Pentax's Best 35mm K mount SLR?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by brofkand, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. brofkand

    brofkand Member

    Messages:
    514
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have owned 5 of them: the LX, the MX, the K1000, the MZ-7 (autofocus), and the P30T. Of all these, I say that for general everyday shooting the MX is tough to beat. The shutter releases so beautifully and with very little recoil. It's very quiet, and the size and weight were initially reasons I decided against it, but now that I own one I love it. I love the secret mirror lockup function, and the ability to run without batteries.

    The LX is another contender: better metering system, more available accessories, weather sealed. The problem is, although it is small compared to an F3, it's still much bigger than the MX. It's a beautiful camera, and I love it's Aperture-Priority mode, but the shutter is much louder. Rewinding film isn't silent like the MX; the camera counts each frame backward. Cool feature but makes the camera noisier as it grinds backwards to 0. And forget about using the Winder LX: every time i use that thing the cat runs away and people next door turn their lights on to see what the commotion is about.

    P30T: updated K1000 essentially. Cheap and lightweight. Good viewfinder. But only sets ISO by DX. No manual ISO override. Makes this camera a non-starter for me, since I don't want to reuse scavenged cartridges or scratch off the paint on my non-coded cassettes for my bulk film. Other than that, a good camera. I love that the shutter speed dial is flush with the body, but accessible by a ridge on the front of the camera. The rewind crank is pure plastic which worries me. Seems just as, if not more, quiet than the MX. All-plastic so no light seals to turn into tar and stick on your film.

    K1000 is certainly Pentax's best selling camera (probably in history, even to modern day). Best selling doesn't equal best, look at Microsoft Windows. Doesn't need batteries unless you want metering. Later Chinese models had tons of problems.

    MZ-7: tiny viewfinder. Autofocus is good, but does you no good with M-series Primes. Toggle switch instead of dial makes selecting shutter speeds tedious. Motor drive is very loud.

    What do you think? Is one of these Pentax's best in your mind, or is a different body I didn't mention their best?
     
  2. Pioneer

    Pioneer Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,595
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Location:
    Elko, Nevada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Best for What?

    I guess it depends on what you need. For me, it boils down to two cameras.

    First, the K1000. If what you are looking for is a totally simple, SLR that will take just about any picture you want without intrusion, the K1000 (or the KM) is that camera. If you know enough about light to get your own shot then the K1000 can do it for you.

    Now, if you need some additional features then I vote for the LX. It comes with a bleeding edge full frame, interchangeable sensor. ISO sensitivity to 3200. 20 megapixel plus resolution (depends on the sensor you choose). Solid, compact, weather resistant, all metal body. Supports every lens that Pentax has ever manufactured with the exception of a few of the early 39mm screw mount lenses and some of the later DA lenses without aperture rings. Magnificent, off-the-sensor, center-weighted metering that is sensitive and accurate within a range of -6.5 EV to +20 EV. Clear, pentaprism viewfinder with 98% coverage and split prism focus assistance. Interchangeable viewfinders and screens. Battery life that is measured in years, not number of shots. Dedicated synch port for studio lighting.

    I choose them both, and use them based on my mood for the day.
     
  3. ME Super

    ME Super Member

    Messages:
    1,151
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2011
    Location:
    Central Illi
    Shooter:
    35mm
    That depends...

    If you're looking for a camera that can be used without batteries, the K1000 is probably a good bet.

    If you want some automation and don't care if you need batteries, the ME Super with its 4s-1/2000s shutter speed range and small size is a sweet camera. The P30T isn't bad but I don't like that there's no such thing as exposure compensation on that body. If you want exposure compensation you have to go into metered manual mode. And as a previous poster said, no film speed override, film speed is set by DX code only.

    Right now my favorite AF body is the PZ-20. It has DX code override, reasonable AF, Tv/Av exposure modes, 5 programmed AE modes, 4 of which have the ability to have the program shifted, and a bunch of other bells and whistles that I'll probably never use. I can also use non-A lenses on it. And if I so choose, I can turn all (or part) of the automation off.
     
  4. Felinik

    Felinik Member

    Messages:
    428
    Joined:
    May 13, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Have a look here:

    http://www.pentaxforums.com/camerareviews/

    I only have bodies from the MZ series (MZ-M , 5n, 6, 7, 50) so if you have any questions about those you're welcome. The two I use the most are the MZ-M (manual focus, split prism, great for manual lenses) and the MZ-6 (which is the most modern of the ones mentioned, AF and with P-TTL as found on modern DSLRs).

