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Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1

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11 62,487 Wed March 25, 2020
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $68.57 9.22
Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1

Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1
Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1
Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1

Year introduced
Meter range
0 - 20 EV
Meter pattern
m c s
ISO range
6 - 6400
DX ISO range
25 - 5000
Exposure modes
HyP, Av, Tv, HyM, M, B
Exposure compensation
+/-4 EV
Exposure memory lock
Shutter speeds (auto)
30 - 1/8000s
Shutter speeds (manual)
30 - 1/8000s
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
Self timer
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Multiple exposures
Built-in 3 fps
Built-in flash
Yes, GN 14
TTL flash
P-TTL flash
Sync speed
Flash exposure comp
Yes (1 point)
Autofocus sensitivity
-1 - 18 EV
Power zoom
Yes, extended
0.8x, 92%
Viewfinder type
Diopter correction
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Image size
24 x 36 mm
Panorama format
Battery grip/pack
Size (W x H x D)
152 x 95.5 x 74 mm
650 g
With the Z-1/PZ-1 Pentax introduced power zoom and MTF exposure program. Pentax launched the 'FA' series of lenses with this new camera.
Program modes: Normal, Action, Depth of Field, MTF.Built-in interval timer.
Extra flash function: Contrast control
Price History:

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New Member

Registered: December, 2019
Posts: 1
Review Date: March 25, 2020 I can recommend the Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1: Yes | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: feature-packed, maximally-compatible, heavily automated
Cons: plastic exterior, feature overload

I got one of these at a thrift shop, along with a ZX-7, for $10 each. This was definitely the better buy of the two.

The Z-1 has a bunch of really interesting features that I had not been expecting, given I shoot film primarily on an MX and ME Super and Digital on a modern DSLR. The Z-1 behaves much more like my Canon 5D Mk II than my MX. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but can take some getting used to.

Features that made me take notice:
-full compatibility with K/M lenses including AE and DOF preview (My ME Super can't even do the latter!)
-film rewind leaving leader out (as an option): for whatever reason, this struck my fancy. Don't even know why, though obviously it's nice for switching rolls partway through one!
-full AF lens compatibility, including modern lenses (not much of a selling point for me as I own no AF Pentax lenses but good to know for the future)
-Focus confirmation for manual focusing
-1/8000s shutter
-Exposure bracketing (on a film camera!)
-Intervalometer (built-in)

Basically, it's a fully featured modern SLR.

Weird stuff:
-the offset hotshoe on the right is so, so bad. I'm glad mine came with the factory cap because wow, what a bad design decision ergonomically
-The PF setting process is kind of obtuse, but I suppose that's just how these limited LCD cameras worked back in the day. You really do need the manual (which is online, thankfully) to make heads or tails of it.

Not a huge fan of the overall feel of the camera (plastic is disappointing especially on something that wants to be "pro" like this does) but otherwise it's a pretty cool camera.
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2007
Location: North West UK
Posts: 382
Review Date: October 19, 2017 I can recommend the Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1: Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: 1/8000sec, built like a tank, Features
Cons: So far, not much, you do need to read the manual. Big

It is a rather wonderful big brute. So many features that only the MZ-S could exceed. Better made than the SFXn it replaced (I also have). Looks are what you make of it. but performance.

No wonder this body lasted as long as it is (with the Z-1p enhancements) is overall it is a solid pro camera. Advantage now is that it is also a bargain. Possibly better than the slightly fragile MZ-S, and I am talking about the mirror return cog. but is it only worth less than a fifth of the aformentioned? Of course not!

You really need to read to manual, as the features are fiddly, but so far I have worked them out without it.
Dual control dial, solid build, and for me so far, a battery door that is fine.

An awful lot of camera for the money these days, and arguably the best AF Pro camera that Pentax have ever made, and along with the LX, the best Pro Cameras Pentax have made for Film.

Buy one while the prices are so low.
New Member

Registered: August, 2017
Posts: 1

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: October 2, 2017 I can recommend the Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1: Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Metering system and program modes, fast shutter and flash synchro, design
Cons: no battery grip, broken battery cover at bottom, not sealed

Pros: Almost intuitive hypermanual settings,
1/8000 sec. speed,quality "fit" and feel.

Negative aspects: See cons.

In summary: In my view one of the three best Pentax AF SLR (MZ-S.,Pentax Z-1 P) ever built.

