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08-24-2010, 04:22 PM   #1
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Good film camera to start with

I've been using a DSLR for about 6 years now, and have zero experience with film SLR cameras. However, over the past year I've accumulated a rather nice collection of Pentax glass, most of which could be used well with film. I would like to try shooting some film, probably B+W, and was wondering if you guys had a recommendation for a good camera to start with.

For what it's worth, I actually already have a like-new ZX-50 (w/ grip) and a couple of older manual focus cameras, the K1000 and ME (all of these I got when I bought lenses that came with bodies). I ran an old, expired roll of film through the ZX-50 to make sure it worked and other than the color and grain looking a little off, it seems to function fine.

Anyway, I guess my question is are there features on other film bodies beyond what the ZX-50 has that would be worth looking into or should I just stick with it to start? Seeing as the film and processing is going to cost me a couple bucks anyway, I don't mind spending a little more on film body if it offered specific things that would be worth having. Again, I'm pretty uninformed when it comes to film SLR, so any help would be appreciated.

Thanks

08-24-2010, 05:08 PM   #2
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The ZX-50 is actually a fairly bad choice, as it doesn't support M and K lenses due to an electronic block.

See here: Pentax Camera Reviews - Reviews of Pentax K-x, K-7, 645D other cameras - PentaxForums.com and here The Pentax Camera Lens Compatibility Chart

I would recommend the Pentax ZX-5n, as it "has it all" (AF, full manual, full auto, built-in TTL flash, 1/125th sync) and has better build quality.

If you want to go a notch above that, the top two Pentax AF film bodies are the PZ-1 and the MZ-S. They support power-zoom lenses, have top shutter speeds of 1/6000s-1/8000s, and several other advanced features. The MZ-S also imprints data directly onto the film.

One last suggestion- if you instead want to go down the manual-focus route, I'd recommend the Super Program, which is (in my opinion) Pentax's best MF film SLR apart from the LX.

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08-24-2010, 05:24 PM   #3
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I'm in agreement with what Adam says - though I'd add there are some others - Program Plus is a decent lower spec alternative to Super Pgm (though you're in program only with lenses lacking an aperture ring), ZX-L and some of the other non crippled mount af bodies... they all will do the job.

But I'm wondering, what's wrong with your other two bodies - the ME and K1000 both will do you fine, each in its own way, and get you going with film.

My advice: just start shooting with what you got, put in new light seals if you have to, and see what develops... based on your own experience, you are then in a better position to see what features or performance factors you really miss/need.
08-24-2010, 05:24 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
The ZX-50 is actually a fairly bad choice, as it doesn't support M and K lenses due to an electronic block.
I wasn't aware of that, thanks. Even though everything I currently own is an "A" type lens, who know what I might pick up in the future


QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
If you want to go a notch above that, the top two Pentax AF film bodies are the PZ-1 and the MZ-S. They support power-zoom lenses, have top shutter speeds of 1/6000s-1/8000s, and several other advanced features. The MZ-S also imprints data directly onto the film.
The PZ-1 looks like it might be good choice to look into. The MZ-S would probably be overkill for me at this point and a bit more than I'd like to initially spend to try film. Just out of curiosity, when you the Mz-S imprints data onto the film, do you mean things like the shutter speed and aperture type info? Is it visible on the print itself (which wouldn't make sense) or is it on the film outside the part that is made into a print (which would be coll and make more sense).


QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
One last suggestion- if you instead want to go down the manual-focus route, I'd recommend the Super Program, which is (in my opinion) Pentax's best MF film SLR apart from the LX.
I thought about a MF body as well, but to be honest I've had limited success so far MF on my DSLR bodies (outside of using LV). I'm sure using the stuck focusing screen in my K7/Kx isn't helping matters, but the thought of using my A50/1.2 on film where my in-focus success fate is pitiful sounds like it could be very costly and frustrating

08-24-2010, 05:31 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
I'm in agreement with what Adam says - though I'd add there are some others - Program Plus is a decent lower spec alternative to Super Pgm (though you're in program only with lenses lacking an aperture ring), ZX-L and some of the other non crippled mount af bodies... they all will do the job.

