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05-05-2020, 02:39 AM   #1
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MZ-5n - time to call it a day?

I dropped a couple of batteries in my latest MZ-5n today, turned it on, pressed the shutter release and heard the whirr of death. This is my third MZ to suffer the mirror motor fault. The fault appears to be more age than use or abuse related - the last two to go were on the first press of the shutter release after the cameras not being used for some time. Looking on Ebay, nearly all MZ-5s and MZ-5ns listed are now as "spares or repair". Assuming there is no new fix, is it time to give up on what has been one of my favourite camera bodies? It looks certain that if I buy another, or an MZ-3, it will already be on borrowed time.


I still have an MZ-7 and an MZ-10 that work, but they are not nearly as nice to use as the MZ-5n. Incidentally, I did manage to replace the mirror motor gear wheel on the MZ-10, which I bought dead, without completely dismantling it. It works fine, but I wouldn't trust it too far, especially as the "good" wheel came from a body in my large and growing MZ graveyard.

05-05-2020, 04:32 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by mzsaunders Quote
I dropped a couple of batteries in my latest MZ-5n today, turned it on, pressed the shutter release and heard the whirr of death. This is my third MZ to suffer the mirror motor fault. The fault appears to be more age than use or abuse related - the last two to go were on the first press of the shutter release after the cameras not being used for some time. Looking on Ebay, nearly all MZ-5s and MZ-5ns listed are now as "spares or repair". Assuming there is no new fix, is it time to give up on what has been one of my favourite camera bodies? It looks certain that if I buy another, or an MZ-3, it will already be on borrowed time.


I still have an MZ-7 and an MZ-10 that work, but they are not nearly as nice to use as the MZ-5n. Incidentally, I did manage to replace the mirror motor gear wheel on the MZ-10, which I bought dead, without completely dismantling it. It works fine, but I wouldn't trust it too far, especially as the "good" wheel came from a body in my large and growing MZ graveyard.
I still have my original MZ-5 and it still works, even after not using it for a (long) time. On sunday I retrieved it from one of my boxes after moving house. Only the flash does not work as supposed to. I have to hold it up.
05-05-2020, 06:21 AM   #3
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Without wanting to start a long list of people with dead MX-5n's, all say thanks for this tread. I now know what to do with my dead one. Babye
05-05-2020, 07:53 AM   #4
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You can get metal versions of the cog that fails, the problem is replacing it as it's basically in the most difficult to access part of the camera. The cost for an expert to do it would probably be prohibitive, but if you really like the MZ cameras then it's either pay or get one that will fail sooner rather than later.

05-05-2020, 10:01 AM   #5
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I bought one 1997, an used it till I got digital Nikon D50 2005, recently i started with film again so staring my mz-5n to my astonishment it failed (infamous mirror lock). since i really liked the camera, I was able to buy one on line for 35 Euro, for the moment only manual focus. It really works nice, so browse on the internet they are still there.
However if you own Mz-7, MZ-10 try to enjoy them with care.
05-05-2020, 10:38 AM   #6
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Since you have repaired one MZ camera before you know what it takes in terms of work. You can buy a compatible metal to replace the broken plastic gear and not worry about it breaking again.

See this thread for sources and what to order:
Replacement gear for ZX/MZ cameras... - PentaxForums.com
05-06-2020, 01:23 AM - 1 Like   #7
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Thanks to all, especially Not a Number for the link to KKPMO. This is exactly what I was hoping for and I have ordered three gear wheels in PMO. At the time of my last MZ failure, there didn't appear to be a source for replacements. I have taken stock and I have two intact repairable MZ-5ns, one in pieces and five dead MZ series bodies to practice on. I also, currently, have a bit more spare time than usual (as long as my wife isn't delegating DIY chores).

The repair I did on the MZ-10 was, as I recall, to loosen the motor and the metal plate between it and the gears, move the grey gear wheel as far along its plastic pin as possible, then cut the pin, leaving as much of it behind as possible, and remove the grey wheel. I was then able to replace the broken gear wheel with tweezers through the gap. It's not ideal as, apart from using an old wheel that may not last, the grey wheel is now only supported from one end, but it did work and I have run a couple of films through the MZ-10 since. The reason I ordered the replacements in PMO is that, if I am forced down this route again (although the five dead bodies should give me plenty of practice), I reckon I have more chance of getting them on the motor spindles with tweezers than I would with brass wheels.

I will report on my efforts.
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05-06-2020, 01:47 AM   #8
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There was a post with photos on changing the gear out without major tear down of the camera. I believe it is in this thread (haven't checked):

MZ5n mirror blocked, service manual? - PentaxForums.com

If not, threads on this subject are easy enough to find through the search function.

06-18-2020, 08:33 AM - 1 Like   #9
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Update on my MZ5N woes (or woes no more?)

I was reasonably happy that I could follow the instructions on Ipernity to change the wheel, other than the desoldering and soldering, as I am not confident with my soldering skills. I invested in a new soldering iron with a 0.2mm tip and adjustable heat, some fine lead solder and some solder wick, and spent a bit of time watching tutorials on Youtube. I then ran through my practices - first a dead MZ50, then a dead MZ-7. There were some differences in the connections to the boards due to differing controls, but I successfully stripped both back to the motor gear wheels, removed the wheels and reassembled the bodies. Having done that with some success, I went through the soldering process on a partially dismantled MZ-5N. I found the soldering on the MZ5-N a bit more challenging - the contacts are more tightly grouped and some are close to plastic parts.


It was then time for my first actual repair, the victim being my newest MZ-5N. Again, I found the soldering challenging, in particular four short pillars that join the flash board to the main board. I had a problem that I hadn't had with the three practice bodies - one of these pillars came away at both ends. After struggling for some time to try to resolder it to the flash board, I gave up and swapped the board over for the one from the practice MZ-5N.

The next problem was that when I got to the gear wheel, I realised that I had ordered the wrong wheels. This was my fault - I followed the links above, but didn't realise I had to enter the width and hole diameter into fields on the manufacturer's website. The fields had default values, so I got wheels to that specification. Fortunately, one of the practice bodies yielded an intact wheel, probably the MZ-7, which had a mangled shutter. I fitted this wheel and reassembled the camera. Disappointment awaited when I fitted batteries and switched it on - there was a reassuring whirr I assumed to be the mirror gears resetting themselves, but the shutter wouldn't fire. Fortunately, I found this was simply because there was no lens on the body (I didn't know that an MZ-5N shutter won't fire without a lens). With the lens and back on, everything seems to be working fine.


I have reordered the gear wheels and will tackle the other MZ-5N when they arrive. I may then see if I can rebuild a third working MZ-5N from the two dismantled bodies I have.

Kudos to whoever posted the repair instructions and link on Ipernity and also with thanks to Not a Number for leading me to it.

Last edited by mzsaunders; 06-18-2020 at 08:40 AM.
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