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05-23-2009, 08:04 PM   #1
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Pentax MZ-60/ZX-60

MZ-60/ZX-60
Year introduced
2002
Mount
KAF with limitations (cannot use A, M and K lenses)
Meter range
4 - 21 EV
Meter pattern
m
ISO range
6 - 6400
DX ISO range
25 - 5000
Exposure modes
P, Av, Tv, M, B
Exposure compensation
No
Exposure memory lock
Yes
Shutter speeds (auto)
30 - 1/2000s
Shutter speeds (manual)
30 - 1/2000s
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
None
Self timer
Yes
Mirror lock-up
Yes
Auto bracketing
Yes
Multiple exposures
No
Winder
Built-in 1 fps
Built-in flash
Yes, GN 11
TTL flash
Yes
P-TTL flash
No
Sync speed
1/100s
Flash exposure comp
No
Autofocus
Yes
Autofocus sensitivity
0 - 18 EV
Power zoom
No
Viewfinder
0.77x, 90%
Viewfinder type
Pentamirror
Diopter correction
No
Exchangeable screen
No
Depth of field preview
No
Image size
24 x 36 mm
Panorama format
No
Battery
2 x CR2
Battery grip/pack
Grip FG, 4x AA
Size (W x H x D)
136 x 94.5 x 63 mm
Weight
335 g
Comment
Program modes: Normal, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Action, Night-scene.
Extra flash functions: Contrast control.
Cannot use A, M and K lenses


Attached Images
         

Last edited by Ole; 05-06-2010 at 09:40 PM.
05-28-2009, 10:05 PM   #2
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Do not bother unless very cheap.

Very plastic and slow operation and does not fire the shutter unless an auto focus lens is attached. Still better than nothing and the camera did not have much to do with IQ in the film days.
05-02-2010, 03:06 AM   #3
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I used this camera for a black and white film photography course in College and put it through it's paces.

The first thing that stands out to me is just how plasticky this thing is. I felt a little uneasy at first putting lenses with metal mounts in the plastic camera mount. I later found it to be a non-issue but I could never feel too comfortable with it due to it's poor construction.

The menu system isn't too bad once you familiarize yourself with it; What sucks is how cheap the command wheel feels. It creaks when you push it!

The viewfinder is big, but otherwise dim. With the battery-grip and four double-A's there's a nice heft to the camera and it feels good, despite it's plasticky-ness.

I found that sometimes I'd miss the moment I want to capture because the shutter won't fire until the camera confirms focus. This has happened to me a few times when switched to manual focus mode. It was frustrating.

Pros:
  • Can use all DA lenses with correct metering
  • Has a nice ergonomic feel
  • A great camera for someone familiar with DSLR's wanting to dabble in film

Cons:
  • Very plasticky
  • Not the best viewfinder
  • Noisy shutter / film winding
  • Shutter won't fire unless focus is confirmed by the camera

Overall I'd give the camera a 6/10. I'm not sure what it was with the 90's that made everything cheap and disposable but if this camera had a solidly built body it'd be a very slick rig. Unfortunately that's not the case and everything else suffers because of it.
05-07-2010, 11:46 PM   #4
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Pentax MZ-60/ZX-60 Camera Review

Pros Light, Mirror Lockup, Fast Focus
Cons Plastic Lens Mount, No DOF Preview, mirror motor failures
Rating 8
Price 99.00
Years Owned 1

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Strengths -
Uses the wonderful Pentax autofocus prime lenses
Very light
Mirror Lock Up
Inexpensive
Timer
Exposure memory lock
Fast Autofocus
Manual Meter settings

Weaknesses -
You cannot use any of the great manual focus lenses that Pentax has made over the years.
No depth of field preview
Built of Plastic (which is why it is so light)
Slow shutter speeds
Slow frame advance speed
Plastic lens mount
Mirror motor is prone to failure (plastic gear)

Camera Review
Even though I agree that this is a plastic camera, that isn't necessarily all bad. Having used this camera quite a bit over the past 4 months I feel I need to present an alternative view. But, before I go any further, I need to be perfectly clear. My review here is based on some very, very specific uses for this camera. It is pretty obvious that this little camera is certainly not for everyone, and would probably even offend some purists. But, within its niche, this is quite a decent little camera. In my opinion this camera has three distinct niches. As a backup camera, as a hiking camera and as a starter camera for someone who is looking for an inexpensive starter kit. With that in mind, lets get started with an alternative viewpoint.

