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What would you do?
Old 08-19-2016   #1
Colin G.
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What would you do?

Iím in the market for a 35mm SLR. Iíve narrowed my search down to three cameras as all three are local and Iíve inspected each of them. Each camera is in excellent condition and fully functional. The candidates are:

Olympus OM2n (Black) - 50mm 1.8 Silvernose, $140

Olympus OM4 (Black) (Revised Battery/Circuit) - 50mm 1.8 MC, $150

Pentax ME (Chrome) - 50mm 1.7 SMC-M, $50

Prices are in CDN dollars. The OM4 seems like the obvious choice, but I didnít really care for the readout at the bottom of viewfinder. I preferred the OM2ís viewfinder more. The Pentax has fewer features than the OMís, but it felt great in hand (the others did too), had a comparable viewfinder (OMís still better) and at a third of the price, I could use the rest of the money on film. I use aperture priority 99% of the time. Please share your opinion...what would you do?
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Old 08-19-2016   #2
mpaniagua
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I would go for the Olympus OM2n, although the OM4 spot reader is pretty handy if you ask me.
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Old 08-19-2016   #3
helenhill
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Hi there,
Don't know Pentax or the Om2n... but I Loved the OM1 and the OM4
I also had tbe 501.8 , beautifully sharp and lovely oof

can't go wrong with any 501.8
look at Jane Bown's work ...drool, magnifique
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Old 08-19-2016   #4
robbeiflex
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OM2n is a wonderful camera. I have not used the others but I can recommend it.
Cheers,
Rob
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Old 08-19-2016   #5
mpaniagua
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Just be aware that OM4 had a problem with battery life. They didnt last long event if you didnt use it. Ive both the OM4 and OM4t and OM4, even if not in use, ran out of battery before the OM4t. You should remove the battery when the camera is not in use, or insert a small piece of cardboard so the battery isnt wasted.

Agree with you about viewfinder. Never been a problem to me but OM4 viewfinder may seem a bit cluttered to some, so its a matter of taste.
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Old 08-19-2016   #6
sreed2006
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While this may sound silly, I will caution that buying either of the Olympus cameras may cost you much more in the long run: if you are prone to buying lenses. See the "Help I've become a Zuikoholic" thread if you think I am joking.

P.S. - get the OM4 (and a few lenses).
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Old 08-19-2016   #7
mpaniagua
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sreed2006 View Post
While this may sound silly, I will caution that buying either of the Olympus cameras may cost you much more in the long run: if you are prone to buying lenses. See the "Help I've become a Zuikoholic" thread if you think I am joking.

P.S. - get the OM4 (and a few lenses).
+1. There is a ton of great lenses and you can get most them for cheap
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Old 08-19-2016   #8
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Get the ME. At that price you are getting an awesome deal. It was built to the same standard as its more famous MX brother but with electronic exposure. It is even smaller than the Oly cameras you are looking at.

Go buy the M40/2.8 and you will have an awesome street set. Set your aperture and go!
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Old 08-20-2016   #9
David Hughes
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I'll second that and add that the ME super is worth adding to the list and at the top of the list.

If you are not convinced look up the price of an Olympus and Pentax f/2 85mm "portraiture" lens.

But I also think you should be looking at the OM-1 as it's a mechanical camera and you are not relying on electronics; great when they work but they do die a sudden death and that's that I afraid.

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Old 08-20-2016   #10
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Don't know about the Pentax, but have a couple of om2s and a few om4s and would find choosing between them very difficult, the om2 viewfinder is amazing it's got to be one of the brightest I've ever seen but the metering in the om4 is very good and it seems a good price considering it's got the updated electronics.
I think I would go for the om4 just because it's more modern and I like the fact that for the time it was an amazingly complex camera in a very small package.
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Old 08-20-2016   #11
Tim Murphy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
I'll second that and add that the ME super is worth adding to the list and at the top of the list.

If you are not convinced look up the price of an Olympus and Pentax f/2 85mm "portraiture" lens.

But I also think you should be looking at the OM-1 as it's a mechanical camera and you are not relying on electronics; great when they work but they do die a sudden death and that's that I afraid.

Regards, David
Dear Colin,

To add to the comments of Pioneer and David I think you should be looking for a Pentax ME Super. It offers aperture priority auto exposure along with full manual control. The Pentax ME only offers auto exposure, but either one is a nice small camera that offers the opportunity to change lenses.

Another plus for the Pentax cameras is that they work on LR44 batteries which are both common and inexpensive.

Regards,

Tim Murphy
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Old 08-20-2016   #12
Colin G.
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Thanks for the replies everyone. As I suspected, the OM's appear to be the best choice. A spot meter would be handy indeed...can it only be used it manual mode or when you press the spot button, does it override the center-weighted meter in both auto and manual?

