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06-25-2015, 09:19 AM   #1
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a little MX meditation

hello everyone,

my debut here. there many threads dedicated to this model, still i was tempted to compile my feelings into another one..

i've been using film exclusively, mostly slr-s for more than 20 years. i'm not a collector but with many of you i share appreciation for precious mechanics and optics. it has very little to do with photography, but i felt like a little fondling and few clicks with empty leica M3 a day could have some healing properties.. preferring slr-s, obsessed with 'workhorse' attribute, fearing mechanical failure in the terrain, i went mostly with nikons, obviously inspired with history (which is of course not absolute relevant measure). so i have F3,FM,FE, monstrous F4.. and yes, they've never put me down.

but there was a little worn black MX and 3.5/35 K in my possession that, despite using it just a little compared to nikons, i've felt something special towards. it was a magical small package with a feel of fullness, minimalistic and balanced design.. plus those old negatives shot with the lens.. so 'cultivated' sharpness and rich tonality..

combined with finally 'knowing what i really need and don't need' i've ended up with 3 MX bodies, 3.5/35K and 1.8/55K. (ok, there's one 28 sunagor somewhere that i hardly use). i'd wish this to be my only gear and for the first time i feel i'm able to get rid of nikon stuff, but..

again, the reliability. yes, MXs feel wonderful, but that doesn't equal real surviving capabilities. i still don't know how much i can trust them. despite many great reviews, here are my few concerns, based on bugs on my own cameras, as well as seen on the web over and over :

- problems related to shutter release assembly. (lock not functioning properly, advance lever blocking the release while on 'shooting' position, poorly engineered internal meter switch causing notorious problems..always on, always off, batt drain..)

- sticky mirror syndrome. one camera had problems with 1/1000, other with B .. (not the stickiness related to foam deterioration, but rather a mirror return mechanism)

- common issue of mismatch of shutter speed selector and it's viewfinder indicator. again, 2 of my 3 bodies.. (derailed or otherwise flawed 'communication' thread between mentioned two parts)

long and not very smooth advance lever action is something i can live with, despite being used to something different with nikons..

on a positive note - yes, MX is not silent, but most of the sound comes from mirror return, if you put it on B the sound and vibration is really minimal in the opening phase, that's what they presented as a air damping, not needing for lockup, etc.. so i'm not sure, why i've seen multiple complains about a great MX shake, even at 1/125.. i hope these comments are not based on experiments.

so.. i wish i could run around with 1 or 2 MX bodies and 2 my K lenses exclusively, without missing feeling of trust i have in my nikons. it's not happening yet though. but pentaxes really try hard to compensate me with 'the feel' and the gorgeous results on film. maybe i need a little more time with them..

all the best,
misok

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06-25-2015, 10:15 AM   #2
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I got mine from eBay a month ago with batteries!
The mirror dumper has started to go off by pieces but it will last for a while. Light seals are nearly all off but no leaks
I shot just 4 rolls of a BW film. I have got sharp results at 1/60 with 50mm lens and good at 1/30 with 28mm. I also played with it in B mode and as you said. When the mirror lifts it's smooth and it stops at the top without bouncing back.
I'm in love - as you said..the magical package
It's so tiny compared to Pentax Dslr's
06-25-2015, 01:50 PM   #3
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if you are in the US you can send them to Eric for service. They will come back as new
06-25-2015, 04:57 PM   #4
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Interesting collection, misok I grew up with one MX (silver) during my teenage years and I still miss it. As titrisol stales, send them to Eric for service if you can afford it. It's the thinking photographer's camera, but If you have ever used a Pentax DSLR in full manual mode and fixed ISO, you'll enjoy it.

06-26-2015, 01:00 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by misok Quote
long and not very smooth advance lever action is something i can live with, despite being used to something different with nikons..
Welcome to the Forum. I have four MXs including my first bought in 1977. Still going strong and never serviced except for new seals. If you can live with the advance lever action of the Nikon F, you can live with the worst of them. I think the Nikon F, F2 and Nikkormat are superb, (I own them also) but very clunky compared to the MX. Perhaps they are stronger, but the MX is pretty robust all the same and very comfortable and agile..
06-26-2015, 08:11 AM   #6
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All of your listed concerns are valid, and anyone who has acquired more than a couple of MX bodies used from sources like eBay, etc., will (if honest) readily admit to that fact.

That said, however, it is kind of unfair to compare your experiences with MX bodies to your Nikons. The Nikon models you've listed are all professional cameras, and the majority of them almost certainly were fairly regularly serviced by Nikon Professional Services (NPS) for the first few years of their life. I was a photojournalist for a number of years, and at any significant event or conference, NPS would have a booth there and they'd always give our cameras checkups and simple repairs for the asking. CLAs from them were pretty cheap, too. In essence, though those bodies can look pretty rough cosmetically, many (maybe even most) lived a pretty coddled life with regular maintenance and such.

Now compare that to Pentax's offerings such as the MX and the LX. Both of those cameras were designed to be professional-grade systems, as well, but unlike Nikon (and later Canon), Pentax never offered anything comparable to Nikon Professional Services. If a news organization used Pentax for its pool equipment, it was typically well beat up and almost never maintained at all.

I would heartily agree with those in this thread who have recommended you send your little MX off to Eric Hendrickson for a thorough fix and CLA. It will cost you some money, but you will then be able to fully use and enjoy what I consider to be the greatest 35mm SLR ever designed. Its ergonomics are perfect, and its minimalistic feel is absolutely comparable in the SLR world to that of the Leica M6 in the rangefinder world. And the best part is that then you will be able to fully explore the greatest advantage of all - Pentax glass! Asahi Optical's lenses blow away Nikon's almost every time, in my opinion.
06-26-2015, 08:17 AM   #7
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I have shot 5 rolls of film and this happened once in one shot...it's a leak? Or some sort of flare?

