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02-08-2020, 12:25 AM   #1
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Pentax ME - new owner with few questions

Hello all, this is my first post so a brief introduction first. I don't consider myself to be a photographer - not even an amateur one. However, I like taking photos. I started in my early teens with 6x6 film and a vary basic toy like camera. Then I spend next about 15 years without a camera. When the Canon EOS350D (Rebel) was introduced I got one. Then I bought few lenses and an used EOS20D body. However, as I goes with digital, the number of shots increased rapidly and time required to process them at the computer was never found. Somehow, I lost interested and sold all my gear except for the now very old but reliable 350D body and 18-55 lens. It gets used once or twice a year by my wife.

Few years ago I discovered and old film camera in the attic. It was Carl Zeiss Jena Werramatic, a fully manual rangefinder made in East Germany in the 1960s. It took me a year to shot a roll of film. As nice this camera was, the ergonomics is really bad. It was heavy and felt like a brick. I sold it and bought Konica C35 instead. This was a rangefinder too, lighter, smaller and fully automatic. Shot a roll of film but didn't like the camera much. So, I decided to look at something else. I like rangefinders however not many of them were around. Leica's are way too expensive, Soviet era Feds and Zorkis are out of question due to a bad heritage these cameras come with.

I came across Olympus OM SLR's. And liked them - small almost like a rangefider, interchangeable lenses are a plus. For some time I was looking for OM10 in good condition. OMx series would be better but the prices were two to three times higher. Then I spotted an offer for Pentax ME with 50mm 1.7 lens, the black version, in excellent condition and for half the price the usual offers for OM10 were. I could not resist.

The camera came about a week ago. I was surprised in the most positive meaning of the word surprised. My hands have never touched a non-plastic film SLR before. This camera feels like it comes from a completely different world. This little machine is a real engineering marvel. The viewfinder in EOS350D (and 20D) are a no match to this little Pentax. I haven't shot a single roll of film yet but everytime my hands touch it I get smile on my face.

It didn't come without issues though. The seller claimed there are fresh batteries in it. However, I noticed the shutter time sometimes felt inconsistent with what was indicated in the viewfinder. For example, the viewfinder show 1/2 and the shutter sounded more like 1/125th. However the next shot was (or sounded) correct. This happened about once or twice per 10 shots. I noticed the LED in the viewfinder kind of flickered. I read the user guide and came to a conclusion this might be low batteries. So I replaced them (the old ones were surprisingly still @ 1.5V) and the issue disappeared to some extend. But not completely. I still get a shutter time that feels wrong once in every about 100 shots. The next shot with the same indicated shutter speed always feels ok. This issue is not repeatable and I am unable to find any meaningful pattern except the next shot feels ok.

Q1: Any idea what the above described issue could be?

Q2: If the ISO dial knob exercised bad (corroded) contacts, is it indicated in the viewfinder as erroneous shutter speed value? If the contact is intermittent, does it show up as LED "jumping" rapidly between shutter speeds?

Q3: The half press of shutter release does not seem to work as AE lock. Is this normal for these cameras?

Q4: When I half press the shutter button, the LED goes to UNDER, than quickly to OVER, and then it shows the correct shutter speed. This all happens within about half a second. Is this UNDER/OVER normal or is the lightmeter trying to tell me something is not right?

Q5: The lightmeter under low light seems to be greatly influenced by a viewfinder backlighting. Is this normal? I have not noticed similar issue with digital SLRs.

Q6. The 50mm lens is nicely made. However the even smaller pancake 40mm f/2.8 lens looks tempting. Has anyone had any practical experience with it? I am not concerned about the optical performance - this will certainly be more than adequate for my needs. It is the handling, mostly how convenient is the focusing ring, that I am curious about.

If anyone can reply any of the about question, it would be greatly appreciated.

02-08-2020, 05:16 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by peter.d Quote
Hello all, this is my first post so a brief introduction first. I don't consider myself to be a photographer - not even an amateur one. However, I like taking photos. I started in my early teens with 6x6 film and a vary basic toy like camera. Then I spend next about 15 years without a camera. When the Canon EOS350D (Rebel) was introduced I got one. Then I bought few lenses and an used EOS20D body. However, as I goes with digital, the number of shots increased rapidly and time required to process them at the computer was never found. Somehow, I lost interested and sold all my gear except for the now very old but reliable 350D body and 18-55 lens. It gets used once or twice a year by my wife.

Few years ago I discovered and old film camera in the attic. It was Carl Zeiss Jena Werramatic, a fully manual rangefinder made in East Germany in the 1960s. It took me a year to shot a roll of film. As nice this camera was, the ergonomics is really bad. It was heavy and felt like a brick. I sold it and bought Konica C35 instead. This was a rangefinder too, lighter, smaller and fully automatic. Shot a roll of film but didn't like the camera much. So, I decided to look at something else. I like rangefinders however not many of them were around. Leica's are way too expensive, Soviet era Feds and Zorkis are out of question due to a bad heritage these cameras come with.

