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08-02-2009, 05:48 AM   #1
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frustrating shutter problems with MX, ME Super

I need some advice from those with experience with film bodies.

Is it normal, in your opinion, that old Pentax film bodies, like an MX or ME Super cannot be used at high shutter speeds?

Some months ago I purchased a good looking, refurbished MX body on EBay. The camera seemed to worked well, except that it exposed some 1/3 of the frames total black on the film roll. I examined the shutter in working and it seemed that sometimes the first curtain is overtaken by the second curtain, therefore no light gets through the shutter at all. It can be easily seen if I expose into a bright light source with the camera back open.

Now this faulty operation occured more and more often, even at slower shutter speeds, resulting my MX body almost unusable. I thought servicing would be pricey so I purchased an ME Super instead. The shutter in this one seems to work more reliably at slower speeds, but at 1/1000 and especially at 1/2000 this also works in a hit-and-miss manner, meaning, unfortunately, much more misses than hits.

How come that Pentax shutters are this unreliable? Or is it common with all the older film bodies?

08-02-2009, 06:20 AM   #2
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All cameras need to be serviced to remain in top shape. It's called CLA ( Clean, Lube, and Adjust ). It varies by use but dirt gets in them, Lubricants dry out, and seals get old. The price for a CLA in the U.S. is in the 50-75 usd range. You get a good tech to do it and the camera will fire like new.
08-02-2009, 07:44 AM   #3
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You are talking about machinery that is in excess of 25 years old. Consider that they just might need to be serviced.
Also, a lot of camera problems are caused by lack of use. you might find that cycling the shutter a hundred times or so might get things working again. In your case, it sounds like the leading curtain is a bit sluggish.
08-02-2009, 09:42 AM   #4
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Shutters

This is a not uncommon problem with old SLRs of any make. The tension on the shutter curtains gets out of whack and exactly what you describe happens: the trailing shutter overtakes the leading shutter. It usually gets progressively worse at higher speeds.

It usually doesn't happen at or below the X-synch speed. That is the speed at which the entire shutter is open at once. Above that speed, the trailing curtain begins closing before the leading one has completed its travel.

If that MX was "refurbished", it should not be doing this after only a few months. I suspect that the seller either lied, or the one who did the work was incompetent. Adjusting the shutter curtain tension is one of the basic tasks of a CLA. "Refurbishing", to me, implies even more comprehensive work, such as replacing badly worn parts.

08-02-2009, 10:18 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by noblepa Quote
Adjusting the shutter curtain tension is one of the basic tasks of a CLA. "Refurbishing", to me, implies even more comprehensive work, such as replacing badly worn parts.
That's the kind of answer I hoped for Thank you very much, now I know that it IS serviceable – I had doubts about it, actually, and this kept me from sending in the MX for service. I can't get away sending in both bodies then, I assume.

Thank you all the replies!
08-02-2009, 10:30 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by h734790 Quote
That's the kind of answer I hoped for Thank you very much, now I know that it IS serviceable I had doubts about it, actually, and this kept me from sending in the MX for service. I can't get away sending in both bodies then, I assume.

Thank you all the replies!
Just a little side-note. Yes, this kind of problem on the MX is serviceable, though it is likely that additional followup adjustments may be needed as the shutter "works in" to its new settings*. Your ME Super may be another matter. The vertical-travel metal shutter in that camera is electronically regulated so repair may not just be a matter of adjustment. On the other hand, maybe a little cleaning/lubrication is all that it needs.

Steve

* I came on to this little piece of trivia just a few days ago during a discussion of older cameras with my "friendly local camera repair guy". The details are pretty involved, but it has to do with adjustments with/without lubrication, spring tensions, and poor practice of previous servicemen.
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