New Member

Registered: June, 2011
Location: Chris
Posts: 8

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: October 16, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: fully featured, dual control wheels, non-crippeled mount
Cons: flash mechanism, viewfinder, AF

I recently bought this camera second hand for a ridicolous price.
My first Pentax in the mid 90s has been a Z20 and I was curious what the top model of this generation does offer.
This "upgrade" provides me with DOF preview, spot metering, faster shutter, customizable bracketing and handling very similar to the digital bodies.

AF and viewfinder are nothing special: Mid 90s AF with only one focus can be worked with and the viewfinder is not bad but not great, either.
Popup flash mechanism on mine is broken. Since I do use an external flash this is not an issue to me.

I can recommend the Z-1 to anybody who wants an AF-film body. Given the low price I cannot think of a reason to go fo a lower specced body.
New Member

Registered: June, 2012
Posts: 1

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: January 8, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1: Yes | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: My main body now, over taken my K5...
Cons: weird menu, really need to read the manual to learn how to function it perfectly

In the past 2 years I have really took a large step back and started shooting mostly film once again. However as my serch for a perfect Pentax film body... I couldn't find anything that hit that sweet spot. I loved shooting film, but shooting with my manual focus camera like Super Program, Super ME, Spotmatic is all fun and cool, but it just wasn't the practical way for me to shoot long term, plus i was starting to get into some strobist photography. I am too used to AF on my K5. I was sick of been restricted to shooting 1/1000 or 2000th on those manual bodies. I hated when i am in mid roll on a 400 film and not able to shoot wide open in bright daylight. i am used to the ergonomics of a current day DSLR. So i started my search for Pentax AF film bodies. I tried the MZ 50 cuz it was cheap but other than AF everything else was pretty crappy and still only 1/2000 max... then it was MZ-5N bit better than the mz-50 but still 1/2000... i almost gave up cuz as legendary as the MZ-S was, it was way out of what i was willing to pay for a second hand film body.
All that changed when i bumped into the PZ-1p in Keh... it hit the sweet spot of what i was looking for. Build quality may look plastic but i assure you it is built like a tank. The weight and size is perfect. I absolutely love the ergonomics, fits in my hand more comfortable than the K5. And best of all max speed of 1/8000th!!!!!! and it was the best 50 bucks i ever spent in my entire life.

Some photos that was taken with this camera:

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Bologna, Amsterdam, Chiang Mai
Posts: 1,087
Review Date: January 2, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: ergonomics, shutter speeds, intervalometer
Cons: bulky, so-and-so AF

I own MOST of the best Pentax lenses for 35mm (which i use with digital bodies), and i still have some nice 35mm MF bodies (K2, MX, LX, Super-A), but not a single one was purchased NEW.
Of all the Pentax stuff i own/owned, just two items were purchased new: a SFX-n body, and a Z-1 body.
I gave away the former when i bought the latter.
What a difference!
The SFX-n is a slightly revised version of the first attempt done by Pentax in the emerging world of AF cameras.
Not very successful the first try, not much better the update. The cameras were ugly and the AF system left much to be desired.
The Z-1 was much better: rounded body with amazing ergonomics, very fast shutter speed, not too noisy, very usable for nature and macro photography (even without a dedicated cable release), very good TTL flash with the old flash sytem of the LX, and advanced electronics which drive a modern metering and shutter system.
The camera is a little bulky (but surprisingly light), and at the time the AF was not on par with the better implementations... but it's still one of the best (THE best?) solutions if you want to shoot 35mm film with a Pentax AF camera.

Currently i'm using my personal "hall of fame" of Pentax MF lenses with a couple of old digital bodies, and when i want to shoot analog i use my Pentax 6x7, or bigger formats (up to 8x10" and 24x30cm). So the Z-1 is in lethargy in a drawer, together with other 35mm bodies... but i'm sure that sooner or later i will take out some of the expired 35mm films i have at home, and let them see the light! :-)
When i'll do it, the two bodies of choice will be the LX and the Z-1.
Both are very good (in different ways) at shooting macros on the field and doing travel photography, the two applications i like the most, with 35mm and digital SLR cameras.
With the Z-1 you don't need a winder (or a super-heavy motor drive!) or a fill-in flash for the LX. The bulk is more or less the same, a winder and a small Pentax TTL flash take the same room of a Z-1 body. On top of that, these days a Z-1 body could even be cheaper... but in the end you have two bodies instead of one.
Not bad, as i find that a backup body is more a necessity with film than with sensor-based cameras.
Forum Member

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Treviso (Italy)
Posts: 87
Review Date: August 2, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1: Yes | Price: $85.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: it has all
Cons: dimension and weight

One of the best af camera in Pentax gear.
Excellent function disposition.
Nothing is missing.
It's only a bit heavier and bigger than it should be.
Forum Member

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Sterling, VA
Posts: 70
Review Date: July 17, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1: Yes | Price: $135.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Lots of features; easy to use
Cons: nothing

This is a great camera per other reviews. It is so easy to use and despite the size of the unit it falls easily to hand. After playng with mine the controls became very intuitive; very short learning curve. The flash unit can be fragile and the bottom lip around the battery door is prone to crack and come out, but the latter does not affect camera performance.