    The MZ-6 is kind of the "older brother" to the MZ-7, more features etc.

    Cheers
    /J.F. Felinik
     
  5. brofkand

    brofkand Member

    Messages:
    514
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I wasn't really asking which camera I should buy, as I already own enough Pentax SLRs and probably won't buy any more for a while (the only one I am remotely interested in is the MZ-S, but I don't have any autofocus glass so I'm not that interested). I just wanted to start a discussion on some of the greats in Pentax's past; the LX, MX, K1000, etc.

    I haven't used a stinker with the Pentax name yet. They've all been well-made, well thought out cameras. And the lenses are fantastic as well, especially my SMC-M 100mm f/2.8.
     
  6. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

    Messages:
    2,245
    Joined:
    May 10, 2006
    Location:
    Aurora, IL
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The LX is certainly a nice camera and I don't argue if one said that it's the best. But other than that I would say the MX or KX must be of much higher ranking than the K1000 for a mechanical camera.
     
  7. brofkand

    brofkand Member

    Messages:
    514
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree with Chan. The K1000 I think is overrated since it's so popular. It's only popular because it was an inexpensive, bare-bones camera for beginners. Nowadays college photography professors often recommend students buy used K1000's, which has kept the price high. You can get an MX or KX for the same cost as a K1000, maybe even cheaper.

    I got an MX and 50 f/2 off Craigslist for $40 yesterday.
     
  8. paul ewins

    paul ewins Subscriber

    Messages:
    418
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Melbourne, A
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    In the manual focus era there is the LX which is just a joy to use, especially with the FB/FC finder, and then the MX with just the features you need in a tiny package. For auto focus it is the MZ-S with all of its technological features and then the MZ-3 or MZ-5n for the traditional dial layout for manual control (how I hated the single control wheel of my Z70).
     
  9. Pioneer

    Pioneer Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,595
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Location:
    Elko, Nevada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That is what everyone says and yet I think you miss the point. I think the reason that the K1000 is so popular is because it is "an inexpensive, bare-bones camera". Forget the beginner stuff. And it is a Tough camera, with a capital "T". Even the cameras that we put down because they were built in China are still tough, capable, SLRs.

    There are tons of people out there today, myself included, that would buy "an inexpensive, bare-bones" digital SLR that worked just like the K1000. Unfortunately it would probably cost more than I can afford to get that level of simplicity built in to a digital camera today. Don't kid yourself, it is specifically that simplicity, that lack of automation, in the middle of a complex, digital world that makes that camera so popular.
     
  10. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

    Messages:
    2,245
    Joined:
    May 10, 2006
    Location:
    Aurora, IL
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The KX if not the MX also is just as tough if not tougher than the K1000. Often, especially the KX can be had for less than the K1000 and yet in the late 70's the KX was selling for about twice the price of the K1000 new and it was worth it. The KX and MX have some more features than the K1000 but not added any more automation, complexity. The added feature of the KX vs the K1000 is mirror lock up, DOF preview, meter switch, SPD light meter vs CdS in the K1000, aperture and shutter speed readout in viewfinder. None of these features you can call nonsense nor added complexity.
     
  11. Pioneer

    Pioneer Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,595
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Location:
    Elko, Nevada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Oh I don't disagree with you one bit. I own at least one of each of the K's. To me they are all great cameras and I love using all of them. I even love the poor, misunderstood little MX that has always lived under the shadow of the LX. Probably a name recognition thing. LX sounds luxurious, MX sounds like a missile. :laugh:

    But the only one of that entire batch that people relate to on a name basis is the K1000. And they know that it is simple, tough and easy to use. Heck, the name ooozes simplicity. So they go looking for them, and buying them. They are not Pentax connoisseurs (had to go look that one up :blink:) so they don't recognize or care about the rest.
     
  12. Chrismat

    Chrismat Subscriber

    Messages:
    653
    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Location:
    Brewer, Main
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The K1000 was my first slr so there is a nostalgia factor for me. Some of what I think are my best images I shot with the K1000. I bought my first one in 1982 only one cla, still goes strong, the other in 1988. A few years ago I bought a KX, I was so impressed with it that I got another one. I've owned an MX, LX, K2, all great. The only gripe (minor one) with the LX is I wish the body was a little taller. I don't have large hands, but I do like the larger size of the K1000 and KX. The MX is just too small for me despite its nice viewfinder, although it felt great using it with a winder. The LX for me is that last of the Pentax cameras that I really like. I was never all that impressed with their line up from the early 80's on.

