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01-19-2020, 09:25 PM - 3 Likes   #1
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Me & my MX: It isn't going well. Yet.

Soooo, a few weeks back a friend gave me an MX, a camera I've always wanted. (I shoot with a KX and used to shoot with an MG that I now can't find.) This one had a few dents and dings in the vein of a NYC taxicab, and the second shutter curtain wasn't closing all the way. I took it in for repair (Camera Max). Diagnosis: New shutter box, cleaning lubing and adjusting. Estimate: $103. Done deal. Great deal to renew a camera I've always wanted.

Got it back on Friday and took it out for a test-run this morning. Spooled up a "shortie" roll of HP5, took it outside along with the Nikon FE I'd also had repaired, and... promptly dropped it.

FFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

Total stupidity on my part. No strap on the camera (it's missing the rings, which arrive tomorrow), and rather than grab them from another cam, I put the MX my sweatshirt pocket, thinking it was deep enough to hold it securely.

It wasn't.

Luckily damage is minimal (I'm short, so my pocket is close to the ground) -- fresh scar on the front of the lens and possibly one on the corner of the camera, but I think all the dents on the body were there before I got it. But the back popped open, and there went most of my shots. There were only two pics left on the roll.

Back inside to lick my wounds (not the camera's). Put together another roll of HP5, loaded it up, ATTACHED A NECK STRAP and went outside to shoot again. Everything felt fine mechanically, but the focusing was reeeeally funky. Strange lines in the focusing grid, and when I'd pop off a shot there'd be a strange wave in the viewfinder as the mirror dropped back down. (Can any experienced MX owners guess what went wrong?)

I filled up the roll (8 shots), removed it, then took the lens off to see what's up with the mirror. What's that line -- did I break the mirror? There's a piece of glass hanging...did it separate from the back somehow? OH YEAH, that's right, the MX has a removable focusing screen! I guess I just found a less-than-optimal way to remove it!

The back edge of the screen was in place but the front was loose and hanging down, pushed up by the mirror when I took a shot -- that's the wiggle I saw in the viewfinder. I popped the screen back into place and now it seems to be behaving.

But, of course, all the photos on my test roll are out of focus! The exposure is good, though, so that's promising. Makes sense that if I focused on a screen that wasn't in place, I'd get fuzzy pics. The lenses are fine (at least the one was before I dropped it! It was a 50/1.7 and I think it's OK aside from scars, but luckily I have another.)

So it's not been a smooth start. I'm not loving the LEDs, they are harder for my untrained eye to see than the needles in my KX. Shutter speed dial is hard to turn, crammed in against the winder. (Remember, my only other M camera didn't really have a shutter speed dial.) Of course, these are all things that are new and different, with annoyance magnified by frustration with my dumb decision to put a camera in my pocket instead of around my neck.

Did I mention that the MX is a camera I've always wanted?

I have always found the relationship between photographer and camera to be a complicated and intimate thing. Yes, cameras are inanimate, but they have personalities. The camera is our partner. It captures the image that we want. It has it idiosyncrasies, we have ours. We learn them and work together. And when I can shoot with a camera that is special -- my grandfather's MX, the Nikomat FT2 that was a gift from his father to him, and from him to me -- well, that's really cool.

It feels like the MX and I got off on the wrong foot. Then again, if I'd been abused as badly as this camera apparently was by its previous owner, I'd probably be wary of humans, too.

So I'm going to load it up with more HP5 and take it with me tomorrow. I'm determined to start anew and make friends with this camera. I'll start by not dropping it. (Of course, given the other dents and dings, I think it's reasonable to wonder if it actually jumped out of my pocket.)

And if it doesn't work out... I guess we'll see if anyone wants to buy a badly-treated MX with a new shutter box and a fresh CLA and has only been dropped once*.

* this week

Aaron

01-19-2020, 09:48 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Lol a great tale, I hope it works out in the end...

