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05-23-2009, 07:41 PM - 1 Like   #1
Ole's Avatar

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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
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Pentax MZ-3

Year introduced
Meter range
0 - 21 EV
Meter pattern
m c s
ISO range
6 - 6400
DX ISO range
25 - 5000
Exposure modes
P, Av, Tv, M, B
Exposure compensation
+/-3 EV
Exposure lock
Shutter speeds (auto)
30 - 1/4000s
Shutter speeds (manual)
1 - 1/4000s
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
Self timer
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Multiple exposures
Built-in 2 fps
Built-in flash
Yes, GN 11
TTL flash
P-TTL flash
Sync speed
Flash exposure comp
Yes (3 points)
Autofocus sensitivity
-1 - 18 EV
Power zoom
Yes, limited
0.8x, 92%
Viewfinder type
Diopter correction
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Image size
24 x 36 mm
Panorama format
Yes, 13 x 36 mm
2 x CR2
Battery grip/pack
Grip FG, 4x AA
Size (W x H x D)
135 x 90 x 61.5 mm
410 g
Extra flash functions: Contrast control (not confirmed)

Attached Images
05-08-2010, 01:53 PM   #2
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Location: Ankara, Turkey
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Posts: 390
Pentax MZ-3 Camera Review

Pros Light, capable, has 1/4000!!!
Cons None
Rating 9
Price 100
Years Owned 3

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
This is probably a camera with a limited number of copies around. It is very light for a camera that can shoot at 1/4000. It does need batteries to function. The original kit contained FA 28-70mm f/4 zoom lens, which is also light (and a very good performer as well).

Camera Review
I have the version with a silvery-look top. Those looking for a film SLR to shoot 135 film should be very happy with this one. It lacks the user programmable features. Other than that, it is a strong, light, dependable performer. This should probably be used with FA series zooms as earlier types (like the "A" series) will make the camera front-heavy.
Nowadays I rarely use this beautiful camera because when I use film, I prefer medium format. However, I can take the MZ-3 for a hike or a long walk any time...
05-08-2010, 03:54 PM   #3
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Pentax MZ-3 Camera Review

Pros Light, ttl flash, 1/4000 shutter speed
Cons limited availability
Rating 10
Price $106
Years Owned 1.5
I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Its a relatively compact AF camera with a top shutter speed of 1/4000. In addition, to that it supports ttl flash. I also like the classic style dials on the camera.

Camera Review
I have the black and silver edition with data back. The metering seems to quite good on this camera. It is somewhat compact which may make it slightly small for some people's hands. However, I find it just right with the optional grip. It pairs well with my FA 50mm f1.4. I held out for this camera rather than getting a capable but slower ZX5n although I was tempted by the PZ-1p. The MZ-s was too pricey for me.

With optional grip & FA 50mm lens:

Without grip:

From the back with grip in place:

12-15-2010, 10:39 AM   #4
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Location: Irvine, CA
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Posts: 480
Pentax MZ-3 Camera Review

Pros Beautiful, Incredible IQ, Awesome Viewfinder, Lightweight & Compact
Cons No In-Body Aperture Control, Impossible to Find
Rating 9
Price (U.S. Dollars) $200
Years Owned 2

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
This is a rare camera that I've never again seen for sale since I picked it up on the forums a couple years back from a forum superstar. With the ability shoot 1/4000th, it's slim profile, and lightweight, it's my go-to film camera, and I've taken it just about everywhere.

Camera Review
I first picked up this camera just because it was beautiful. I had been testing the waters of Film Photography after I got a bit tired of shooting with my K10D, and was really enjoying myself, but couldn't stand the light leaks I experienced from a K1000 and an ME Super.

Instead of getting another cheapo without autofocus, I opted to go big and purchased the MZ-3 from another forum member, and I'm damn glad I did! This camera has gone through environments it probably should not have been exposed to, including two trips to Death Valley (and treks through sandstorms on the Mesquite Sand Dunes), as well as reaching the tip-top of Mt. Whitney (highest mountain the lower 48).

