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03-21-2009, 06:53 PM   #1
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Pentax MZ-S Usability Review

the MZ-S is usually considered the top Pentax AF Film Camera (although others may argue the PZ-1P). i have used mine for a few months now and so I feel qualified to discuss at least some of the usability characteristics.

for reference please also see my previous comparison article for more pictures

the handling
-in my prior article i had a bit of a complaint, but after using it more, it's really perfect for me. it doesn't have the chunkyness of the digital bodies, instead it's very slim.
-the right hand grip is curved so that the fingertips can grip the camera.
-the "humped" shoulders looks kinda weird, but in real life, it looks really good and easy to grip the top of the camera.
-the back display and controls are tilted nicely.

the battery grip
-the contours fit right on with the body
-takes 4 AA's
-left it on for days no problem
-really helps taking vertical photos now is super easy, as well there is the depth of field switch and another AE-lock button.
-there's some kind of remote control switch, never bothered to figure out what this does
-the attachment to the body is very solid.

-depth of field lever is like the digital bodies
-AF selection point is the strangest, requires pushing a small sliding switch and rotating the wheel, and the selected point is shown in the informational display in the viewfinder
-metering controls, blatantly obvious, but does not support Av mode on DA lenses. aperture has to be manually selected on the lens.
-rotating the dial will change the camera from P mode to Tv mode or Av mode to M, green button resets
-the dial around the LCD display is genius and has a useful lock on it as well
-changing ISO is easy
-drive modes easy, self-timer can be changed to 2s MLU
-indiglo backlighting is available
-AF button if you are so inclined to use it
-shutter release, is like a sponge, after using this for a while i prefer it to the more modern 'hard click' releases which may lead to a reaction, whereas, on this, it's just a firm squeeze
-flash button control on the opposite side of the lens release

extra stuff
-analog exif, independent of date back
-custom functions, there are plenty of them, the only real important ones to me are setting the Self Timer to 2s MLU and the Rewind Mode which i set to Leave the Leader out and enable MRC (which can wind the film to a certain spot)
-the shutter wind is fairly loud and high pitched, but the vibrations are well damped
-mechanical pop up flash, raised by pressing the button. supports TTL, P-TTL, Wireless and High Speed

-K-mount page says it's smaller than the other ZX Pentaprism equipped machines, however, i didn't notice this to be true. as well because the informational display is below the screen, instead of jutting into the view, the view is more clear.
-aperture and shutter are shown, as well as a bar on the right side for exposure deviations
-the soft rubber eyecup is nice

build quality
-believe it's a magnesium allow body (and also the grip too) and feels solid. the one common complaint is the plastic film door. kinda cheap, but i don't really mind as long as its doing the job.
-the battery door on the body is damn cheap, pentax should be ashamed of themselves for that.

metering and AF
-no problems metering at all, i've only shot negatives and the results have come out right all the time. might because of the flexibility of film. none of the underexposure complaints i always have with the K100D.
-AF, much faster than the K100D, although it can get lost sometimes do to lack of cross points. i usually stick to the center point. sometimes i need to hold the camera diagonally for a lock, no biggie.

the cost
-for fun, look up the used prices for the Nikon F100 or Canon EOS 3, cameras that are better than the MZ-S on features and capability. the market used prices are around $300. the MZ-S regularly sells for $500+. what's the deal? it's rare, well built, and the smallest of all those bodies, and the only one w/ a K-mount

the verdict?
-if you like AF and Film and K-mount, then this should be close to the top of your list

Last edited by k100d; 03-23-2009 at 05:55 PM.
03-22-2009, 04:10 PM   #2
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Thanks for your info

Is it the 43 lmt. you have mounted on it ?
03-22-2009, 04:50 PM   #3
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yessir, lots of PF from the K100D+FA35 combo tho
03-22-2009, 05:41 PM   #4
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Such a pretty.

03-22-2009, 06:39 PM   #5
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it's one of those things that kinda look ugly in person but makes ton of sense once you see it

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