Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home

Closed Thread
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
05-23-2009, 07:42 PM   #1
Ole's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 4,287
Pentax MZ-5N/ZX-5N

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 memory lock
Shutter speeds (auto)
30 - 1/2000s
Shutter speeds (manual)
2 - 1/2000s
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

Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K20D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K20D  Photo 

Last edited by Ole; 10-31-2010 at 11:45 AM.
07-12-2009, 01:27 PM   #2
Senior Member

Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Bedfordshire, UK
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 187
I love this camera because it has a traditional look and command interface. Very stylish and it has everything in it for being a modern AF camera. 1/2000 sec shutter speed might sometimes be slow, but then you need MZ-3 for a bit more $$$. (Experience shows that most of the time you can get away with the shutter speed provided by an MZ-5n).
Also worth mentioning if you have a bigger hand than average you'll need the FG battery grip for better handling. The grip is also good for saving some money (uses 4 AAs instead of the pricey CR2s).
04-17-2010, 02:37 AM   #3
New Member
SSTed's Avatar

Join Date: May 2009
Location: College Park, MD
Photos: Albums
Posts: 4
The first thing i noticed when i bought this camera a few years ago was the Quiet Shutter, we all know that Pentax cameras are known for having a loud shutter......I hardly use mine now because of my Canon P&S digital cameras.

Hopefully, i get to use my ZX-5N today ( April 17th ). Last time i used it was at Clearwater, FL a few years ago before i got into digital.
09-24-2010, 07:30 AM - 1 Like   #4
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
Clarkey's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Brampton, ON, Canada
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,215
Pentax MZ-5N/ZX-5N Camera Review

Pros Tiny, good feature set, capable
Cons loud rewind, build quality not metal
Rating 8
Price (U.S. Dollars) ~$600 with a FA 28-200
Years Owned 9

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Excellent value, many modern features (bracketing, exposure compensation, three point AF, six segment metering), but retains traditional interface for setting aperture and shutter if desired.

Very portable. Compact dimensions and weight.
AF is *very* snappy and puts many modern D-SLR's to shame with FA lenses.
Quiet shutter/advance, but loud rewind.

DA lenses can be used in program or shutter priority mode.

Camera Review
This was my original 35mm SLR after the Minolta Vectis S-1.
I bought it for better access to the (then) very cheap M and A lenses.

It travelled with me everywhere, and coupled with a FA 28-200mm and M 1.4 50mm was a light setup to carry. I bought the Fg grip for it, which does allow for better handling and long/astrophotography shooting with AA batteries.

Metering is OK. You always get usable results, but it does take a bit more understanding to get the best out. Spot metering gave good results (and you have an AE lock button, which helps!).

I ended up shooting +0.5 EV comp when using slide film as I found scanning to be a bit under exposed. I found Fuji Reala or Agfa precisa excellent choices. The meter is fooled by high contrast scenes, but most are across the photography world! Good viewfinder. 1/2000 is fast enough (see helicopter below.

I wish D-SLR's were this light, and if I had to compare this with anything, it would be the Oly E-PL1 for portability.

Last edited by Clarkey; 09-24-2010 at 07:34 AM. Reason: Add some eye candy
11-14-2010, 09:58 PM   #5
Veteran Member
Steinback's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: GTA, ON, Canada
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 1,673
Pentax MZ-5N/ZX-5N Camera Review

Pros Inexpensive, good feature set, able to use lenses without aperture rings
Cons mirror gear is a weak point with a reputation for breaking, plasticy
Rating 8
Price (U.S. Dollars) 30 with battery grip
Years Owned 1

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Good value for a very flexible camera that is capable of using just about any K mount lens.

The user interface is very intuitive for anybody used to using a manual film camera. Shutter speed and exposure compensation are on dials, the aperture ring (if the lens has one) is used in aperture priority and manual modes, and all the information you need is displayed in the viewfinder.

The AA battery grip saves a fortune on batteries and makes the camera a little easier to handle, but it also makes the camera awkward to set down with short lenses - it tends to tip over forwards. I wouldn't recommend trying to support a heavy lens using the body or body and grip alone.

Camera Review
I bought this body specifically to use with DA lenses (knowing that I wouldn't be able to use Av mode with them). It also works well with older autofocus and manual lenses.

The following is an excerpt from an explanation I wrote for somebody on how to use an MZ-5n or ZX-5n in Tv (shutter priority) and P (program) modes with DA lenses:

"DA lenses don't have aperture rings, so on a ZX-5n body you can only use modes where the camera controls the aperture. The lens aperture is locked at the "A" setting and you can't change it manually.

