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Pentax MZ-5N

Vasudevan Navneeth , Mar 13, 2010; 12:30 p.m.

Been using a Pentax LX for sometime. Want to change the camera esp as Film SLR prices are dropping. Thinking of buying the MZ-5N (dont want to jump into Digital yet). Adorama is quoting $ 200 for the body. Is this a resonable price?
Please suggest reasonable lens combo (dont want to sink 2 much) for the same. From wideangle to maybe 200 or 300 mm


John Shriver , Mar 13, 2010; 02:17 p.m.

That's high. A ZX-5n from keh.com in Excellent+ condition is $105. (The MZ and ZX cameras are identical, different branding for different retail markets.)
Adorama's used prices are all over the map, some too high, some low. They (and B&H) are much more keen on new equipment.
That's an excellent choice from the Pentax autofocus film bodies. It has KAF2 mount, not crippled, so you can use any lens (other than the cropped-sensor "D" lenses) on it. The only more desirable autofocus film bodies are MZ-3/ZX-3 (rare as the dickens), and the top-of-the-line MZ-S (easy to find, but pricey).
The MZ-7/ZX-7 are also OK, but you don't get a shutter speed dial.
The Pentax-F and Pentax-FA primes are fetching quite high prices for use on Pentax digital cameras. You can't really get any of them for less than $300, many are $600 and more. The cheaper -F and -FA zooms can be very good value, since their ranges are awkward on cropped-sensor digital bodies.

Andrew Gilchrist , Mar 13, 2010; 03:39 p.m.

As John said, that's too much for a MZ-5n. The lenses you use on your LX should also work fine on this body. I assume that you're looking for autofocus lenses...the FA20-35/4 is a pretty good ultra-wide. First choice for film standard zoom is FA24-90/3.5-4.5. On a budget, the F28-80/3.5-4.5; extra-small, F35-70/3.5-4.5. Some like the the petite (but not quite as solid-feeling) FA28-70/4, though I prefer the others more. First choice for autofocus tele zoom is F70-210/4-5.6. Especially with the larger/heavier of these lenses you might want to seek out the cheap Fg AA battery grip ($20-25) which improves handling and allows use of cheaper AA batteries.
John mentions the MZ-7/ZX-7; I'd say go for the slightly better MZ-6/ZX-L as they are similar but add DoF preview, better shutter (1/4000 & 1/125 x-sync), P-TTL flash support, auto-bracketing, and a spotmeter (though it's somewhat limited by being available only in AE modes via AE lock button). I actually like the non-traditional control layout on these cameras. Main drawbacks vs. MZ-5n is the slightly smaller viewfinder and that you don't get direct selection of metering mode. I think ZX-L might be a little more durable though as the MZ-5n has a tendency to strip an ill-conceived plastic mirror motor gear.

Alan Clayton , Mar 13, 2010; 05:34 p.m.

The MZ5n is a very nice (quiet, light) camera, but fairly old and there are numerous reports of sudden failure in the mirror-box (as mentioned). The average price from dealers in the UK is £70-99, so even allowing for an unfavorable exchange rate, I think US$200 is way off the mark.

I am not a fan of Pentax AF lenses, particularly when compared to the earlier manual focus lenses, and from experience would only recommend the FA 43mm f1.9 LE and FA 28-70mm f4 AL lenses. I do use a Tokina 20-35mm f3.5-4.5 (first non-AT-X version), which is a fine lens - other Tokina AF lenses, such as the early AT-X 28-70mm f2.8 would probably be fine on the MZ5n, but the later (and much larger versions) might be just too heavy to give really good handling. As Andrew suggests the battery grip is possibly a "must-have".

BTW, The MZ5n focus confirmation when using manual focus lenses is ok, though not always effective.

Mendel Leisk , Mar 13, 2010; 08:38 p.m.

I've got one, with the Pentax 50mm f1.4. Very compact and light, the controls are on the body, traditional. The diminutive lens make the f1.4 glass look impressive. Haven't used it in years though, since I picked up my first digital slr, a Canon 20D. Maybe I should, throw in some fresh batteries and some Tri-X ;)

Vasudevan Navneeth , Mar 14, 2010; 08:56 a.m.

Thanks for the response. I will uptrade now and buy the MZ-S rather than buying indermediate stuff. Amazon is listing the MZ-S body alone it for $ 415. Keh/Adorama is listing the same at about $ 450 rating EX. Any idea how the camera would be at these prices.
Would Amazon or Keh or Adorama be better?
As regards lens i am going for the 24-90 /3.5....

Andrew Gilchrist , Mar 15, 2010; 04:09 p.m.

Vasudevan, I'll suggest that if the MZ-S BG-10 grip is of interest, you might want to try to find one with the camera--they can be somewhat hard to find separately (I ended up buying via yahoo Japan auction, a relatively difficult & time-consuming transaction). No idea who that seller on Amazon is. Consider that KEH is generally honest when determining item condition and that they are good about accepting returns if there's an issue. As I said before, I think the 24-90 is a good match for a MZ-S standard zoom. The 24-90 and MZ-S body are sold together often on e-bay, you might find a deal if you're patient. Anyway, the MZ-S is a really nice, solid body, really in another league when you compare them vs. the other lightweight plastic MZ/ZX bodes.

Mike Gammill , Mar 20, 2010; 11:06 p.m.

With its convential shutter speed dial the transition from an LX shouldn't be too bad.

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