Asahi Pentax ME

Classic Pentax M42 & K Mount SLRs:
Asahi Pentax ME

by Karen Nakamura


Overview and Personal Comments

The Pentax ME was released in 1976 by the Asahi Optical Company. It used their new K-mount and was intended for advanced amateur photographers. It had groundbreaking features at the time: a sophisticated aperture priority metering system, camera control of the shutter speed, ±2 stop exposure compensation, and 1/100 sync speed. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

Even now, 25 years later, the ME remains a good camera for student photographers. It's very tough, clad in a chrome metal body. K-mount lenses are very inexpensive and retain full compatibility with even the most recent Pentax bodies (unlike the Nikon system*, you can use the oldest K body with the newest K lens with almost no exceptions). So if you ever decide to go auto-focus, auto-everything (just say no!) you can retain your excellent optical quality K-lenses as you migrate up.

* The famed "backwards compatible" Nikon SLR system has enough incompatibilities and "buts" to fill an entire wall chart.

The ME is surprisingly compact. If you get one of the "pancake" 35mm lenses on ebay, you can even use this camera as a pocket camera. If I were hiking over the Yucatan, this would be one that I could seriously consider. It's small, has great lenses, is practically indestructible, and if you did manage to break it by having a lama step on it, you're only out a $100 or two. It's far better than the plastic wonders at Walmart.

The ME surprisingly can take a motor drive and I hear good things about this combination. The excellent quality SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens is multicoated and was very highly rated in its day. It can still deliver excellent photos.

The camera features aperture priority metering. You set your desired aperture on the lens, the camera starts metering when you pull the wind lever into its forward 30° ready position. On the left side of the viewfinder is a display of the shutter speeds from 8 sec to 1/1000 sec. (and UNDER and OVER). The camera will tell you which shutter speed it has selected. You can then choose to override it by selecting a different aperture, or by engaging exposure compensation of +/- 2 stops in 1 stop clicks. The ME has the ease of use of a point-and-shoot with the versatility of a SLR (which was Pentax's goal all along).

The Pentax ME manual is downloadable as a PDF file from Pentax's website.



The opening and gearing in the bottom for the optional motor-drive unit is visible here.




Technical Details

Camera Name
Pentax ME
Asahi Optical
Place of Manufacture


Date of Manufacture
Focusing System

Single-lens reflex with pentaprism eye-level viewfinder
0.97x magnification; 92% coverage

Lens mount

K-mount (bayonet)


Focal plane shutter
8 sec ~ 1/1000 sec
X-sync @ 1/100
B + self-timer

Metering System

Through-the-lens (TTL) CdS cell - centerweighted
Aperture priority metering with ±2 exposure compensation


Standard hot-shoe and PC sync connector

Film type / speeds

135 type (35mm standard film)

Battery type
2 x LR44/S44 (standard watch batteries)
Dimensions and weight


Retail price
¥50,000 in 1976
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SMC Pentax-M 50mm 1:1.7
Asahi Optical Company
Place of Manufacture
Lens Mount

Pentax K-mount (bayonet)

Focusing range

0.45m - infinity
1.55' - infinity
(left focusing - infinity on left)


f/1.7 ~ f/22
6 blades

Note: Using the text or images on this site in an ebay auction without permission is a violation of your ebay Terms of Service. I will report you to ebay if I discover such a violation taking place.



About Asahi Optical Co.

You see both Asahi Pentax and Honeywell Pentax cameras on the market, what's the difference? Asahi Optical Company is the manufacturer of the cameras and has a very hallowed history. It was founded in 1919 to make optical lenses. It came out with its first SLR, the Asahiflex I in 1951. Pentax is the name of their first SLR with a pentaprism (penta-prism = pentax) which came out in 1957. Since then, it's been their tradename for their series of SLRs, just as EOS is the trade name for Canon's electronic SLRs.

Honeywell was the U.S. importer for Asahi cameras until the mid-1970s. Cameras that they imported are stamped "Honeywell Pentax" on the nameplate, not Asahi Pentax. With the minor except of one camera that was designed to accomodate a Honeywell flash unit, Honeywell Pentaxes are identical to Asahi Pentaxes.

About the only things with a stronger cult following than the Pentax screw mount cameras (Spotmatics) are their K-mount cameras, including the K1000. The K1000 which is now being made by Chinese companies and branded under Chinon and other labels, is often recommended by photography instructors. This has caused the price to stay about $200 for a new set. My own recommendation is to stay with the screw mounts. There is a wider variety of lenses and prices are relatively good. There's also a very strong cult following around their gargantuan Pentax 67 medium format SLRs.

Trivia: "Pentax" was one of the names the Nippon Optical Corporation cycled through when coming up with the name of their new camera in 1948. They ended up calling it the "Nikon" instead.


On the Net



I just wanted to thank you for all the great information you provide on your site!

I love photography and I recently started collecting some older cameras. I love the great images of the cameras on your site (better than even the company's own photos). I have a Leica as well as a Nikon, Yashica and Pentax. The information you provide really helps figure out the historical place for the camera and the design features that were new at the time. Really makes you appreciate all the progress that has been made in such a short period of time.

But you also give the nuts and bolts aspect of the cameras- info like how difficult they are to open, things to look out for, which is also very useful. And the links to the manuals and other places on the web to check out specific to the camera model are all incredibly useful!

Again,thanks for all your hard work.


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