I came across Olympus OM SLR's. And liked them - small almost like a rangefider, interchangeable lenses are a plus. For some time I was looking for OM10 in good condition. OMx series would be better but the prices were two to three times higher. Then I spotted an offer for Pentax ME with 50mm 1.7 lens, the black version, in excellent condition and for half the price the usual offers for OM10 were. I could not resist.

The camera came about a week ago. I was surprised in the most positive meaning of the word surprised. My hands have never touched a non-plastic film SLR before. This camera feels like it comes from a completely different world. This little machine is a real engineering marvel. The viewfinder in EOS350D (and 20D) are a no match to this little Pentax. I haven't shot a single roll of film yet but everytime my hands touch it I get smile on my face.

It didn't come without issues though. The seller claimed there are fresh batteries in it. However, I noticed the shutter time sometimes felt inconsistent with what was indicated in the viewfinder. For example, the viewfinder show 1/2 and the shutter sounded more like 1/125th. However the next shot was (or sounded) correct. This happened about once or twice per 10 shots. I noticed the LED in the viewfinder kind of flickered. I read the user guide and came to a conclusion this might be low batteries. So I replaced them (the old ones were surprisingly still @ 1.5V) and the issue disappeared to some extend. But not completely. I still get a shutter time that feels wrong once in every about 100 shots. The next shot with the same indicated shutter speed always feels ok. This issue is not repeatable and I am unable to find any meaningful pattern except the next shot feels ok.

Q1: Any idea what the above described issue could be?

Q2: If the ISO dial knob exercised bad (corroded) contacts, is it indicated in the viewfinder as erroneous shutter speed value? If the contact is intermittent, does it show up as LED "jumping" rapidly between shutter speeds?

Q3: The half press of shutter release does not seem to work as AE lock. Is this normal for these cameras?

Q4: When I half press the shutter button, the LED goes to UNDER, than quickly to OVER, and then it shows the correct shutter speed. This all happens within about half a second. Is this UNDER/OVER normal or is the lightmeter trying to tell me something is not right?

Q5: The lightmeter under low light seems to be greatly influenced by a viewfinder backlighting. Is this normal? I have not noticed similar issue with digital SLRs.

Q6. The 50mm lens is nicely made. However the even smaller pancake 40mm f/2.8 lens looks tempting. Has anyone had any practical experience with it? I am not concerned about the optical performance - this will certainly be more than adequate for my needs. It is the handling, mostly how convenient is the focusing ring, that I am curious about.

If anyone can reply any of the about question, it would be greatly appreciated.
Q1 - Honestly, I cannot tell the difference in the sound of the shutter unless with a long exposure time. But I know that lightmetering in the ME is very sensitive. In know that when I pushed the button for exposure, the leds always quickly changed to another value. So you can only know if there something at fault after you developed the film.
Q2 - jumping rapidly between shutter speeds most of the time means that ME cannot set the right value of exposure due to the light. Can either be over- or underexposure outside the possibities with of the settings (iso) and aperture.
Q3 - I do not think ME has an AE lock, I remember that first you focus, then you push the shutter release. Halfway just activates the lightmetering. I think AE lock was first introduced with autofocus, because lightmetering is faster than autofocus. And as you always set aperture and focus first with an ME there is no need to lock the lightmeter. ME meters the light at time of exposure.
Q4 - Yes, that is what the ME does: it is metering the light for the exposure and to find the correct value it will flash up and down.
Q5 - Viewfinder backlighting is a common problem. For manual exposure keep your eye to the viewfinder to block out the backlight, timer exposure needs a viewfinder cap to block out the light. Digital SLR has the same issue, although it never happened to me, yet!
Q6 - I would prefer the old 50mm as it has a FOV resembling the human eye.

I have owned both ME and ME super both with the 50mm 1.7 and had never any problems with it and made a huge amount of great pictures. If your experience with Q1 would have been the other way around lightmetering 1/125 and sounding like 1/2sec, then I would suggest that the mirror does not work well and takes to much time to go up and down, which holds up the shutter. But that you can see in the viewfinder.

Last edited by Unregistered User; 02-08-2020 at 10:26 AM. Reason: Accidentally I described how it work on a Super A in answer Q1..
02-08-2020, 07:25 AM   #3
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Thank you for all your answers.