In P mode (with the shutter speed dial on A and the aperture ring on the A setting for A, F, and FA lenses - the default for DA lenses) the camera sets both the aperture and the shutter speed that it thinks are correct. You can shift the exposure by +/- 3 stops in half stop increments using the exposure compensation dial and the camera will change both shutter and aperture as it sees fit to adjust the exposure. In all modes, the amount of exposure compensation you have applied is displayed in the viewfinder.

In TV mode, you move the shutter speed dial off of the green A (automatic) setting and choose the shutter speed you want. The camera will then choose the appropriate aperture setting automatically to get a correct exposure. If you think the aperture selected by the camera is wrong (or you want to over or under expose) you can use the exposure compensation dial to force a different aperture setting. If you choose a shutter speed that is too high or too low for the aperture range of the lens and the lighting conditions, the aperture readout in the viewfinder blinks at you.

In P and Tv you can use the exposure lock button (marked ML on the top right corner of the camera's back, near where your right thumb sits when holding the camera) to lock the camera at the current metered exposure. In Tv mode you can then adjust the shutter speed up and down with the shutter dial and the camera will keep the exposure the same by changing the aperture in the opposite direction. If you locked the camera at 1/60 and f/4, changing the shutter to 1/125 would cause the body to change the aperture to f/2.8 so that the same amount of light will hit the film.

Writing everything out makes using the camera sound more complicated than it really is. Your current settings are displayed in the viewfinder, the camera's meter is pretty good, and because the major controls are all on dials the camera feels very much like a manual film SLR with a winder on it."
11-29-2010, 02:13 PM   #6
Veteran Member
GhoSStrider's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: 14er Country
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 323
Pentax MZ-5N/ZX-5N Camera Review

Pros Great feature set; wonderful, classic layout; lovely ergonomics
Cons A couple design flaws wreck this one.
Rating 4
Price (U.S. Dollars) $40
Years Owned Less than a month

I can recommend this camera: No

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Value, features, performance and size all leave nothing to be desired...when the camera is working.

Camera Review
I've tried two ZX-5n cameras now, and it's incredibly frustrating to me, because I really, really like the concept of the camera. However, both suffered the fatal plastic gear flaw, and one came with the flash pop-up flaw. Unfortunately, because of that, I've really been turned off of the camera.

It's a shame, too. The ZX-5n is a joy to use when it's working. The classic layout on a modern AF camera is a most welcome departure from the norm of the era! Turning knobs to change camera settings is quick, direct and precise. I really, really dig this.

The ZX-5n feels nice in the hand, too. It's incredibly light-weight (based on the problems it suffers, possibly too much so?). It's nicely contoured, too. It's possibly the best AF film camera to hold outside of the Canon T90 I used to use. I never owned a ZX-5n long enough to try a vertical grip with it. I have a feeling the ergonomics would have been just about perfect for me if I had though.

I think one of these days I'll see about finding a ZX-5n with the updated mirror/shutter gear. It really is a camera that seems like it might be worth it (despite being a somewhat pricey fix for an obsolete film camera). I cannot in good faith recommend the camera to other users, though (unless they know that they're getting one with the better gear). In my experience, it's not a matter of if the camera will break...only when.
12-04-2010, 08:44 PM   #7
Forum Member
FlannelSpoon's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 59
Pentax MZ-5N/ZX-5N Camera Review

Pros Fast AF, Spot Metering, Auto TTL Pop-Up Flash
Cons The worry that all the cost-cutting issues will happen...
Rating 7
Price (U.S. Dollars) 40
Years Owned Since October 24th, 2010

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
-Fast AF
-Good Meter
-TTL Built-in Flash
-Fully compatible with A and earlier and DA (Non-SDM and 35-40mm or longer focal length) lenses
-Good Viewfinder (Compared to other AF offerings)

Camera Review
Having acquired a SuperProgram from my cousin in mid-2009 I got into Pentax film SLR's. Six months later I picked up a MX which made its battery-less operation useful when I ran out of batteries without my camera bag. Compared to these cameras the ZX-5n does not quite have the same feel, but it makes up for that with a lot more automation and rounds out my film camera collection.

