Pentax ME-F

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Pentax ME-F

Maker: Pentax

Dates: 1981-1984

Variants: chrome

Camera Type: 35mm SLR

Focusing: manual

Lens mount: Pentax Kf

Shutter: focal plane Seiko MFC-E2
metal curtains, vertical travel
from 4s to 1/2000

Exposure meter: TTL, open aperture,
center weighted

Exposure modes: aperture priority, manual, 125X, Bulb

ASA/ISO range: 12 to 1600

Finder screen: fixed Split image (horizontal)

Flash shoe: fixed hot shoe, contact for dedicated flash

Flash speed: 1/125

TTL Flash: no

Motor drive: external: Winder ME (1.5i/s) or Winder ME II (2i/s)

Battery: 4 x 1.5V SR76 or similar

Weight: 480g w/o lens

Number produced: unknown

In 1981 Pentax launched a derivative of the ME Super called Pentax ME-F. The Pentax ME-F was the very first TTL autofocus and focus-confirmation SLR to reach the market. It is a representative of the prehistory of the autofocus SLR, together with the Olympus OM-30. The first really successful autofocus SLR was the Minolta 7000.

The differences from the ME Super were:

  • Focus assistance mechanism (electronic)
    • Electronic contacts added in the lens mount
    • Switch for the focusing confirmation and for the sound (beep)
    • Focusing confirmation at the bottom of the viewfinder: triangles left and right and a hexagon
  • Brighter finder screen
  • Different finder magnification
  • 4 batteries (1.5V) instead of 2
  • Body is 4.5mm taller and less than 1mm thicker

The focusing assistance mechanism tells the user that the center portion of the image is focused, by a green hexagon at the bottom of the viewfinder and a beep, 2 triangles (Left and Right) tell the user which way to focus when the subject is not in focus[1]. Pentax figured out that all users could benefit from this feature and it works with any lens mounted on the camera, Pentax has kept the same focusing confirmation indicator well into the 21st century. The focus confirmation has a selector lever with three positions: large aperture lens (f/2.8 or smaller), small aperture lens (f/3.5 or larger), or off. It also required more power, thus the ME-F uses 4 batteries instead of 2, the battery chamber that was a departure from standard design by having the 4 batteries side by side and a sliding gate. To fit all these new electronics the body had to be expanded a mere 4.5mm in height and about 0.7mm in thickness, and the weight increased to 480g

A special autofocus lens was also launched, the dedicated SMC Pentax AF 35-70/2.8 zoom lens allowed full autofocus, with a built in motor that used the focus confirmation from the cameras and was powered by a set of four AAA batteries. The lens mount is the Pentax-K, but for this camera 5 electrical contacts are present for the first time in a Pentax SLR to communicate the focusing assist to the dedicated lens.

The Pentax ME-F, like the ME Super is an aperture priority automatic camera, it has a Seiko MFC-E2 metal curtains, vertical travel electronic focal plane shutter with speeds from 4s to 1/2000, and synchronized at 1/125. For manual mode, the speed-selector knob, usual at the time, was replaced by two buttons, up and down, to select the shutter speed. The exposure meter is of the standard TTL open aperture center weighted type. It iss activated by a slight pressure on the release button.

The Pentax ME-F has a 0.87x viewfinder, covering 92% of the field. The finder screen was fixed, with a split-image and a microprism ring in the center. The shutter speed chosen by the camera or the user was displayed in the finder, the aperture was not. At the bottom of the finder the focus confirmation LED can be observed.

There was a self-timer and a hot shoe on the top of the prism with an additional contact for dedicated Pentax flash units. The selector around the release button had five positions: L (lock), Auto, M (manual), 125 and B. The Pentax ME-F could attach the external Winder ME (1.5 i/s) or the later Winder ME II (2i/s). The Pentax ME-F could mount the Dial Data ME databack or the later Digital Data M databack.

Production stopped in 1984. Pentax would launch years later (1987) the SFX/SF1 with a redesigned autofocus system which was very successful.


  1. Inside Autofocus: How the Magic Works, p.77-83 Popular Photography Feb. 1982


Pentax K mount SLR Cameras
K2 | KX | KM | K1000 | MX | ME | ME Super | ME-F | MV | MV1 | MG | LX | Super-A | Program-A | A3 | P30| P30n/P3n/P30t | P50 | SFX/SF1 | SF7/SF10 | SFXn/SF1n | Z-1/PZ-1 | Z-10/PZ-10 | Z-20/PZ-20 | Z-50p | Z-5 | Z-5p | Z-70/PZ-70 | Z-1p/PZ-1p | MZ-5/ZX-5 | MZ-3/ZX-3 | MZ-5N/ZX-5N | MZ-7/ZX-7 | MZ-6/ZX-L | MZ-S | MZ-10/ZX-10 | MZ-50/ZX-50 | MZ-30/ZX-30 | MZ-60/ZX-60 | Pentax *ist | MZ-M/ZX-M