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04-09-2010, 08:02 AM   #1
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User opinions on Pentax MZ-S

A general question here... I've heard that the MZ-S is the best (top-of-the-line) film SLR Pentax ever produced.

As a newcomer to the Pentax world (I've used every other major system but Pentax - please don't hate me!) I'm curious what opinions people who have used this camera have.

This is a personal research question too. I have a Nikon F6 and once owned a Canon EOS-1V (both the best film SLRs for their respective companies) and would love to try a MZ-S.

04-09-2010, 08:23 AM   #2
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what i like about the camera:

space-age look, it definetly looks the part

solid construction

awesome metering


what i dont like about it

for full functionality only accepts lenses with an aperture ring, can use DA lenses or third party lenses that would otherwise cover a full frame but no aperture ring! (like some sigmas)

rather small when compared to other cameras, if you have big hands, you always end up holding it with your curled fingers rather than with your hand.

i love it!

its a bit overpriced.. but such is the world.
04-09-2010, 09:52 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by master381 Quote
A general question here... I've heard that the MZ-S is the best (top-of-the-line) film SLR Pentax ever produced.

As a newcomer to the Pentax world (I've used every other major system but Pentax - please don't hate me!) I'm curious what opinions people who have used this camera have.

This is a personal research question too. I have a Nikon F6 and once owned a Canon EOS-1V (both the best film SLRs for their respective companies) and would love to try a MZ-S.
For use with lenses having an aperture ring, it's a great camera. Other lenses can be used too but you'll be shooting wide open. For everything else though, I've found it to be a great camera.. I guess there's some program mode settings that will stop a non aperture ring lens down but I haven't explored them yet.

Do be aware though.. Just like buying a Cadillac (to use an automotive analogy), you don't put K mart tires on it. Parts and accessories are expensive. That is, The the camera is designed with it's own set of accessories and only the ones made for That camera will work. The IR Remote F works with it if you have the BG-10 grip, for instance. If you Do use the grip however and use it enough, eventually, it'll pay for itself using rechargeable AA vs the CR2 batteries. I don't know what other pieces you may want but finding that bg-10 can get expensive.

04-09-2010, 10:45 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
For use with lenses having an aperture ring, it's a great camera. Other lenses can be used too but you'll be shooting wide open. For everything else though, I've found it to be a great camera.. I guess there's some program mode settings that will stop a non aperture ring lens down but I haven't explored them yet.

Do be aware though.. Just like buying a Cadillac (to use an automotive analogy), you don't put K mart tires on it. Parts and accessories are expensive. That is, The the camera is designed with it's own set of accessories and only the ones made for That camera will work. The IR Remote F works with it if you have the BG-10 grip, for instance. If you Do use the grip however and use it enough, eventually, it'll pay for itself using rechargeable AA vs the CR2 batteries. I don't know what other pieces you may want but finding that bg-10 can get expensive.

Ahh okay didn't know that about the MZ-S concerning the battery grip and the aperature ring. I thought lens such as the DA 70 ltd would work fine on the camera! I'm glad I didn't get it now. Hmm now where to find an MZ-S with a battery grip without getting ripped off :-(. Ebay wants an arm and a leg for the camera too.

04-09-2010, 11:18 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by theperception2008 Quote
Ahh okay didn't know that about the MZ-S concerning the battery grip and the aperature ring. I thought lens such as the DA 70 ltd would work fine on the camera! I'm glad I didn't get it now. Hmm now where to find an MZ-S with a battery grip without getting ripped off :-(. Ebay wants an arm and a leg for the camera too.
I got the camera from a seller in the marketplace. The grip came from a New York seller (that escapes me at the moment), for $140 shipped. Too much? We'll see how much I use the camera to decide.. The grip has a shutter release on it and also mimics some of the other controls of the camera. In addition, the grip makes the camera very comfortable to hold. Yes, I think the ebay prices are out of line for a camera that is no longer supported by Pentax.