Although it is certainly nowhere near the highest quality camera that Pentax ever produced this Pentax ZX-60 may be one of the finest backup 35mm cameras ever built. A back up camera is a camera you carry with you in case your primary camera breaks down. It needs to be able to use the same lenses, and take the same types of photographs as your primary camera. But it also needs to be light enough that it is very unobtrusive. For me this ZX-60 fulfills those needs perfectly. That is the main reason I own this camera. It is the camera I carry to backup my MZ-S. That may sound hard to believe but this little camera performs that duty perfectly.

But it is actually more then just a backup. It stands on its own in certain situations. When you are headed for the back country for several days, with everything you will need on your back, every ounce counts. If you pair this camera up with a light tripod, you may just have the finest hiking camera that Pentax has made. Sporting the Pentax F 50mm lens, loaded with film and batteries, and with the Pentax strap, this camera weighs 23 ounces, slightly less then one and a half pounds. This camera is light. The digital Olympus E410 is touted as a great hiking camera and it weighs 3 1/2 ounces more than this camera setup before you add a battery or a lens. Two weeks ago I took an early spring trip into the back country carrying this camera, a light duty Slik U9000 tripod and the F 50mm and FA 77mm lens. The camera worked perfectly and, although the film hasn't been developed yet, I sincerely doubt that you will be able to tell that the pictures were taken on a plastic, inexpensive Pentax.

For someone who really wants to be able to take the quality photographs, with the shutter response times that only a single lens reflex camera can provide, but can hardly afford the cheapest digital point and shoot, this camera provides an excellent alternative. The ZX-60 is currently available on the used market for about $40, and a decent 28-105mm Pentax autofocus zoom can be had for less then $60, so an entire package can be had for less then $100.00, even with shipping. Lest anyone take offense remember, a picture taken through that Pentax 28-105mm lens will look just as good whether it was taken on this camera or on the newest Pentax K7, maybe even better. And by spending a few more dollars on a little Pentax F 50mm f/1.7 autofocus prime, will provide a beginner with an excellent starter kit for very, very little cash.

Now when you begin to compare specs, on paper this little camera hardly seems worth considering. But this is one of only two autofocus 35mm cameras built by Pentax equipped with mirror lock up. The other is the flagship Pentax MZ-S, which can go for well over $600 (or more) even in today's digital world. If you like to take landscape pictures with your 35mm, you want and need mirror lock up. Obviously, there are several, very nice, Pentax manual camera choices which feature mirror lockup. But if you have trouble using manual focus lenses and want to stay with autofocus cameras, this is your only choice as a back up to the MZ-S, besides another MZ-S. Actually, if the MZ-S is out of your price range, it will be your only choice. Obviously the MZ-S comes with far more bells and whistles, some of them that are very, very handy, but this camera has the necessary features to take some very high quality pictures in its own right. If you do your part you certainly won't be disappointed by the results.

For me the autofocus on this little camera has been a wonderful surprise. It is amazingly fast. In fact, although I haven't timed it, I think it may even be faster than any of the other Pentax 35mm cameras I've used, even the MZ-S, and certainly faster then the digitals I've used. I shoot Nikon cameras as well, and they certainly have very fast and accurate autofocus. This is the only Pentax I've ever used where I felt like the autofocus could keep up with my F100. Of course, very low light causes problems as it seems to do with most Pentax cameras I've owned.

Although there are several exposure options available, you are not stuck with the pre-programmed settings with this camera. Aperture priority, shutter priority and manual metered settings are all available and reasonably easy to use as well. The controls are very simple and most everything is done through menus. You can even "push" or "pull" your film by changing the ISO settings if you want. Finally, although you cannot use manual focus lenses (see below) you can manually focus your autofocus lenses if you need.

The ZX-60 has exposure memory lock and auto bracketing as well. As you can see, it is quite a well featured little camera. But, as with everything, there are compromises and there are several that we should discuss.