This model represents one of the best autofocus cmaeras built by Pentax. The only other ones I would recommend getting are the MZ-S and the MZ-3. I would rate this unit higher, but honestly, there are really no cameras that are truly perfect.
New Member

Registered: September, 2010
Location: Ayr
Posts: 1
Review Date: September 11, 2010 I can recommend the Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1: Yes | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Everything. I wanted one years ago
Cons: Absolutely nothing

Pros Everything. I wanted one years ago
Cons Absolutely nothing
Rating 10
Price (U.S. Dollars) 80 uk
Years Owned 1 bit a Z20 for 17 years

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
It can be used by a complete amateur to producuce brilliant pictures and by an experienced photographer to produce 'Picasso' quality work

Camera Review

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Waldorf, MD
Posts: 1,859

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: April 8, 2010 I can recommend the Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 


I've only shot a couple autofocus film bodies before, and in addition to that my only AF body is a K10D, so there is your perspective.

Upon picking up a PZ-1 you are immediately aware of several things. The first is the footprint...PZ-1s are large. The second is that it's fairly light for its size. The third, is that it fits your hands beautifully. PZ-1s are amazingly ergonomic. Not only that, but the shutter sound is beautiful. Very crisp and positive, with just a hint of motor whine. It's like the camera sound they record that point-and-shoot digitals play through their speakers.

The PZ-1 has several features going for it that even the K10D can be jealous of. First, is the fact that the Hotshoe is off to one side. Makes one-hand handling with a flash easier and reduces red-eye. Also allows you to pop up the built-in flash and use a flashgun at the same time.

Speaking of the integrated flash, that's another thing a PZ-1 has that a K10D doesn't. There's a spotbeam built in! The PZ-1 will also use spotbeams mounted on flash units, such as the AF360FGZ. It will also talk to TTL and PTTL pentax flashes, including moving a zoom head if the flash is equipped. Convenient!

Another nice thing about it is the wicked shutter speeds...the fastest pentax flash-sync EVER at 1/250, and the fastest shutter at 1/8000. Even the K-7 can't touch that flash-sync speed.

The PZ-1s autofocus is spot-on and extremely quick. Quicker than a K10D, and more positive. It doesn't hunt as much.

Something else the PZ-1 has that none of the digitals have is Interval Shooting. Set it on a tripod, tell it to take photos at a regular interval, and it'll sit there and happily shoot every x minutes or hours, to a user-specified number of total frames.

The last thing about the PZ-1 is my favorite feature: TOTAL lens compatability. Full-manual lenses, A Lenses, DA lenses...they all work fine. Aperture rings don't scare this camera like they do the digitals or the *ist film SLR. Literally any pentax lens has full function on this camera.

Should you get this or a PZ-1p? The PZ-1p, the PZ-1s big brother, has a couple extras, like panoramic mode and a faster winder. The PZ-1 though, typically goes for about $100, so you can save a little money with one of these.

There are a couple downsides to the PZ-1. The first is that the linkage that moves the flash up and down is fragile, and many times the pop-up flashes are broken.

The other major downside to it is that it takes expensive 2CR5 lithium batteries, and there is no AA battery grip. There are however Li-ion 2CR5 rechargeables, which have roughly 1/3 the capacity of the lithium batteries, but thankfully can be reused.

Overall, the PZ-1 is a wonderful SLR. It has features that not even the new digitals have, is affordable, and fun to use.
New Member

Registered: July, 2007
Location: Budapest, Hungary
Posts: 20
Review Date: May 24, 2009 I can recommend the Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 


With 1/8000 shutter speed Ús 1/250 X-Sync plus all pro features, the Z-1 is workhorse camera. I shoot fine-art black&white with it and in most cases it outperforms my K10D in means of usability (yes, it's not digital... but who cares? )). A best buy cam.
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