I bought a ZX-L to use my FF lenses that lack aperture rings (DFA100mm WR). Others will do it too but that camera came with some glass that I may or may not keep. The battery grip for that one can be had for as little as $10 but it's nothing more than a battery pack (Even at the $25 I paid for one in the MP, it is still a bargain compared to the CR2 batteries). I considered a PZ-1 or PZ-1p but the PZ cameras use a CR5 that is very pricey.

04-09-2010, 11:37 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
I got the camera from a seller in the marketplace. The grip came from a New York seller (that escapes me at the moment), for $140 shipped. Too much? We'll see how much I use the camera to decide.. The grip has a shutter release on it and also mimics some of the other controls of the camera. In addition, the grip makes the camera very comfortable to hold. Yes, I think the ebay prices are out of line for a camera that is no longer supported by Pentax.

I bought a ZX-L to use my FF lenses that lack aperture rings (DFA100mm WR). Others will do it too but that camera came with some glass that I may or may not keep. The battery grip for that one can be had for as little as $10 but it's nothing more than a battery pack (Even at the $25 I paid for one in the MP, it is still a bargain compared to the CR2 batteries). I considered a PZ-1 or PZ-1p but the PZ cameras use a CR5 that is very pricey.

Sorry master 381 for the short thread jack...

I have to say that the MZ-S is one good looking camera with the grip! I'll do some more shopping.

I'll look into the ZX-L as well. It certainly looks much more economical!

P.S. The Super Program is working like a charm. I'll finish my first roll of film in it soon and I'll post some scans when I get the film developed!
04-09-2010, 11:10 PM   #7
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thanks for everyone's input, great stuff!

wow cool... that aperture ring requirement is definitely nice to know. Is there a film Pentax that one would consider more advanced in some ways than the MZ-S then? Minolta Maxxum 7 vs 9 is what I'm reminded of here (9 was the top camera in name, but 7 was in some ways better).

as to the battery grip/power question, one can get cr2 batteries pretty cheap at batteryjunction.com, like 1 or 2$ a cell, so that may be an option if the battery grip is unavailable. the nikon f6 eats cr123s pretty decently, but battery junction saves me from 10$ / 2 pack at retail.

and yes, ebay for this camera is soo expensive and rare!

is the super program on the mz-s like the ones on the digital pentaxes? Like where you can override program and make the camera go to Aperture/Shutter mode without actually switching the mode dial (if i understand correctly)?
04-09-2010, 11:41 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by master381 Quote
thanks for everyone's input, great stuff!

wow cool... that aperture ring requirement is definitely nice to know. Is there a film Pentax that one would consider more advanced in some ways than the MZ-S then? Minolta Maxxum 7 vs 9 is what I'm reminded of here (9 was the top camera in name, but 7 was in some ways better).

as to the battery grip/power question, one can get cr2 batteries pretty cheap at batteryjunction.com, like 1 or 2$ a cell, so that may be an option if the battery grip is unavailable. the nikon f6 eats cr123s pretty decently, but battery junction saves me from 10$ / 2 pack at retail.

and yes, ebay for this camera is soo expensive and rare!

is the super program on the mz-s like the ones on the digital pentaxes? Like where you can override program and make the camera go to Aperture/Shutter mode without actually switching the mode dial (if i understand correctly)?
The MZ-S does have a programed AE mode but I haven't jumped too deep into it. You can download a manual from Pentax and get the full scoop. That's something I always do before buying Any camera, especially one as expensive as the MZ-S.

The Pentax AF Auto wind, electronic based cameras seem to eat through CR2 batteries pretty quick. I put a fresh set in my ZX-L and shot two rolls of film and the battery indicator is showing half gone (or half full). Once that indicator starts Flashing, the batteries are done and so is the camera (the shutter will not fire). That, in my view is a pretty strong argument for buying the grip, cheaply if possible. Most of the MX/ZX cameras will take the Fg grip but the MZ-S (And *ist) is not one that will. I've seen the BG-20 for the *ist for $30 tops, even from KEH. During my hunt, I saw the BG-10 for as much as $300. If you can find a camera with one, at a reasonable price, that would be the best way to go.

