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12-16-2016, 02:19 AM   #1
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For upcoming Class, Use what I have, or get adventurous?

It's been awhile since I shot film, and a little while since I shot with my Pentax (originally it was a Canon Digital Rebel 6.3Mpixel, then when that busted I moved to a Pentax K10D DSLR... then I got into film ranging from minox all the way up to 5x7 large format, with a whole mess of everything in between, and self-developing every one of them... then I moved onto Olympus Mirrorless for the last 6 years)

Well, next semester as I'm getting close to finishing up my associates in fine arts with emphasis on photography I'm finally gonna take the darkroom class (PO126).

I been using least three of my Pentax compatible lens with my Olympus E-M5/E-P3 ever since I made the switch, the Pentax-M 50/1.4 and Tamron 90/2.8 Adaptall 1:1 Macro being my favorites (also have a Rokinon 85/1.4 that was adapted for the Olympus as well). And I still have a Pentax MZ-6 that I was using as a film backup to my K-10D on jobs.

So, because of the lens I already have it makes the most sense to just stick with the Pentax SLR for the equipment I need, even though I quite rather miss shooting with a Canon P LTM Rangefinder or my old Olympus Pen-FT half-framer. I sold most of the film stuff during the divorce back in 2010 so didn't keep much of it around.

The Question Do I just stick with the MZ-6 which last I checked has been fine, just needs some more CR2 batteries (thinking bout those Watson 3V rechargeable lithiums). Or do I seek out a different body to rejuvenate the vintage charm I miss? Like maybe something purely mechanical such as a K1000?

What I don't care about on the MZ-6 is the focus screen and viewfinder, it's a little small and it's just a flat matte ground glass, would much rather have a split prism maybe with a microprism ring. Outside of that the external controls feel somewhat lacking. Can use it in full manual and all, but I just like being able to have separate dials for my exposures.

Would have just used my Fed 2A russian rangefinder if I want the vintagy feel, but the only three compatible lens I have for that is a Industar-61 L/D 55/2.8 (not the crispest or fastest), a Industar 10 (leica elmar collasible clone) 50/3.5 which has very low contrast, and my favorite Jupiter-11 135/4 which I still use on the olympus which is crisp and sharp as a tack at f/4 (but can't focus closer than 12 feet). Plus the rangefinder is a little hazy, so not as nice as trying to find a big VF and my Pentax 50/1.4.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Far as budget if I do get 'adventurous', I'm thinking maybe around 150-175 for the body. (Which is about what a Canon P would run... except my Lens dilemma)
Maybe eventually pick up an inexpensive 24 or 35mm to cover the wide focal range that I'm missing, though traditionally the 50 1.8/2/etc was pretty much what you glued to your camera student-wise.

Signature urls to get an idea of the kind of stuff I been shooting. And also even with my Olympus mirrorless, I'm shooting in manual mode 99.99% of the time, with manual focusing around 80% of the time.

12-16-2016, 02:46 AM   #2
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You certainly can use what you have for your upcoming class; itʻs really a matter if you want to. I agree that the downside of the MZ-6 is the darker pentamirror viewfinder. And generally, all AF cameras are going to have screens that are less manual focus friendly and since you mentioned that youʻre mostly manually focusing, I would seriously consider getting a manual focus FSLR with a pentaprism such as the K1000, KX, LX, etc. Or a compromise with brighter pentaprism but AF and associated screen would be the Pentax ZX-5n.

Nothing wrong with your rangefinders. Ultimately your prof should only care about the results of your photography, but unless youʻre toting a Leica M series, they may have an initial bias that youʻre not serious about the class.
12-16-2016, 02:55 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
You certainly can use what you have for your upcoming class; itʻs really a matter if you want to. I agree that the downside of the MZ-6 is the darker pentamirror viewfinder. And generally, all AF cameras are going to have screens that are less manual focus friendly and since you mentioned that youʻre mostly manually focusing, I would seriously consider getting a manual focus FSLR with a pentaprism such as the K1000, KX, LX, etc. Or a compromise with brighter pentaprism but AF and associated screen would be the Pentax ZX-5n.