QuoteOriginally posted by AfterPentax Quote
Q1 - Honestly, I cannot tell the difference in the sound of the shutter unless with a long exposure time. But I know that lightmetering in the ME is very sensitive. In know that when I pushed the button for exposure, the leds always quickly changed to another value. So you can only know if there something at fault after you developed the film.
Yes, that's probably the way to go. Need to place an online order for few rolls - nothing at home at the moment. It's a shame one cannot buy films in supermarkets/petrol stations/drug stores.
QuoteQuote:
Also, be sure that the setting for exposure is not set on flashlight exposure, then the meter will probably show 1/2 and go of at 1/100. (the only manual speed that you can set apart from B)
In the 1/100 mode the lightmeter appears to be completely off - all LED off.
QuoteQuote:
Q6 - I would prefer the old 50mm as it has a FOV resembling the human eye.
My most used focal length over the years appear to be between 35 and 45mm. 50mm feels a bit tight. On the other hand the lens I got is in a pristine condition, so probably will live with it. Those 40mm pancake lenses are roughly as much expensive as the camera+50mm lens I got.

Another question, what case do you guys use for these old cameras? Mine came without a case. Those I saw with original cases were rather sad looking.
02-08-2020, 07:40 AM   #4
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welcome to the forums

lots of friendly members and knowledge can be found here

have you discovered the owners reviews of the ME yet:

QuoteQuote:
Description:
The Pentax ME was introduced in 1976 as the most compact SLR ever for the 24 x 36mm film format.

The introduction of the Pentax ME was a bold move by Pentax in that it only provided one exposure mode - Av exposure automation. The photographer set the aperture, the camera would set the shutter speed. The camera did have a +/- 2EV exposure compensation - this was the only means by which the photographer could influence the exposure.

There was one mechanical speed, 1/100 s, which was intended as a backup in case the batteries went dead. Metering was not available in that mode.

The view finder was large and bright, larger than on the full size K-series of film cameras introduced the year before.

An SE (Special Edition) model variant was introduced later with brown leather.

An external 1.5 fps winder was available.

Read more at: Pentax ME - Pentax Manual Focus Film SLRs - Pentax Camera Reviews and Specifications

_________

search for a Pentax ME " everready " case

not very practical since you must remove camera from case to remove or add film

some attached via tripoid mount, some just by friction

originals may not be in good shape but I found a very nice non pentax one, no idea when produced in Taiwan

I'll post photos later today

____________________________________________

link to manual pdf

https://butkus.org/chinon/pentax/pentax_me/pentax_me.htm

[ I recently got a ME Super ]


Last edited by aslyfox; 02-08-2020 at 07:53 AM.
02-08-2020, 07:45 AM   #5
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I had a 40mm f/2.8 back in the eighties, but never really grew attached to it. It worked well and certainly made the camera/lens package much easier to carry. Handling was OK as far as I remember but that thin focusing ring was kinda weird special.

They are fairly rare these days and tend to be expensive. Since you already have the 50mm f/1.7, rather look out for something else to round out your kit. The extra one and a half stop makes a big difference for bokeh and low light as well.

The Pentax M lineup has a lot of great lenses. I can recommend the 28mm f/2.8, 100mm f/2.8 and 200mm f/4. I have them all and they work great on film and digital.
02-08-2020, 07:47 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by aslyfox Quote
welcome to the forums

lots of friendly members and knowledge can be found here

have you discovered the owners reviews of the ME yet:




Read more at: Pentax ME - Pentax Manual Focus Film SLRs - Pentax Camera Reviews and Specifications

link to manual pdf

Pentax ME instruction manual, user manual, PDF manual, free manuals

[ I recently got a ME Super ]
Yes, I read those reviews before I decided to buy the camera. I will contribute with my own experience once I put couple of films through it.
02-08-2020, 08:12 AM   #7
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you will find some photos taken using the 40mm original pancake here

the Pentax 40mm and 43mm Lens Club - Page 14 - PentaxForums.com

but I don't know if they were taken with a film or digital camera

_______________

QuoteQuote:
Description:
Also known as the "pancake," this is the smallest SLR lens that Pentax ever produced. It includes all the features of any other M lens.

In 2006, it was superseded by an even smaller DA version, but that version did not feature an aperture ring.
Read more at: https://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/SMC-Pentax-M-40mm-F2.8-Pankake-Lens.html#ixzz6DNMeigtc
02-08-2020, 09:25 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by peter.d Quote
...However, as I goes with digital, the number of shots increased rapidly and time required to process them at the computer was never found.
If you're going to actively post online pictures, film may not solve your computer time problem. Yes, you can send your roll of film out to be developed and get back a ready to post images. It's simple and easy. You get what an automated process gives you.

To me that is analogous to shooting out of camera JPEGs with your digital camera which is also simple, easy and gives you a ready to go image too. But it sounds like you elected to edit RAW files instead? And if you start tweaking the scans for color, contrast, etc then you are back in front of a computer, again. Just some thoughts.

