Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Spotlight: Pentax ME Super

First released in 1979, the ME Super is a compact 35mm SLR targeted at advanced amateur photographers. It's the electronic counterpart to the fully mechanical MX, and the successor to the original ME model. The ME Super is nearly identical to the ME, with the addition of manual shutter speed selection and a faster top shutter speed. Batteries are required for operation, but there is a mechanical speed (1/125th) you can use in case of battery failure.

The two little black plastic buttons control shutter speed in manual mode

Along with its predecessor, the ME Super is the smallest full-frame 35mm SLR ever produced. Combined with the tiny Pentax 50mm f2 or f1.7 lenses, you can even fit the ME into a jacket pocket. It's totally tiny and easy to take anywhere. I biked 20 miles with it slung over my shoulder and barely noticed it was there! Even with its small size, the ME is ergonomically pleasing, mostly thanks to the huge shutter release button. There's a decent amount of plastic used in the ME's construction, but it still feels pretty sturdy. The top and bottom plates are still made of brass, to the best of my knowledge.

Me and ME (Super)

Shutter speeds between 4 seconds and 1/2000 (pretty good for a consumer SLR) are selectable via two buttons on top of the body. All available speeds are viewable through the viewfinder, and a little green or yellow light pops up next to the speed you have selected. Little red lights display if you are over or under the correct speed. It's not as practical as a physical shutter dial, as it's impossible to tell your selected speed without putting your eye to the finder, but it gets the job done. The split prism focusing screen is fixed, you unfortunately can't interchange it with Pentax MX or LX screens.

I took my ME Super with me up to Abita Springs, Louisiana, where my wife and I rode bikes and visited the "Abita Mystery House." I shot almost entirely in aperture priority mode and my negatives came out perfectly exposed! The ME Super's meter was never fooled, even under a few tricky lighting situations. The film used was Ilford HP5+.