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Pentax MX

Reviews Views Date of last review
62 251,874 Fri March 4, 2022
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
98% of reviewers $127.59 9.15
Pentax MX

Pentax MX
Pentax MX
Pentax MX
Pentax MX
Pentax MX
Pentax MX

The Pentax MX was introduced in 1976 as a pro-caliber all-manual workhorse SLR camera. It was very compact but yet had one of the largest and brightest viewfinders of any SLR. A 250 images film back was available as well as a 5 fps motor drive and a 2 fps winder and numerous other accessories.

The set shutter speed and aperture are visible in the view finder, the latter via a window that projects the aperture value from the aperture ring into the view finder.

Exposure is set by adjusting shutter speed or aperture until a green LED lights up in the viewfinder. This is an electronic version of the match needle metering of the Spotmatic and KM.

Year introduced
Meter range
1 - 19 EV
Meter pattern
ISO range
25 - 1600
DX ISO range
No DX coding
Exposure modes
M, B
Exposure compensation
Not applicable
Exposure lock
Not applicable
Shutter speeds (auto)
Not applicable
Shutter speeds (manual)
1 - 1/1000s, B
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
1 - 1/1000s, B
Self timer
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Not applicable
Multiple exposures
External winder 2 fps, motor drive 1-5 fps
Built-in flash
TTL flash
P-TTL flash
Sync speed
Flash exposure comp
Not applicable
Autofocus sensitivity
Not applicable
Power zoom
0.97x, 95%
Viewfinder type
Diopter correction
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Image size
24 x 36 mm
Panorama format
2 x S76
Battery grip/pack
Yes, for the motor drive
Size (W x H x D)
136 x 82.5 x 49.5 mm
495 g
Price History:

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New Member

Registered: January, 2020
Location: Oregon
Posts: 3
Review Date: March 4, 2022 I can recommend the Pentax MX: Yes | Price: $140.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Compact, Lightweight, Sturdy, Simple, Superb Viewfinder
Cons: None

Oh, where to begin.

The MX was my first mechanical camera, and it's left quite an impression. It may be small, but it feels very rugged. The viewfinder is really second only to the LX, which has the best viewfinder of any 35mm camera I've ever used. It's giant and as clear as it gets, and the aperture readout window is miles better than the Nikon FE2 I had. I also love the SA-3/SA-23 focusing screens for fast lenses. Being fully manual, it just stays out of your way and lets you focus on photographing. I would call it analogous to a fine musical instrument.

One thing that I really had to get used to was how sensitive the shutter release button is on this camera. Coming from a Canon A1 and new digital Nikon bodies, this one felt like a hair-trigger. The meter on mine has unfortunately stopped working, but it doesn't really bother me. I just use a handheld meter or meter by eye. Otherwise, I can't say I have any real complaints.

Overall, if you can find one in good working condition, you can't really go wrong with an MX.
New Member

Registered: September, 2021
Posts: 2
Review Date: October 8, 2021 I can recommend the Pentax MX: Yes | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: large viewfinder, smooth mechanical shutter action, compact body, simplicity, solid built, adapts M42 lenses perfectly, beautiful timeless design
Cons: not the smoothest film advance action, compact size not for everyone, thin body material, no interchangeable viewfinders, no TTL flash metering

The viewfinder of MX is large, sharp, and flare-less; it's easy to acquire precise focus on this camera. The shutter action is super smooth and absolutely lag-free; which is impressive for a vintage camera, which I actually expected it to be sluggish and vague. For me, the performance was on par with modern professional full size SLRs like Canon 1DX. Like what Pentax advertised, there's very minimal, almost no shutter/mirror recoil (all hail horizontal cloth shutter); and it even performs better than most modern cameras that I have used. I really love the light meter, it's simple, clear, and ergonomic. I also appreciate the fully mechanical flash sync hot shoe. I use it with modern flashes and have no problems. Just that it has no TTL metering so it's fully manual. One thing that most people doesn't talk about was MX adapts M42 lenses perfectly (focus to infinity!) thanks to K-mount, and this provided vast lens choices for the MX. I use Super Takumar lenses on the MX. I opt them for the optical quality and also the cosmetic/mechanical quality (I really hate rubber/plastic focus rings).