    My fondness for Pentax is what lead me to buy a Pentax 6X7 as my first medium format camera, still use and love it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 15, 2012
  13. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,800
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Me too. 1978. 15 yr old boy with his dad, using his bar mitzvah money to buy his very first "serious" camera, at a shop on Kearny in San Francisco. Lusting over the Nikons but not able to afford. Got the K1000, a 55mm Pentax and a Vivitar 200mm. That body was a tank! Lasted me for years! That shop front is still there though it's been many other types of shops since. Passed it the other day, now siting empty with a big For Lease sign in the window, but the same counter is in the same place as 1978. I looked in the dark windows and pondered nostalgically at the exact spot my dad and I stood 34 years before...
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Pioneer

    Pioneer Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,595
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Location:
    Elko, Nevada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I do enjoy these K1000 stories. :smile::smile: Many, many people have them. Most of us have a favorite camera that we look back on with fond memories, some of us still own them today. It might be a K1000 but it could just as easily be something else entirely. Whichever camera it was, using it became second nature. I have been very fortunate to be able to use a lot of different cameras over the years, Nikon, Sony, Canon, Pentax, Minolta (still have a couple of them), some of them very complex and some of them simple. They have all been very nice cameras. But I still end up returning to my K1000. I have owned mine since 1982 (don't quote me on that, my memory is not what it used to be:whistling:) and after all these years I am so familiar with it that it becomes just me and my composition when I am using it. Using it is so simple and intuitive that it just fades into the background. It is my most used 35mm camera by a fairly large margin, although the LX is right there in the hunt. I wish I could say that it has made me a great photographer, but of course that isn't so. But I do love using it anyway.

    Have a great week y'all. I'll be out with the grandkids shooting film. Hope you will to...shoot film that is.
     
  16. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,523
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've used quite a few K mount Pentax cameras and the MX is my favourite Pentax model, but initially I used two Chinon CE-4 cameras, everything the ME/ME Super should have been small, light and with a better Manual/Automatic control of shutter speeds.

    Ian
     
  17. BobD

    BobD Member

    Messages:
    443
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2006
    Location:
    California,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The K2 gets my vote.
     
  18. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,206
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have an LX and MX (and a K1000, I'll get to that.)

    The LX is slightly bigger than the MX, not "much" bigger at least to my eye, though the difference can feel a bit more. It is indeed louder. I've never noticed anything about the rewind nor that it counts backwards - will have to note that. I don't have winders for either so can't really comment on that.

    The LX is almost certainly the "best" camera ever made in K mount. Rugged, sealed, pro level features and metering (if only it had exposure memory lock, something Pentax has never seemed to understand.) The MX is the best manual one I have experience of. In a way I think I like shooting with it better, but the LX is more capable.

    The K1000 is not anywhere near the same league. In anything but sales numbers it's far from the best. It's ok, but it has absolutely nothing going for it where the MX doesn't best it, and at typically lower sale prices. Well it might make a better weapon being much bigger and heavier for less capability. It's not a bad basic camera, but I totally fail to see that it's worth anything like the prices it commands when other, better and more capable cameras are available for less money. (Mine was a gift.) A good camera in a way, but the LX and MX are great cameras.

    I DO understand the nostalgia and fond memories, certainly. But that doesn't make it a great camera, just the one many people had then. I just bought a Ricoh Singlex TLS not because it's a good camera (it's a heavy mechanical brick, stops down to meter, dim viewfiner) but because it was my first "real" camera. I took a lot of photos with it, some quite good, but that wasn't about the camera. It's just what I had learning, and I wanted another one. I think I paid $28 for it. Fond memories for me, yes! Great camera? Uh, no.

    I don't have any experience with the older K series.
     
  19. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

    Messages:
    2,245
    Joined:
    May 10, 2006
    Location:
    Aurora, IL
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The first camera does bring a lot of fond memories. The first camera I ever used was a Petri 7s and it belonged to my uncle. That is why I am always fond of it although I found it's very difficult to find a good used sample of the camera. The first camera I ever owned was the Nikon F2AS bought new back in 77 while making $5 an hour. It was stolen from me and today I found it's too hard to find a good used one at reasonable price. A reasonable price??? Yes something less than what I paid for it back in 77 new.
     
  20. Pioneer

    Pioneer Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,595
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Location:
    Elko, Nevada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I believe it is more than just nostalgia. And I do consider the K1000 a great camera.

