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03-19-2014, 08:32 PM - 1 Like   #1
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What's so Super About the Super Program

I swear, my camera guy's got my number; he surely knows what a SUCKER I am for old film cameras, especially Pentax! (Go figure) I usually visit his shop once or twice a week and probably know the stock as good as HE does, LOL. I've been unable to, vacation and a bout with the flu so I missed a couple of weeks. He's got some new stock; a few more Nikons and...those brand cameras, a bunch of digital gear, lenses and I mean a LOT, including a D300 that I was seriously considering as an upgrade to my D50. (No, AWAY you heathens, I'm NOT giving up my K100DS; it will just have to deal with sharing the bag with my new D90) and did I say some REALLY nice glass? So yesterday, I had a few minutes and 'popped in' but what got my attention and kept me awake most of the night was a Super Program with a 50/1.7, Pentax flash and a 70-210 zoom sitting in the case between a Minolta and an Olympus. (no wonder it was growling)

I've got an ME Super and an ME, both of which are super cameras. I read up on the SP which of course...guess who was waiting at the shop when it opened today?!? Yeah, he saw me a mile away, grinned and made me a smoking deal I simply couldn't pass up! So, this has some improvements over my other 'stingy-frame' Pentax'es I prefer aperture priority or manual mostly but the full auto is kind of cool. Reminds me of my A-1. Has that ME picture window viewfinder and unlike the ME/MES the display is along the bottom and not along the left where lefties like me have a hard time seeing. Shades of the A-1. In fact, as I played with it, that display reminds me of my F-3. Hmmm...and I like that camera AND my A-1's a lot! The wind lever is just...wow-smooth, and the shutter release is...only a Pentax feels that good! I like the bolt on grip, in fact these smaller Pentax's are a favorite! I got big mitts but they don't feel small, just petite. In comparison I pick up a say...D5200 size DSLR, it handles to me like I got oven mitts on. Not the ME/Super program! Which is why I rescued the poor thing. I mean, no self-respecting Pentax guy would leave the poor girl in there with only two K1000's and all those...other brands.

So, those of you out there in Pentax-land that have one, what are some of the quirks, good and bad, features you like or don't like?

03-19-2014, 08:36 PM   #2
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The super thing is that it supports all 4 basic shooting modes (shutter priority, aperture priority, manual, and program) and is still made of metal That's why the super program is my favorite Pentax film camera.

Adam
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03-19-2014, 08:43 PM   #3
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The only not SUPER thing I found about it when I was thinking on buying it new many years ago is that there's no mechanically driven shutter speed as a backup when batteries failed (1/100, 1/125, or 1/2000th of a second).

Last edited by j0n4hpk; 03-19-2014 at 08:44 PM. Reason: Correction
03-19-2014, 08:50 PM   #4
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I'm with Adam. I bought one new for my employer, a book publisher, in 1986 or '87 so that anyone in the office could use it--but those of us into photography could actually USE it. So much capability packed into a solid, hefty little machine not much bigger than the ME/MX. What's not to love?

03-19-2014, 09:30 PM   #5
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TTL flash (the real TTL). A mode works with DA lenses, which is kinda crazy. Sublime when paired with an M50/1.7. Looks cool.
03-19-2014, 09:51 PM   #6
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Just DON'T start looking at the dedicated Motor Drive A.. I had been waiting a year for one with a reasonable price and i finally got it last week..
Sad to say, it's a love-hate relationship as compared to the Winder MEii.

Why? Because it's SOOOOOO smooth and sexy! The Winder MEii is REALLY loud and sort of unrefined, in comparison to it.. And because of that, it just makes me want to shoot for the sake of shooting! LOL!
03-19-2014, 10:34 PM   #7
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Why is it super? Because it had the most comprehensive feature set of all Pentax cameras at the time and was at the top of Pentax's non-professional line. The professional MX and LX were better cameras, but the Super Program is clearly the most capable of the A-series bodies.

I enjoy using mine and the best features are:
  • Modal controls for all exposure options (Av, Tv, P, and M)
  • Fast (for the time) and durable electronic shutter
  • Large/bright viewfinder
  • Full information viewfinder display
  • Dedicated flash support with true exposure-time TTL metering when paired with TTL flash units
  • Easy to use DOF preview
  • Compact and light
  • Decent battery life
  • Supports both power winder and motor drive
Not so good in my book:
  • Auxiliary light for viewfinder LCD is dim and hard to use
  • Changing the shutter mode is a pain due to the lock mechanism
  • Button-based shutter speed selection leaves much to be desired
  • Available Winder ME II is cumbersome (more a problem of the winder rather than the camera)
  • No mechanical shutter speeds
  • Aperture setting not visible in LCD displays in Av or M mode
If you want a decent 80s-era Pentax 35mm SLR for a relatively low price and you want a full palette of exposure modes, this is the one to get.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 03-19-2014 at 10:41 PM.
03-19-2014, 11:43 PM   #8
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Mine is waiting in Ohio for me to collect in May along with my Motordrive A, both having been serviced by Eric... Only two months to wait now. I bought it years ago for the lens attached to it but have only just got around to getting it serviced so I can use it.

