Cameras, Photography

Another Pentax ME

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The dumbest thing happened to my Pentax ME. The cap that holds the winding lever on unscrewed itself and disappeared.

That part turned out to be impossible to find, so I bought a battered body for parts. But then I couldn’t get that cap off it. The body seemed to work okay, so I just started using it.

But after shooting a few rolls I began to doubt the meter’s accuracy. So I started prowling eBay for another body, and soon enough I found a good one for just $16 shipped. Woot!

Pentax ME

Unlike my first ME, this one is stamped Asahi Opt. Co. Japan, meaning it was made in the land of the rising sun. I’m guessing that later MEs were made in China, and my first ME was among them. Pentax was known to sometimes shift production to China late in a camera’s run; it did that most famously with the seminal K1000.

Pentax ME

The ME is an aperture-priority camera: you set the aperture, and the ME chooses a shutter speed for right exposure. It has no manual mode, except for a 1/100 sec shutter setting meant to be used with a flash. I favor aperture-priority shooting, and I love the ME’s small size and relative light weight (for being a mostly metal camera). And with bodies being available for a pittance, I hardly worry about theft or damage. And so the Pentax ME has been my go-to camera for years.

I hadn’t shot my 28mm f/2.8 Pentax-M lens in ages, so I clipped it to this ME and loaded a roll of Fujicolor 200. As the sun set one unusually warm evening as winter faded, I walked along the main road outside my subdivision with this ME in my hands. I just love the rich tones the low sun created in this photograph.

Eastern Star Church

Whatever this is sits on the corner at the nearest crossroads. This property is a large, lush cemetery. The setting sun really warmed up the stone of which this is made.

On the corner

I faced the setting sun for this photo. One minute earlier and I could have captured the sun peeking through those trees; timing is everything. But doesn’t that 28mm lens deliver wonderful sharpness? I cropped this square to get rid of a bunch of church parking lot at the bottom of this shot.

Sunset in old suburbia

I spent an hour one Sunday afternoon walking with this ME through New Augusta, a mostly hidden, nearly forgotten former town in northwest Indianapolis. It lurks behind two very busy roads, 71st Street and Georgetown Road. A few houses from the 1800s front 71st Street, this Queen Anne the most conspicuous of them, but that’s the only clue anything is here. I’ll bet New Augusta’s residents think their town is Indy’s best-kept secret.

New Augusta house 3

I’ve shot New Augusta’s Salem Lutheran Church a number of times, but never before with a lens wide enough to get it all in. Still, I had to lie on my side in the road to make it work. I’m sure I was quite a sight.

Salem Lutheran

Here’s a closeup of the church’s red-orange doors.

Red church door

New Augusta was built in the 1850s to take advantage of this rail line. Somebody keeps its unused little depot fixed up and fresh.

New Augusta depot

To see more photos from my various Pentax MEs, see my Pentax ME gallery.

A Pentax ME was among the first cameras I shot after ending my Year of the Nikon F2 last year. I’d never had any complaints about the ME’s handling before, but compared to the F2 everything about the ME feels a little looser and rougher. There’s nothing wrong with the ME’s feel and handling; it’s just not as refined as a pro camera. And so whenever anybody asks me about getting started with film SLRs I direct them to the Pentax ME and the wonderful 50mm f/2 Pentax-M lens. You can buy them on eBay any day of the week for under $50. Just try that with any classic Nikon SLR body and lens.


Do you like old cameras? Then check out all of my old-camera reviews!

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22 thoughts on “Another Pentax ME

  1. Christopher Smith says:

    I like your photos you have produced with the ME.
    I have the ME Super but the closest to ME I have is the MG and a MV1. I like Pentax camera’s they are good camera’s and as you say a good camera to start of with.

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    • I could shoot this camera exclusively for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy. Especially since I have a whole bunch of K-mount lenses. The ME, and I’m sure the ME Super, the MG, and the MV1, is/are wonderful and highly capable.

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  2. bodegabayf2 says:

    As you know, I’ve come to the party late with regards to these little Pentax SLRs. My recently acquired ME Super is a faithful shooter. To your point, they aren’t as robust as the pro level bodies, but Pentax has a shutter sound I just can’t get enough of!

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    • I’ve never shot an ME Super. Except for manual mode, it seems similar enough to the ME that I haven’t gone looking to buy a body. I have to think it handles identically in aperture-priority mode. But anyway: they’re compact and relatively light, and the prices are right. So they’re great first film SLRs.

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  3. my fiancé wanted an slr to start learning on, while she ended up with a super program we started shopping for MEs. Great camera! If anyone is interested I just saw one at Main Street shoppes in Westfield (2nd floor) to the right as you walk up the stairs. 20$ I believe with the 50mm f/2 lens and a working battery in it. I almost snagged it but I just aquired an argus c33 with my free camera funds.

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  4. ambaker49 says:

    The golden hour does wonders for most subjects. I imagine the one at sunrise does as well, but I am never up that early unless I have to be. And never early enough that there is extra time to stop for photos.

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  5. Mark says:

    I have always had a soft spot for the Pentax ME — it’s compact, and as you indicate, aperture-priority is a great way to work. I think the results speak well of you and the camera. I have had several MEs over the years, and after having problems with the last few, I decided I would not buy another. I found its replacement in the Pentax ZX-M. Plastic-bodied, but light, compact, and reliable (so far). Of course, if I stumble on another ME for a good price, I am sure I will relent and buy it. :D

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