But I'm wondering, what's wrong with your other two bodies - the ME and K1000 both will do you fine, each in its own way, and get you going with film.

My advice: just start shooting with what you got, put in new light seals if you have to, and see what develops... based on your own experience, you are then in a better position to see what features or performance factors you really miss/need.
Thanks for the reply. Regarding using the K1000 or ME that I have, as I mentioned in my reply to Adam, I am hesitant to start with MF for film because my experience using MF on my DSLR bodies has been less than stellar. I guess I was concerned I would end up with 24 out of focus shots every time I develop a roll of film. Then again, my only MF lens is an A50/1.2 and trying to focus with the razor thin DOF at f/1.2 on a stock DSLR focusing screen was probably setting myself up for failure

As for the ZX-50 I have, I can certainly start shooting with it while I get used to film. I guess I was just wondering what the best options would be since I don't mind spending a little bit of money if there were features and/or reasons to pick something else up.
08-24-2010, 06:06 PM   #6
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Just to point out, the MF cameras were built for MF'ing and have large, focus friendly view finders. Buy a cheap roll of 24 exposure color film, try one of the mf cameras, take the film to a local drugstore lab, have them make a cd for you --- and see what happens.
08-24-2010, 06:15 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
Just to point out, the MF cameras were built for MF'ing and have large, focus friendly view finders. Buy a cheap roll of 24 exposure color film, try one of the mf cameras, take the film to a local drugstore lab, have them make a cd for you --- and see what happens.
Well I did try to pass off some of the blame for my lack of MF skills on the stock DSLR viewfinder which isn't exactly optimized for MF, nor fast (f/1.2) lenses
08-24-2010, 06:22 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
The K1000 is a great choice, but a KM is even better and usually cheaper.
There is currently a KM body for sale (by a good seller) in The Marketplace.

Chris
I think I'll give the K1000 a try first since I have one. I actually just pulled it out of the closet and mounted a lens up to it for the first time. Holy giant viewfinder! Nice and bright too

Ok, so I think I figured out how to use it. Basically I set the iso of the film within the shutter speed dial, then set the aperture on the ring of the lens and then dial in the shutter speed until the needle on the right side of the viewfinder is in the middle (or set the shutter speed first and then move the aperture to balance the exposure).

Ok, next stupid question, unlike the ZX-50 I tired over the weekend, I assume that I'll have to advance and rewind the film manually. I get how to advance the film, but is there anything I should know to load it and rewind it? I would hate to take a whole roll of shots and then accidently do something stupid and exposure the whole roll because I didn't rewind it right

08-24-2010, 06:33 PM   #9
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I happened to get a Superprogram body with a set of lenses I bought and I never even used it for six months. I had such a hard time focusing the lenses I had bought on my DSLR I thought for sure I'd need to buy a autofocus film body. Then I decided to try a role. My first roll was a distaster not because the pictures were out of focus, but because I didn't read the manual and wasn't even advancing the film!

When I loaded the camera I was amazed to find that all of my first roll was focused purposely and now I'm so glad I didn't waste the time and money getting one of the cheap plasticky autofocus bodies. If I want to shoot quick and not think about I shoot digital and if I want to manually focus and really think about each shot I just break out my superprogram. Now my white KX and K100D sit idly when I'm not shooting a wedding or something, and I almost exclusively shoot film for pleasure. I'd definitely recommending giving one of those fine manual focus bodies a go round!
08-24-2010, 06:36 PM   #10
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There are a lot of good mf Pentax bodies out there. However, if you have one of the pre-plastic K000, you are good to go. If you find yourself digging it, look into a K2, KX or KM. I like the ME Super/ME F bodies and the SuperProgram also.
08-24-2010, 06:38 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by freedomflashing Quote
I happened to get a Superprogram body with a set of lenses I bought and I never even used it for six months. I had such a hard time focusing the lenses I had bought on my DSLR I thought for sure I'd need to buy a autofocus film body. Then I decided to try a role. My first roll was a distaster not because the pictures were out of focus, but because I didn't read the manual and wasn't even advancing the film!