QuoteOriginally posted by Autonerd Quote
Diagnosis: New shutter box, cleaning lubing and adjusting. Estimate: $103.
Far out that's cheap for a CLA with a new shutter box!
01-19-2020, 10:03 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by nickthetasmaniac Quote
Far out that's cheap for a CLA with a new shutter box!
Camera Max in Montrose (Los Angeles), CA. Clean and repair for the FE was even cheaper. Love that guy.

He handed back the FE and said "This is a really nice camera." He handed back the MX and said nothing.
01-19-2020, 11:43 PM - 1 Like   #4
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I never ever noticed what the the complaints about the MX's were, until they were pointed out to me. I just seemed to adapt to the LED meter and never was conscious of it being difficult to read against bright light. The speed selector was never an issue either. I just used thumb and finger on the rare occasions I needed to change the setting with the camera at eye level. My shooting from the hip style was to set a reasonable expected speed, aperture and focus distance. In most cases the camera was set to go for an emergency shot. If I had time, I would fine tune the focus and aperture. It felt like a six gun to me, ready for a quick draw without fiddling.

01-20-2020, 11:06 AM - 1 Like   #5
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Agree with Arnold. LED readout never bothered - prefer it overall because it's so easy to see in low-light and because it simply disappears when it's not on.
As for the shutter-speed dial, I've always thought that was one of the the nitpickiest nitpicks going. Sure it's stiffer than most and perhaps bothersome if you're expecting a wheel-dial on a DSLR sort of resistance, but from a couple years back:

Though often I just include my thumb (as arnold also mentioned) when changing speed - never considered that a problem.
I love it for its simplicity, reliability, compact size and handling with smaller M lenses, and amazing viewfinder .... always come back to the MX.
If you don't wind up getting on with it, no one will fault you for it, and someone will be quite happy to inherit it from you, I'm quite sure.
01-20-2020, 01:16 PM   #6
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Did you ever get used to the FT2's shutter speed dial around the lens mount?

01-20-2020, 01:18 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eyewanders Quote
As for the shutter-speed dial, I've always thought that was one of the the nitpickiest nitpicks going. Sure it's stiffer than most...
@Eyewanders I'm actually really glad to hear that... I was wondering if it was a problem with the camera. The feel is different than the KX, and yet the other controls (shutter button, winder) feel similar... with all the miniaturization going on, I suppose it's unreasonable to expect it to feel exactly like the KX...

01-20-2020, 04:37 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eyewanders Quote
Agree with Arnold. LED readout never bothered - prefer it overall because it's so easy to see in low-light and because it simply disappears when it's not on.
Likewise...

QuoteQuote:
As for the shutter-speed dial, I've always thought that was one of the the nitpickiest nitpicks going.
Likewise... Of all the 35mm SLR's I own (too many) my MX is probably in the top third for shutter dial stiffness. Stiffer than some, similar to others. I've never understood why this is listed as a con in every MX review I've read.
01-20-2020, 06:42 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by LesDMess Quote
Did you ever get used to the FT2's shutter speed dial around the lens mount?
Hahahaha! Slowly but surely I am adjusting, but I still think it's the battiest thing I've seen in photography. Well, second-battiest. (The battiest is my Minolta XG-E. It has a meter that works when the camera is in automatic (AE) mode but not when the camera is in manual mode, which apparently is how it was designed.)

Point well taken.

PS, I managed to take a half-dozen photos today without dropping the camera. So that's a start.
01-20-2020, 08:53 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Autonerd Quote
The battiest is my Minolta XG-E. It has a meter that works when the camera is in automatic (AE) mode but not when the camera is in manual mode, which apparently is how it was designed.)
the pentax ES is the same damn way!!
01-20-2020, 10:58 PM - 1 Like   #11
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I use my Pentax MX only when I need motorized film advance, which isn't often.
It's the only Pentax body for which I own a winder. The Winder MX is very good.

I never liked the shutter speed dial location on the Olympus OM 1-4 cameras,
possibly because they are so compact.
It's far from ideal on the larger Nikkormat FT-3, but I find it a bit more tolerable.