I refer the Pentax MX as the Ferrari F40 of the cameras. I felt the design principle was similar; which is pure driving experience (in this case photography). The Pentax MX only gives you what's necessary. No fancy dials, no confusing buttons and levers, everything is simplified and focused purely for photography. It's one of the few cameras that I can completely forgot the existence of the camera itself when I'm using it. It's a camera that feels very "connected".

No fancy functions/dials means less parts, and less parts is beneficial for durability. I have no worries about the camera's durability as most reviews praised the mechanical durability and shutter accuracy of MX, and it's designed to withstand the punishment of five frames per second bursts. The maintenance/lubrication for Pentax MX was also very easy as most of the mechanical parts were located at the bottom plate.

Middle Ground
I favored the compact design, but it's definitely something that needs to get used to. A lot of people complained that the shutter speed dial was too stiff, but I'm fine with it as it prevents me to accidentally knock the dial out of its adjustment. The Pentax MX is a solidly built camera, but I felt the material that it used was too thin (probably to reduce weight), so it's quite common to see a Pentax MX have various dents and marks all around its prism/body. You definitely don't want to knock it against a hard surface.

Update: My MX have shutter accuracy issues at 1/1000, for some reason it's almost two stops faster than how it should be. It probably became one of the few MXs that have a 1/4000 shutter speed

The film advance action is very mediocre. Often times, it feels "sticky". Definitely not what I expected from a professional grade camera. This my only major complaint about the MX. Besides that, I also heard the accessories (motor drive etc) for MX were quite mediocrely made and scarce to find. You might want to take note on that. Also, the Pentax MX offers no interchangeable viewfinders and mirror lock up abilities.

Update: After shooting with it for some time the film advance became noticeably much smoother. Probably like what people said, vintage mechanical cameras will repair themselves!

I absolutely love the Pentax MX. In my opinion, it's one of the best professional, fully mechanical SLR ever made. What a lovely, underrated machine.
New Member

Registered: April, 2020
Location: Lincolnshire
Posts: 4
Review Date: April 19, 2021 I can recommend the Pentax MX: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Compact size, rugged and robust construction
Cons: None

I have owned my Pentax Mx since 1979, it was my first Pentax SLR and has been a fathfull companion over the last 41 years, I had looked at the Olympus OM1 and Canon AE-1 as well but settled on the MX as it felt right. The compact size had been a bonus when traveling which it has over the years, USA, South Atlantic, Middle East, and around Europe. The mechanical construction means no worries about batteries running out, but they last for years anyway. Maintenance wise it's had a couple of CLAs in its life. Back in the 1980s it was used to cover motorsports coupled with a 2fps winder and I would have loved to have the motorised film rewinding that the LX has but that is the only improvement I would have to this fantastic little camera.
New Member

Registered: March, 2019
Posts: 2
Review Date: February 24, 2021 I can recommend the Pentax MX: Yes | Price: $104.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: size, weight, selection of lenses available, looks, features
Cons: possibly reliability

