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09-22-2016, 08:50 PM   #1
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What classics are worth a CLA?

I am just just jumping in to Pentax collecting and have been seeing some varying opinions on the value of having a camera CLAd. I guess that if you can buy a working camera for $40 every time one breaks, then a $65 CLA doesn't make sense. On the other hand, once a body is properly restored to like new performance, you now have a known good body. Even if it fails at some point, you know much of its history so to throw it out and buy another used one of unknown true condition could also be a $40 mistake.

I'm the type who will maintain a known good machine rather than just replace it though. This is, of course, subject to the circumstances though. As an example, I just sent off a good, working, near mint, brown ME SE to Eric for CLA. I paid $23 for the camera. The reason that I am having the work done is because the only noticeable defect was a severely deteriorated mirror bumper. I figured that if the foam was that bad, then it had probably never been serviced and could use some TLC. Also, considering its condition, I wanted to be able to get many years of service from it rather than let it die from a lack of maintenance and then replace it with one that may die the week after I get it.

As I read some of the opinions on the CLA mentality though, it struck me that since the ME is nearly entirely electronic and was working perfectly, what will it really benefit from being serviced? What could possibly go wrong on an ME, ME Super, Super Program, etc, that a CLA would prevent? If an electronic component is going to fail, a mechanical servicing isn't going to prevent that.

Since I started my Pentax obsession 6 weeks ago I have obtained a very near mint black MX, the brown ME SE, a perfect, one owner silver ME Super, a near mint, silver, one owner MX from the same collection, 5 SMC M lenses of various configurations, and a Super Tak 300mm f4. Because of the mechanical nature of the MXs, I think that a CLA on them might be good insurance but what about the ME Super? Should I just shoot it until it quits and then toss it out and get another one, or should I have the PM performed? As I said, this camera is pretty well mint with the exception of the former owner's service number being neatly engraved in the base plate.

09-22-2016, 09:08 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by ctrout Quote
As I read some of the opinions on the CLA mentality though, it struck me that since the ME is nearly entirely electronic and was working perfectly, what will it really benefit from being serviced? What could possibly go wrong on an ME, ME Super, Super Program, etc, that a CLA would prevent? If an electronic component is going to fail, a mechanical servicing isn't going to prevent that.
This would be a great question for Eric But I think those bodies are far from being free of mechanical components, so a CLA probably applies just as much (plus foam would probably still need to be replaced).

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09-22-2016, 11:16 PM - 3 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by ctrout Quote
I am just just jumping in to Pentax collecting
That is a very dangerous road, I know because I am there and there is no stop
09-23-2016, 12:10 AM   #4
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I agree: if you have a particularly good body want to keep it and use it then a CLA is the way to go. I had my pretty-much-mint 1957 AP CLAed by Robin at Harrow Technical in the UK and now use it occasionally. I'm going to send him my 1958 S also.

09-23-2016, 12:44 AM   #5
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I can only speak about the ME based line of cameras that Pentax offered from 1977 on:

I own an ME Super, MV, ME-F and Super A, all of them basically operational but stored on a shelf in my private museum. If I intended to shoot with them regularly I would indeed send them to Eric for CLA. Why?

Electronics of these cameras are simple and fairly robust, apart from some contact problems of the "up" and "down" buttons of the ME Super and Super A (Super Program). So this is not an issue.

BUT: All these cameras show more or less the same mirrorbox mechanism, which unfortunately contains a small plastic damper on the right side, which chemically disintegrates over the years. The residue of this chemical process makes the mirrorbox mechanism sluggish and leads to all kind of strange phenomena.

Not only because of this, but also because these cameras contain hundreds of mechanical parts, and yes, they are fare more mechanical than electronic cameras, I do think, that CLA makes sense and keeps the camera in a trustworthy status for being used as workhorse.
09-23-2016, 01:09 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ctrout Quote
What could possibly go wrong on an ME, ME Super, Super Program, etc, that a CLA would prevent? If an electronic component is going to fail, a mechanical servicing isn't going to prevent that.
Apart from the inside foam which can jamb the works, old oil gets sticky and sliding parts hang up. I have an ME Super that has to be cocked several times to get the shutter to latch for example. I have looked into the bottom of the MV, MG and ME super and see a lot of stamped tin levers. (I think the ME is a little more reliable).

My opinion is that the classical Pentax cameras start right from the beginning in the fifties, through the S series, Spotmatics, and K series. Then the MX and LX although the LX is unlikely to live as long a life as the MX; it is very complicated, and parts are short and expensive. After this, we are into circuit-board cameras with their electronic problems. I have a Z20 that has unreadable faded view-finder information as another example. Plastic starts to dominate as automation takes over.
I don't know about you but I don't care for cameras that don't let you set ISO, or they rewind the film when and were you don't want, or that are dead without an expansive battery.
The early models I mentioned will last several lifetimes and be practical users that put the photographer in full control.
09-23-2016, 01:57 AM   #7
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I share your concerns about electronics.
An all-mechanical camera is your best bet.
That means nothing later than an MX.
FWIW I prefer the K series bodies.

