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04-09-2009, 09:56 PM   #1
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First camera for cheap: ME Super vs Spotmatic

I did a fair amount of film photography in high school and loved it, but at college I haven't had a chance to do any, and I don't own my own film camera. I'm going to Ecuador for a few months this summer and think it would be the perfect opportunity to get back into photography again.

So, I've been doing some googling and reading here, and also some ebay prowling, and I think I've narrowed it down to either buying an ME Super or a Spotmatic (preferably with a Takumar lens), but I need help deciding.

I prefer total manual control, I'm not really into auto settings, so I'd prefer a camera that gives me that option (not sure about the ME Super on this point). I also am looking for something small and solid. I don't want to be lugging multiple lenses around; I'll probably go for a standard 50mm lens for general purpose use.

I'll be shooting black and white, which I'll develop and print myself. I'm probably going to bring some ISO 400 and 100 film with me for general use, but probably using the 400 in lower light conditions (do I have that right?).

Also important is that the camera be able to withstand humidity. I will be visiting the Amazon on the trip and want the camera to be able to hold up to the climate.

I know that, when buying off of ebay, it would probably be a good idea to get the camera serviced upon purchase, things like getting new light seals, etc. Does anyone know of a good place for this in New York City or Eastern Massachusetts?

I'm not looking to spend too much money on this, preferably between $100 and $150 (I don't know how much servicing costs, though), less if possible. I'm on a student budget, here...

So, opinions between the two? Am I missing an obvious third option?

Thanks in advance!

04-09-2009, 10:32 PM   #2
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Between those two, I would choose the K1000. Yes, I know it was not on your list, but to me if your looking for a fully manual and ease of use SLR, that would be my choice. Having said that, my personal favorite SLR that I own is my ME SUPER. You set the aperture and the camera chooses the shutter speed and its metering is very, very good..Small and compact and coupled with my M40F/2.8 it is a great set up! + Its shutter goes to 1/2000....and is quiet...
04-09-2009, 10:41 PM   #3
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I second the K1000 .
the K1000 IS THE BEST CAMERA EVER!!! for so many many reasons that are not on the paper . this camera is magic and this is why it was so so so popular in the 80's. everybody had one.

I really like this article.

cameras;: Pentax K1000; - from the other Martin Taylor

the K1000 WILL make you a better photographer
04-09-2009, 10:45 PM   #4
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P.S
get it with the kit lens A 50mm f/2
this combination for me is the fun of photography.

04-09-2009, 10:58 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by redpigeons Quote
I second the K1000 .
the K1000 IS THE BEST CAMERA EVER!!! for so many many reasons that are not on the paper . this camera is magic and this is why it was so so so popular in the 80's. everybody had one.

I really like this article.

cameras;: Pentax K1000; - from the other Martin Taylor

the K1000 WILL make you a better photographer
I have 2 K1000's and have tortured them and they keep on rocking...Love em...
04-09-2009, 11:44 PM   #6
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Here's the guy to send gear in for servicing and repairs: Pentax Camera Service (Eric)

ME Super you can probably find in better condition for less money than a K1000, simply because of the nostalgia factor of the K1000 drives the price up.
04-10-2009, 12:19 AM   #7
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Hmm, I was wondering why my K1000 got picked while I was selling these four cameras together (for roughly the same price):



Since the price is about the same, I tried to persuade the buyer (an old chap w/ no SLR experience, and knew nothing about film photography, not to say Pentax) to take either the ME Super SE or Super Program since they got more features and are easier to use (to me at least). Oh well, the buyer held each camera and looked through the viewfinder, ended up he chose the K1000 'cause it felt better, and looked more solid, and it's totally manual.

Now I still have the other three to let go (they are redundant to me since I got some better conditioned ones. Bought them because of my LBA/CBA in the past years), and I wish they were K1000s 'cause I sold the other three K1000s pretty much the same way (buyers always picked the bulkier heavier K1000 instead of these fancy electronic cameras
04-10-2009, 12:33 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by frank Quote
Hmm, I was wondering why my K1000 got picked while I was selling these four cameras together (for roughly the same price):



Since the price is about the same, I tried to persuade the buyer (an old chap w/ no SLR experience, and knew nothing about film photography, not to say Pentax) to take either the ME Super SE or Super Program since they got more features and are easier to use (to me at least). Oh well, the buyer held each camera and looked through the viewfinder, ended up he chose the K1000 'cause it felt better, and looked more solid, and it's totally manual.

Now I still have the other three to let go (they are redundant to me since I got some better conditioned ones. Bought them because of my LBA/CBA in the past years), and I wish they were K1000s 'cause I sold the other three K1000s pretty much the same way (buyers always picked the bulkier heavier K1000 instead of these fancy electronic cameras
I would have gotten the Super Program. I just love the styling. 80s at their best.

