This might turn out to be the first in a long line of posts about my thoughts of certain cameras I’ve owned over the years. I hasten to add I’m not calling them reviews, other people can, and have done that better than me – so these are my thoughts…
First in line is the good old Pentax ME Super. This is for two reasons, I’ve owned two of them decades apart, and is quite possibly my “go to” 35mm.
My very first SLR was a Zenith 11 – more on that another time, but that was replaced by a second hand ME Super. It came to me with a 50mm f1.7 lens and a black carry case that had a dark bag built in the side! I would have been in my mid-teens at this time, and I can remember marvelling at how smooth it operated compared to the Zenith. Even better, unlike the Zenith it didn’t make my fingers hurt to rewind the film!
I’m fairly certain that these were made in Japan by the Asahi Optical Co. from late 70’s to around the mid 80’s which is when I got mine, it certainly wasn’t new which makes me suspect that is was one of the earlier ones than later. I like the viewfinder on these cameras, it seems nice and bright to my eye, technically I believe it to be a 0.95X magnification (in Leica speak), which seemed to cope with the lens perfectly. It wasn’t long however before I’d managed to get hold of both a 28mm wide angle and a 135mm Tele. This latter lens particularly, I found great quality, even today I’d rate it right up there as one of the best performers I’ve ever owned. A bit later I added a 40mm “pancake” lens and a 200mm f4. From recollection I think they were all the M series lenses.
I have no idea about what coating were or were not used on them, but they seemed to blend well with Kodachrome 64, Gold 100, or Ilford FP4 that I mostly used in those days. I’m spending a little time going through my transparencies, having a sort out and a scan, and the colours and contrast seem spot on even now.
I remember carrying my kit bag on a week long walk completely around the Isle of Wight – a distance of about 70 miles (?) posting off the Kodachrome, as I went – most of them were waiting for me when I got back home – ahh, those were the days! Eventually however Canon released the EOS cameras and my Pentax kit was sold. But that’s not the end of the story!
After “going digital” there was a short period – very short – when I had no film cameras. It didn’t last long! About 5 years ago I happened to be in a charity shop, and what did I see sat in the window? A Pentax ME Super. It was in absolutely beautiful condition, but on closer inspection, the shutter seemed a bit dubious, the asa selector seemed jammed, the mirror damping foam had decayed and bits of it were in places it really shouldn’t have been! The condition however was such that I just couldn’t resist so I parted with my £5, yes £5, off I went. I had nearly got out of the shop, when there was a yell from the assistant “hang on! – there’s a bag that goes with it!” Yes, it was a black case with a dark bag built in the side! I could only laugh! I guess that a local dealer had put together a package, the same as had been sold to the original purchaser as mine all those years ago. I cleaned out the bits of foam, and whilst searching for an online solution to free the asa selector discovered that Harrow Technical, were offering service. Then I discovered that it was run by the guy who once managed the service department at Pentax UK – after a couple of emails the decision was made to send it off to him. The camera came back in wonderful shape, lovely and smooth – just like I remembered. I’ve since got a 28mm M for it and a second 50mm f1.4 – it’s a keeper!