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10-13-2021, 07:58 PM   #1
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Super A love and hate

While playing with my recently accquired Super A, I was shocked and disappointed to learn that it does not have mechanical backup shutter, without battery it won't fire in all modes, beside the LX does Pentax have any automatic SLR with mechanical backup ? my one got a stiff mode dial, with the tiny unlock button it is very hard to change mode. The self timer seems to have problem that it randomly quit counting in the middle, it could be the battery so I'll get a new set to test. I've one complaint on this camera may be on other models too, it forces to fire few shots at 1/1000 on film change, wasted a precious frame that I used to 'steal' on other camera. Beside the above I still love the Super A, it is a small and pretty little camera with advanced features, I specially loved the handgrip to make the camera very comfortable to hold, I also got the winder, it is little loud to use but still good to have.

10-13-2021, 08:49 PM   #2
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While not automatic, why not consider a fully mechanical SLR? I have owned an MX for nearly 20 years and while I don't use it as much as I used to, it's a marvel of engineering and design. I used to have a K2 and now have two Spotmatics. There's something to be said about being fully in control of exposure without electronics; I shot a roll of negative film ages ago by just using sunny 16 and no external metering!
10-13-2021, 09:02 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by lotech Quote
While playing with my recently accquired Super A, I was shocked and disappointed to learn that it does not have mechanical backup shutter, without battery it won't fire in all modes, beside the LX does Pentax have any automatic SLR with mechanical backup ? my one got a stiff mode dial, with the tiny unlock button it is very hard to change mode. The self timer seems to have problem that it randomly quit counting in the middle, it could be the battery so I'll get a new set to test. I've one complaint on this camera may be on other models too, it forces to fire few shots at 1/1000 on film change, wasted a precious frame that I used to 'steal' on other camera. Beside the above I still love the Super A, it is a small and pretty little camera with advanced features, I specially loved the handgrip to make the camera very comfortable to hold, I also got the winder, it is little loud to use but still good to have.
If you set the mode dial to 1/125 and the lens to A when you are starting the roll, you can get shots that are automatically exposed then, I think.
10-13-2021, 09:24 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by lotech Quote
While playing with my recently accquired Super A, I was shocked and disappointed to learn that it does not have mechanical backup shutter, without battery it won't fire in all modes
I am surprised you are shocked. The camera specification is explicit that the shutter is electronically controlled and the user manual is explicit that the shutter will not release if the battery is dead. As far as I know, the LX is the only Pentax 35mm auto-exposure SLR that offered a full range of mechanical speeds in addition to electronic timing. While the K2 (1/1000, X, B) and auto-exposure M-series bodies (X and B) provided limited mechanical speeds, that feature was not continued on A and P series cameras.

In regards to the 1/1000s wasted frames leading to frame "1"...I guess that is one way to look at it.


Steve


Last edited by stevebrot; 10-13-2021 at 09:36 PM.
10-13-2021, 10:07 PM - 1 Like   #5
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If my memory don't fail, I remember my 1980 ME Super had a backup mechanical shutter of 1/125 that works without batteries. My first Pentax. Last time I had it in my hands was more than 30 years ago.
10-13-2021, 11:53 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jslifoaw Quote
While not automatic, why not consider a fully mechanical SLR? I have owned an MX for nearly 20 years and while I don't use it as much as I used to, it's a marvel of engineering and design. I used to have a K2 and now have two Spotmatics. There's something to be said about being fully in control of exposure without electronics; I shot a roll of negative film ages ago by just using sunny 16 and no external metering!
This^^^^^^^^^^^
10-14-2021, 11:01 AM   #7
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The Super A/Super Program often have issues with the self timer and the 1/2 press shutter release meter switch. My theory is they get some oxidation an the contacts and loose connectivity. Usually some exercise, moving the self time switch back and forth, helps the problem. The meter turn on from 1/2 press the shutter release can be exercised with the camera off, pressing the shutter release many times. Sometimes this help. In regards d to the shutter release, there really is no way to clean it that I know of. I've had them apart and that switch is a sealed unit.



10-14-2021, 02:20 PM   #8
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There’s nothing Pentax has made with Program that has a mechanical backup (maybe if you count the 645… I think it had something weird like that,though maybe that was just film advance)

There are a number of Pentaxes with aperture-priority auto that have a single shutter speed when the batteries go - really anything with M as the first letter of the model name except the MX. So ME, ME Super, MV, MV1, MG. Did I miss one?

The LX obviously has a wide variety of shutter speeds. The K2 and K2 DMD both do 1/125 and bulb mechanically.

