olympus om2/4 or pentax ME super?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by nigel_sinkins, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. hi there, i wonder if anyone can give me a little advice here. at the moment iam the proud owner of an Olympus Om2n and 4 and various Olympus lenses which i use specifically for black and white and am very pleased with the results. however i have been looking at photos taken with a Pentax Me super on the internet, i realise that this is not the best way to assess photos or the quality of lenses, but i was quite impressed with what i saw and thought that for some reason they looked sharper than those taken with my beloved Olympus equipment. maybe its just me but would appreciate it if anyone has any experience of these cameras and how they think they might compare especially the quality of the lenses.
    thanks
    nigel sinkins
     
  2. When it comes to shooting film, image quality has very little to do with the camera body. It's much more dependent on the lenses and the technique of the photographer. Both Pentax and Olympus make good products capable of making quality images. If you feel like something is not quite as good as it should be, maybe you can tell us a little bit about what lenses you use and how you like to shoot. Also, if you're viewing pictures on the web, a lot has to do with the quality of the scans used to get them there and any sharpening, etc that was done post capture (not to mention any darkroom work that might be involved).
     
  3. Replying as just a Pentax user, who started after the days of the Me Super. The ME itself is something I wouldn't recommend anymore due to its electronic shutter that might break sooner or later. (I had issues with follow up models sold as SuperA & ProgramA in Germany, which I bought new back then in the 80s) From what I read your Olympus seems a fine camera and its way to meter during exposure is only copied by the (also breaking) Pentax LX.
    I obviously don't know the Olympus lens line at all. AFAIK Leica S seems the only camera system where none of the lenses is "bad". - But you could supply your family with decent cars for that money. - I doubt that blindfoldedly switching to Pentax gains much in terms of image quality. - The Pentax lens line is mixed. There are dogs like the 28 -80 f3.5 -4.5 which wears out mechanically & flares as soon as given a hint of a reason to do so, probably mediocre state of the art lenses like the 28mm f2.8 or 50mm f1.4 and a few gems like the 28mm f3.5 or the macro lenses which really outresolve others. Mentioning the macros: I can only warn of their inconvenient focus throw. I like the Leica 100mm f2.8 way more than the Pentax, handling wise. - I am quite content with the Pentax 50mm f2.0 my 135mm f2.8 suffered from a loose aperture blade once although it looked pretty new. My AF 100mm f2.8 early version (bought new) suffers from a jammed AF shaft, The early AF 50mm f2.8 doesn't match the 100mm's image quality entirely but appears much sharper than the AF 50mm f1.4. I own a 35mm f2.0 but am challenged to focus it properly so it sees much less use than AF zooms in its range or the RF lens. My AF135mm f2.8 worked OK so far.
    An obvious drawback of Pentax: their old glas fits somehow onto their DSLR line. Some folks hunt the not really wide spread "good" old lenses down to use them for slow paced (landscape?) photography on their digital bodies. In the shop windows I see a lot of consumer glass from the 80s going cheap but who needs a fishy 3rd party 80 - 200mm? They were soft when they came out and were within specs... - what about them now 25 years later? -Same about fast WA lenses. even contemporary ones don't knock my socks off.
    I don't want to bash Pentax. I'm simply stating: if you really plan switching systems to improve image quality you should investigate. State exactly what you have ask around what was made for or by Olympus with a better reputation and try to find comparsions of those lenses and their other system's counterparts. Maybe there are enough figures by the same tester floating around to give you a clear overview like "the ** 28mm f4 at f8 should resolve like my 50mm f2.0 at f 3.5". I'd still try to double check any praise I read somewhere. - reviewers used to praise the Voightlander 15mm for example. - It might be better than many other 15mms but it doesn't knock my socks off compared with less unusual focal lenghts, even on drugstore 4x5" prints.
    There are various ways to gain a sharp or not so sharp image... I had SLR mirrors out of whack flawing my focusing or rangefinders having issues with similar results. - Its sometimes a good idea to shoot at the optimal aperture of a lens. Lens hoods, tripods and UV filters thet weren't bought used with tiny scratches and fingerprints instead of a coating matching your lenses.... Handholding and focusing skills get frequently overestimated... Maybe even your film choice could be to blame? How about all the post processing? is your enlarging lens known to be really good? or "just something"? what kind of scanner are you using for your digital workflow? - Switching 35mm camera systems for image quality is the biggest step you could take so try to look for alternatives first.
    I am tempted to guess that anything published on the internet goes through digital post processing before its able to impress you while you see every flaw of your own imageing tools in your huge prints below your linen tester. before you buy anything try going the pixel binning lane and do a side by side comparsion with the images that impressed you.
    Also doublecheck if 35mm is really the right format for what you are after. - Maybe switching to a mediocre MF system floats your boat easier? To me the limitations of the small negative were pretty obvious and I shot pushed TMY 120 quite happily in my TLRs for 8x10" prints.
     