I was talking to one of the people who work at a local shop earlier today and they were saying that the ME's and most of the Pentax cameras of that era have unreliable electronics. Does anyone have any anecdotal evidence to support or refute?
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Old 08-20-2016   #13
Tim Murphy
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Dear Colin,

When you speak of unreliable electronics can I safely assume that you are speaking of the meter circuit and it's accuracy?

If you are, I can tell you that my Pentax ME and ME Super consistently read the same, or extremely close and well within tolerance of any other camera or hand held light meter I own on the same scene.

Maybe none of my meters are accurate but my pictures turn out OK exposure-wise. Content is a whole 'nuther story.

Regards,

Tim Murphy
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Old 08-20-2016   #14
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I'd got for the OM 4 IF---and ONLY IF--you know and can verify the battery circuit has been changed. Otherwise you'll go thru batteries like potato chips. Very frustrating, as the OM4 has an outstanding metering system and viewfinder.
Paul
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Old 08-20-2016   #15
Doug
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin G. View Post
...I was talking to one of the people who work at a local shop earlier today and they were saying that the ME's and most of the Pentax cameras of that era have unreliable electronics. Does anyone have any anecdotal evidence to support or refute?
That does not sound familiar to me... I have quite a few Pentaxes of that vintage +/- including two ME Super, two MX, three LX, a pair of K2, etc. Never had any trouble with the electronics, meter or shutter. In my experience they are very reliable... but that doesn't mean an individual out there dreamed his Pentax problem either! Still, Hendrickson can deal with any necessary repairs...
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Old 08-20-2016   #16
it'sawhat?
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As a pentax lover I would love to say the ME at that price simply because the 50 sells for that easy. I have the ME super and use it 98 percent in AE wonderful results. But the om2n does sound tempting.
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Old 08-20-2016   #17
Fraser
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You maybe already know this but the way to check if the om4 has updated electronics is to switch the battery check button on if it's the old electronics it will beep until the battery is flat if it's been updated it will only beep for 30 seconds ish.
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Old 08-20-2016   #18
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A deciding factor for me would be the presence of AEL (auto exposure lock), which I require in order for any form of exposure automation to be useful.

Do any of these cameras have AEL?

- Murray
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Old 08-21-2016   #19
David Hughes
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Hi,

If I was the owner of just one camera and used it a lot then I would vote for the OM4/OM4Ti although I can't comment on the battery problem as it hasn't happened with my OM4.

My 2d worth is that the OM4 etc is an unusual camera with a lot of facilities and you spend a lot of time looking at the instruction book until you've mastered them. Obviously, if you used no other camera than that would not be a problem and after a few films you'd get to know it.

The Pentax's strength is that it is a well thought out camera that is easy to use and so it's hard to screw up a shot. I'd be happy to leave it on auto for 99% of the time. I had my first plain ME when they were new and kept it for years. Currently I'm on my second ME Super and the advantages over the plain ME are real but hardly noticeable. (The first looked good but had been badly treated and went back after one film through it.)

I've used and owned a lot of SLR's since digital meant people were giving them away or selling them for pennies and my long term favourite in its class is the ME Super with a few primes. I think it's closest rival would be the Minolta X-300 or the OM10; they are all MF, auto and manual exposure and small and neat. And there are some well designed zooms to go with them all.

A plus point with the ME super is the VF display with its coloured LED's showing the shutter speed it's chosen.

My OM-1 and OM-2N are pleasant cameras, the metering is the needle in the VF variety and they are part of a wide, well designed system, apart from the hot shoe. So all my comments are based on using them and looking at the prints or slides.

And, FWIW, if I was rich enough I'd have only a Leica R5 and a few primes but I've owned one and know what they cost to bring back to the original spec and can say the same about the lenses...

Regards, David

PS (Edit) if you like the sound of the OM-2(N) and the OM-4(Ti) then you should also look at the OM-2SP which is a development of the OM-2N imo and cleverly thought out. Read about it here:- http://mir.com.my/rb/photography/har...m2sp/index.htm
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Old 08-21-2016   #20
CMur12
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David, do any of these cameras have AEL?

- Murray
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Old 08-21-2016   #21
David Hughes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CMur12 View Post
David, do any of these cameras have AEL?

- Murray
Hi,

The OM-4 and X-300 have AE lock in auto mode but beware as that's based on me looking at the manuals just now and not using it.

My OM-4 will allow up to 8 spot meter readings to be averaged and held. So you could take two readings from the face and one from the background and it would average them for the shot and then there's a clear button to drop the calculated reading when you decide to. It seems to work.

As for the OM-2SP, I've not had it long enough to comment. I picked it up dirt cheap this summer and have put one film through it and made a note to play with it a bit more. In other words, I'm not too sure about it, which I find worrying, and I'm against over complication and so (edit) it may go into the 'sell' heap....

I hope that makes sense. In your shoes I'd look for a downloadable manual and struggle through it but it's not the same.