06-27-2015, 12:22 AM   #8
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What I like about the MX's and LX's over those Nikons is the huge viewfinder magnification. I've only owned mine a few years - all perfectly working, so time will tell how they will hold up even though the reviews listed them as robust.

06-27-2015, 04:26 AM   #9
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thanks everyone for relevant responses.

yes it's true that comparison with pro nikons is not very fair, but i wanted to use it just as a reference. and mostly to FM/FE, that are advanced amateur level.

nikon indeed excelled with services (and marketing in pro waters) and that's the reason for my thinking about the topic of real reliability of other brands, like if we put NPS aside, how would it compare to nikon's. but i admit it's just theory and every older camera deserves a good CLA before any serious use and comparison. unfortunately, i'm not in US and our customs often stops parcels, want money etc, so sending it to eric is not worth the hustle, unless i want pay (for body, two shippings, work, crazy taxes, and obstructions) like 400 usd each..

i've opened all my MXs, they look clean inside, besides resealing i was able to repair metering issues, they are more-less flawless overall, aside from two non-matching viewfinder shutter times and non closing B on one. i can live with these.

comparison to leica (that i've seen more times) can sound too biased to someone, but it's not that much off, the feel is really solid, the design is compact and very good and the glass is really excellent and few of the lenses are recognizably standing out. i could never blame any nikkor i used, but after years i realized they are just like workingman's tools. only with nikkor-o 2/35 and 2.5/105 (older version, direct sonnar copy) i maybe felt 'something'. but then came pentax experience, with mentioned 35 and 55 K. smaller, better built (incomparable firmness and smoothness) and the results.. little 35K was better than nikkor-o in terms of sharpness and had different tonal interpretation and i feel like 2/50 from nikon just can't compare with 55K in any aspect.. K blows it away.

as can be seen on the photo, i've removed hot-shoe from the oldest one (and filled the holes with black epoxy), to be even more touch-friendly and compact (i know.. , it has no electronics, but as others, shutter times are perfect. i'm really starting to use all of them more and i have to prevent myself from buying another if i see a good deal... they are addictive.

nice weekend
m.
06-27-2015, 06:53 AM   #10
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I have 4 MXs in my collection which have been quite reliable. One has a sporadic issue with the mirror stop angle, where occasionally the mirror angle will be off so focus is way off. To verify this I used a tripod, focused on a target and kept checking VF focus while snapping the shutter. Sometimes the VF would shift focus (a few random %). So I retired that body.
The SV bodies and lenses are about the most solid Pentax made.
My Nikon F samples have rough wind action in comparison.
The Leicaflex SL I've had since 1969 is still the standard for mechanical precision.
06-27-2015, 05:51 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by misok Quote
as can be seen on the photo, i've removed hot-shoe from the oldest one (and filled the holes with black epoxy), to be even more touch-friendly and compact (i know.. , it has no electronics, but as others, shutter times are perfect. i'm really starting to use all of them more and i have to prevent myself from buying another if i see a good deal... they are addictive.

nice weekend
m.


I can appreciate the removal of the hot-shoe as it can make the MX more streamlined looking as the LX with FA-2 prism.





BTW, unlike the Nikons, the film advance lever doesn't have to be sticking out in order to meter and fire the shutter. Apparently for some folks, this sticks them in the eye.
06-29-2015, 03:04 AM   #12
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very clean examples there, especially compared to mine.. yes, i've always preferred SLR look without a hotshoe (i use flash maybe once a year and even then prefer to have it on cable) and MX is quite a lot about the size so i tried it on one and i'm happy, it's even nicer and more touch-friendly.

contrary to what i've read many times, advance lever on MX doesn't serve as a switch, like on nikon FM/FE, but rather only as a lock for half-depressed shutter button, creating a 'permanently on' operation, but for a quick check of the light i don't use it, i just depress shutter for a half-second with closed advance lever to see where i'm at.
07-01-2015, 05:22 PM   #13
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I've had two MX cameras. Years ago I sold my silver one and missed it so much I immediately purchased a black one. I've had it for years without a single issue. Countless rolls of film have gone through it and I've never been disappointed. I've also had my K1000 for nearly 25 years and it's served me reliably.

I've never serviced my cameras either, because they've never needed it. I'm guessing this has to do with me living in an extremely dry climate though.

If you like the small size of the MX, have you had the chance to mount an M 40/2.8 to it?
07-01-2015, 11:51 PM   #14
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it's true that none of my MXs i've had from new. the most worn one without a hot shoe (which runs the smoothest by the way) was a gift from a pro and the other two are from ebay. this fact makes a conclusions about reliability even more uncertain. but i like them and i use them now.

MX with 40 pancake would be the ultimate when it comes to size, but i don't have it. my 35 and 55 K combination fits my seeing and thinking so well (in terms of focal lengths, image character and i also like the build quality and design) that i have no desire to acquire any more glass. i'd probably get a KX body out of curiosity, rather than another lens.
07-02-2015, 05:52 AM - 1 Like   #15
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Overminiaturization

Though I love the concept of the Pentax MX it's a model I could never get used to using.
IMO too many compromises were made in pursuit of miniaturization (AKA "beating Olympus"!).

The MX shutter speed indicator intrudes too far into the focus screen area of the viewfinder.
The MX shutter speed dial is too stiff, and too close to the pentaprism cover to grasp and turn easily.
The MX top and bottom covers are too thin and easily dented.

The size of the camera makes it unergonomic for those of us with larger hands.
Fortunately most of the features important to me are available in the Pentax KX.

Chris
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