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11-24-2013, 09:51 AM   #1
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Improving the Super-A?

Hello fellow pentaxians!
I own and extensively use a Super A, which i bought as a step up from two very unreliable Fujis.
The Super A is a great camera for general use and produces very appealing results.
However, with time, I stumbled over some shortcomings and I was wondering, if anybody else recognized these and maybe - improved them.

- Is there any way to get rid of the 1/1000 lock before frame 1?
- Why is the aperture only shown in "P" Mode in the viewfinder? The camera knows it anyway.
- The camera officially only meters up to 15 s, but mine did expose longer, (blinking "15") although this is documented nowhere. (Once measured about 30 s)
- Why no exposure lock? Instead of fiddling with exposure comp., I would just move the frame a little, meter, hold the shutter button, frame and fire.

Battery consumption
On average, I get only about 10 rolls before "ooo" is shown, with about 2-3 long (>1s) shots on each roll.(I used quality cells) Keeping the shutter open for long exposures drains the battery, sure, but is that normal?

LCD-Backlight
As many noted before, the backlight is almost useless and drains the battery as well. Has anyone ever tried replacing the bulb with a bright, low current LED? (Perhaps SMD)
Since the camera works on 3 Volts anyway and its only used for a second a time, this should be fairly easy to accomplish?

The points mentioned here would really improve the shooting experience a lot, and I wonder why, though this camera is perfect in some ways, its creators overlooked these features. (especially exp. lock and aperture in viewfinder) Considering the Super A was an upmarket, enthusiast model.

I am very interested in your opinions, or advice maybe, if the problem should be behind the camera.

Thanks in advance, SMC-A

11-24-2013, 04:39 PM   #2
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Not having an exposure lock is an issue - particularly as the LCD display in Manual mode isn't as intuitive a needle or array of LED. Not many cameras had that in the era though (not even the LX) and the first Pentaxs were the P30/P50s IIRC.

The 1/1000th before frame one it to speed up film changes if you've been shooting at a slow speed previously. The aperture is displayed in the finder in both P & Tv modes, with the aperture ring off 'A' most Pentax's don't display the aperture (my MZ-M will but only with AF lenses - none of my others will). I'd have expected you should get more that 400 exposures to a set of batteries, but I rarely shoot longer shutter speeds.

As for the LCD illumination, I'd leave this alone. I presume its an incandescent bulb that's used, an LED would have different electrical characteristics, simply opening the camera up risks damage.

John.

John.
11-24-2013, 07:35 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnha Quote
Not many cameras had that in the era
At least not in the Pentax line. My somewhat older Ricoh XR7 has both AE lock and exposure comp. It is my understanding that the intent is to use the camera displays to determine the amount of exposure comp to apply.

As for the body not displaying the aperture when in Av mode, the body truly does not "know" what aperture is set on the lens. What it does "know" is the offset from maximum. The only time when the camera "knows" the aperture is when the camera is setting the aperture.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 11-24-2013 at 07:54 PM.
11-24-2013, 09:12 PM   #4
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The illumination is only provided by the natural light and is a RPITA to see in low light conditions
I have no clue how hard would it be to put a LED in there....

QuoteOriginally posted by johnha Quote
As for the LCD illumination, I'd leave this alone. I presume its an incandescent bulb that's used, an LED would have different electrical characteristics, simply opening the camera up risks damage.

John.

John.


11-24-2013, 10:33 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnha Quote
Not having an exposure lock is an issue - particularly as the LCD display in Manual mode isn't as intuitive a needle or array of LED. Not many cameras had that in the era though (not even the LX) and the first Pentaxs were the P30/P50s IIRC.
First Pentax with exposure lock was the K2 DMD. Never understood why the LX didn't got it.
11-25-2013, 07:39 AM   #6
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Exposure lock? Isn't this where I noted the meter settings and then went full manual to match them?

I usually used two S76 (silver oxide) cells and seemingly went forever on a set of batteries. However, I rarely took exposures over 5 seconds and avoided using the back light for the viewfinder display. BTW, the viewfinder display worked better when I wasn't wearing a hat with a wide brim.

I know I did the right thing to sell my Super Program to acquire other photographic gear, but there are days I regret having done so.
11-25-2013, 09:46 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by titrisol Quote
The illumination is only provided by the natural light and is a RPITA to see in low light conditions
Except when you push the button to activate the lamp (probably incandescent) for viewfinder display illumination.


Steve
01-18-2014, 03:23 AM   #8
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Hi,

thank you very much for your answers, it is very interesting to get more insight into this. Unfortunaly a bit too late to make suggestions to the manufacturer.
I previously did not know that not showing the chosen aperture and not having an exposure lock was "a pentax thing" on so many models.
QuoteQuote:
[...]the body truly does not "know" what aperture is set on the lens. What it does "know" is the offset from maximum.
As for that, maximum + offset -> your chosen aperture.
And it has to know, how else to calculate the exposure time with open aperture metering?
At least thats the only logic I can come up with.

The Fuji cameras actually had a more elegant solution to the problem, offering the same functions.
Between the lens bayonet and a single contact pin is a resistor - corresponding to the maximum aperture of the lens. The chosen aperture is transmitted via a mechanical feeler. Full time aperture and speed are displayed.