Chris
09-23-2016, 04:29 AM   #8
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Yes, nothing later than an MX is great advice (assuming you include the LX as pre MX). The LX is definitely worth CLAing simply because it is such a great camera.

09-23-2016, 04:40 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wild Mark Quote
assuming you include the LX as pre MX
You can't. It's a different beast altogether, very much in its own class. The MX was the last of the all-mechanicals, those Pentax cameras which would in extremis deliver all shutter speeds without batteries. IIRC the LX delivers only the fast ones, at or above sync speed, which is sort-of useful because at least if the batteries or the electronics drop dead, you have a camera you can shoot hand-held in Sunny 16 constraints. And that's better than nothing.
09-23-2016, 04:58 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
An all-mechanical camera is your best bet.
I second that emotion. I have a Vivitar 250/SL that I have used the mess out of, as we say in the South (USA). Weddings, hobby, every situation where I used it, it performed flawlessly. (By the way, since Vivitar didn't actually make their lenses, who made their cameras?) I bought an ME Super new back in the day. Didn't use it much because I loved my Vivitar. Then after a couple years it quit working. Fresh batteries didn't help. It's a great looking camera and feels great in your hands, it just doesn't take pictures. So, anybody need an ME Super for parts?
09-23-2016, 06:02 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Apet-Sure Quote
since Vivitar didn't actually make their lenses, who made their cameras?
Likely Cosina?
09-23-2016, 09:05 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by dsmithhfx Quote
Likely Cosina?
Yes, tons of cameras used Cosina's basic mechanical platform over the years. The most common ones were the later Yashica FX-3 series, but you can also include Chinon's, Cosinas (of course), The Olympus OM-2000, Canon T60, the Vivitars, etc. The line lives on in the Nikon FM-10 (there was also the FE-10), and in the Voigtlander rangefinders.

I also understand that Ricoh never actually made their own SLRs. The early screw mounts were on the Mamiya platform. Later ones were all from Cosina - but they were a unique body layout, separate from the above models.
09-23-2016, 09:55 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ontarian50 Quote
Yes, tons of cameras used Cosina's basic mechanical platform over the years. The most common ones were the later Yashica FX-3 series, but you can also include Chinon's, Cosinas (of course), The Olympus OM-2000, Canon T60, the Vivitars, etc. The line lives on in the Nikon FM-10 (there was also the FE-10), and in the Voigtlander rangefinders.

I also understand that Ricoh never actually made their own SLRs. The early screw mounts were on the Mamiya platform. Later ones were all from Cosina - but they were a unique body layout, separate from the above models.
I bought an STL-1000 (argus-cosina badged) about a year ago, and it's like an SP on steroids, bigger and heavier (it's got a top plate the size of an aircraft carrier). Unfortunately it's got a really sticky rewind post (spins fine, just tough to leverage up to remove/add cassettes), so it's an SP I take with me. I probably should have returned it, but I loved the design too much and live in hope one day I can essay a repair. I do bring it along when I need a 2nd body, and it performs like a champ apart from the film un/loading awkwardness.
09-23-2016, 09:56 AM   #14
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Ricoh KR-5 Super 2 of 1989 is a mechanical, manual only, K-mount. As with the Pentax MX, batteries are only needed for the 3-Led exposure indicator.
Was that the last mechanical, manual only K-Mount?

Other brands with K-mount
09-23-2016, 12:27 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by wombat2go Quote
Was that the last mechanical, manual only K-Mount?
No doubt there is something probably still being churned out in China even today which owes its design legacy to the K1000 (even if it in no way resembles it physically). But as far as the major Japanese manufacturers are concerned, wasn't the K1000 turned out all the way into 1997? The KR-5 Super 2 might hold the record for being the last introduction of an all-mechanical camera from any of the majors.

QuoteOriginally posted by Ontarian50 Quote
I also understand that Ricoh never actually made their own SLRs. The early screw mounts were on the Mamiya platform. Later ones were all from Cosina - but they were a unique body layout, separate from the above models.
Well now, you learn something new every day. Regardless of the designers and manufacturers, Ricoh seems to have turned out a very interesting line of SLR cameras under their name, somewhat different in many ways from their Pentax cousins of the same technological generation. Looking at my XR-1 I clearly have a cousin of the Pentax K series in my hands, but it's just different enough to not be a completely slavish copy. A good place to be, IMO.
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