As much as I've railed against using AA batteries as a Reason to choose one camera over another, I have to admit that having a dual potential power source is nice a nice way to go. With the same rechargeable batteries I use for my flashes, and with a good amount of use, I expect those grips to pay for themselves pretty quick with savings over buying the CR2 batteries.



04-11-2010, 09:54 PM   #9
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i haven't really followed any questions on this thread, but i tried my best to address usability concerns in the 2 reviews i posted in the Camera Reviews section.

in short, it's a great camera.
04-12-2010, 09:51 PM   #10
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I bought one, sent it back as defective (used up new batteries in 3-4 rolls).

Also was unhappy with (1) the lack of aperture control, which makes quite a difference if you own many new lenses and (2) the fact that the data imprinting wasn't legible on Tri-X in Rodinal, my favorite combination.

Though it was a lovely little camera in many ways.

Details here: The MZ-S is going back...
04-13-2010, 05:49 AM   #11
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It's a great camera. But somehow I like MZ-3/MZ-5n better. Probably because I don't need those fancy features that MZ-S has while I like the look of MZ-3/MZ-5n better.
04-13-2010, 06:22 AM   #12
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I have one and it's great! Compact but not too small, great features and a supreme metering. Really, I stoped using spot or centre and only use matrix because it's so acurate, even in difficult conditions. It's like the camera knows what I want... (in fact, it does know, because it gives more ponderation to the zone in focus, when calculating matrix exposure). And it has great little details, like the red light in the mount for changing lens in the dark!

Anyway, about the usage of lens without aperture ring: you CAN use them! I recently aquired a Tamron SP AF 70-200mm/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro (latest model, got it new) and was p***ed off because it didn't have an aperture ring like my Tamron SP 28-75/2.8. But the lens was so great I didn't return it and used it in the PZ-1p (another great camera, former top of the line Pentax AF, but completely different from MZ-S). Then one day I tried it in the MZ-S just for the kicks thinking "no problem, I'll use it wide open only" (the lens is so great that at f2.8 it's really sharp). The thing is, without the aperture ring, the camera assumes that the lens is at "A" position, so you can use it in shutter priority and full auto modes. I mainly use aperture priority with other cameras/lens, but in fact, it's not to hard to use shutter priority to get the lens in the aperture you want - simply chose the shutter time you need to get the corresponding aperture you want.

So yes, it has limitations with lens without aperture ring, but it is (very) usable.
04-13-2010, 02:20 PM   #13
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some points good and bad:

-well built
-nice size
-good looking, why not
-shutter responsive and super gentle, no vibrations
-winding motor has very irritating sound, everybody hears you
-tv wheel on top falls precisly under the thumb, but needs 2 fingers to turn it...
-af is good compared to the one on my k10d, but it is way slower than the one on the canon 1d or nikon f6, esp in low light
-nice you can take in and out film half exposed
-2 sec mirror lock up
-nice you get exposure data printed on film, focal number would have been nice, too.
04-15-2010, 10:47 AM   #14
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MZ-s w/ grip = SOOO nice in the hand. Made me instantly feel like a pro. Good results from that camera, too. A LOT of features, many of which I didn't need. I traded down to an *ist for mostly financial reasons.
04-20-2010, 07:12 PM   #15
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I love my MZ-S and agree with what the others have said. The on film data printing is especially nice for digital contact prints. If I'm being honest, coming from an F6, I can't imagine you being all that impressed with anything but the diminutive size and Pentax's limited line of lenses. It's a great camera, no doubt, but that F6 is lust worthy. That said, I could definitely see the two complimenting each other well simply due to their size differences.
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