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09-01-2014, 07:02 AM   #1
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Questions, questions, questions (PZ-1 and P3)

I have a Pentax PZ-1 and a P3 that have been stored for several years. I'm having some trouble with them so I thought I'd see if anyone had any ideas.


First for the PZ-1: The camera has been stored in the gadget bag for 5 years or so. I always intended to get it down and start using it again but I never got it done until yesterday. I put a fresh battery in it and turned it. It lit up and appeared to be normal but when I pressed the shutter release the mirror popped up and now refuses to drop back down. When I press the shutter release now I hear a buzzing sound inside like it's trying to advance the film, though it is empty, or the focus ring on the lens will cycle back and forth once. The shutter will not release, the mirror will not return to it's normal viewing position and the built in flash will not charge or fire. My fear is that the long storage has led to some internal damage and if that's the case I doubt that it would be cost effective to repair.


Likewise, the P3 has been stored for several years in the above mentioned gadget bag. I put a fresh batter in it and turned it on. I can see what appears to be normal function in the viewfinder but pressing the shutter release yields no response. The bodies, I know, are readily available at low cost but I hate to toss it until I have at least tried to find a resolution.


Any help will be appreciated.

09-01-2014, 09:27 AM   #2
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The fact that both cameras stopped working leads me to ask what is the humidity like? Is it possible they have suffered microscopic amounts of corrosion?
09-01-2014, 10:02 AM   #3
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I think the PZ-1 could be suffering from what is known as the broken plastic gear syndrome. In order to reduce weight Pentax used plastic gears to connect the internal motor to the mirror and shutter assemblies. Over time these plastic gears tend to shrink in size and they can break. The whirring you hear is the motor running. It doesn't get any traction so the assembly seems stuck.

Some brave Pentaxians have taken their cameras apart for the fun of it and replaced the gears with metal units. The gears cost more than a working version of the camera on eBay. It may not be worth the time and money unless you feel compelled to do this. Search eBay and you will many camera bodies from this family with the words "parts", "repair", and "broken". I went through a couple purchases and returns before I found a working ZX-60. It's only a matter of time before the gears go on it so I'm enjoying the camera while I can.

Last edited by 6BQ5; 09-01-2014 at 12:02 PM.
09-01-2014, 11:35 AM - 1 Like   #4
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They are worth sending off to be fixed. Damn fine cameras those are, don't let them go to landfill! (Or just eBay them and someone will get it fixed)

09-01-2014, 11:59 AM   #5
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There are only 2 threads about this problem with the PZ-1. One from 2011 and one from 2008. Neither thread has anything definitive about what caused it or whether it was fixed.
09-01-2014, 01:11 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Painter Quote
The fact that both cameras stopped working leads me to ask what is the humidity like? Is it possible they have suffered microscopic amounts of corrosion?

It's unlikely that humidity is the problem since I live in the desert. The cameras were stored indoors in a place where the temperature was relatively constant, but of course anything is possible.
09-01-2014, 01:17 PM   #7
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I ordered a P3n body from Ebay to replace the malfunctioning P3. It was about $35.00 including shipping so that's fair enough. I'll decide later what to do with the broken one. If I can get it to work then I'll have 2.


I'm leaning toward getting a digital body to replace the PZ-1 but I'll check the suggested searches for the gears and other parts. If it's not too much I may give it a try. Thanks for the quick responses.
09-02-2014, 05:10 PM   #8
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The P3 started working. I took it out of the bag yesterday and tried; it cycled once then refused to respond any more. I took it out this evening and it cycled again. Subsequent wind/release cycles got progressively smoother until now it seems to be working as well as it ever did. Now to get some film and give it a try. When the P3n gets here I will have a second one to play with. I also found a PX10 at a low price point so that's on the way as well. I'll soon be burning the celluloid... do they still use that stuff?


Now for some cool lenses!

09-04-2014, 03:13 PM   #9
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The P3n body arrived today and I am very pleased. It is in perfect condition, not so much as a scratch. The "PX10" in the above post is a typo; it should be "PZ10."
09-05-2014, 12:46 AM   #10
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The Z1 (PZ1 ) was a great camera still got mine but due to where I live you cant get film or get it processed it now is a part of a camera collection I am strating up
09-05-2014, 07:28 PM   #11
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Film is on the way out for sure. I live in a large city so it won't be a problem for a long time but digital is clearly the future.
09-06-2014, 12:09 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by dakight Quote
Film is on the way out for sure. I live in a large city so it won't be a problem for a long time but digital is clearly the future.

I think many would disagree that film is on the way out. In fact, "analog photography" is going through a bit of a revival and renaissance. People use film today because they want to vs. have to when digital didn't exist. It will never be what it once was but it will never disappear. The LP, the vacuum tube, and the wooden pencil will go first before film vanishes.
09-06-2014, 06:23 AM   #13
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You're probably right, especially with black and white, but I do think film will eventually be a niche and digital the mainstream. And I could be all wet; wouldn't be the first time. Heck, there are still people who make their own plates and do the old fashioned work like tintype and such.


I was in the Tempe Camera shop a few days ago and saw a new commercial pinhole camera. I was curious to say the least, but not $100 curious... at least not yet.
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