focus.
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