When it rains it pours.
I have been on the hunt for an MX for over a year now. Each time I found one I was either too slow contacting the seller or I baulked at the high prices. Like the K1000, prices of MXs have skyrocketed here in Australia with sellers asking many hundreds of dollars for decent working examples with a 50mm lens attached.
Fast forward to this past month and I now have three MX bodies. The price listed above is the average of all three, two of which also came with lenses (a SMC Pentax 50 f2 and a SMC Pentax 55 f1.8).
My main focus of this review is to tell you that these cameras seem very easy to work on. If you have opened a lens before to clean fungus from elements you can definitely do simple repairs of these generally reliable cameras. The second MX body I purchased had the mirror in the up position and extremely slow shutter curtains. The third body I purchased refused to wind on. In both cases it was the 'slow shutter speed mechanism' that was to blame. I am lead to believe that this set of springs, cogs and levers controls speeds from bulb through to 1/60sec. In each case the mechanism was dirty and full of grime. The whole assembly can be taken out in one piece, given a good clean and then put straight back. This requires the removal of just two screws. So, if you fancy doing a little tinkering, don't discount Pentax MX bodies that have stuck mirrors, stuck film advance levers and slow curtains. It is very possible that the fix is an easy one. You could save yourself a good amount of money and end up with a lovely little camera that is a joy to hold, use and look at.
New Member

Registered: September, 2020
Location: Derbyshire
Posts: 3

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: October 18, 2020 I can recommend the Pentax MX: Yes | Price: $125.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: The 3 colour meter reading array and errrmmm..............
Cons: Slow in use, basic centre weighted meter, stiff shutter speed selectors

I've had two of these. The first just perplexed me and then I saw another all beaten up and tried again only to end up where I was before.

On paper there is a lot to like about the MX. The viewfinder is quite good, the judas window giving you the aperture read out; the disc carrying the shutter speed you have selected, the meter readings with it's simple colour red, amber and green read out is great (better than my FM2N if I'm honest). The magnification of the viewfinder is very helpful.

And yes - it's a well made, rather wide camera loved by many.

I simply however did not get on with it.

1) It was slow to take pictures with.

2) The centre weighted metering was very basic and could lead to under-exposure. For example you'd get a different reading if you went from
landscape to portrait mode. It reminded me of my Olympus OM-1 metering wise but the Olympus was a much faster camera to use.

3) The shutter speed knob is too stiff to be useful - in both samples that I had serviced at Pentax House in Harrow, London. Even the KX I now have has an easier to use shutter speed knob you can push with your finger when composing and metering. The FM2N's shutter speed knob is SO easy to use and that (and the KX) is what a manual camera should be like to use - you should not have to fight it.

In fact, when I got my first KX, I knew that the MX was just not what I was after at all. I never looked at one again. I know people love them and that's fair enough - but not for me folks.
Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2011
Location: Eastern Oregon
Posts: 856
Review Date: September 25, 2020 I can recommend the Pentax MX: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Manual, mechanical
Cons: viewfinder could have been 100%

One thing most people don't realize about the MX is that the shutter is actually an integral part of the chassis. Unlike most other cameras where the shutter is a modular unit installed into the chassis. MX photos always seem to have a certain something, pixie dust if you will and I have always thought it was due to this construction. I have 2 of them and they are my go to full frame cameras.
New Member

Registered: July, 2019
Posts: 8
Review Date: February 23, 2020 I can recommend the Pentax MX: Yes | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Great build quality. Full mechanical operation. Small size pro SLR in its day. DOF. Great bright viewfinder. Interchangeable focus screens.
Cons: propr mirror lock up would be nice

I also own a ME Super. Since getting the MX the ME Super sits on the shelf. I also have a Nikon F3 which I absolutely love and the MX feels like its baby brother. Great solid construction packaged into a small body, all the controls are in a right place so that whilst its small its easy and intuitive to use. Its full mechanical so look after it and it will never die of circuitry issues. This camera is such a pleasure to use. Coupled with M glass and you have a small compact extremely well made and rugged camera that you can take anywhere. The viewfinder is really good, bright clear and easy to use for focusing and the arrangement to the shutter speed dial indicator and the red/amber/green meter lights is well placed and easy to use. Mine came with the motor winder which adds grip depth but I don't put it on the camera as I like winding the camera myself - its part of my I shoot film. Want speed? get a Mirrorless or DSLR

New Member

Registered: November, 2016
Posts: 13
Review Date: July 23, 2019 I can recommend the Pentax MX: Yes | Price: $75.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Light weight, View Finder,
Cons: Shutter speed selector is tricky if you have large fingers

If you are looking for a small light weight Pentax slr this is the one for you. The view finder is without doubt a major plus especially if you find yourself in low light conditions or times when you need to be quick. I've graduated to the MX after owning a K1000 and KX and simple additions like the exposure confirmation lights (as opposed to the needle) make exposures that bit faster and more intuitive especially if you are used to focus confirmation in digital cameras, if you have a green light just focus and shoot. Success rate is much higher as a consequence of all the above.

