1
\$\begingroup\$

I recently acquired a Pentax ME that has been sitting on a shelf for at least twenty years. It may or may not have a partially-exposed roll of Kodak Gold 100 film in it. How can I tell for certain, preferably without damaging either the camera or the film?

(Note that the batteries in the camera are long dead, and the camera has very little manual-operation capability. If I need to replace them to check for the presence of film, be sure to mention it.)

\$\endgroup\$
2
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can try to advance the camera to the next frame and try to take a shot. If you succeed you loose one frame but you can be sure you have film in the camera. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 18, 2023 at 7:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RomeoNinov: you can do this without film in the camera, unfortunately. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 2 at 14:18

4 Answers 4

7
\$\begingroup\$

One easy way to check if film is loaded in the camera is to gently turn the rewind knob in the direction that would rewind the film. If there's resistance to the knob turning, that indicates the camera is loaded. If the rewind knob just spins freely, that proves there's no film magazine in the camera.

\$\endgroup\$
2
\$\begingroup\$

If there's a 20-year-old film in the camera, you'll surely not want to take any new photos on that old film. It's very unlikely that they'll produce anything usable.

So, to me the most plausible aim is to save any photos that might have been taken on the old film roll (still not very likely that you'll get decent results, but you might try).

My recommendation is to rewind the camera (you'll typically feel some resitance while there is film left to be rewound - or turn the rewind lever some 50 revolutions clockwise, that should surely suffice). Then, you can open the back cover and you'll see whether there is a cartridge in it. You can give it to a lab and hope for the best.

If you want to take photos with the camera, buy a fresh film. And don't let it rest in the camera for years before developing it.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ When you give the film to the lab, be sure to tell them it was exposed two decades ago. This will help them modify development to increase the chances of getting anything usable. (Assuming the people at the lab know what they are doing.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 21:40
1
\$\begingroup\$

When you advance the wind lever, does the film rewind knob also turn? I'm not familiar with the camera, but this should be the giveaway – without film in the camera, advancing the wind lever shouldn't have any effect on the rewind knob.

As I say, I'm not familiar with the camera. To perform the above test, you will obviously need to advance the film and potentially waste a frame. You may also need to fire the shutter if the film has been wound on for the next exposure already. According to camera-wiki.org, you don't need batteries in the camera to fire the shutter, though, unless you are very lucky, you'll get incorrect exposure.

Another thought I had – if the wind lever doesn't advance at all, that might indicate that there's a fully-exposed roll of film in the camera, waiting to be rewound.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "if the wind lever doesn't advance at all". That could also indicate a jammed up camera mechanism due to sitting on the shelf for 20 years. \$\endgroup\$
    – Peter M
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 12:39
1
\$\begingroup\$

The way to know if there is film in the camera is to unfold the rewind crank on the left of the camera, and then, without pressing the little button on the baseplate, try to gently rewind the film by turning the crank clockwise (do not turn it anticlockwise!). If there is film in the camera you will feel increasing resistance as the spooled film tightens. If there isn't the motion will be completely free. Once you feel resistance, stop: if you pull it too hard you'll tear the film's sprockets.

If there's film in it there's no reason not to use it if you want: the worst that can happen is you get no useful images.

  • Check the battery contacts are clean, put batteries in the camera (2 1.5v cells).
  • Set the film speed using the left-hand dial around the rewind crank. I'd suggest to 50 given this is old film and will have lost some speed. Set the compensation thing (same dial) to '1x'. Alternatively set film speed to 100 and compensation to 2x: it's the same.
  • Set the shutter speed to '100', and with the lens cap on fire the shutter & wind the camera once or twice. This will leave one or two blank frames between what's in there and your photos.
  • Set the shutter speed to 'auto', and the aperture on the lens to some reasonable value.
  • With the winder lever pulled slightly away from the body (which turns the meter on) then push the shutter button half down, while looking through the viewfinder. One of the LEDs on the left should light, telling you what shutter speed it thinks is right. Compare this to a known-good camera or meter to check that it's reasonable. Don't fash if it's half a stop or even a stop out.
  • take pictures!
  • when not in use move the shutter dial to 'L' and make sure the winder crank is not pulled away from the body at all, so the camera is off.
  • when the film is done, unfold the rewind crank and push in the little button on the bottom of the camera, then rewind the film until you start to feel no resistance from the crank. You open the back by pulling the whole rewind assembly up a bit, which should cause the back to pop open.

Things that will probably be wrong with it:

  • light seals, just get someone to replace them;
  • mirror cushion thing, likewise this can be replaced.

It might be worth finding someone good at M-series Pentaxes and asking them just to check it over. I can't make recommendations unless you're in the UK.

Disclaimer: it's a while since I used an ME, so some of the above might be confused with the ME Super or the MX which I have a bunch of.

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.