02-08-2020, 10:30 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by peter.d Quote
Thank you for all your answers.


Yes, that's probably the way to go. Need to place an online order for few rolls - nothing at home at the moment. It's a shame one cannot buy films in supermarkets/petrol stations/drug stores.

In the 1/100 mode the lightmeter appears to be completely off - all LED off.

My most used focal length over the years appear to be between 35 and 45mm. 50mm feels a bit tight. On the other hand the lens I got is in a pristine condition, so probably will live with it. Those 40mm pancake lenses are roughly as much expensive as the camera+50mm lens I got.

Another question, what case do you guys use for these old cameras? Mine came without a case. Those I saw with original cases were rather sad looking.
I corrected Q1, by accident I wrote how it works on a later model. With the ME lightmetering is off when set 1/100 being a fixed shutter speed.
02-08-2020, 08:43 PM   #10
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I had to pull out my ME to look since I haven’t used it in a while. My ME saw a cleaning from my camera repair man a couple of years ago and everything works like new.

As stated, the metering is off when set to 100.
My meter does not jump when pressing the shutter button, it holds steady. I wonder if you have a poor battery contact, or possible corrosion somewhere?
As far as the shutter sounds... with all the film cameras I’ve had (a lot) it’s usually the opposite problem, 1/125 shooting at 1/2, and usually due to a sticky mirror bumper.

I’ve never used the M40, but have multiple copies of 28 and 50 lenses.
02-09-2020, 02:25 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by twilhelm Quote
My meter does not jump when pressing the shutter button, it holds steady. I wonder if you have a poor battery contact, or possible corrosion somewhere?
My meter does not jump either. At least not randomly and erratically. It stays steady and follows the light as I point the camera. It is just when the lightmeter is off and I half press the shutter release the LED shows under, then over and then the correct speed. This happens very very quickly, within half a second I reckon. Then it stays at the metered speed as it should.

---------- Post added 02-09-20 at 02:49 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
If you're going to actively post online pictures, film may not solve your computer time problem. Yes, you can send your roll of film out to be developed and get back a ready to post images. It's simple and easy. You get what an automated process gives you.

To me that is analogous to shooting out of camera JPEGs with your digital camera which is also simple, easy and gives you a ready to go image too. But it sounds like you elected to edit RAW files instead? And if you start tweaking the scans for color, contrast, etc then you are back in front of a computer, again. Just some thoughts.
No, I am not an online person. I don't think I have ever posted any of my photos. Not counting snapshots for ebay and similar stuff. And I feel no need for sharing any part of my life electronically. I hope this does not offend anyone on this forum.

I do not plan to scan or get the negatives scanned either. I will be happy with printed photos.

About 7 years ago I decided I will somehow organize all our photos. Bought an old copy of Lightroom, copied photos from all CDs, external HDDs, phones and memory cards my wife and me used since late 1990s when we went digital to a home NAS. To this date we have about 100.000 pictures. None of these got ever printed. None of us ever found a time to sort through this lot, delete bad shots, select the good ones, tweak them if necessary and order prints. And we really tried. Neither we found time to sit by the computer and show our memories to our kids. So, basically these are just data on the NAS with no convenient way to look at them. On the other hand, the photo albums we have from analogue era get our attention couple of times a year on those rainy Sunday afternoons. I realized, it might be more enjoyable to take less photos, enjoy the moment instead, enjoy the time thinking about composition and have all of them printed. Some of the photos will bad, some might be good. Who cares - they all will be records of our memories. My wife happily agrees. I know, this can be achieved with digital but there is always the temptation to take more photos, review them on the display and basically return to where we are now And, this little Pentax feels just right in the hands
02-09-2020, 03:14 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by peter.d Quote

I do not plan to scan or get the negatives scanned either. I will be happy with printed photos.
Most labs make prints from scans these days where I live. Do you have a lab that still does it the old-school way?

Most people post their photos they take for the hobby of photography not their personal and family pictures.
02-09-2020, 03:27 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
Most labs make prints from scans these days where I live. Do you have a lab that still does it the old-school way?

Most people post their photos they take for the hobby of photography not their personal and family pictures.
Same here. However, they do not provide scans (in digital files) as a part of the package. It is a paid service and rather expensive.
03-07-2020, 02:09 AM   #14
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Well, well. First major fault. The mirror got stuck up and shutter open when I was about half way through the first roll. A gentle thump to the bottom plate did seem help to close the shutter and mirror went down. I tried take another exposure and the same happened again.

I followed this excellent write up Repairing A Pentax ME Film Transport ? Simon Hawketts' Photo Blog and all seems to be fine now. Will see if it is a long term fix.
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