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02-23-2010, 09:17 AM   #1
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Pentax MX comments

QuoteOriginally posted by nickthetasmaniac Quote
I recently bought an MX and mint M-50/f1.7 to replace my Spotmatic SP F which was dyeing a slow death... I've also used a MF Minolta SLR and several 35mm rangefinders but generally my film experience isn't great so keep that in mind

Anyway, the legendary MX:

Body: SMALL!!! Aesthetically quite similar to the Spotmatic and all other K and M series bodies, but very, very little. This may or may not be a good thing. It’s compact enough to be a ‘pocketable SLR’ (big pocket, small lens) but some people complain that it’s too small for large hands. I find that it feels more secure in the hand (compared to Spotmatic) due to the significantly lighter weight… Personal preference I suppose. An MX Winder will probably make it more comfortable if you do have problems. Build quality is outstanding.

Controls: This is a fully manual camera. Ie. it is fully operable without batteries (light meter obviously won’t work). But this also means it doesn’t have aperture or shutter priority. So if this is your thing best go for an ME Super or similar. Other than that it has all the bits you need, including some nice little details like the red dot showing when film has been advanced and the combined DoF Preview lever and self-timer. Everything has a nice, tactile feel to it, although the shutter dial is usually a bit stiff. Doesn’t ‘officially’ have mirror lock-up, but there is a well publicised DIY trick that works on most bodies. Centre-weighted metering only, which is accurate and fast, although some complain about the lack of spot-metering.

Viewfinder: Wonderful Significantly better than the Spotmatic and Minolta SLR’s I’ve used, and absolutely incredible if you’re used to an APS dSLR. Big and bright with a handy combined split-prism/micro-prism focusing screen. Shutter speed and aperture value are both displayed, although aperture may not be displayed properly with some non-M series lenses (my Chinon 45mm lights up the focus scale instead). Exposure is displayed as a series of LED’s, which is not to everyone’s taste… I personally prefer the Spotmatic’s needle.

Generally: I love this camera, easily the favourite in my collection. Great to complement a dSLR system, when you just want to take it back to basics and enjoy photography. The size makes it an excellent, unobtrusive street camera. Build quality and reliability are outstanding, although there are a lot of light seals that will need replacing at some point. Worth mentioning that I’ve only ever used the MX with smaller lenses; K24/f2.8, M50/f1.7, M135/f3.5 and M200/f4, and while it feels well balanced with these, if you use larger lenses frequently you may be better off with a K series body… Overall, this is my go-to camera and strongly recommended . 9/10 marked down only for stiff shutter dial and LED light-meter. Get one while they're cheap

Pentax MX and M50/f1.7 'kit lens'. Fully manual without batteries.
you can manually lock up the mx mirror by tapping lightly on the shutter button when cocked. the mirror will lock up and you can then use the time so that the moving part will just be the shutter curtin

05-06-2010, 09:18 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by ziggy7 Quote
The MX was my first real camera, purchased new around 1982. Of course I lusted after the LX, but the MX was what I could afford. I've aquired several good cameras over the years, including the Pentax Super A, Nikon F4S and N90S, Konica FT-1. Yashica 12 TLR and GTN rangefinder, Olympus XA, Voitlander Bessa 6x9 folder, and Moskva 6x9 folder. But I still use the MX quite a bit because I love that big bright outrageous 97% magnification finder. Even my big bad $2000 F4 is only 70%.

The one thing I've never liked is that the shutter button is small and it requires some concentration to shoot without jiggling the camera. The light weight contributes to this too. The Super A is even worse because the mirror slaps the camera so hard. I'm going to try one of those oversized soft shutter buttons that screws into the cable release hole.
By contrast, the big F4S weighs so much that its sheer mass acts like VR: just try and shake it.
Tried the silver button. It just gives you a bigger area to press on. If you want stability, just bolt on a metal plate of your choice weight to the tripod mount or get one of those bolts and tie a string to it and step on the string while the bolt is attached to the tripod mount.
05-09-2010, 07:22 PM   #3
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I have one of these (the MX), but -unfortunately- mine will need a good CLA, as it has developed a problem resulting in an unexposed strip arising along one of the long edges of all the frames in all the negatives in a film.

I'm having it checked out right now.

OTOH, that M 1.7/50 lens is very sharp, even when using a 2x TC .
05-10-2010, 06:58 AM   #4
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I'm not sure how this thread originate, but I totally agree about the comment made above about using the viewfinder after using a DSLR. One forgets just how easy it was/is to manually focus a quality camera that was made for manual focus.