  4. Cory has it.
    To expand on it a little, even the cheapest, least durable 35mm film camera body only had to hold the film reasonably flat for it to work well. So the only 'mechanical' advantage one system had over another was really the image quality of the lenses made for it. I have both Olympus and Pentax lenses and have never seen any system-wide differences in lens quality between them.
    By far the most important variable is user practice. As HAL says in 2001,
    "Well, I don't think there is any question about it. It can only be attributable to human error. This sort of thing has cropped up before and it has always been due to human error."
    Most lenses can produce good results if they are properly fixed in space (e.g., tripod) and focused accurately. Lens hoods also help since flare can be a factor.
    Finally, these days, so much can be done in post-processing once the film image is scanned in, not to mention printing for higher contrast back in film days.
     
  5. "if you really plan switching systems to improve image quality you should investigate" Jochen S.
    "film, IQ has very little to do with the camera body. It's much more dependent on the lenses" Cory A.
    "Olympus and Pentax lenses and have never seen any system-wide differences in lens quality" JDM
    With those wise words, have you checked for resolution killing fog/haze inside your Olympus lens elements?
    It may be time for the Flashlight Test <<< Click
    Age related lubricant failure (Out-gassing), is kicking in pretty strong right now for these 70's and 80's lenses...
     
  6. The OM cameras especially the OM-4 was much more expensive than the Pentax ME Super which was near the bottom end of the SLR's Pentax offered at that time. It's not really possible to say which camera took the better pictures by looking at pictures posted on the web. I don't have that much experience with Olympus but compared the only lenses I have the Olympus 50mm f/1.8 to the Pentax 50mm f/1.4 the Pentax is much sharper.
     
  7. Improving your technique (steadiness, focusing accuracy) will improve sharpness much more than switching brands, provided your existing equipment is working properly (focusing screen/mirror not misaligned, clean lenses shaded from stray light and collimated, etc)
     
  8. Also, how are you getting the images off the film to inspect? Scanning? Perhaps your scanner is not doing as well as it might? If you are using a flatbed and the other people are using a dedicated film scanner that could be why their photos look sharper?
     
  9. "Age related lubricant failure (Out-gassing), is kicking in pretty strong right now for these 70's and 80's lenses..."
    For some perhaps, Gus. Not at all for very many.

    Olympus Zuiko lenses can hold their own against the very best other makers offer(ed).
    There are (as in the other maker's offerings) some that are a bit less, budget, but still not bad, with a superb version of the same focal length available too.
    On the whole, the quality of the lenses is nothing to worry about.

    The OM cameras too are perfectly capable of not messing up image quality. Even the very cheapest one of them all. No worries there either.

    So no, there's no image quality related reason to look for a Pentax instead.
     
  10. GAS? (equipmentis)
    gas greener on the other side of the fence?
    So, OK, there are better lens around (Zeiss Otus, $4000 anyone?). Is the technical performance of your lenses what is limiting your ability to create images?
    You don't know if the images you saw "on the internet" have been processed (curves, sharpening)
    Do a serious evaluation of your lenses (tripod).
     
  11. I am a fairly recent joiner of the Olympus camp but have never found my Zuiko's wanting for sharpness. Do you wet print or scan your negatives? If the latter maybe a better scanner would be worth thinking about?
    To be honest, given what 35mm gear is selling for these days why not give the Pentax a go? Super Takumar lenses are supposed to be very good. That is the logic I used when I got an OM2 last year even though I am heavily into Nikon stuff with no complaints about it. I always fancied trying an OM2 SP & being able to get the camera, 3 lenses & a flash for under £100 was too much to resist.
     
  12. Nigel,
    Although a film camera is just a "light tight box" that transports the film and houses the shutter, one aspect that is sometimes overlooked is handling. I have the OM4T and some Zuiko lenses. I really like the way the camera handles. Some find the Olympus to be too petite for comfortable handling, and find the shutter speed dial at the lens mount to be awkward.
    Having said that, I have noticed some Zuiko's perform better than others. Also I have found wide open is not a strong suit of the Zuiko's either. Since I rarely shoot wide open, it is not an issue for me.
    Steve
     