I've walked around all day comfortably with this camera and lens strapped around my neck, try that with a K1 .

However, its strength is its weakness! It is small, if you have large hands the camera is tricky use, shutter speed selector is tricky especially as the ASA selector is incorporated into it. I've accidentally adjusted ASA without realizing it while changing shutter speed and I don't have particularly large hands!

The MX really is a joy to shoot with especially with a fast 50 or 35 lens. The MX is my 35mm film camera of choice, it travels with my Pentax 6x7 and Rolleiflex TLR

If you find one in good condition don't hesitate.
New Member

Registered: September, 2016
Posts: 1
Review Date: May 12, 2019 I can recommend the Pentax MX: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 


First off I own a few Pentax K1000, a K1000 SE, and K2, they are my most used cameras. Here is my observation: Regarding film camera image quality, truthfully the choice of which Pentax film camera used does not matter. Using the same lens on each film body capturing the same scene, same settings, produces the same exact results. Thus, all this about how good ones images appear with a specific camera are utterly meaningless.

Camera functions, ergonomics, and its feature-set are important to us users, however they have absolutely nothing to do with the image quality. Save your comments about “oh look at this image from this old Pentax XYZ film camera” for the lens section; that is where they belong. The lens determines how our images appear not the camera.
New Member

Registered: February, 2016
Location: lake constance
Posts: 1

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: February 17, 2019 I can recommend the Pentax MX: Yes | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: absolute pure, mechanical independance, sturdy, light, beautiful
Cons: viewfinder is not suitable to the rest of the camera ( plastics )

This is my favourite analogue camera for infrared photography. Solid and really beautiful in black and chrome. I also use it as alternative camera in my holidays in the alps, if my digital camera doesn´t work because its battery is exhausted. It is light weighted and all my lenses are useable on the MX and my Sony A7 with Novoflex adaptor unit. Ok, 500g additionally in my backpack, but you´ll never walk alone with this good oldschool "friend" - safety first!

In connection with the M series lenses, there are only less subjects, you can´t manage with the MX.

The only point I don´t agree with the Pentax engeneers of the seventies is the
beginning influence of plastics. The viewfinder window of the MX is very poor and doesn´t suit to the sturdy body of camera. The viewfinder itsself is very bright, I like it very much in using it with dark filters, because I am always able to see enough to shoot.

A really legendary camera - similar to the Nikon FM and the following FM2.
Its a great pity, that you have to buy such cameras in used condition, because
you must have a little bit luck to get a long lasting one.

Good luck!

New Member

Registered: June, 2018
Posts: 4

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: August 15, 2018 I can recommend the Pentax MX: Yes | Price: $90.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: fully manual, featureful viewfinder, size, weight, build quality
Cons: shutter feel, price?

Prior to this camera I have used a Minolta x-300, Chinon CA-4 and Minolta XG-1.

I've been using it regularly since I got it, and have found it very easy to get accustomed to, although having been using the Chinon for so long that occasionally I forget to set the shutter.. (a terrible habit!)

One of the main reasons I got it was because I've been looking for a fully manual camera, it is almost entirely mechanical which I like very much. It does mean, though (obviously) that there is no auto settings, so if that's what you're looking for then obviously look elsewhere (probably the ME Super).

I haven't used the self-timer much, but it has two settings on it, longer (30s?) and shorter (15s?)