    I compare it to the Volkswagen. It is not a Porsche and it is not a Ferrari and it was never intended to be. It was intended to be a very inexpensive way to get the masses into a basic motor car. And that is really all it ever was. It should never have stayed in production as long as it did, but it did. It would probably still be out there if our Government hadn't killed it with regulations. The Volkswagen is a great car even though it was not a fancy car with lots of bells and whistles. It is still popular. Not everyone wants one but enough people do that there is a thriving aftermarket for those cars. How many 1964 Ford Fairlanes do you still see driving around compared to VWs? Not many and yet the Fairlane was a far more expensive vehicle at the time.

    Ditto the K1000. It was never intended to be a K2, an LX or a Nikon F. But it was designed to be a low priced way to get people using Pentax cameras. And it worked beyond Pentax's wildest dreams. It should never have stayed in production as long as it did, but it did. For all practical purposes it is still in production as the Vivitar V3800N. The only thing that could make the feature set more simple would be to eliminate the meter, and even that was a simple, tried but true, CdS cell. True, a lot of it is due to it being used as a student camera. Face it, it is the people's camera. And because of that, if for no other reason, it qualifies as a great camera. And it is also still popular. Which keeps the prices higher than other cameras from that same time period that had far more features.
     
  21. ME Super

    ME Super Member

    Messages:
    1,151
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2011
    Location:
    Central Illi
    Shooter:
    35mm
    There were three things that got my attention in comparing the ME Super to the K1000:
    1. The ME Super has an auto exposure mode. The K1000 doesn't.
    2. The ME Super has a higher top-end and lower bottom-end shutter speed
    3. The ME Super showed me the shutter speed in the viewfinder.

    The advantage the K1000 had over the ME Super: All shutter speeds were available with no batteries. But then the ME Super used two button cells that lasted for years so that was less of an issue.
     
  22. Chrismat

    Chrismat Subscriber

    Messages:
    653
    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Location:
    Brewer, Main
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What I like about the K1000 is how uncluttered it is. Don't get me wrong, I love the extra features the KX has, (mirror lockup, self timer,etc.) and I use the KX more now than the K1000, but I love holding the K1000, it just feels a little better to me in my hands. Pioneer is right about the K1000 being (at the time) the low priced way of getting into Pentax, it worked on me. I remember the day that I bought my first one, I was just enrolled in a photo course and the local electronics store had a bunch of different brands and I was leaning toward Nikon. The only Nikon camera at the time that I could afford was the EM and that was aperture priority only. My instructor had suggested making sure whatever I got had a manual option so I ended up buying the K1000 and that did it.
     
  23. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

    Messages:
    1,213
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2010
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    How about an LX with a fast lens . . .

    [​IMG]
     
  24. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,206
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My first car was a Volkswagen. It sucked. I HATED that car. Later had a Rabbit - it sucked too. I've been down on VW ever since. YMMV. :wink:

    I do have a "later Chinese" K1000 and maybe that's part of it. It works fine but it feels big, clunky, and frankly cheap. Not inexpensive, cheaply made. The MX feels like the fine machine it is. The LX feels like a refined combination of mechanical and electronic tech which it also is, but the MX does have that silky smooth feel of an all mechanical device that is just right.

    The K1000 was/is great in the success department, because when it was new it was an inexpensive camera that did what it was supposed to do quite well. I understand that. It's the current prices that I don't understand.

    Or at least, that was true when I bought my MX, which I believe I paid $79 for in BGN condition (and it looks nearly new, an "excellent" in anyone else's grading) while K1000s were well over $100 in BGN. But right now I don't see a chrome MX on their list, the black ones are absurdly more than the chrome as they were far more rare, and the K1000s are showing $79 BGN, $115 EXC. For the same price I'd take an MX any day, but I think that's less than it was when I bought my MX. (I wasn't going to buy a K1000, I was looking specifically for an MX, I just remember being shocked at how much more the K1000 was.)
     
  25. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,800
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My first car was a '77 hand down Buick Regal. But my next car was a bright red '81 VW Scirocco with GTI wheels and Pirelli P6 tires. My god how I loved that car!

    I can picture myself in one of those totally cheesy old "what kind of man reads Playboy" magazine ads from that era: Scirocco parked on a cliff overlooking a sunset over the Pacific. Me with my Dan Tanna shades on, velour v-neck, tight Britannia jeans, and my Pentax K1000 over my shoulder. Oh, and a babe on the hood of course.....ha!
     
  26. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

    Messages:
    1,213
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2010
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The quality of construction and mechanical refinement of the Original can be appreciated even today. The only automation anyone needs is an instant mirror return . . . :whistling:

    [​IMG]