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08-15-2013, 12:43 PM   #1
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Sudden death of a ZX-7 - what to do now?

The other day, after taking one picture on what would have been the 64th roll of film shot on the Pentax ZX-7 (aka MZ-7) I bought 11 years ago (S/N 3417504), I went to take another picture, and saw nothing but darkness! I then realized that the mirror was stuck on the up position, and the camera's control system had become completely unresponsive.

One thought that comes to mind is "should I even replace my ZX-7?". It did not prove to be the "dream" camera I thought it would be, Its autofocus proved to be a mixed blessing. If the AF system could not find the right focus, the shutter would NOT FIRE. This caused me to miss many shots when following action and when using long lenses (exactly when I needed the AF). I often turned the AF off in later years to get around the problem. Too, the batteries had a habit of dying in the unused camera between rolls of film, and even taking the batteries out of the camera did not keep the batteries alive for long (strange for lithium batteries). The finder was also hard to use with its small image.

I could switch to my ME Super ($4 at a thrift store several years ago), as it matches the ZX-7s top 1/2000 top shutter speed and has a better finder (the best I have EVER seen), but there was some convenience to the autowind, autofocus and built-in flash of the ZX-7.

Do any other Pentax (or compatible) AF film SLRs have a better AF than the ZX-7 did? (one that would still let me shoot if the focus were not "perfect"). How well does the AF on the ZX-L perform? Is ten years the "life expectancy" of these plastic marvels?

I know many readers would question why I would shoot film instead of digital. I do shoot some digital (with P&S digicams), but until I can get a cheap 80" x 80", 7200x7200 pixel display, that would also display my 10,000 film slides, horizontally or vertically, I'll still be shooting slides if I possibly can. I would get a DSLR body if I had the money and could do some traveling.

08-15-2013, 01:25 PM   #2
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Nearly the entire ZX/MZ line suffers from a plastic mirror motor gear that eventually breaks. It's too bad because they are nice cameras.

Most AF cameras require focus lock for shutter release when in AFS mode. The ZX-L has a custom function that allows AFC which allows shutter release priority.
I'm pretty sure that the MZ-S, PZ-1, and *ist all have AFC.

I have a MZ-L (same as ZX-L) and I like it. If the mirror motor gear were to break though, I'm not sure I would replace it.

I have a PZ-1 (and soon a Z-1 as well) and I think it's a much better camera. I would recommend finding a PZ-1/Z-1 or a PZ-1p/Z-1p.
08-15-2013, 02:06 PM   #3
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+1 for Z1p - an excellent camera - better than MZ-S in my humble opinion - I had both and after one roll I sold MZ-S and bought second Z1p - dream camera in features, handling and ergonomics. Full K AF mount makes using of all these cheap M lenses a blast I wish that FF camera from Pentax could resemble this sort of design - with grip of course the handling would be even better. So yeah - Z1/1p is the way to go IMO

EDIT: Forgot to mention - Z1p has the best and most decisive AF from all the Pentax D/SLR I ever saw and used !

Last edited by manntax; 08-15-2013 at 02:43 PM.
08-15-2013, 02:07 PM   #4
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It's highly unlikely to work, but it may be worth removing the lens and delicately playing with the lever arms on the left hand side of the lens mount (as you look at it) to 'pull down'. I have an MX (completely different to your ZX) which will leave the mirror stuck up and a little movement will release the mirror.

It's only worth a try because it costs nothing and the camera is already, to allintents, 'dead' (but do be gentle)

08-15-2013, 02:35 PM   #5
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I had the same problem with MZ5 and MZ30.... yes it is the plastic gear on the motor
You cna buy a replacement for a few bcks but it is major surgery. Replacing the motor+gear will cost you ~100 bucks
08-15-2013, 03:32 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by manntax Quote
+1 for Z1p - an excellent camera - better than MZ-S in my humble opinion - I had both and after one roll I sold MZ-S and bought second Z1p - dream camera in features, handling and ergonomics. Full K AF mount makes using of all these cheap M lenses a blast I wish that FF camera from Pentax could resemble this sort of design - with grip of course the handling would be even better. So yeah - Z1/1p is the way to go IMO

EDIT: Forgot to mention - Z1p has the best and most decisive AF from all the Pentax D/SLR I ever saw and used !
Loved my Z-1, still have it, but it doesn't see much use now.
08-15-2013, 04:09 PM   #7
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Time for a Z-1 =) Workhorse camera. But if you don't get one that's fine too, thats another one I can buy later lol
08-15-2013, 07:50 PM   #8
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Most of the AF Pentax film bodies can be had for next to nothing on ebay. Just buy carefully from an individual that is selling the camera with a lens and bag, it may be barely used. There are usually some listed on Craigslist, but often way overpriced.

08-20-2013, 01:45 PM   #9
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The past winter I got a MZ7 and two zoom lenses for $50. I actually like using the MZ5n better with its more traditional shutter dial however the MZ7 works with the non aperature ring lenses.

If you liked the MZ7 look around for a cheap one or a MZ5n.

As far as shooting film rather than digital; why not. My wife and I do both.
09-16-2013, 09:39 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by 1L6E6VHF Quote
The other day, after taking one picture on what would have been the 64th roll of film shot on the Pentax ZX-7 (aka MZ-7) I bought 11 years ago (S/N 3417504), I went to take another picture, and saw nothing but darkness! I then realized that the mirror was stuck on the up position, and the camera's control system had become completely unresponsive.

One thought that comes to mind is "should I even replace my ZX-7?". It did not prove to be the "dream" camera I thought it would be, Its autofocus proved to be a mixed blessing. If the AF system could not find the right focus, the shutter would NOT FIRE. This caused me to miss many shots when following action and when using long lenses (exactly when I needed the AF). I often turned the AF off in later years to get around the problem. Too, the batteries had a habit of dying in the unused camera between rolls of film, and even taking the batteries out of the camera did not keep the batteries alive for long (strange for lithium batteries). The finder was also hard to use with its small image.

I could switch to my ME Super ($4 at a thrift store several years ago), as it matches the ZX-7s top 1/2000 top shutter speed and has a better finder (the best I have EVER seen), but there was some convenience to the autowind, autofocus and built-in flash of the ZX-7.

Do any other Pentax (or compatible) AF film SLRs have a better AF than the ZX-7 did? (one that would still let me shoot if the focus were not "perfect"). How well does the AF on the ZX-L perform? Is ten years the "life expectancy" of these plastic marvels?

I know many readers would question why I would shoot film instead of digital. I do shoot some digital (with P&S digicams), but until I can get a cheap 80" x 80", 7200x7200 pixel display, that would also display my 10,000 film slides, horizontally or vertically, I'll still be shooting slides if I possibly can. I would get a DSLR body if I had the money and could do some traveling.
Yes, I can definitely recommend the Pentax ZX-30. I have had this equipment for a very long time and it has never failed me. The auto focus is quick and reliable. Also, I have not experienced any problems regarding short battery life. I can get at least 200 rolls of Kodak color print film before I need to replace the batteries. Just do not use the built in flash if possible. Also remember to turn the switch off if you are walking or travelling a long distance. I like Rayovac myself. The ZX-30 is a real kick in the head, a lot of fun especially with the 28-80mm Pentax A lens. I hope this helps, good luck. Tony
09-20-2013, 04:56 PM   #11
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Another recommendation for the PZ1p. It's the best buy, and the only real workhorse AF 35mm produced by Pentax.

I sold mine and got an MZ-S because the PZ1p was desperately ugly -- but the PZ1p was top grade. I shot some of my best slides with it.
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