Regards, David
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Old 08-21-2016   #22
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Thanks, David. I can confirm that the X-300 (X-370 in the US) has AEL, but I didn't know about the Olympus OM-2, OM-4, and the Pentax ME/Super.

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Old 08-21-2016   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin G. View Post
I was talking to one of the people who work at a local shop earlier today and they were saying that the ME's and most of the Pentax cameras of that era have unreliable electronics. Does anyone have any anecdotal evidence to support or refute?
I've been using MX's and LX's on and off for a few years and have never had issues with electronics...

Do you specifically want AE as an option? If not, I would seriously look at a Pentax MX, rather than the ME. Same body, but fully manual and with a phenomenal viewfinder. It's a great way to get access to the SMC lenses, which as others mention, offer amazing bang for buck.

You should be able to find one in nice condition with the M50mm f1.7 or f1.4 for the same price or less that the OM4 you mention...
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Old 08-21-2016   #24
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As much as I like the Me Super I would say take a good look at the Super Program. I found it to be everything the Me Super is with a few additional useful features. So far no issues with electronics (with either) and the meter is right on.
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Old 08-21-2016   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin G. View Post
Thanks for the replies everyone. As I suspected, the OM's appear to be the best choice. A spot meter would be handy indeed...can it only be used it manual mode or when you press the spot button, does it override the center-weighted meter in both auto and manual?
In the OM-4, the spot meter reading(s) override the center-weighted meter reading in both manual and automatic modes. In automatic mode, the exposure compensation dial can be used to move the exposure left or right.

When spot metering, the meter shows all the readings, and the average. Seeing all the readings is very educational - you learn something you can use, such as how to get the exact exposure you want, or whether there's too much contrast to capture everything in the scene on the film.

There is a switch around the shutter button. Pull to the right to clear the spot reading(s), push to the left to memorize (which functions as the AE lock). The memorization lasts for up to one minute after the last press of the shutter button. After 1 minute of inactivity then the meter readings are cleared automatically, and the camera goes back to center-weighted metering.
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Last edited by sreed2006 : 08-21-2016 at 04:32. Reason: added exposure compensation information.
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Old 08-21-2016   #26
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I have an Olympus OM10, a Pentax MX and a Pentax ME Super. The ones that I have all have reliability drawbacks, in that they are at an age when their shutter mechanisms are starting to periodically jam because of foam bits falling in to them or lack of lubrication. At the moment, I would choose the Olympus OM10 as a nicer user camera as having the better viewfinder for my long-sighted eyes and less shutter kick and noise than the ME Super or MX. Unfortunately, the OM10's shutter is jammed, possibly because of an issue with the electro-magnetic part of its shutter-release...
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Old 08-21-2016   #27
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For me, it would be the OM-4 series. I had a pair of OM-4's (one OM-4 and one OM-4T) that I traded a pair of OM-2S bodies and some cash to get around 1990 (or maybe a little earlier). When I decided to quit part time work and went full time as a newspaper freelancer, I eventually sold them for a pair of Nikon F100 bodies with MB-15 drives.
BUT I loved the metering system on those OM-4 bodies. I carried a grey card with me and would take highlight and shadow readings for an average setting. As long as the light did not vary much, I could really concentrate on my compositions and the action around me. I only went autofocus because of the need for better tracking of high school sports. The OM-4, for me, still ranks as one of the best cameras I have ever owned.
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Old 08-21-2016   #28
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I have two ME's and an ME Super. All are a joy to use, but the Super offers more creative control for roughly the same price (often less than $50 USD in great condition). All have meters that measure close or identical to my best cameras and Sekonic handheld meters, and they use easy to find button batteries. The ME is small, ergonomic, and the SMC lenses produce beautiful sharp images, especially with color. I love my ME's (that's why I have three!)
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Old 08-21-2016   #29
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I'd buy the OM2n and the ME.

Use both and then keep your favourite. For the prices you are paying you could sell them easily for that and use the money on another lens, maybe a 35mm or 85mm. Or the 50mm 1.4 olympus is a great lens.
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Old 08-21-2016   #30
David Hughes
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Hi,

Just looked at the first post again and it's amazing to this old git that the extra ten Canadian dollars gets the OM-4 over the OM-2N and the f/1.4 lens as well. Amazing...

Regards, David
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Old 08-22-2016   #31
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One thing for sure, Colin, whichever camera you choose, there will be no lack of choice for lenses later on. You can't go wrong in the long run with any of your possible selections. It will be mostly up to how much initial outlay you are comfortable with, as later expenses will likely be equivalent.

As to any problems that may crop up, I don't know of any general complaints about the electronics in an ME, but that line is known for shutters that get stuck, which requires a major teardown to fix. I've got a Super that needs to go in for such a job, as resetting the shutter myself does not clear the problem. This may be caused by non-use over an extended period of time, or just bad storage. Still something to consider.

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