I am planning to buy another Super-A body and investigate the possibilities of manipulating the "Frame 1" lock switch and the viewfinder illumination. Maybe I can turn this into a how-to thread :)

01-18-2014, 07:11 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by SMC-A Quote
I previously did not know that not showing the chosen aperture and not having an exposure lock was "a pentax thing" on so many models.
As for that, maximum + offset -> your chosen aperture.
And it has to know, how else to calculate the exposure time with open aperture metering?
At least thats the only logic I can come up with.

The Fuji cameras actually had a more elegant solution to the problem, offering the same functions.
Between the lens bayonet and a single contact pin is a resistor - corresponding to the maximum aperture of the lens. The chosen aperture is transmitted via a mechanical feeler. Full time aperture and speed are displayed.

I am planning to buy another Super-A body and investigate the possibilities of manipulating the "Frame 1" lock switch and the viewfinder illumination. Maybe I can turn this into a how-to thread
The K mount transmits the relative aperture the lens is set to by a lever at about 3 o'clock on the mount (looking into the camera), this controls a variable resistor connected to the exposure meter. The 'crippled' K mount (DSLRs and some 'MZ' film bodies) don't have this lever and can't open-aperture meter (at less than full aperture) unless the lens has electronic contacts. The lenses with aperture rings have moving levers to transmit aperture changes to the camera, the FA-J & DA lenses have static pins to indicate minimum aperture (the aperture that bodies not in program mode use).

The exposure meter measures the 'full aperture' reading then uses the aperture simulator variable resistor (above) to determine the offset down from full aperture (it doesn't need to know the actual aperture value - just how many stops down from the full aperture reading). The electronics in the body are not able to turn this into an absolute aperture value for display in the finder. When the lens is set to A, the aperture data is passed digitally through the contacts and as the camera controls the aperture, it knows what it is using.

My MZ-M is my only camera that displays the aperture in the finder (when using FA lenses) with the aperture ring not set to 'A'. This camera also has an illuminated LCD in the finder which may suit your needs better. It offers the same exposure modes, has a meter lock and I prefer the shutter speed dial to the buttons.

I don't know why you want to change the 1/1000th speed before the film is fully loaded? The speed reverts back to the previously set speed after the film advances to frame one and you won't gain anything. If you fiddle with anything and don't know what you're doing, you may find it will only ever fire at 1/1000th.

EDIT - It's not really a 'Pentax' thing, it is the way the original K mount works and had to be the same for the KA and later lenses to maintain backward compatibility.

Last edited by johnha; 01-18-2014 at 07:17 AM. Reason: Added text
01-18-2014, 10:14 AM   #10
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The Super Program/Super A is one of the few Pentax K- mount manual focus bodies I've never been interested in owning.
A meter display of digits without a scale of any sort (like the Canon A-1 I once owned) just leaves me cold.

Chris
01-23-2014, 05:58 PM   #11
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Just an FYI, they chose to lock it to 1000 to speed up the shutter time between winder cranks while you are getting to frame 1. Otherwise if you load film and then try to get it to advance it while in A mode with the lens cap on (an extremely common scenario since people often put the cap on while its in your lap being loaded and A is the first setting on the dial) you would get ridiculously long shutter hang as it tries to accommodate the complete blackness you are trying to take a picture of between winder cranks. Trying to override this would be undesirable even if you succeeded.

I have had a few cameras that when loaded just right could take a good picture on frame zero and get an extra frame from the roll which is perhaps what you are trying to do, but its not what you are supposed to do so they didn't feel any need to accommodate it.

As far as an LED that's an interesting proposition as the original is rather like the pre backlit digital watch lights, it works but it could be better. Getting the lid off of a Super Program only involves removing both dials and the winder (you will likely wreck the rubber winder cap) with spanners and then unscrewing it and lifting it off, at which point you accidentally rip the flimsy wire for the flash off the circuit board. I don't recall if the light was mounted to the underside of the lid or the top of the circuit board though you can see how small it is though the white window when you hit the button.
If the light is dim and flickering when you press the side button to light it up its a problem with the contact in the button itself and can be fixed. Any light shined on the white window on the lid will light the LED screens.

The Pentax LX came with a little window of sorts in the viewfinder as I recall that looks down at the aperture ring so you could see your aperture setting in the viewfinder at all times. That is the closest thing to displaying aperture you will find on an old camera.
01-23-2014, 06:52 PM   #12
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I like my super program a lot... wonderful viewfinder. It is a bit annoying to have to push that button to see what settings are going on, so I tend to just shoot it in Aperture priority mode and not look at anything. I normally shoot my LX that way as well but at least with the LX you get a meter in the viewfinder. I mostly chase kids around with my cameras so manual focus takes up the most part of my attention.
01-23-2014, 07:38 PM   #13
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Just to check Jamey does your viewfinder not display information in the LCD's when you half press the shutter button?
Pressing the button on the left side of the lens mount should both display that information and turn the light on, just half pressing the shutter will make the LCD's display the info without the light.
A common failure with these is the contacts for the shutter half press getting corroded and not working, or the button on the side of the lens mount also having poor contacts and requiring you to absolutely mash it down to get the light to turn on.
If either of these are true send it to Eric for a CLA with a special note that you need those cleaned up and he will get it sorted out.
01-24-2014, 08:14 AM   #14
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Yes it does PPPPP, I just can't ever see it inside the house :-) Actually if you put it on A it will show you the aperture as well. I don't like to let it choose the aperture, however.

Eric did the cla on mine just last year, couldn't be happier!
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