Features I Love:
The ability to adjust metering modes, spot metering is great, the multi-segment metering seems equivalent to centerweighted and focuses on retaining proper shadows. The pop-up flash is the top reason I bought this camera so I could be done with dealing with manual flashes. The meter-lock is very handy especially with the spot meter. I have the date back which helps a lot with identifying when I took a certain picture and which camera it came out of. When I can afford to dip into slide film the auto-bracketing will probably be very handy. The ergonomics of the ZX-5n are also very good and is similar to the SuperProgram. The strap with the hidden pockets is also really clever. The auto-focus is noticeably faster than my brother's *istDS and the -5n feels more confident when focusing. Just moving the shutter dial or the aperture ring switches your shooting mode instead of have to use a dial and then another dial and button on the DS.

Features that are lacking:
The continuous mode, back in the day this might have made sense with cheap film, but now I never use it. Though the panoramic mode has helped with the composition of some shots, it really is not that useful and it seems like another thing to break. The flash "spring thing" and the mirror/film advance gear are prone to breaking as they are made of cheap plastic. All of the MZ/ZX series have these issues except the MZ-S. The manual focus lock indicator is very touchy and the lack of any real focusing aids in the prism makes manual focusing a chore. The balance of the camera is off and even the Fg battery grip does not help, easily tips when set down even with a small manual lens.

All in all this is more of a lazy/action film camera than a transition to dSLR camera. The ease of automation has also held back my creativity in composition as scenes that I would have thought about while making manual adjustments and then passed on, I now just take a picture in auto mode that is mediocre.

Edit: I forgot to mention that it has a PENTAPRISM! Amazing, right? About half of the ZX/MZ line uses pentamirrors which makes me sad.

Attached Images

Last edited by FlannelSpoon; 12-10-2010 at 11:16 PM. Reason: Forgot something...
12-06-2010, 12:56 PM   #8
New Member

Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: California
Posts: 8
Pentax MZ-5N/ZX-5N Camera Review

Pros small, light, panorama setting, AF
Cons small viewfinder
Rating 9
Price (U.S. Dollars) $65
Years Owned 1

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Cheap, small, and light with decent AF and panorama setting. Haven't had any problems with mine.

Camera Review
The main reason I love it is the size and weight. I can put it in one cargo pants pocket and stick a pancake in the other. Autofocus is decent, but not always the quickest (it's probably because I'm used to more expensive/faster Canon cameras). Though not essential, I've come to really like the panorama setting to help frame things a little different. I wish the viewfinder was a little bigger and had a split focus screen by default (like the ZX-M). These are minor things given the size, weight, and price of this camera. I think if you get this camera and put the ZX-M focus screen in it, you might have the perfect small SLR for manual and AF. Great camera...
12-18-2010, 11:12 AM   #9
New Member

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Michigan
Posts: 10
Pentax MZ-5N/ZX-5N Camera Review

Pros exposure control, lens compatibility
Cons primitive autofocus
Rating 10
Price (U.S. Dollars) not available
Years Owned 11 yrs

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Compact autofocus 35mm film SLR with program, aperture preferred, shutter preferred, and metered manual exposure modes.

Camera Review
Overall, this is probably the best film camera Pentax ever made, even though many individual specs are bested by other models. For example, it is compact for an autofocus body, but the film *ist is substantially smaller and lighter. It has a solid, professional feel with stainless steel lens mount, but an earlier generation's SV or Spotmatic is solider still.

Lens compatibility - It has better compatibility with older lenses than most later models, allowing one or more auto-exposure modes with any lens Pentax ever made. This contrasts starkly with the *ist, which will not even meter accurately with lenses that do not have an auto mode. The only downside is that newer lenses with no aperture control ring can't use aperture-preferred auto.

Autofocus - This was my first autofocus SLR and I was very impressed at the time. However, it does not have anything like the speed and confidence of today's systems. It seems to be insensitive to the contrast in horizontal lines and you will often find yourself tilting the camera to get the sensor to respond.

Exposure control - The place where this camera really wins is operating speed. Unlike any other auto program camera I have ever seen, it doesn't require changing a menu setting, or even turning a dial to change exposure modes. If you have a lens with an aperture control ring that has the auto setting, you can set both the shutter and the lens to auto for full program automation of exposure. When you want to specify the aperture, you don't have to go to a menu, press buttons, turn a wheel or look at a screen, you simply turn the aperture ring to the lens opening you want - and this act puts you in aperture-preferred mode. Conversely, if you want shutter preferred mode, simply move the shutter speed dial from auto to the value you want and start shooting. I can't emphasize how much difference this small time saving can make in a shooting session with fleeting opportunities. Finally, if you want full manual, you don't have to set a mode, you just set both shutter and lens to the values you want, just as Oskar Barnack would have done a century ago, but without ever having to take your eye away from the eyepiece. This is very important in some shooting situations.

