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05-30-2015, 02:08 PM   #1
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Which autofocus body to complement my Spotmatic?

I have a Pentax Spotmatic (since 1970) and now a K-50 digital plus many M42 lenses, a few K-mount M's, and three DA's for the K-50. I wanted to pick up a more automated, light, inexpensive (<$100) K-mount film body to use the manual focus lenses. I originally starting looking at the P30N, P30T or a ZX-M on Ebay, thinking I can use the older M42 (I have adapter) and K lenses, plus looking forward to getting some A lenses so I can use Tv mode. However, now I'm thinking a better approach may be to get an auto-focus film body that would do everything the MF bodies did plus can use some older AF lenses as well. I'm thinking of the MZ-5, MZ-3, or MZ-5n, all small and light. The MZ-S looks great, but I fear too expensive. What do you think? I thought to stick with bodies with a classic shutter speed dial, but if you tell me it is just as easy to change shutter speeds with the alternative style I might consider changing my mind. I think I would value light weight, features, and lower cost vs. "classic" features and build quality - after all, I've already got a classic manual camera to play with (the Spotmatic). Any suggestions?

05-30-2015, 02:27 PM - 1 Like   #2
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FWIW, I had an MZ-5N and it was more advanced than the earlier MZ-5, but not as advanced as the MZ-3 or the higher end MZ-S. Read some reviews maybe?
05-30-2015, 02:31 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by OldChE Quote
I have a Pentax Spotmatic (since 1970) and now a K-50 digital plus many M42 lenses, a few K-mount M's, and three DA's for the K-50. I wanted to pick up a more automated, light, inexpensive (<$100) K-mount film body to use the manual focus lenses. I originally starting looking at the P30N, P30T or a ZX-M on Ebay, thinking I can use the older M42 (I have adapter) and K lenses, plus looking forward to getting some A lenses so I can use Tv mode. However, now I'm thinking a better approach may be to get an auto-focus film body that would do everything the MF bodies did plus can use some older AF lenses as well. I'm thinking of the MZ-5, MZ-3, or MZ-5n, all small and light. The MZ-S looks great, but I fear too expensive. What do you think? I thought to stick with bodies with a classic shutter speed dial, but if you tell me it is just as easy to change shutter speeds with the alternative style I might consider changing my mind. I think I would value light weight, features, and lower cost vs. "classic" features and build quality - after all, I've already got a classic manual camera to play with (the Spotmatic). Any suggestions?
If you want a fully-featured body, check out the PZ-1.

I can also recommend the Super Program, great MF body with P/A/S/M support.

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05-30-2015, 02:50 PM - 1 Like   #4
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+1 for the Super Program. I love my 5n, but the replacement gear parts seem to be harder to get now, and eventually will be required.

05-30-2015, 04:35 PM - 1 Like   #5
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I have a PZ-20 and an excellent condition ZX-60. Both are a joy to use and they have an Av shooting mode. I can control the aperture through the electronic dial. This is handy for using DA lenses that have FF image circle projections like DA 35mm, DA 40mm, and DA 50mm lenses. Shutter speed in both cameras can be controlled through e-dial. I am thinking of selling my ZX-60. Let me know if you are interested in it.
05-30-2015, 04:36 PM - 1 Like   #6
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I'd go with a 5n. They're really great cameras. The mirror gear is an issue, but the cameras are usually pretty inexpensive.
05-30-2015, 05:09 PM - 1 Like   #7
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The PZ-1 may be a fine camera, but certainly not lightweight.
Most Pentax autofocus cameras have too much of a plasticky feel, which may turn you off, though the ZX line is certainly lightweight.
Yes, the MZ-S is expensive, but it's a dream to use, though you may not care for the selection dial. It's worth holding in your hands and trying it out, if possible.
That said, I'd suggest staying with manual focus cameras if cost is an issue, as there are more solid cameras from which to choose. I especially like the Super Program. I use mine in manual mode all the time. As long as your lenses have an aperture ring, you could use them on the Super Program. And changing shutter speeds is a simple button press.
05-30-2015, 06:18 PM - 1 Like   #8
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I think I'd recommend the 5n. If you want something lightweight then that rules out the Z-1/p and SF line. You will probably appreciate the shutter dial and it's very cheap these days. Many of the later MZ/ZX series cameras had crippled mounts which don't work at all with K and M series lenses.

The 5n has a decent sized viewfinder (though not as good as many of the MF cameras), decent feature set and low vibration shutter/mirror. Overall I prefer the MX/KX, but if you want AF, the 5n is a good choice.

05-30-2015, 11:57 PM - 1 Like   #9
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One point about the MZ50/60 series bodies: the viewfinders apertures are smaller than the MZ5/MZ3/MZS bodies and are more difficult to use than the latter if you wear glasses all the time - that's why I never bought one, and also never bought a Pentax DSLR until the K10D etc., series came out because the same issue was present in the earlier DSLR bodies.
06-02-2015, 06:46 PM   #10
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ZX-60 - can't use M42, M and K lenses?

QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
I have a PZ-20 and an excellent condition ZX-60. Both are a joy to use and they have an Av shooting mode. I can control the aperture through the electronic dial. This is handy for using DA lenses that have FF image circle projections like DA 35mm, DA 40mm, and DA 50mm lenses. Shutter speed in both cameras can be controlled through e-dial. I am thinking of selling my ZX-60. Let me know if you are interested in it.
Thanks for the suggestion on the ZX-60, however based on what I've been reading it doesn't seem that model can use the older lenses very well (I think it can only use them wide open) - have you any experience on that point?