I've dragged it from temps reaching the 100s, to temps in the low 20s, and never had a single problem. Autofocus is fast, crisp, and accurate (I would say more accurate, and far faster than my K10D). The viewfinder is bright as can be (and beautiful), and the camera itself is an ease and pleasure to work with, though I do miss in-body aperture control (not that badly though- I sold an excellent condition PZ-1p after passing only two rolls of film through it because I liked the MZ-3 so much more!).

The FA 28-70 f/4 produces incredible images with this body, and I use that lens just about exclusively with it. However, I have also shot excellent photos with an M 28 f/3.5, an A 50 f/1.7, an M 135 f/3.5, and an M 200 f/4. This is a workhorse camera capable of shooting incredible images, if you have the patience to set your apertures via lens rings.

Note: Shooting in "A" mode, the camera will autoselect aperture for you, but I prefer to have control over that.

If I were to upgrade camera bodies, the only change I would even remotely consider would be a movement to the legendary MZ-S, but at $400+ per body, the MZ-3 offers enough functionality and such incredible performance that I'm not planning on purchasing another body any time soon.

If you have the opportunity to buy one, don't pass it up.

01-03-2011, 07:15 PM   #5
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Arlington, MA
Posts: 135
Pentax MZ-3 Camera Review

Pros Ergonomics, light weight, 1/4000
Cons Viewfinder magnification, manual focus, durability
Rating 9
Price (U.S. Dollars) 184
Years Owned 0.5

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
A really ergonomic camera, all controls fall easily to hand, the traditional user interface is much nicer than buttons or menus. Non-crippled KAF2 mount. Autofocus is solid, 1/4000 top shutter speed is worth the trouble of finding this rather rare camera. Exposures have been accurate, as has autofocus.

Camera Review
I bought an ZX-7 for my daughter because it has push-button multiple-exposure. I expected it to be plastic junk, but was very pleasantly surprised. Since I'd bought a few Pentax-FA lenses for our *ist DS2 (50/1.4, 35/2.0, and 28/2.8 Soft), I figured it would make sense to have a matching film camera. So I decided to hunt down an MZ-3 to get the 1/4000 top shutter speed.

The controls are all incredibly natural to use. I think the viewfinder display is great, compared to the miserable LCD in the Super Program. The display is very readable, bright, and high in contrast, and packs in a lot of information in that's very well presented.

Built-in diopter adjustment is handy, works well.

The exposure compensation is easy to use. Auto-bracketing is a nice feature, I've used it several times when testing film speeds.

No settings are wasted on different modes, you just move the aperture or shutter speed off A, and you get the appropriate type of priority. Very natural.

While the autofocus isn't very sophisticated, it's faster than the *ist DS2. I've found it to be accurate.

The viewfinder magnification is reasonable, although pretty small compared to my MX. But the shutter speed dial is very easy to turn, where the MX has a annoying over-detented shutter speed dial, blocked by the wind lever.

The non-crippled KAF2 mount lets you use any Pentax K-mount lens with full metering. Now, it's not a great camera for manual focus lenses. I've swapped in the focusing screen from an ZX-M to get a split-image screen, which helps somewhat, but comes at the cost of losing accurate spot-metering. Of course, focus confirm can also be a useful crutch.

Of course, it is a "plastic wonder." Probably a disposable camera if something goes wrong.

I also swapped in the back door from the ZX-M, to eliminate the bulk of the stupid Quartz Date back. I'd already removed the battery from the back to prevent any risk of it ruining my pictures.

The price of the CR2 batteries is annoying, although not bad if bought from B&H or Adorama. The AA grip solves the cost problem, but at a serious penalty from the weight of four AA batteries. I prefer using it "flyweight" with CR2s.

Of course, the camera is totally battery dependent. That could be a stopper for many folks. The strap has pockets to store spare batteries.

The weak part on the flash is an annoyance. The replacement part is readily available.

The "Achilles Heel" is the gear on the mirror motor that shrinks and breaks. There's instructions on how to replace it, but it's a very ambitious repair, major tear-down required.

If you don't want to pay for the 1/4000 shutter speed, the ZX-5n/MZ-5n is otherwise exactly the same camera, and sells for incredibly low prices. The ZX-5n is extraordinary value.

Last edited by John Shriver; 02-22-2011 at 07:05 AM. Reason: Correct model name.
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