Pentax ME

Introduced in 1976 along with the fully mechanical MX, Pentax ME measures only 13.1cm in width and weights only 460g, compared to 14.3cm and 620g of the K1000. Together with the MX, it marks the start of the miniaturized M-series bodies. The ME and the MX also started the use of GPD meter cell instead of CDS and SPD, which are used by the previous K-series. The GPD (Gallium-arsenide-phosphide Photo Diodes) meter cell reacts 1000 times faster than CDS (Cadmium Sulphide) and unlike SPD ( Silicon Photo Diode), it responds only visible light. The ME also has a durable metal shutter made by Seiko, a great improvement over rubberized cloth and silk shutters. It operates electronically and  steplessly from 1/1000s to 8s in aperture priority auto. The camera selected speed is rounded to the full stop and indicated by a column of LEDs in the viewfinder. In addition, there are two LEDs, named OVER and UNDER, which light up when exposure is out of the metering range.

Unlike the mechanical and professional-oriented MX and the ME Super (released later in 1979), the ME doesn’t offer manual exposure. However, one can still override the automatic settings by using the EV-2 to +2 exposure compensation or by adjusting the ISO in more precise 1/3-stop increments. The fastest flash sync of the ME is 1/100s, which is a separated setting on the shutter dial. As the ME has a generic “single-contact” hot-shoe (hence it doesn’t utilize functionalities of dedicated flashes), one needs to manually turn the shutter dial to 100x when using flash. Otherwise, the camera will set the shutter speed according to ambient light, working similarly to the slow-sync mode on a modern camera. Both the 100x and B are mechanical which means that they can operate without battery, giving limited functionality to the ME when the batteries run out.The Pentax ME, lacking a manual exposure mode, might not be the best choice for a first film SLR but its small size, light weight, durability, accuracy, and the ability to use wide range of high quality Pentax SMC K-mount lenses, does make it great carry-around camera and/or a backup body for a more capable Pentax. For beginner film-shooters, the ME also offers a “film winding” indicator under the winding lever, confirming one has loaded the film correctly. Finally, the Pentax ME is also compatible with an analog-dial data back and a 1.5fps winder (the newer 2fps ME II winder also works) though these accessories are much less useful for most of today’s film-shooters.

Let’s take a look of some sample images taken with the Pentax ME. First image was shot with a Cosinon-S 50mm f1.8 using Kentmere 400 while the second image was shot with the Pentax FA 28-80mm f3.5-5.6 using a roll of expired Kodak Gold 200.

Status : In Collection

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