---------- Post added 06-02-2015 at 08:50 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by foto guy Quote
The PZ-1 may be a fine camera, but certainly not lightweight.
Most Pentax autofocus cameras have too much of a plasticky feel, which may turn you off, though the ZX line is certainly lightweight.
Yes, the MZ-S is expensive, but it's a dream to use, though you may not care for the selection dial. It's worth holding in your hands and trying it out, if possible.
That said, I'd suggest staying with manual focus cameras if cost is an issue, as there are more solid cameras from which to choose. I especially like the Super Program. I use mine in manual mode all the time. As long as your lenses have an aperture ring, you could use them on the Super Program. And changing shutter speeds is a simple button press.
Thanks for your comments. I don't think I'd mind the plasticky models, I'm willing to accept that for low cost and light weight. However, I'm really thinking I'd like an autofocus body so am not that interested in the super program or me super models. As I indicated in the original post, for a manual focus body I'm happy with my Spotmatic, it works great. If I'm going to get something to complement the Spotty, an autofocus body would give me both more exposure automation and an ability to play with some older autofocus lenses.

---------- Post added 06-02-2015 at 08:52 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
If you want a fully-featured body, check out the PZ-1.

I can also recommend the Super Program, great MF body with P/A/S/M support.
Thanks. I've read comments that the PZ-1 is pretty large and heavy compared to the MZ/ZX line, is that true? I think I would value light weight over full features, to a degree.

---------- Post added 06-02-2015 at 08:56 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by jonby Quote
I think I'd recommend the 5n. If you want something lightweight then that rules out the Z-1/p and SF line. You will probably appreciate the shutter dial and it's very cheap these days. Many of the later MZ/ZX series cameras had crippled mounts which don't work at all with K and M series lenses.

The 5n has a decent sized viewfinder (though not as good as many of the MF cameras), decent feature set and low vibration shutter/mirror. Overall I prefer the MX/KX, but if you want AF, the 5n is a good choice.
Thanks - yes, the 5N does look good - lightweight, seemingly can use all of the old lenses without issues, prices and availability are good. Right now for me it is coming down to the ZX-5N or the ZX-7, the first has the shutter speed dial but the second can also use newer lenses without aperture rings. Does the 5N do spot metering?

---------- Post added 06-02-2015 at 08:58 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by jeallen01 Quote
One point about the MZ50/60 series bodies: the viewfinders apertures are smaller than the MZ5/MZ3/MZS bodies and are more difficult to use than the latter if you wear glasses all the time - that's why I never bought one, and also never bought a Pentax DSLR until the K10D etc., series came out because the same issue was present in the earlier DSLR bodies.
Thanks, that is a good point. Another reason for me to stay away from the MZ30, 50, 60, is the crippled K-mount. I don't want to have to use my older lenses only wide open. And I do wear glasses, I have been taking note of which models have diopter adjustment too.
06-02-2015, 09:19 PM - 1 Like   #11
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@OldChE - You're right. The ZX-60 doesn't work with MF lenses or lenses without an "A" setting. Sorry, I forgot about that. I used that body with FA and DA lenses (that covered a FF circle) so it was never an issue for me. My manual focus K-mount system is a ME Super.
06-03-2015, 02:27 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by OldChE Quote
Right now for me it is coming down to the ZX-5N or the ZX-7, the first has the shutter speed dial but the second can also use newer lenses without aperture rings. Does the 5N do spot metering?
Yes the 5n does have spot metering - the metering mode is set via a ring on the top plate, so it's easy to switch between them.

I haven't used an MZ-7. Being able to set apertures for lenses without rings will be useful if you own or plan to use such lenses, but it does have a smaller viewfinder than the 5n (0.7x vs 0.8x), which would put me off personally. I believe you can use lenses without aperture rings on the 5n, but only in modes where the camera controls the aperture (P, Tv).
06-03-2015, 02:38 PM - 1 Like   #13
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FWIW, IIRC, the MZ/ZX-7 has a plastic lens mount on the body, which is another reason why I bought the MZ-5N.

PS: I thought it was a very good SLR and loved it.
06-03-2015, 07:30 PM   #14
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Thanks everyone for your helpful comments. Looking in more detail at the 5N vs. the ZX-7, and considering the comments here and in older threads, I'm leaning toward the 5N. I think the advantages of the 5N are spot metering and you can choose a central focus point if you want - features I use all the time on digital cameras. The build quality of the 5N seems better (metal lens mount, pentaprism vs. pentamirror on the 7). I am partial to having a discrete shutter dial like the 5N. On the negative side, the 5N has only a single Program mode for full auto while the 7 has multiple program modes - but I never use the multiple program modes on my digital cameras so this is not that important. The 5N does seem more expensive and less plentiful on Ebay, so it may be harder to get. I'll just have to scout around and be patient. Thanks for your help.

Oh, any lens recommendations when I do get it? Do you know what lens typically came with the 5N?
06-03-2015, 08:57 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by jeallen01 Quote
FWIW, IIRC, the MZ/ZX-7 has a plastic lens mount on the body, which is another reason why I bought the MZ-5N.

PS: I thought it was a very good SLR and loved it.
I'm pretty sure the ZX-7 has a metal lens mount.

---------- Post added 06-03-2015 at 09:05 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by OldChE Quote

Oh, any lens recommendations when I do get it? Do you know what lens typically came with the 5N?
FA43 Ltd. FTW!!!

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