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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s a closeup of the church’s red-orange doors.
New Augusta was built in the 1850s to take advantage of this rail line. Somebody keeps its unused little depot fixed up and fresh.
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.
Last updated on 12 March 2020 by Jim Grey