If you want to go really vintage, the ES/ESII/Electro Spotmatic give you 1/60 and faster mechanically.

Otherwise there may be some Ricohs or Chinons that will get you there…

-Eric
10-14-2021, 11:23 PM   #9
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Thank for the reply guys, I finally 'fixed' the stiff mode dial with some lub, and I got the KX as well for backup. It was a disappointment being a high end model the Super A missed the mechanical backup, like the Minolta X700 I owned before I switched to Pentax. I may pick up a used LX again later on, I got one before but did not like it too much due to heavy shutter shock and noise, I got the Minotla XM which has interchangeable prism too and very heavy but softer at the shutter.
10-15-2021, 02:38 AM   #10
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Mechanical shutters at least for back-up were something that professionals, the most conservative of shooters, demanded long after electronic shutters were taking over the lower end of the camera market. Horizontal shutter curtains and FP flash sync sockets were other examples. Nikonians howled when the all-mechanical pro-grade F2 was replaced by the F3, which was similar to the LX in having basically an electronic shutter but with some mechanical back-up. The F3 only had back up at sync speed, and used a separate button for it - not as good as the LX.

It was understandable especially for pros - you did not want to have to change an SR44 button battery in the middle of a wedding shoot, even if you had thought to bring one. But with a new generation of photogs, mechanical back-up died out even at the top end, and the Pentax A series were during that time, and were not aimed at pros anyway (the LX was still in production). People came to accept the possible need to change batteries during a shoot, especially as batteries became bigger (less fiddly to change), and today grips contain what are in effect your back-up batteries anyway.
10-16-2021, 01:51 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by lotech Quote
Thank for the reply guys, I finally 'fixed' the stiff mode dial with some lub, and I got the KX as well for backup. It was a disappointment being a high end model the Super A missed the mechanical backup, like the Minolta X700 I owned before I switched to Pentax. I may pick up a used LX again later on, I got one before but did not like it too much due to heavy shutter shock and noise, I got the Minotla XM which has interchangeable prism too and very heavy but softer at the shutter.
The SuperA/ Super Program wasn't exactly a high end model. It was at the top of the amateur end for Pentax and was similarly featured to cameras from other makers at the time.

There were very few electronically controlled cameras in the mid to late 1980s that had any mechanical shutter speeds, and those that did were generally just using the flash sync speed.
The LX was a notable exception, but it was a big price jump from the Super Program to the LX.
The Nikon F3 would shoot at it's sync speed with no battery, as would the Nikon FE series Both synced a half stop faster than the X-700 at 1/90 sec.
The LX will shoot mechanically from it's sync speed of 1/75 second to 1/2000 second. No batteries are required for these speeds, though obviously no metering will happen either.
The LX does not have especially heavy shutter shock. It was one of the smoothest film cameras of the era, and wasn't especially noisier that other cameras of the day.

The X-700 did not, to the best of my knowledge have any mechanical shutter speeds, it was 100% battery dependant. I just checked the owners manual and no mention is made of any mechanical shutter operation.
Also, the X-700 had a very poor information readout when shooting in manual mode and a relatively mundane sync speed of 1/60 sec, which was typical of cameras from the 1960s onwards.
When many cameras had gone to vertical shutters and a 1/125 sync, and other higher end cameras that were still using a horizontal shutter were giving flash sync speeds in the 1/75 to 1/90th second range, the X-700 was still 1/60th second.

---------- Post added Oct 16th, 2021 at 02:53 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Lord Lucan Quote
Mechanical shutters at least for back-up were something that professionals, the most conservative of shooters, demanded long after electronic shutters were taking over the lower end of the camera market. Horizontal shutter curtains and FP flash sync sockets were other examples. Nikonians howled when the all-mechanical pro-grade F2 was replaced by the F3, which was similar to the LX in having basically an electronic shutter but with some mechanical back-up. The F3 only had back up at sync speed, and used a separate button for it - not as good as the LX.

It was understandable especially for pros - you did not want to have to change an SR44 button battery in the middle of a wedding shoot, even if you had thought to bring one. But with a new generation of photogs, mechanical back-up died out even at the top end, and the Pentax A series were during that time, and were not aimed at pros anyway (the LX was still in production). People came to accept the possible need to change batteries during a shoot, especially as batteries became bigger (less fiddly to change), and today grips contain what are in effect your back-up batteries anyway.
As a wedding shooter during that era, it was just part of the prep to pop fresh batteries into the camera as part of the equipment prep for the job. One of the weaknesses of the LX was it's refusal to use flash if the subject was backlit by more than 1/2 stop. I got caught out on that once, and learned after that to pull the batteries out of the camera and let it run on mechanical when I wanted reliable flash operation. I wasn't using a TTL flash at the time, my Metz 60 CT-2 was capable of TTL, but it was so accurate on it's own that it wasn't necessary.
Fill flash was not the LX'x strongest suit.