Nothing wrong with your rangefinders. Ultimately your prof should only care about the results of your photography, but unless youʻre toting a Leica M series, they may have an initial bias that youʻre not serious about the class.
I actually checked ahead with him in the past since I know who is teaching it (and he seems younger than I, but then I seem older than most my classmates). It *seemed* like the only stipulation was an interchangeable lens 35mm. Which was for the most part the only requirement in the digital realm, I was actually the first student they saw using a mirrorless primarily over the last 3 years (wasn't til someone got a Sony earlier this semester that someone else jumped off the DSLR bandwagon) So format didn't seem to matter, I was just given the extra task of presenting my stuff in both 4:3 and 3:2 aspect ratio. But yea, early on there was a bit of bias just because it was an olympus mirrorless with a 'tiny' sensor, but always had people asking me how I got such and such image, or how did I get it clear, or how did I knock the background out, etc etc. (Course I shoot only primes that tend to be 2.0~2.8 or faster and I had many more years to practice).

So I think as long as it's full frame 35mm, it may be sufficient, but I only don't do it because my Fed2-A isn't nearly the same camera as the Canon P I once owned. That and I had sold most my good LTM lens during the separation.

I was trying to remember other Pentax FSLR models, I recalled the K1000 which was pretty much your de facto student SLR. I think I once researched the LX back when I was looking for a film backup to my Pentax DSLR, but at the time it was too cost prohibitive which led me to get the MZ-6. Because at that time I had some decent Pentax autofocus lens.

If the LX was comparable to the Canon F1 (Loved the F1 for an mechanical SLR, could beat a man with it, and take a photo afterwards for posterity), it is something I would certainly want, but last time I looked the cost was close to $300 for just the body with a decent finder/prism that was CLA'd. In fact many cameras I long for are going up in price again particularly medium format (probably because digital backs have come down).

How does the KX Differ from the K1000 and LX? It seems to be more reasonable on price.
12-16-2016, 03:17 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by kb244 Quote
How does the KX Differ from the K1000 and LX? It seems to be more reasonable on price.
PF has tons of resources for researching this sort of thing. Hereʻs the link for the KX:

Pentax KX - Pentax Manual Focus Film SLRs - Pentax Camera Reviews and Specifications

Only thing I noticed which could be a concern is if youʻre left-eyed as the winder must be brought back to activate the light meter. The KM and K2 are also worthy of exploring. The LX was the pinnacle of manual focus SLRs (pre-plastic or polycarbonate era) for Pentax as was the A1/F1 for Canon, the F3HP for Nikon, and the XK for Minolta. Pro level system of accessories from interchangeable viewfinders, winders, etc. Thus, the higher value.

12-16-2016, 03:25 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
PF has tons of resources for researching this sort of thing. Hereʻs the link for the KX:

Pentax KX - Pentax Manual Focus Film SLRs - Pentax Camera Reviews and Specifications

Only thing I noticed which could be a concern is if youʻre left-eyed as the winder must be brought back to activate the light meter. The KM and K2 are also worthy of exploring. The LX was the pinnacle of manual focus SLRs (pre-plastic or polycarbonate era) for Pentax as was the A1/F1 for Canon, the F3HP for Nikon, and the XK for Minolta. Pro level system of accessories from interchangeable viewfinders, winders, etc. Thus, the higher value.
I'm right-eyed when using the viewfinder (though haven't used one in years seeing as I been mostly waist-level shooting with my Olympus E-M5). I don't wear glasses so that's not much of an issue there.

When I was looking around at the KX vs the MX, it seemed like the MX was touted as having a better viewfinder (higher magnification I guess), and a 'better' meter (I guess better depends if you like needle vs light), but I wonder if I'll be annoyed by it's small size or not. Other than that, seems like the main benefit I would get from the KX outside of it's size is the mirror lockup.
12-16-2016, 03:52 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by kb244 Quote

When I was looking around at the KX vs the MX, it seemed like the MX was touted as having a better viewfinder (higher magnification I guess), and a 'better' meter (I guess better depends if you like needle vs light), but I wonder if I'll be annoyed by it's small size or not.
The MX is no smaller than your rangefinders, and if you have medium to large hands, you could always add a grip/motor drive. The better finder on the MX is about a 2% difference. The MX was an entry-level pro-calibre model, whereas the LX was the flagship. The KX was a consumer/enthusiast model.
12-16-2016, 04:08 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
The MX is no smaller than your rangefinders,
True, but the lens are definitely not LTM sized


QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
The better finder on the MX is about a 2% difference. The MX was an entry-level pro-calibre model, whereas the LX was the flagship. The KX was a consumer/enthusiast model.
So seems like in this sense, if I want the good VF, and can just counter the size with a grip, along with the cost the MX would be the best of the three with those factors considered.

