Released in 1977 by the Asahi Pentax camera company, the Pentax ME Super was a compact, relatively advanced single lens reflex (SLR) camera. Although marketed toward the novice or amateur photographer, the camera contained a wealth of features including through-the-lens light metering and a fast maximum shutter speed of 1/2000s. A very common problem among old Pentax SLRs is a stuck mirror resulting from an eroded, sticky damper pad -- the small foam seal that protects the focusing screen when the mirror retracts.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Small coin
- Soft cloth
- Two fresh 1.5-volt batteries
- Hobby knife
- 2.5-millimetre-thick adhesive foam
- Cotton swab
- Lens tissue
- Glass cleaner
Press the small release tab near the lens mount thread and rotate the lens counter-clockwise to remove it. Look inside the camera. If your mirror is stuck in the up position, you will see an empty chamber. Pull the mirror, located at the top of the chamber, down gently with the tip of your finger.
Remove the battery cover on the bottom of the camera using the edge of a small coin. Dispose of the old batteries, wipe the metal contacts clean with a soft cloth, and insert the two new batteries. Try advancing the film and firing the shutter to see if the mirror retracts and then returns down. If it sticks again, pull it back down and continue with the steps below.
Locate the mirror damper pad. It is at the edge of the focusing screen, a milky-white square of glass at the top of the chamber. Use a pair of tweezers to pull up one edge of the pad while gently slicing it away from the chamber with a hobby knife. Work slowly until the entire pad is removed. Clean away any crumbled particles using your tweezers.
Cut a small section of 2.5-millimetre-thick foam with a length of 40 millimetre and a width of three millimetres. Peel off the backing from the foam and lick the adhesive to allow for easier placement. Position the foam in the same place as the old damper pad, ensuring that it does not touch the focusing screen.
Hold the new pad into place for at least a minute while the adhesive dries and sets.
Wrap a small piece of lens tissue around the tip of a cotton swab and moisten it with glass cleaning solution. Gently clean away any old damper pad residue on the edge of the mirror, as this is what causes it to become stuck. Allow the glass cleaner to evaporate dry.
Advance the film and fire the shutter several times, watching the mirror to make sure it retracts and returns down each time.
Tips and warnings
- On some models a small adjustment screw protrudes from the damper pad platform. If this is true for your ME Super, cut a small notch in the centre of the new foam with your hobby knife to allow for it.
- Work in a clean, well-lit area. You will be working with small parts and good visibility is important.
- Adhesive foam can be found at your local hobby or craft store.
- At this point, Pentax ME Super's are more than 30 years old. If the guide above does not fix your problem, chances are your camera is in need of a more serious fix. If you do not feel comfortable with more advanced repairs, take your ME Super to a professional repairperson for a full cleaning, lubrication and adjustment.
- Never use solvent near the focusing screen to clean away any damper pad remnants -- it could cause permanent damage to the screen's delicate coating.
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