To be fair, we have gained a lot of sophistication with the addition of data screens and multiple program modes, but there is a steep learning curve with every new camera and operating speed never quite equals that of the ZX-5n. I hope whoever designed this camera won a prize. It was recently available online for $95 - $180 (with Lens). Mine is not for sale.
Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
Nikon SUPER COOLSCAN 5000 ED  Photo 
12-19-2010, 12:32 PM   #10
Veteran Member

Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Winnipeg MB
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 350
Pentax MZ-5N/ZX-5N Camera Review

Pros A very versatile auto focus film camera, penta-prism viewfinder
Cons weak plastic mirror motor gear prone to break
Rating 8
Price (U.S. Dollars) free
Years Owned 4 months
I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
A light and small camera good for traveling

Camera Review
After reading the review here, I decided to acquire a copy of ZX-5n for myself as I didn’t have any auto-focus film camera. I contacted an ebay seller and he informed me that he had non working one with mirror locked up and would give it to me for free. This is a widely known problem among ZX series of cameras and has been discussed in the film SLR forum. I therefore prepared to tackle this problem myself as the price for professional repair is prohibitive. After replacing the mirror motor, I ran through a roll of film. I really like this camera; it has all the attributes the above reviewers already mentioned. The only weak point of this camera: “it's not a matter of if the camera will break...only when.” I will document the detailed steps how to replace the mirror motor.

Tool of the Trade: pencil tip solder iron (ebay $3 shipped from HongKong), de-soldering pump, #000 Phillips screw driver ($4 from RC toy store, Wiha or DuraTrax brand), tweezers, masking tape.
1. Remove the back cover by pushing the little screw attached on the top hinge. Cover the shutter area with a business card and tape. Keep a cap on the lens mount.
2. Remove the bottom plate. Put all the screws together and tape them on a sheet of paper; remember the screw at the lower side of battery door is shorter.
3. Remove all the external screws and tape them on a sheet of paper and write down where they come from. To free the top cover, there are 2 hidden screws need to be removed, one silver screw in the battery compartment and a black one in the film compartment. Remove the cover around lens mount and 2 plastic front covers.
4. Remove 2 screws of electrical contact to the back door with QD in the film chamber, tape the screws and clamp on the sheet of paper. Free the contact and pull on the bottom side. Use a felt pen to mark the screw location on the bottom metal plate, remove the screws and tape them back to the original hole on the plate. Tape the film transport gears. Remove the spring and a black plastic tube on the right side.
5. Lift up the top cover. If the camera has not been used for a long time, there shouldn’t be any charge in the capacitors. Otherwise, measure the voltage between the wires (green, blue) come from flash to the flash board. Un-solder the 4 wires. Make a drawing for the location on the flash board. Un-solder 2 black wires and a red wire on the battery contact right beside ON/OFF/SHUTTER switch. Make a drawing of solder location. Attach masking tape on the red wire indicating B+. Unsolder the pin at the edge of the battery contact; this is not connected to – of battery. There are 4 pillars near the prism housing connecting the flexible board to the flash board and 2 more at the back edge. Use de-soldering pump while heating the solder point. There are 6 more wires to un-solder on the flexible board near the ON/OFF switch. Again make the drawing, white, green, and yellow, red, purple, black (re-solder in reverse sequence). Bundle the 2 and 4 wires together with tape. Remove the screw near back edge. Lift up flexible board carefully. Underneath the circuit board, there is a black plastic support which is attached to a hole beside the prism housing, pull it a little and bend the circuit board up. Don't need to disconnect the red wire on the flash board. Remove 2 screws and pull out the flash board. Remove the screw on the DOF pre-view switch. (note: in models which do not have DOF button such as MZ-5 and 7, don't even need to remove flash board and capacitors.) Un-solder the black wire on lens mount.
6. Remove 2 screws on viewfinder eyepiece and 2 more underneath the eyepiece. There are 2 more screws on the bottom side between the mirror box and the frame, the one on the right side has a piece of metal attached to it. The circuit board is double-face taped on the prism housing; carefully pry it loose. Now lift up the mirror box a little, more on the gear box side enough to reach the lower screw. Remove all 4 screws. Un-solder the 2 wires on the motor, carefully open the gear box while pushing back the gear to its place. Make sure the yellow and green gears are synchronized by lining up the holes together. Remember the label on the motor is facing the front of the camera. Remove the 2 screws on the motor. Your are done. Assemble in reverse order.

Last edited by violini; 04-23-2011 at 11:30 AM.
Closed Thread

  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:52 AM. | See also:, part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]