First, this camera is built entirely of polycarbonate plastic, even the lens mount. Back when this camera was built that was most definitely a demerit, and in the minds of many it still is today, but I actually have a problem with this attitude. I love the well designed metal cameras from the past as much as anyone but we use plastic in almost everything we use today, with excellent results. Even though the use of plastics may not be as "aesthetically pleasing" as the construction of the older Pentax cameras, it is still very practical. Even the lens mount on the ZX-60 is plastic, and from what I read in online reviews and on almost all the forums, this is the ultimate sin. But again, I'm not sure that anyone has any real evidence that plastic lens mounts are any better or worse then metal ones. Maybe in 50 or more years this may prove to be a problem, but that is not even certain. It may turn out to be better if only because they do not corrode or dent. I do know that under normal use I doubt anyone would even notice if they weren't told. Having used this camera for the past month I can't say that I notice any difference. When I mount or dismount a lens it sounds and feels the same on this camera as it does with one using a metal mount.

The next compromise is certainly a bigger issue in my mind then the plastic construction. This camera has what is know as a "crippled lens mount". It can only use Pentax autofocus lenses. If you try to install the SMC Pentax 50mm f/1.4, the SMC Pentax M 50mm f/1.4, or even the SMC Pentax A 50mm f/1.4, or any of the hundreds of other Pentax K, M or A lenses, this camera won't even turn on. So there are lots and lots of great Pentax and 3rd party lenses that can never be used on this camera. For me, since my eyes are not good enough for me to do a good job with manual focus lenses, this was not really a big issue. Besides, there are some really great autofocus Pentax lenses. But for others this may be a deal breaker.

Another compromise is that there is no depth of field preview on this camera. For me this is a bigger problem then not being able to use autofocus lenses, but I have found that I can do without it. Where I have the biggest problem is when I'm shooting a macro lens. But I still seem to get the pictures I want, and when I don't it wasn't the lack of depth of field preview that caused the problem.

Now for the next issue. If you need blazing speed, go somewhere else. The ZX-60 will not satisfy a sports fanatic. It does lock focus really quick, but the speed ends there. The frame advance speed is a measly 1 frame per second. My K200D does better then that. And the shutter speeds stop at 1/2000s. In other words, don't load ISO 1600 film, go outside in bright sunlight, and expect to shoot wide open af f/2 or more, it just ain't gonna happen! But, I used my ZX-50 for years and didn't notice any problems, and the shutter speeds on that camera are identical.

Another compromise which could cause problems is the flash. This camera does have built in flash, although the strength is not all it could be. It is also capable of making use of some pretty powerful Pentax flash units. Although P-TTL is not available, TTL is with the right dedicated flash unit. This is all very nice but the compromise rears its head with the flash synch shutter speed. The fastest shutter speed that the ZX-60 can synch at is 1/100s. This doesn't really become a problem until you need to use fill flash in the daylight. Then this slow synch speed can cause all kinds of difficulty. Needless to say, if you use fill flash a lot, this may not be the right camera for you.

The final compromise is something you can't see or feel and may be the biggest problem of all. In Pentax's attempt to cut costs, the plastic construction continued inside the camera, and it isn't as benign as the plastic outside. All of these MZ and ZX models (except for the MZ-S) are plagued with plastic gears on the mirror motor. These gears are subject to stripping or breaking, and the ZX-60 is no different. When this happens the mirror locks in the up position and won't drop back down. It doesn't happen to every one of these cameras, but it is certainly a risk. In my reading it seems to be more prevalent with those cameras that have been allowed to sit for years, then picked up and used again. I have a ZX-50 that I have owned and used since 1999, that is sitting in the closet in need of this repair. There are replacement shutter motors available with metal gears, but the repair usually costs more then the cameras are worth. If you are very handy it may be worth it to try the repair yourself. This is a chance you take with any of these cameras. But I used my ZX-50 for ten years before the mirror locked.

In conclusion, for the money, and for very specific purposes, this is a very nice little camera. Is it a nicer camera then similar Nikons or Canons? I don't really know. Owning an inexpensive Nikon and an inexpensive Canon, this camera is at least their equal in my opinion. Since neither of the Nikons I own, or the Canon, have mirror lock up, then this camera has a leg up in my opinion. Is it a better deal then the other Pentax autofocus cameras? That is an even tougher question. But again, since most of them do not have mirror lockup, this camera is more useful to me. So, in my opinion, for these very specific purposes, the Pentax MZ-60 is a great deal. It is most certainly less expensive then most of the other cameras on the used market. If you need a backup autofocus Pentax camera, that has mirror lock up, this is about your only option, unless you are willing to spring the big bucks for a second MZ-S. Regardless of whether you like digital or film, I really believe that you will be hard pressed to find a better value than this little 35mm single lens reflex camera.

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