Guess what I'm going to try to do is make offers on eBay on LX, and if I can't get them at those prices, will look at an MX. If the MZ-6 annoys me too much I can always borrow one of my professor's old K1000 he doesn't seem to use, and it seems to be relatively clean (just a dead meter is all, but I got my minolta flashmeter IV, plus I been a pretty good judge of changing conditions once I got a base reading).
12-16-2016, 05:06 AM   #8
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Then of course there's the forum marketplace - there's at least one seller there who's always got a Pentax film body of some description from the manual-focus era that you could pick up for not very much.

The K-1000's low point is that it doesn't have a self-timer, which I recall someone else around here saying crippled a relative in one part of their film-school experience, nor does it have depth of field preview. The MX is somewhat odd for a system camera in that it doesn't have mirror lockup.

The LX is an outstanding camera, but has known issues (particularly with the electronics) that can be difficult and sometimes impossible to fix due to the lack of spare parts. If you go down that road, be careful that you get one in full shooting condition.

The K1000 should not cost as much as it does for what's basically a stripped down base model, but perversely its status as a "cult" camera has elevated its price. In addition, many K1000's came with a fresnel/microprism focusing screen only and NOT a split prism as with most of the others.

12-16-2016, 05:45 AM   #9
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If you want a bit more heft then there's the K2, it has a microprism rather than split circle focus screen, but quite highly specced. All manual or shutter-priority, mirror lock-up if you want it.
12-16-2016, 05:52 AM   #10
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The KX is a great camera, built like a tank, all manual controls, can be still function if batteries die. Check out the reviews, one of the highest rated Pentax, ever.

Pentax KX - Pentax Manual Focus Film SLRs - Pentax Camera Reviews and Specifications

There's a refurbished one for sale in the marketplace (not mine) currently, if you do a search.

Last edited by onlineflyer; 12-16-2016 at 07:29 AM.
12-16-2016, 06:53 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote

Nothing wrong with your rangefinders. Ultimately your prof should only care about the results of your photography, but unless youʻre toting a Leica M series, they may have an initial bias that youʻre not serious about the class.
The canonPs were pro cameras that sold faster than M2, better in every way cept for LTM lens mount. But like old Ms you need to try the finder before you buy.
12-16-2016, 07:11 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by kb244 Quote
Well, next semester as I'm getting close to finishing up my associates in fine arts with emphasis on photography I'm finally gonna take the darkroom class (PO126).
I would say choose the right tool for the job. What kind of photos will you be taking? Rangerfinder, SLR, automatic, mechanical, Japanese, Soviet, each has their own pros and cons. So if you can define what kind of projects you will be doing, then you can buy the body and /or lens that you will need. Maybe you don't need five lenses, maybe just one prime is enough for that specific class. Get a setup that will make the class easy. If you need contrasty photos, then Industar 50-2 is probably a bad choice. But for artsy, dreamy photos, it might be great.
So I would try to go for minimalism, based on what the needs of the class are. Seems like you already have quite a bit of knowledge and experience - its time to use all of that, plan and budget, then execute like a pro

Edit: With classes it can be immensely helpful to talk to someone who took this class a year or two ago. They can usually give you some tips on how to prepare, what the demands for the class were.

Last edited by Na Horuk; 12-16-2016 at 07:19 AM.
12-16-2016, 10:49 AM - 1 Like   #13
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+1 for the KX. I personally like the MX and LX better, but if you're already familiar with the K1000 and you're entering a class and you already have Pentax glass, I think the KX is an excellent choice:
It really shoots and feels exactly like a K1000 (everything is in the same place, feels similar, looks similar, same matchstick needle meter style) with just a few added features, which are most notably: DoF preview, self-timer.

A KX is generally cheaper than the other three (K1000, MX, LX) as well. I own or have owned all of them. An MX will be a tad more expensive but also very similar and easier to find.
12-16-2016, 11:23 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by chickentender Quote
+1 for the KX. I personally like the MX and LX better, but if you're already familiar with the K1000 and you're entering a class and you already have Pentax glass, I think the KX is an excellent choice:
It really shoots and feels exactly like a K1000 (everything is in the same place, feels similar, looks similar, same matchstick needle meter style) with just a few added features, which are most notably: DoF preview, self-timer.

A KX is generally cheaper than the other three (K1000, MX, LX) as well. I own or have owned all of them. An MX will be a tad more expensive but also very similar and easier to find.
I used a KX for several years. I did not like the MX light bulbs for shutter speed compared to the the blue transparent match needle viewfinder in the KX. It is built like a tank, for sure. I don't seeing it dying in the near future if it is in good condition when you get it. The little periscope viewing the aperture ring was neat if hard to read in poor light.
12-16-2016, 02:11 PM   #15
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Another vote for the KX, my all time favourite! Add a K55/1.8 and you are all set.

Phil.
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