05-10-2010, 08:03 AM   #5
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The Winder MX adds plenty of mass plus a vertical grip with shutter release.

A more compact option is the custom MX metal grip available on eBay.
It makes the camera easier to hold without shaking, but can do nothing
to address the camera body's small controls grouped so closely together.

Chris
05-10-2010, 08:28 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
The Winder MX adds plenty of mass plus a vertical grip with shutter release.

A more compact option is the custom MX metal grip available on eBay.
It makes the camera easier to hold without shaking, but can do nothing
to address the camera body's small controls grouped so closely together.

Chris
I've got a corroded old winder which I suppose I could use for that purpose. However, I've never really noticed a problem holding the MX or using its controls. Every set of hands is different, I suppose.
05-11-2010, 06:08 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
A more compact option is the custom MX metal grip available on eBay.
It makes the camera easier to hold without shaking, but can do nothing
to address the camera body's small controls grouped so closely together.
Aye. If only the made the shutter speed dial overhang the back of the top plate by 1/8", it would be a much easier to use camera. True manual for me, rather than the practically-speaking-it's-shutter-priority mode it has.
05-11-2010, 06:29 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by lithos Quote
Aye. If only the made the shutter speed dial overhang the back of the top plate by 1/8", it would be a much easier to use camera. True manual for me, rather than the practically-speaking-it's-shutter-priority mode it has.
That is an excellent suggestion, but has any Pentax camera had an overhang like that? I don't actually recall having that on any SLR I have had.

The biggest impediment to shutter priority use on the MX and many other SLR bodies I have tried is the stiffness of the shutter speed dial. I've had several MX bodies, and all of them required a good deal of pressure on the thumb to turn the shutter dial. I had one K1000 body with a shutter speed dial that was very loose. At first I thought it was defective, but later it was my body of choice for aperture priority use. With or without any overhang, you could turn that dial effortlessly with your thumb.

05-11-2010, 03:20 PM   #9
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Once "broken in" (i.e. the detents are no longer so stiff) the Pentax MX shutter speed dial
can be changed with the ball of your right index finger, without taking your eye from the viewfinder.
With practice this becomes fast and easy.

Chris
05-11-2010, 05:22 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
Once "broken in" (i.e. the detents are no longer so stiff) the Pentax MX shutter speed dial
can be changed with the ball of your right index finger, without taking your eye from the viewfinder.
With practice this becomes fast and easy.

Chris
I must need to take more photos, because after 25 years, neither of my MXs ever broke in to that extent.
05-11-2010, 05:40 PM   #11
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I have owned only used MX bodies. Others had shutter speed dials that were also very stiff.
The one I currently have is not; though not sloppy it can be turned easily with one finger.
Perhaps you could ask Eric to adjust yours if/when you send them for service.

Chris
05-11-2010, 06:30 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
I have owned only used MX bodies. Others had shutter speed dials that were also very stiff.
The one I currently have is not; though not sloppy it can be turned easily with one finger.
Perhaps you could ask Eric to adjust yours if/when you send them for service.

Chris
I just got it back from service by him a couple of months ago. I did not think to mention that because I just thought that was the way it was. I'm sort of used to it.
05-12-2010, 04:50 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
I must need to take more photos, because after 25 years, neither of my MXs ever broke in to that extent.
I'm with GeneV on this point.

I got my MX new in about new in 1981 and the dial remains stiff. I assumed this was a mark of quality rather than a defect. I find this a non issue however. The MX remains a great manual focus camera with its only real drawback being its small size. I realize this is subjective and opinions will vary. The winder MX cured the size issue for me and made for a perfect fit for my not overly large hand.

Tom G
05-12-2010, 05:54 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by 8540tomg Quote
I'm with GeneV on this point.

I got my MX new in about new in 1981 and the dial remains stiff. I assumed this was a mark of quality rather than a defect. I find this a non issue however. The MX remains a great manual focus camera with its only real drawback being its small size. I realize this is subjective and opinions will vary. The winder MX cured the size issue for me and made for a perfect fit for my not overly large hand.

Tom G
It was never a real problem for me, either, because "shutter priority" has always been my preferred way to use a fully manual camera. This mainly resulted from years of using Kodachrome. There are no half stops for the shutter, so to nail the exposure on a slide film, I will often be adjusting the aperture anyway. If it is a shot that allows time to compose and adjust, then the stiff knob is really no impediment anyway. Otherwise, set the shutter and turn the aperture ring as needed.

Accurate use of aperture priority was one of the benefits of the LX.
05-13-2010, 04:18 PM   #15
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to add to this discussion, i had an MX which was serviced by Eric as well and the shutter speed dial was very stiff
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