The viewfinder shows the shutter speed and the aperture. I use the shutter reading a lot more frequently than the aperture, though I find having both useful. The viewfinder isn't as good as the ME Super's. The ME Super doesn't have the aperture reading but is notably brighter.

The shutter is a bit noisy and doesn't feel as nice as the Minoltas, the Chinon CA-4 (metal shutter), or the ME Super. I'd say the same for the wind on mechanism. Both these mechanisms feel a bit light and not as refined as the other cameras I've used. I got used to the feel, though and maybe it is just the two that I have (both MXs share this).

Now, having got passed all of my criticisms, time for why I am using it on the daily. It has many features! all of which are mechanical! This makes it, despite some of my previous comments, a nice camera to use. The camera fits my hands nicely and isn't too light or too heavy, overall it feels sturdy to hold. One of the best pieces of praise I've heard for the K1000 (I forget where) is that it allows the user to forget about the camera and to think about the photograph; for me the MX does this, despite being, in comparison to K1000, fairly feature laden, it remains simple to use and none of them are distracting. I can see if the film is wound on, I can see how many exposures I have left, I can preview depth of field, I can set ASA, I can set the self timer, and I can see the shutter and aperture readings in the viewfinder.

Finally I want to talk about price..! It's certainly not the most expensive, usually a fair bit less than a k1000. But it's not the cheapest either and what I have to say here is: What do you want it for? For image making lenses and film are what matter. You can get a Chinon or an ME Super for less than these MXs, I still use my Chinon CA-4, from my uncles attic, very regularly, almost as much as the MX. I use these cameras because I can trust the light meters on them and because I have been accumulating K mount lenses.

I vomited all over my Chinon CA-4 recently and the bottom is peeling off of it, it has been around Europe with me. I still use it all the time, I took it with me on a trip last week and shot 1 roll through it and another roll through my MX.

I took the MX on a nice walk along the beach today, I was very happy with it, it looks and feels nice before and after I pick it up. I didn't think about it too much as I'm taking the photos. Sometimes I look at it in wonder at all the mechanisms inside and how I exchanged about 8 hours of bar work for it.

Does it make me feel inadequate?
Do I deserve it?

Well... I think it's happy that it gets out in the fresh air, it felt some rain today, maybe the first time in decades?

Much better than being in an attic or, even worse, a cabinet! .. hehe
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2008
Location: Land of the Salish Sea
Posts: 3,330

5 users found this helpful
Review Date: June 22, 2018 I can recommend the Pentax MX: Yes | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Diminuitive size, fully mechanical, ultra bright viewfinder, ruggedly build and extreme reliability
Cons: None worth mentioning

I've owned and used 4 different MXs in the past 5 years, two early models (one black) and two later models. There are enough reviews of this camera but I wanted to add my six cents for two reasons: I've owned 4 of them, and more importantly, over the years this camera quickly became the one-camera-I-would-keep-if-there-could-be-only-one camera. I've a lot of cameras and a few have tried to unseat the MX, but most have fallen incredibly short and a few have come reasonably close (the LX, the SV).

It is incredibly well built. I've watched my black early model ("my camera - my main one) tumble down a hiking trail and be perfectly fine. It's gotten a bit wet (not drenched, but wet) and not skipped a beat. The only thing the battery controls is the meter itself which has no bearing on operation of the camera's functions, which are entirely mechanical. The battery is unneeded except for in-camera metering. The meter is very accurate. Initially the LED type metering display was a bit annoying but I quickly grew to like it very much simply because I can see it in the dimmest of scenes which is just not true of nearly every other needle type viewfinder display of the era. Certainly the LEDs may be prone to failure eventually but none of my copies have ever had a problem nor shown any signs of one.

Two of my bodies were CLA'd (by Eric Hendrickson) and two have simply not needed a CLA yet (a testament to them). One was sold and another given to my sister. I currently have the older CLAd black model which is my daily-driver and quite frankly completely beat to hell... And I've a newer bright-capped version that is practically mint. Both operate flawlessly.

