Pentax ME Super - Problems

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by bvy, Jul 30, 2010.

  1. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    My father-in-law gave me this SLR recently. My in-laws are all digital now, and their loss is my gain.

    First of all, any thoughts on this camera? It would be my first SLR -- I have various toy/plastic cameras, pinhole cameras, and a few good compacts (XA2, T5), but no SLR. It has the 50mm f/1.7 kit lens, an accessory flash, and a few other accessories.

    Also, he told me the shutter didn't work, and indeed something appears to be wrong with the camera. Seems I can release the shutter, but then one of several things happens: Sometimes the film advance lever jams and doesn't budge. If I wait several seconds or jostle the camera, eventually it releases. Most times, whether the film advance stuck or not, the shutter won't activate again for some time. The button will fully press (spring action), but nothing happens. Also, when this is happening, I've noticed when looking in the viewfinder that something is obstructing the view/mirror.

    Any ideas what's wrong and what it might entail to fix? Is it a DIY job, or will I have to take it or send it off somewhere? And if the latter, where? If the repair is too costly and/or the camera is nothing special, I'll probably just put it aside for now. But really, I'm itching to get it working and give it a try.

    Thanks for any help at all...
     
  2. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    First thing to do is to make sure it has a fresh battery and that the battery contact areas in the film chamber and the screw in cap to the battery chamber are good and clean. Use a small amount alcohol on a Q-tip.
     
  3. Sully75

    Sully75 Member

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    You should look up "sticky mirror syndrome" for Pentax cameras.
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i have an me super that had problems like yours ..
    it had a bad clutch ( film advance issue )
    and a shutter problem.

    i got mine fixed ( problems were 13 years apart so it didn't cost a lot at once )
    some repair places give free estimates.
    good luck with yours.

    john
     
  5. gkardmw

    gkardmw Subscriber

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    The Pentax repair guru is Eric Hendrickson. The ME Super was my first SLR back in 1980. Have had it cleaned once and it works beautifully. That lens is very nice and the viewfinder is the best.
     
  6. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Cock the film advance lever. Hold it against the stop, momentarily. Slowly let the lever return home.
    You'll hear a series of faint clicks as the mechanism inside moves. (It's the sound of a tiny pawl riding over the teeth in a cog inside the bottom of the camera.)

    When the lever gets half or two-thirds of the way home, you'll hear a louder click. That's the sound of the shutter being set. When you hear that sound, stop. Gently try to move the lever back to the right, as if cocking it again. It should not go. If it does, go ahead and release the lever. You should be ready to fire the next shot. If not, release the lever and try again.

    This trick might work about half the time. If you work the mechanism a few dozen times, you might find it to become more reliable.

    My Pentax ME Super, bought at a rummage sale, had a similar problem to yours. You would advance the film but the shutter wouldn't set. If you pressed the shutter button nothing happened. You could cock the shutter release over and over but it would "catch" only about 1/3 of the time. The "slow return" trick I detailed above allowed it to work correctly 9 out of 10 times.

    Exercising the mechanism proved to be the solution. (At least a temporary solution.) It seems that sitting on a shelf, the camera's mechanism got sticky. Operating it many times in succession seemed to loosen it up.

    I would suggest trying to exercise the mechanism IF everything else seems to be okay. It might get the camera back into operation, at least long enough for you to decide whether you like it.

    The true solution is to send the camera in for cleaning and repair... Cleaning-Lubrication-Adjustment (AKA: "CLA.")

    However, I sense that you just want to try the camera out for a while to see whether you like it. That's why I mention the temporary, home remedy. It might work. It might not. It depends on what's wrong with the camera. It is my guess that sitting for a long time caused the mechanism to get sticky or sloppy.

    My camera now works 99% of the time. I know it needs a CLA but I am going to use it for the rest of the summer as-is. When the weather closes in for the winter, I'll send it in for repair.

    The way I see it, you've got everything to gain and nothing to lose.
    If you get the camera working, you're golden. If you don't, no skin off your nose. Right?
    Try to get it working at home. If you can, use it for a while. Send it in for repair when you're ready.
     
  7. Dave in Kansas

    Dave in Kansas Member

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    The ME Super is a good reliable camera, in my opinion. I bought 2 of them new back in the early '80's and both continue to perform perfectly. I am not familiar with the "sticky mirror syndrome" mentioned above.

    Do check your batteries first. By half-pressing the shuttler release button, you should see the colored LEDs in the viewfinder on the left side. If not, your batteries are dead, and they likely are if the camera has not been used for years. They are cheap and last a long time.

    The ME Super shutter will fire at 1/125 with dead or no batteries when set to the 125X position.

    You can likely find a reputable repair shop near you, but if not, Eric Hendrickson mentioned above has been recommended by many. Pentax is his specialty. His website is http://www.pentaxs.com/index.html. If you need a user manual for this camera, you can download it here: http://www.butkus.org/chinon/pentax/pentax_me_super/pentax_me_super.htm.

    Dave
     
  8. cva6633

    cva6633 Member

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    Could the problem be that the camera is in automatic mode? If the lens cap is on, or in a dark room, the automatic shutter speed will want an exposure of seconds, this will trigger the shutter and leave it open.

    While the shutter is open, the mirror is up so you wont see anything in the viewfinder.

    Im not an expert , it's just a idea because I thought my ME was broken at first too.
     
  9. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    Thanks for the suggestions. I do need to find fresh batteries for it, but I still would expect it to work (mechanically) in manual mode. I tried Randy's suggestion, but the mirror only releases when it's good and ready.

    I contacted Eric (Mr. Pentax) and there's no doubt in my mind that he runs a good honest business. I'm just trying to decide if it's worth $70+ to have it fixed, when I can pick up a perfectly functioning one from eBay for $20 to $30 less (and an extra lens in some cases).

    Actually, for the price, I would have my pick of older, entry-level SLR's...
     
  10. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    The ƒ-1.7 lens on that camera is worth $50 to $100 or more, depending on its condition. The camera, in good condition, is worth $50 or more by itself.
    If you are a good garage sale hunter you might find one for cheap. I got mine at a rummage sale for $20. You got yours for zero dollars. Right?

    So, ask yourself... Is $70 a good price to pay to repair a camera that could have cost you $100 or more?
     
  11. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    This is the weak part in the argument. I have had both my OM1 and OM2 CLAd for £50 each, and now have reliable cameras with new light seals and probably years of life left. So ask yourself. $70 = known good. $40 from ebay = unknown. Go for it and enjoy.
     
  12. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    If you send this camera for a CLA; it will serve you 50 more years.