Pentax advice needed
My sister decided to start using her old Asahi Pentax ME again. She shot a roll, and when it came back blank she remembered about the light meter (amazing how using an automatic-everything digital camera for a few years can dull the senses). Anyway, she determined the battery was dead, replaced it with a new battery, and it still doesn't seem to be working. So she has asked her old-school brother for advice. I live too far away to put eyes on the camera, but I told her I knew where to find one or more people who knew everything there was to know about this camera.
Does that person or persons have any advice I can pass along to her?
Film came back blank it's most likely not loaded correctly. Light meter very unlikely yield blank film.
Originally Posted by Dan Henderson
Yes, double check that the film is loaded correctly but, before trying to shoot another roll of film, try verify that the camera is working correctly by conducting a dry-fire test.
First, download and read over the manual if you don't already have one:
Second, double check the battery. Install a fresh battery if you have any doubts.
While you have the battery compartment open, check for corrosion on the battery contacts. It is also possible that the battery contacts are bent or deformed. Check, clean and repair anything that is out of order.
Next, turn the camera on and operate it without film. Verify every function and check that the controls operate correctly and that they are set properly.
Operate it with the film back open and verify that the mechanics all work. Look through the film aperture and see that the shutter opens and closes as it should. Hold the camera up to a bright window or a light. You should see a flash of light through the aperture when the shutter clicks. Do this on all shutter speeds. It might not be possible to verify that the shutter is 100% accurate at all speeds but common sense should tell you that it's working close to spec. Check the bulb setting. When the release is held down, the shutter will stay open as long as the button is down.
Your camera has a self timer. While you are at it, check to see that the timer works correctly.
If the camera's electronics are working right, there will be a series of red, green or yellow lights in the left side of the viewfinder. They will light up to advise the photographer what the shutter speed or other settings are selected on the camera. If you have no lights or if they don't behave as expected, go back to square one. You might need to have the camera repaired if you can't figure it out.
Two things to note:
If the camera's batteries are dead, missing or if the battery circuit is non-functional, the camera should default to a given shutter speed. (Usually 125.) All the mechanical parts of the camera might still work but the meter and electronics will be dead. It will still be possible to shoot pictures but you will have to meter manually or guess at the exposure (aperture) setting. You will likely still get pictures but they may or may not be properly exposed. This is one reason why people are saying that your film might not be loaded correctly.
Second, the manual says that, after winding on to the next frame, DO NOT press the advance lever back until it is flush with the camera body. Doing so will shut the meter off. Many people have the habit of pushing the lever all the way flush but, on this camera, you shouldn't do that until you want to stop shooting and put the camera down.
Finally, after all the dry-fire tests have been done, you can put a roll of film into the camera. Better yet, retest with a roll of film that you can sacrifice. Either an old, expired roll of film or one you don't care about. This time, as you test, check to be sure the film is loaded and that the film motion indicator works.
On the back of the camera, there is a small rectangular window with black and orange (or black and white) stripes. These stripes will jiggle back and forth as the film moves through the camera. As you load and shoot, be sure the "jiggler" actually jiggles. It will also jiggle when the film is being rewound. Secondarily, the film rewind knob will turn as film is advanced through the camera. The jiggler and the rotation of the knob will tell you that the film is moving and that the camera is advancing correctly to the next frame.
After all this is done, load up a roll of fresh film and shoot some pictures. Evaluate them after they are developed. If the pictures come out, you're good. If not, the camera probably needs repaired.
As far as I remember the shutter operation on a Pentax ME is dependent on the battery working. (Like a lot of cameras of that era:- Minolta AG/XE, Olympus OM2 Nikon FE etc) If the camera is wound on and the shutter fired and sound suggests that the shutter has worked then the battery is not dead. If she was able to wind on after each operation then the shutter has fired although not opened It HAS to be something else. If the shutter is cocked then it is IMPOSSIBLE to wind on again unless the shutter is fired. This all points to a shutter fault such as the blinds not opening properly = sticky magnets.
With no film in the camera, remove the lens and open the back and point the camera at a light source. Fire the shutter and if the blinds are working you will see a flash of light as the shutter operates. If there is no 'flash of light' then the shutter is defective.
Everyone, thanks for your responses. Worker, thank you very much for taking the time to write the detailed suggestions and include the manual link. This should help my sister work out the problem.
Clean the contacts in the battery compartment. Edit - oops, some one mentioned that.
You're welcome. :)
Originally Posted by Dan Henderson
About two years ago, I inherited about 100 old cameras plus a lot of accessories and gear along with them. I spent a couple of months going through everything, checking and evaluating it all. The steps I outlined come from my experience with all that stuff.
Most of what I said was just generic instructions based on my experience but I also have a Pentax ME Super, the newer "cousin" to your sister's camera. That's why I knew a few specifics.
My Pentax is a nice camera, I hope you and your sister can get your camera to work. You'll get a lot of nice pictures with it if you can. :)
P.S. - BMbikerider was right. The Pentax ME does not default to mechanical shutter if the battery dies. However, you can select the "100X" setting on the shutter dial and run the camera mechanically in an emergency.
The ME shutter will work without the battery, but only on 1/100 or B settings. Quite a neat design really, 1/100 is the x-sync speed so you can either use it indoors with flash or Sunny 16 outside if your batteries expire.
I'd check the battery cover plate, chances are it's got some gunk from the old battery on it. Just clean the part where the battery touches it with very fine wire wool (make sure no shreds of that get into the camera) and reassemble. I resurrected a "spares or repairs" ME this way last week.