Enjoy yours, K.

03-20-2014, 05:50 AM   #9
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In March 1993 I purchased a used "Pentax Program A" at the Camberwell Camera Fair in Melbourne Australia.

I still have the receipt but do not recall the purchase or ever using it.
Probably purchased it for a friend.
The Program A model ran from 1984 to 1988, so at the time I paid $240 for a 5 year old used camera body!
03-20-2014, 08:49 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by wombat2go Quote
In March 1993 I purchased a used "Pentax Program A" at the Camberwell Camera Fair in Melbourne Australia.

I still have the receipt but do not recall the purchase or ever using it.
Probably purchased it for a friend.
The Program A model ran from 1984 to 1988, so at the time I paid $240 for a 5 year old used camera body!
Different camera than the Super A/Super Program, but still a nice body.


Steve
03-20-2014, 04:21 PM   #11
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by j0n4hpk Quote
The only not SUPER thing I found about it when I was thinking on buying it new many years ago is that there's no mechanically driven shutter speed as a backup when batteries failed (1/100, 1/125, or 1/2000th of a second).
And the takeup spool; Don't think I've ever had a camera give me fits loading except these ME types! (gee, I don't remember my ME being such a pain to load...) Can't get the leader to stay on the spool. Gets almost...then pops out of the splines...grrr.

---------- Post added 03-20-14 at 04:29 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by SyncGuy Quote
Just DON'T start looking at the dedicated Motor Drive A.. I had been waiting a year for one with a reasonable price and i finally got it last week..
Sad to say, it's a love-hate relationship as compared to the Winder MEii.

Why? Because it's SOOOOOO smooth and sexy! The Winder MEii is REALLY loud and sort of unrefined, in comparison to it.. And because of that, it just makes me want to shoot for the sake of shooting! LOL!
LOL, no worries there; I have a winder II and hate it!
QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Why is it super? Because it had the most comprehensive feature set of all Pentax cameras at the time and was at the top of Pentax's non-professional line. The professional MX and LX were better cameras, but the Super Program is clearly the most capable of the A-series bodies.


I enjoy using mine and the best features are:
  • Modal controls for all exposure options (Av, Tv, P, and M)
  • Fast (for the time) and durable electronic shutter
  • Large/bright viewfinder
  • Full information viewfinder display
  • Dedicated flash support with true exposure-time TTL metering when paired with TTL flash units
  • Easy to use DOF preview
  • Compact and light
  • Decent battery life
  • Supports both power winder and motor drive
Not so good in my book:
  • Auxiliary light for viewfinder LCD is dim and hard to use
  • Changing the shutter mode is a pain due to the lock mechanism
  • Button-based shutter speed selection leaves much to be desired
  • Available Winder ME II is cumbersome (more a problem of the winder rather than the camera)
  • No mechanical shutter speeds
  • Aperture setting not visible in LCD displays in Av or M mode
If you want a decent 80s-era Pentax 35mm SLR for a relatively low price and you want a full palette of exposure modes, this is the one to get.


Steve
Spot on! It took me a while to find out the LCD/aperture thing, thought something was broke at first! I'm still fooling and getting used to it.
03-20-2014, 04:56 PM   #12
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The Super-A was my first Pentax, I later sold it and then had to buy another (at far greater cost). It's a very good camera with a few foibles but for sheer compactness, build quality and capability it is hard to beat. My favourite set-up was one with the Motordrive-A and M40/2.8. The only real negative being the lack of a meter lock.
03-20-2014, 05:22 PM   #13
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It came after the ME Super and added more automation, so Super + Program I suppose.
03-22-2014, 06:00 AM   #14
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Picked up a nice Super A with Motordrive A locally. Lovely camera, and comfortable to hold with the drives grip. Bit heavy, but can shoot 3.5 fps. I love the KX I just got more, but prefer the Suepr A to the ME Super SE. The buttons and leds lose something, still can't let any of them go though! Like my 645nII, having an A setting and manual adjustment (on dials!) really is the best photographic interface imo. I dont know why they haven't done that on digital cameras properly yet
03-22-2014, 09:38 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by bibz Quote
Picked up a nice Super A with Motordrive A locally. Lovely camera, and comfortable to hold with the drives grip. Bit heavy, but can shoot 3.5 fps. I love the KX I just got more, but prefer the Suepr A to the ME Super SE. The buttons and leds lose something, still can't let any of them go though! Like my 645nII, having an A setting and manual adjustment (on dials!) really is the best photographic interface imo. I dont know why they haven't done that on digital cameras properly yet
Fuji's already doing the aperture dial thing-y, i'm afraid and it sure feels oh-so-intuitive!
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