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11-02-2011, 08:41 AM   #1
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Pentax AF bodies with pentaprism finders?

I'm a newbie to the world of Pentax, having recently converted from Canon. Needless to say, I've been enjoying it so far!

I already have a Pentax DSLR which I enjoy very much, but I'm looking for a Pentax film SLR which will be equivalent to or better than my Canon Rebel 2000 film SLR. In particular, I'm looking for an autofocus film SLR with a bright (or bright-ish) viewfinder, preferably a pentaprism finder.

I found a Pentax MZ-1 at a thrift shop, but the viewfinder is noticeably dimmer than that of the Rebel.

What are some other options with brighter viewfinders, preferably at $150 or cheaper?

11-02-2011, 09:17 AM   #2
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All the higher-end DSLR bodies have pentaprisms: in terms of current models, this includes the K-5.

For past models, check out our camera DB.

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11-02-2011, 09:17 AM   #3
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best place to confirm Pentaprism is the review section (it will also give you an idea of average prices paid)

Autofocus Film SLRs - Pentax Film Cameras - Pentax Camera Database and Reviews - DSLR, Digital, and Legacy Cameras

I used my sisters rebel and i can say that i much preferred my MZ5n and MZ6 to the rebel. these should be available in this range easily and both are pentaprism

if you can find one the MZ3 was also an excellent camera (but rare) (much the same as an MZ5 but with higher max shutter)

if you stumble over an MZ-s and it is less than $4-500 and it works grab it they run closer to $7-800 but you never know what will pop up on craigslist sometimes
a really stellar camera
11-02-2011, 10:04 AM   #4
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I got a nice PZ-1p for less than $150 and this camera has very good VF. Old, large, but powerful camera.

11-02-2011, 12:50 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Leopardwizard Quote
I'm a newbie to the world of Pentax, having recently converted from Canon. Needless to say, I've been enjoying it so far!

I already have a Pentax DSLR which I enjoy very much, but I'm looking for a Pentax film SLR which will be equivalent to or better than my Canon Rebel 2000 film SLR. In particular, I'm looking for an autofocus film SLR with a bright (or bright-ish) viewfinder, preferably a pentaprism finder.

I found a Pentax MZ-1 at a thrift shop, but the viewfinder is noticeably dimmer than that of the Rebel.

What are some other options with brighter viewfinders, preferably at $150 or cheaper?

Welcome to the forum.
I'm guessing that what you found at the thrift shop wasn't an MZ-1, as that was prototype developed in the 90's but was never produced. I it was one, you should definitely get it
Here's a link to a discussion about the MZ-1,
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-film-slr-discussion/22338-pentax-mz-1-a.html

For AF bodies with pentaprism finders, look at,

SF1/SF1n - Big, heavy, tough, ugly (IMHO) but great cameras. AF is kinda slow. Both have similar specs, SF1n has higher shutter speeds.

PZ-1/PZ-1P
- Probably one of the best spec'd AF bodies Pentax ever produced. A little heavy, but tough and reliable. Z-1/Z-1P and Z-5 are similar spec'd bodies.

ZX-5/ZX-5n
- Small, light, easy operation. Both are great cameras, 5n has DOF preview and some revised ergonomics. Both have reliability issues with a plastic mirror gear. MZ-5n and MZ-5 are same as ZX counterparts.

MZ-3- very similar to ZX-5n/MZ-5n but faster top shutter speed and some minor revised control layout (I think). MZ-3 is pretty hard to find. Not sure if it has same mirror gear issue.

MZ-S - Excellent camera with a load of great features, but fairly expensive. Every once in awhile you can find one for under $400.

QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
I used my sisters rebel and i can say that i much preferred my MZ5n and MZ6 to the rebel. these should be available in this range easily and both are pentaprism
I'm pretty sure the MZ-6 is a pentamirror. My MZ-L is pentamirror and I think they are nearly identical along with the ZX-L.
FWIW, I think these cameras are one of the best deals there are for Pentax AF film bodies.
11-02-2011, 01:31 PM   #6
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MZ-5N has pentaprism VF and MZ-6 has pentamirror. I don't see any difference in the "brightness" of these viewfinders. If you use large aperture lenses such as 1.4 or 1.7, they all quite bright. Since the reflexive mirrors in auto focus cameras are not fully silvered (vapor deposit aluminum), don't expect these VF to be as bright as those in manual focus cameras. From my experience, these two Pentax cameras are much better than the corresponding Canikon and Minolta made in the late 1990's and early 2000. Canon Rebel 2000 (EOS 300, EOS Kiss III) has pentamirror VF and plastic lens mount.

Last edited by violini; 11-02-2011 at 03:48 PM.
11-02-2011, 02:54 PM   #7
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Just now I compared a ZX-5 (pentaprism) and ZX-10 (pentamirror) using the same lens. The brightness difference is not huge, but higher magnification could have something to do with that. Size and brightness are interchangeable, rather like energy and matter. Anyway to my eye, the pentaprism makes possible a view that is both slightly brighter and slightly bigger.

Another thing to look for is diopter adjustment. Few of us have perfect vision, and it's great to be able to keep the glasses off and dial-in a perfectly sharp view. The ZX-5 and 5n have that. Some of the pentamirror cameras have it too, including (I think) the ZX-L and ZX-7.

To echo Violini above, after I spend a little time with one of these and then pick up one of the old vintage manual focus bodies (particularly the MX), there's always a "wow" moment when I put my eye up to it.
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