The Nikon FE is a terrific camera, as is the motor drive MD-12.

Chris
01-22-2020, 08:49 AM - 1 Like   #12
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The Nikon FE is still one of my all time favorites
I bought one to replace my Spotmatic in the late 80s and was stolen in a trip to the amazon in 95.
Which sent me back to the Spottie
Years later I got one for free that had been barely used and love it... came with the amazing Nikkor 28/2.8 and the Micro 55 which are hard to beat and I got a motor drive for it which I have barely used

To me it compares to the MESuper and KX (I dont own an MX) but the Nikon has intechangeable screens and a match needle meter
It is now in storage but I take it out from time to time just to exercize it
01-22-2020, 09:27 AM - 1 Like   #13
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This is a tragic tale of your start with the MX!
I'm hoping mine isn't as difficult - I bought it for a mere £20 + P&P, its LED's and meter fire up with batteries inserted no problems, everything seems to sit in sweetly and it winds and shutters without any obvious issue but I do need to change the seals once I've finished a potentially FUBAR'ed roll of Kodak Colorplus 200*!

*I accidentally rewound it, managed to feed it back out in a 'pitch-black' (or as close to as I could find) cupboard in a dark room so it might be a little 'illuminated'.

Here's hoping that it's plain sailings herein! I also fully agree that the shutter speed dial is a little stiffer than I anticipated, but it's fine. Gives me more time to plan my shot, so to speak.
01-22-2020, 01:46 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eyewanders Quote
Agree with Arnold. LED readout never bothered - prefer it overall because it's so easy to see in low-light and because it simply disappears when it's not on.
As for the shutter-speed dial, I've always thought that was one of the the nitpickiest nitpicks going. Sure it's stiffer than most and perhaps bothersome if you're expecting a wheel-dial on a DSLR sort of resistance, but from a couple years back: YouTube

Though often I just include my thumb (as arnold also mentioned) when changing speed - never considered that a problem.
I love it for its simplicity, reliability, compact size and handling with smaller M lenses, and amazing viewfinder .... always come back to the MX.
If you don't wind up getting on with it, no one will fault you for it, and someone will be quite happy to inherit it from you, I'm quite sure.

I used to change shutter speed like this on my k1000. But I noticed there were times that my finger would somehow lift the shutter dial a bit, which would then change the ISO. It sucked the first time it happened. To find out at the end of my roll that My ISO was between 1600 and 3200 on the dial. I now just drop the camera from my eye to change it with both finger and thumb. Which even on the k1000 can be alittle annoying since the space is small. This is one of the reason's I decided against the MX. I was afraid it would be just like my k1000, but that the space would be even smaller for my fingers. Sucks, cause it looks like such a gorgeous camera. And I do love the size of the ME a friend let me borrow.
01-22-2020, 02:32 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by craveone Quote
I used to change shutter speed like this on my k1000. But I noticed there were times that my finger would somehow lift the shutter dial a bit, which would then change the ISO. It sucked the first time it happened. To find out at the end of my roll that My ISO was between 1600 and 3200 on the dial. I now just drop the camera from my eye to change it with both finger and thumb. Which even on the k1000 can be alittle annoying since the space is small. This is one of the reason's I decided against the MX. I was afraid it would be just like my k1000, but that the space would be even smaller for my fingers. Sucks, cause it looks like such a gorgeous camera. And I do love the size of the ME a friend let me borrow.
Yup. That's precisely how I change the speed 95% of the time. I really only posted that a good while back to illustrate that it wasn't nearly the problem made out to be if you'd like to change it with just one finger, camera still to your eye.
Honestly I don't find the difference in space for the dial all that different across a variety of Pentax bodies. I really just don't think about it that much if ever. The LX is certainly easier (I believe that's what you went with) and there's no possibility of changing ISO accidentally in that case. But really, I've been shooting these for a long long while I can't remember *ever* inadvertently changing ISO, regardless of what body was in use. Not that that matters - it's your damn camera.
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