Last edited by Wheatfield; 10-16-2021 at 01:58 PM.
10-16-2021, 02:37 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by lotech Quote
… I may pick up a used LX again later on, I got one before but did not like it too much due to heavy shutter shock and noise, …
I never had evident shutter shock issues with my LX. OTOH I had a lot of camera-induced motion blur with my Super A, always in vertical direction. The problem was acerbated by the fact that – at least with my copy – the 1/125 really was closer to 1/100, something which the metering system apparently took into account so I assume it was intentional. Probably a consequence of having “1/125” as sync speed. But I found the TTL flash system extremely useful for bounced flash.
6 Days Ago   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by lotech Quote
While playing with my recently accquired Super A, I was shocked and disappointed to learn that it does not have mechanical backup shutter, without battery it won't fire in all modes
IMO electronic shutters get a bad rap. True, they don't work without batteries, but batteries last forever and a spare set takes up almost no space in the camera bag. And the beauty of electronic shutters over mechanicals is that they almost never go out of adjustment. If your electronic shutter is working, it's probably working properly. And don't forget that the electronic shutter can adjust in part-stop increments, so you can get very precise exposures. Manual mode can only go from 1/60 to 1/125, but in automatic mode the electronic shutter is stepless, so it can shoot at 1/100, 1/80, 1/123 -- whatever the camera thinks is necessary.

QuoteQuote:
my one got a stiff mode dial, with the tiny unlock button it is very hard to change mode.
I think this is the case with several Pentax cameras. Remember, they were meant to be used primarily in auto-exposure mode. At the time, that was seen as a real convenience. I think of my ME Super as an automatic-exposure camera with a manual mode, rather than a manual camera with an automatic mode.

QuoteQuote:
I've one complaint on this camera may be on other models too, it forces to fire few shots at 1/1000 on film change, wasted a precious frame that I used to 'steal' on other camera.
You can still do this, I believe -- I don't own a Super A but unless its very different from other Pentax M-series cameras, you don't need to wind until you see the S/0, just until you are sure the exposed film is clear of the shutter area. I find the Magic Needles makes it easy to get that extra shot -- I used to get an extra 2-3 shots per roll on my Pentax MG because I didn't really need to advance much film before I closed the back.

Aaron
6 Days Ago   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Autonerd Quote
IMO electronic shutters get a bad rap. True, they don't work without batteries, but batteries last forever and a spare set takes up almost no space in the camera bag.
...
You can still do this, I believe -- I don't own a Super A but unless its very different from other Pentax M-series cameras, you don't need to wind until you see the S/0, just until you are sure the exposed film is clear of the shutter area. I find the Magic Needles makes it easy to get that extra shot -- I used to get an extra 2-3 shots per roll on my Pentax MG because I didn't really need to advance much film before I closed the back.

Aaron
The Super A (and Super Program) are very different from the M-Series cameras in this respect. The camera will use 1/1000 for the first couple of wound frames until it gets to "1".
The reason was because it has a 30s maximum shutter speed, so if you had left the camera in "auto" and left the lens cap on, you might end up with having to wait over a minute before getting past the first couple of frames... which would be accompanied by a lot of profanity and a promise to buy Nikon next time...
I've heard if you have the camera lens set to "A", the camera will meter for those first two exposures, and as long as you can get a good exposure at 1/1000 it can still work.
I never tried that on purpose, but it seems rather limiting... On my Super Program, it was easy to: Load, shoot, shoot, ready... even if it wasted a frame, I usually got 37...

I agree completely, though, on batteries in old cameras right now. I never shoot film professionally these days (even when I did, I always had a backup body), so if I'm ever out shooting and my battery dies, I just have a spare. I also usually have a digital body or at least my phone, so I can capture something... And the Super A has the advantage of using extremely inexpensive batteries that last a while unlike some more modern cameras (looking at you, PZ-1...)

-Eric
6 Days Ago   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by CarlosU Quote
If my memory don't fail, I remember my 1980 ME Super had a backup mechanical shutter of 1/125 that works without batteries. My first Pentax. Last time I had it in my hands was more than 30 years ago.
I actually bought the camera just for that reason. Mine is in my bedroom closet. Every now and then I repack the boxes, so I've held it within the last year or two.
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