  13. hi there
    thanks very much for all your responses they were very kind and helpful. being what i guess i would call an experienced amateur i have owned and enjoyed various cameras such as Yashicas, Bronicas, Rollie Sl66 through to the cameras which i now use, a Mamiya 330s, a Contax 167mt and their lenses and more recently have been using Olympus om2n and om4 and various lenses which in some ways i prefer over the Contax lenes, although much cheaper they seem to have more distinctive, richer ? look about the black and white pictures i get from them, using delta 100 and Ilford pan f developed in Prescysol EF and Prescysol. That said i just thought after browsing the internet that some of the pictures i saw by Pentax Me super looked very good so it might be worth a try. That said from what ive now read maybe ill just continue for what iam more than happy with and save my pennies and put them towards some of the nice new ilford fibre papers on the market. or maybe even eventually some really nice Leica equipment (upgrading? ) Again thanks very much for your responses, more than appreciated.
    cheers
    nigel
     
  14. hi there
    thanks very much for all your responses they were very kind and helpful. being what i guess i would call an experienced amateur i have owned and enjoyed various cameras such as Yashicas, Bronicas, Rollie Sl66 through to the cameras which i now use, a Mamiya 330s, a Contax 167mt and their lenses and more recently have been using Olympus om2n and om4 and various lenses which in some ways i prefer over the Contax lenes, although much cheaper they seem to have more distinctive, richer ? look about the black and white pictures i get from them, using delta 100 and Ilford pan f developed in Prescysol EF and Prescysol. That said i just thought after browsing the internet that some of the pictures i saw by Pentax Me super looked very good so it might be worth a try. That said from what ive now read maybe ill just continue for what iam more than happy with and save my pennies and put them towards some of the nice new ilford fibre papers on the market. or maybe even eventually some really nice Leica equipment (upgrading? ) Again thanks very much for your responses, more than appreciated.
    cheers
    nigel
     
  15. Hi Nigel.
    Like you, I am an experienced amateur. I have both the OM system and Pentax system.
    They are similar in many ways. Both have a wide range of excellent lenses. Both are compact systems.
    Both have basic lenses that are widely available and are bargains. Most of the non-basic lenses in both systems are quite expensive in today's market.
    Now some specifics.
    The ME Super is an underrated little camera. it is smaller and lighter than the OM2. Some people dont like the shutter speed selection (buttons with a LCD display on top). This camera was not made for the professional market, though. So keep your expectations low in terms of reliability and ruggedness. One common problem seems to be that winding too hard can foul up some mechanisms and lock up the camera. I've fixed a couple of them by opening up the bottom and adjusting some levers. If you find a working camera, it will probably last you quite a long time. Its simplicity actually is a bonus in this regard. One really nice feature of the ME system over the OM is the power winder, which has a better placed button.

    The Pentax lenses are compact and sharp. Over the years, Pentax used more plastic in their lenses. But I dont think much changed in the designs. While Olympus gradually changed some of their lenses. (Namely the 50mm f1.4, and the 85mm f2) Also olympus added Multicoatings to some of their later lenses that did not have them before.
    -hey now that I think about it, I rememebr someone writing that they had to adjust the alignment of the focussing screen on their olympus OM2. Have you checked that?
     
  16. With used film gear so cheap why not pick up a used Pentax SLR? Sometimes a specific lens my be available in K mount at a good price. Though rather than the ME Super you might consider on of the mechanical Pentax SLR's such as the KX or MX. The MX is compact like the ME/ME Super, but has match diode metering. Pentax made a neat little pancake lens: the 40 mm f2.8 M Takumar. With this lens attached the MX will fit in a jacket pocket. The MX, btw, also accepts focusing screens and either a motor drive or power winder.
     
  17. [lubricant failure] "For some perhaps, Gus. Not at all for very many" Q.G.
    OK Q.G., I'll bite.
    With my small world survey of:
    1. Daily inbound repairs
    2. Constant lens buying from every virtually every state in the US (Except for the high humidity Florida & Hawaii states)
    3. My own large inventory of well cared for lenses
    What is your "Not at all for very many" opinion based on?
     
  18. Also, how are you getting the images off the film to inspect? Scanning?​
    Have I missed it or have you not addressed this question? If you evaluate from scans than there is an extremely good chance this is indeed your problem.
    As stated already, Zuiko lenses are in the upper class of vintage glass and unless you have a hazed up lemon, it is not your problem.
    Leica will most certainly never fix the issues you are describing. You can bet that so long as your system is based on the well known several brands (Canon, Nikon Olympus, Pentax, Minolta, Konica, Ricoh, Yashica, Chinon, even Praktica and a few others) and working correctly, your dissatisfaction with produced images lies within the technique.
    I personally have several systems (and getting more), but that's because I've taken the craze pill and keep on buying the great pieces produced over several decades of meaningfully rewarding manufacturing quality. Good thing is, THAT quality is long gone, so once I swallow up the few more, I'll be done with acquisitions.
    Enjoy your Oly.
     

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