When I loaded the camera I was amazed to find that all of my first roll was focused purposely and now I'm so glad I didn't waste the time and money getting one of the cheap plasticky autofocus bodies. If I want to shoot quick and not think about I shoot digital and if I want to manually focus and really think about each shot I just break out my superprogram. Now my white KX and K100D sit idly when I'm not shooting a wedding or something, and I almost exclusively shoot film for pleasure. I'd definitely recommending giving one of those fine manual focus bodies a go round!
Over the past half-hour I am coming to the same conclusion. I've been fooling around with the K1000 body I have (also been sitting unused for months after getting with some other lenses) and I have to say manually focusing with it (and a bright MF A50/1.2) doesn't seem nearly as bad as with my K7. Granted I haven't actually taken any shots on film with it yet to see if I'm even close, but it so much easier to see things snap into focus on the screen with the K1000.

Also agree about the plastic AF bodies. I shot a roll this past weekend with the ZX-50. It was ok, but I got to thinking at that point I might as well shoot on the K7. There was something about mounting $1000 pieces of glass to the ZX-50 that just didn't seem right
08-24-2010, 06:51 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
There are a lot of good mf Pentax bodies out there. However, if you have one of the pre-plastic K000, you are good to go. If you find yourself digging it, look into a K2, KX or KM. I like the ME Super/ME F bodies and the SuperProgram also.
I'm 99% sure I have a "pre-plastic" K1000 as it weight about the same as my K7 (over 600 grams) and feels quite substantial. Everything seems metal except maybe the black grip, not sure if that is too. I attached a picture below, any chance can you tell which K1000 it is from the picture? (didn't know there were "different" K1000 until your post)

EDIT: I checked out the thread with the K1000 serial numbers and determined mine is the metal one (serial number 782xxxx).


Last edited by dgaies; 08-24-2010 at 07:00 PM.
08-24-2010, 06:54 PM   #13
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You'll definitely find it rewarding I think. I find myself taking a camera with me more whether I end up shooting or not. It just feels right carrying such a nice looking solid camera with you.
08-24-2010, 07:03 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by dgaies Quote
I'm 99% sure I have a "pre-plastic" K1000 as it weight about the same as my K7 (over 600 grams) and feels quite substantial. Everything seems metal except maybe the black grip, not sure if that is too. I attached a picture below, any chance can you tell which K1000 it is from the picture? (didn't know there were "different" K1000 until your post)
That looks like one of the pre-Chinese models. Ole has a data base project collecting serial # and characteristics. There are roughly 4 basic K1000. The 1st is the Japanese made ones the first 2 years they were made. After that, they were made in Taiwan or Hong Kong up until 1990 after which they were made in China. Those usually have a plastic bottom plate and some plastic internal gears and weighed 525 grams compared to 620 for the Japanese models. There was also several runs of K1000 SE. The SE have the split prism screen but there are regular k1000 that had that as an option as well. Erik Hendrickson told me that there were at least 3 different K1000 focusing screens.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-manual-focus-film-slr-camera-revie...tax-k1000.html

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-film-slr-discussion/51190-k1000-se...-database.html

There seems to be a problem with the data base at the moment.
08-24-2010, 07:11 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
That looks like one of the pre-Chinese models. Ole has a data base project collecting serial # and characteristics. There are roughly 4 basic K1000. The 1st is the Japanese made ones the first 2 years they were made. After that, they were made in Taiwan or Hong Kong up until 1990 after which they were made in China. Those usually have a plastic bottom plate and some plastic internal gears and weighed 525 grams compared to 620 for the Japanese models. There was also several runs of K1000 SE. The SE have the split prism screen but there are regular k1000 that had that as an option as well. Erik Hendrickson told me that there were at least 3 different K1000 focusing screens.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-manual-focus-film-slr-camera-revie...tax-k1000.html

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-film-slr-discussion/51190-k1000-se...-database.html

There seems to be a problem with the data base at the moment.
I saw that K1000 sticky right after I posted last time. It seems mine was made in one of the last batches (serial number 782xxxx) before they started replacing parts with plastic (mine weights about 620 grams). Interesting info in there. I don't think I have a split screen, but there is a small circle in the middle that has more texture than the rest of the screen. Not sure what type of focusing screen that is (stock or something else).
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