There is something simultaneously scrappy and elegant about the MX - it's quite utilitarian and rough in some ways, yet diminuitive and refined in others. With the MX Winder attached it is an entirely different beast and handles like a literal pro. Without the winder and with a small M series attached it is as small as any Leica (or smaller) and the only thing to give it away is its shutter/mirror noise which is not subtle, but far quiter than many other SLRs.

The viewfinder is the star of the show; it is gigantic and bright, and with a fast 50 attached the magnification is such that you can experience the rare both-eyes-open shooting which is truly the pinacle of 35mm SLR use insofar as I am concerned. In this way you experience every benefit a rangefinder window has to offer combined with TTL DoF feedback and (nearly) exact framing that is the benefit of shooting an SLR with a prism and mirror, all at the same time.

Shutter speeds go only to 1/1000th which isn't great, but is customary for the era in which it existed and more than sufficient. The dial has been often criticized as too stiff and I partially agree -- it is a bit stiff -- however many characterize it as "impossible" to operate without removing your eye from the finder and using more than one finger. This just isn't the case. Spend time with it and it becomes easier and second nature. The dial is stiffer than that on many other cameras, but (see video links below) it can absolutely be operated with a single index finger, or even still with a two-finger pinch grip whilst still looking through the finder.

Another, though less frequent complaint is the lack of a mirror-lock up but as you may have heard there is a workaround known as the "flick trick". I didn't try it for years and wish I had (I just don't have need for MLU very often as long exp for me are usuallly done on medium format) because it is ridiculously easy to do and takes just a few tries to get the hang of it. I've added a video for that below as well. Give it a try.

Camera bodies are personal, very subjective things in the sense that what "works" for one photog may not for another. But the MX, taken as a whole, "works" for me better than any other (though there is a particular Konica that comes very close, but that's another discussion entirely). The "one-camera" title would fall to the LX in a perfect world, but that will never happen due to that camera's suspect, early printed circuit boards that are begining to fail and negatively affect AE and shutter timing/operation as those models age. For that reason it's less reliable despite its near-perfect operation, and the MX remains "my one camera".

Pentax MX one-fingered shutter dial operatios - part 1

Pentax MX one-fingered shutter dial operatios - part 2

Pentax MX mirror lock-up "flick" trick

battle tested by Kevin Rosinbum (Eyewanders Foto), on Flickr

35mm eyewandersfoto kit by Kevin Rosinbum (Eyewanders Foto), on Flickr

double your pleasure by Kevin Rosinbum (Eyewanders Foto), on Flickr

watch the family grow by Kevin Rosinbum (Eyewanders Foto), on Flickr

everyday shooter, now and then by Kevin Rosinbum (Eyewanders Foto), on Flickr

an experienced professional by Kevin Rosinbum (Eyewanders Foto), on Flickr
Veteran Member

Registered: October, 2006
Location: Belgium
Posts: 476

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: August 7, 2017 I can recommend the Pentax MX: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Ergonomics, feel, compactness
Cons: Shutterspeed dial a little too stiff

Where to begin? Since this was my very first camera, the one I learned photography with, I guess this will be positive all round. 40 years old and still going strong. What I really love is how much thought it has put in this camera. The viewfinder is great (surely given its' generation with everything you need to compose and shoot, without cluttering it. There is an indication of which ss and aperture you're at and the traffic light used to indicate exposure is both smart and easy to grasp.

After 15 or so years of non-activity, I had to send it to Harrow Technical, London to have it serviced. They did a great job.

My only gripes would be that the SS dial a little stiff.