04-10-2009, 04:00 AM   #9
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Even though I a Spottie fan, I reccomend you get the ME Super

It is a much better camera:
- Brighter viewfindr
- Electronic shutter
- K-mount (M42 lenses fit with adapter)
- Aperture priority if you need it
- Hot shoe
- Smaller size


I think the Super Program is as good, but have never had one.
04-10-2009, 04:03 AM   #10
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LOL - quite a K1000 love fest! And for good reason.

Things pro-K mount camera: not as old as the Spotmatics, so possibly less wear. Apart from the K1000 there's the KX, MX etc manual cameras - the MX I believe is the Olympus OM competitor, so would fulfil the small and solid requirement. The KX and K1000 are a bit larger, about Spotmatic size.

Despite the legendary status of Takumars, Pentax by and large improved their lenses over time - better, or similar performance at a lighter weight, smaller package, or faster aperture.

Things pro Spotmatic: these are great cameras, built to last, and possibly cheaper than the K mount bodies. Dirt cheap screw mount lenses available worldwide for when you want to pick up that 35mm or 135mm lens where you're traveling... The workmanship of the Spotties and Super Takumars is outstanding, they have a beauty and the touch of hand craftmanship that was later engineered out, in the interests of manufacturing efficiency and cost containment.

I simply love the lines of a SP, SP1000 (the Spottie equivalent of the K1000), ES-II, and the metal Takumars. I wouldn't say my KX was ugly or poorly made, it just has a bit less of the older style.... and while my Program Plus is actually in practice the best of the lot, compact, efficient, ergonomic etc, the flavor is simply different.

The cameras of that era are like the old Volvos - stuck in that angular 80's look, and thus currently just enough out of style to seem dated. That could be a good thing relative to stealability.

My advice in cases like you present: if you can, try to see and touch some. Maybe there is a small camera store nearby where they sell some used cameras. Failing that, it's condition, condition, and attached lens. The truth is, you can't go wrong with any of the manual exposure Pentaxes, and can easily adjust to each. So find the one in as good a condition and at as reasonable price as you can, with a lens you like, and that is your camera.
04-10-2009, 04:53 AM   #11
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I just got my ME Super in the mail today. It surprised me by how small it is. Hopefully the Tv mode works well, because choosing shutter time with the buttons doesn't seem very handy. I can't wait to take it out for a spin.

Does anyone know if the electronic models have problems with humidity?

Apart from that, I'd choose the ME Super over the Spotmatic because it's considerably smaller, just as solid and has 1/2000. Also, open aperture metering and K-mount, which will make things a lot easier. I know easy isn't always what you're looking for, but it looks like a stellar camera.
04-10-2009, 06:43 AM   #12
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BRKL: Look for the manual at pentax-manuals dot com
Also remember to clean the battery contacts (an eraser is the best thing) and to check the light seals and replace them if needed.
Actually the buttons are not so bad after a while, I got used to them, even though I miss the needle-like meter.
AUto should work fine, but firs compare it with another camera to make sure it is spot on.
04-10-2009, 06:43 AM   #13
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Given where you're going and what you need it for, I would say the qualities to look at are:

1. Weight / Size
2. Ease of use
3. Ability to work without batteries, if need be
4. Cheap enough you won't cry over it if it gets ruined

I don't think I'd pick either one of those two cameras.
04-10-2009, 06:48 AM   #14
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If you were not in Singapore but in Europe I'll take your deal.
QuoteOriginally posted by frank Quote




Now I still have the other three to let go (they are redundant to me since I got some better conditioned ones. Bought them because of my LBA/CBA in the past years), and I wish they were K1000s 'cause I sold the other three K1000s pretty much the same way (buyers always picked the bulkier heavier K1000 instead of these fancy electronic cameras
04-10-2009, 07:15 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by frank Quote
Hmm, I was wondering why my K1000 got picked while I was selling these four cameras together (for roughly the same price):



Since the price is about the same, I tried to persuade the buyer (an old chap w/ no SLR experience, and knew nothing about film photography, not to say Pentax) to take either the ME Super SE or Super Program since they got more features and are easier to use (to me at least). Oh well, the buyer held each camera and looked through the viewfinder, ended up he chose the K1000 'cause it felt better, and looked more solid, and it's totally manual.

Now I still have the other three to let go (they are redundant to me since I got some better conditioned ones. Bought them because of my LBA/CBA in the past years), and I wish they were K1000s 'cause I sold the other three K1000s pretty much the same way (buyers always picked the bulkier heavier K1000 instead of these fancy electronic cameras
Frank, This was a very cool and interesting read. My first SLR was the K1000 as was my second. So yea, I too would have chose the K1000. It is simply a great peace of jewelry...
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