If you are just starting out in film photography, the Pentax ME Super is a great choice. It is so small you can carry it in your purse or coat jacket. It also has a great blend of automatic and manual features. There is so much packed into such a small body, and yet it isn’t cumbersome and exhausting to use. Best of all, the camera, lenses, and accessories are all very affordable.
There have been many reviews done for this camera, so I won’t get too deep into its history and features. I will just give an overview and then talk more about my experience and let my results speak for themself.
The Pentax name has an interesting history. It was created by the Zeiss Ikon company combining pentaprism and Contax to create the registered trademark Pentax. It was later purchased by the Asahi Optical Company. Asahi released the Pentax ME Super in 1980 until 1986 as an improved version of the previous Pentax ME.
Weighing in at only 1LB 5.7oz with 50mm lens and strap, this tiny camera with a relatively large viewfinder, is a great tool to have in your arsenal. It is amazing how they managed to fit so many features into such a small body.
The Pentax ME Super is an electronic camera that integrates push button controls along with dials. The only mechanical features are the 1/125 x option and Bulb which don’t need a battery. Otherwise, it runs on 2 standard A76 batteries or LR44.
The camera mounts all Pentax K bayonet mount lenses. If you want any Takumar screw mount lenses, you can use an adapter and then will have to shoot with stop down metering.
There is also a self timer lever on the front of the camera. One thing the camera is missing is a depth of field preview button. Ken Rockwell pointed out in his review that you can slightly unscrew the lens and preview your aperture that way.
The top of the camera has a hot shoe. There is also a PC port for electronic flash. The flash synch is at 1/125th of a second.
The collar around the shutter release button turns as a selector for choosing to Lock the shutter, Automatic exposure, Manual exposure, 125x for flash and non-battery use, and B for bulb. The camera doesn’t have an on/off switch, but there is the lock mode to lock your shutter from accidental exposures and to preserve battery life by turning off the meter. It is good practice to make it a habit to lock it when you are done shooting.
The auto mode is aperture priority, so you set your aperture and then the camera will choose your shutter speed. The shutter speeds are from 1/2000th of a second all the way down to 4 seconds in manual and automatic mode. In manual mode, you change your shutter speed by pressing the black up or down buttons.
The meter is through-the-lens center weighted with a colored LED dot system. The meter dots will flash red next to the word over or under to let you know if you are over or under-exposing. EF will flash red to remind you if you are using exposure compensation. If the battery is low, the yellow LED lights will blink.
Even with its small body, the ME Super found room for a film reminder slot to put the name of your loaded film. That small orange window on the back right is where you see that the film is advancing.
Around the rewind knob is the exposure compensation ring and ISO setting. The ISO range on this camera is 12-1600.
When I started getting back into shooting film, I was extremely ill. I could barely walk and my life consisted mostly, if not entirely, of going to doctors appointments. As I started to realize the benefits I reaped when shooting with cameras during periods of anxiety and depression, I wanted to bring one with me everywhere.
At that point I was so weak I was having a hard time lifting my Nikon F to my face over and over for shots, so I asked around for examples of small compact SLR’s that would be discreet in a doctors office. The lovely Alex Luyckx right away suggested this Pentax ME Super and gave it to me along with a couple rolls of expired film which I’ve already reviewed.
Since Covid hit, I haven’t had to go to doctors appointments in person (luckily), so I haven’t gotten to try it out in that setting yet, but I do bring it with me to the chiropractor, and anywhere else because I know I will always enjoy the experience.
These photos were taken at the beach here in Florida after a visit to my chiropractor. Watch the video below for more of my experience.
I had such a nice time that day feeling the fresh air, and hearing the sounds of the ocean. It had been a very long time since we’d been to a beach and it was a nice quick break from covid lockdown.
With the Pentax, it was so easy to meter and take shots quickly, so it never took away from the enjoyment I was having taking in the scenery.
My only complaint I would have with this camera is the small body ends up with the advance lever being right in front of my right eye when looking through the viewfinder. With glasses, this was the only issue I ran into.
I have the SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/2 lens, and the focus is smooth. With the split prism in the middle, I tend to have trouble with these, but the viewfinder is so big and bright with this lens that I didn’t have any trouble.
As you can see, this camera is so easy to just shoot right through a roll. I enjoyed it so much that I have more photos than I can post here. The meter and controls are so easy to access and understand that they don’t get in the way of the experience of just taking in your composition and making the shot. If you have larger fingers, it may be difficult to navigate the buttons instead of the usual shutter speed dial.
It is affordable, and can be found under $100 with a lens. You can even buy a power winder for around $10. I definitely recommend this camera for new shooters and even regular film shooters.
For more, please watch my YouTube video below.
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Until next time, stay motivated and keep shooting.