Here is a photo made with it 25 years ago while visiting Cuba:
New Member

Registered: December, 2012
Posts: 13
Review Date: June 15, 2017 I can recommend the Pentax MX: Yes | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: The feeling of using a precision piece of equipment
Cons: None

I've just taken delivery of a Pentax MX bought from ebay. I bought one in 1979 to replace my K1000- it was the traffic lights in the viewfinder that tempted me, plus the extra features that Pentax thoughtfully included, such as the aperture readout, depth of field lever and the holder on the back so you knew what sort of film you'd loaded into it. I really was the best-handling camera I've ever used before or since, especially with the motorised winder attached- very useful when used with longer lenses or a Vivitar 283 with bounce card on the top. I don't remember the shutter speed dial being difficult to move, but the model I just bought seems a little stiff. However, using it in 'shutter priority' sidesteps this issue. By far the most appealing feature is the feeling of quality and precision in the mechanics- I haven't put a roll of film in yet but I pick up the camera every now and again and fire the shutter a few times as it's so satisfying. It's this 'feel' that has kept me using Pentax ever since, though with the advent of polycarbonate bodies in later years, this was somewhat diminished. I mostly shot on slide film, which was fairly unforgiving as regards exposure but there were very few shots that weren't usable.
I bought the ebay MX intending to merely have it on display, but since I've rediscovered how good it feels to use, I may well give my K5 a rest and start actually shooting some film!

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 9,096

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: March 5, 2017 I can recommend the Pentax MX: Yes | Price: $65.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Small, quite solid, amazing viewfinder
Cons: 1/1000s max shutter speed, uneven film advance, stiff shutter speed dial

This was the first film camera I bought when I started to get interested in film, having used a digital K200D for a few years.

It's very small, fairly light but solidly built and pleasant to use. The small size is useful if compactness is required but I prefer larger cameras in the hand - the K series or a Minolta SRT-101, which are also more solidly built. For a small SLR it still feels quite good, and the small size does make it feel faster in use, particularly more comfortable for street stuff.

The fully manual exposure with LEDs in the viewfinder is a good system that works well and is ideal for learning exposure and allowing the user to make adjustments without the complications of EV comp or exposure memory. I like that all the shutter speeds are mechanical so the camera can be used without a battery.

The best thing about this camera is without a doubt the viewfinder. It's HUGE. Coming from an APS-C DSLR it's a revelation being able to see everything so clearly and adjust focus quickly and perfectly. The viewfinder is the reason that this camera has become my film camera for low light - for the last few years it's largely been used with Tri-X at 1600.

There are some annoying things about this camera. Most important among them is the 1/1000s maximum shutter speed. Pentax always lagged behind the leaders in terms of providing fast maximum shutter speeds but 1/1000s is too slow for a camera that claims to be a pro model, even in 1976. Most other Pentax film SLRs before and since suffer from the same problem.

The shutter speed selection dial is stiff and takes a lot of effort to move, making quick adjustments to exposure possible only by changing aperture, not shutter speed. The wind-on action works fine but it's not smooth - the resistance is uneven through the stroke, and that gives the impression of imprecise engineering inside. I haven't experienced that with any other film cameras of any brand.

Many of the negatives don't affect what the camera can do, but they reduce the user experience of shooting with the MX, and user experience is one of the main reasons I started shooting film - I just love these old cameras and lenses. Still, you can't ignore that the MX is a capable camera and building something so reliable with such a great viewfinder in a package as small as this is a considerable feat. Recently the MX has seen use as my travel film camera, going with me to Japan and Italy, and I have to say I'm very happy with the results and the experience - the small size is a real boon for travel as I take digital gear too.

I enjoy using my MX, but I have many other cameras that on the whole I enjoy using a bit more - the K2DMD, Minolta SRT-101 - even without that fantastic viewfinder, though these others are too big and heavy for travel.

Some photos taken with my MX, not that they indicate anything about the quality of the camera, I just feel that all reviews should be accompanied by photos

London (Fuji Pro 400H) 035a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

85070025 (straightened)
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

MX, Tri-X 1600 002
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Japan, MX, Fujicolor 400 012a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Japan Pentax MX Ilford Delta 400 149a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Italy MX Delta 400 064a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr
Add Review of Pentax MX

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