What's the life expectancy of a ZX-M?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by wolfee, Dec 8, 2007.

  1. wolfee

    wolfee Member

    Messages:
    15
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2007
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have bought several of these recently, used and new, assuming it is the last fillm camera Pentax will ever make. Is it reasonable to expect that they will work for 20 years, if well taken care of? Do these things have any known bugs or weaknesses?
     
  2. Jeffrey A. Steinberg

    Jeffrey A. Steinberg Member

    Messages:
    296
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2004
    Location:
    Scarsdale, N
    20 seems reasonable but the build quality just isn't what it used to be. If you are buying it to go with a bunch of Pentax lenses, then go for it.

    Personally, I would find a good K-1000 and have it CLAed. That should then be something that will last forever.
    If you are not into Pentax lenses then get an old Nikon F2 (tank) and have it CALed. Since it is all mechanical, it should easily last another 50 years if treat properly.
     
  3. wolfee

    wolfee Member

    Messages:
    15
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2007
    Shooter:
    35mm
    That's it, I have Pentax lenses only. The thing seems simple enough, but the lightweight construction doesn't inspire confidence. I am mostly a snapshooter and need some type of exposure automation. I asked the Pentax service guy about reliability and he told me they never see them for repair at the shop. But, he wasn't sure if it was because they never break or they are so inexpensive people don't bother to have them worked on.
     
  4. Jeffrey A. Steinberg

    Jeffrey A. Steinberg Member

    Messages:
    296
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2004
    Location:
    Scarsdale, N
    Ok, I would still recommend a K-1000 or an ME or ME super. Much better build quality.
     
  5. Jerry Thirsty

    Jerry Thirsty Member

    Messages:
    283
    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2004
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Personally, I don't have a good feeling about the longevity of the ZX line. Everything I've read says that they are prone to developing frame spacing problems, and when that happens an expensive and major overhaul of the film transport mechanism is required. Given that there is a fixed quantity of spare parts left, and that the problem is endemic to the entire line, I would guess that the spare parts will run out and the bodies will simply be non-repairable. I've seen repair prices quoted around $200, so I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of them never actually get sent to Pentax for repair.

    On the other hand, if you have several of them (3 or 4?), if you only use one at a time and store the others (occasionally exercising them) you could very well have 20 years before the last one dies.
     
  6. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

    Messages:
    2,411
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Van Buren, A
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    The life expectancy of any camera that uses electronics for exposure are limited by the life of the capacitors in the electronic circuits. I am not aware of any capacitors that will normally last for 50 years. Best to get an all mechanical camera.
     
  7. polaski

    polaski Member

    Messages:
    104
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2006
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have a ZX-M. It was delightfully lightweight and small, carrying it around Bar Harbor, especially with the 40mm pancake lens on it. That said, its pricing would lead me to simply buy another rather than to have it repaired.

    With a full line of Pentax lenses (and M42 mounts), the K series would be your best bet. I have two KX bodies. I've thought of replacing my ME Super, but the electronics can be hinky if they need repair. The K1000 is legendary. The KX has several more very desirable features for a mechanical camera. Funny how the market works: sometimes you can pick up a decent KX for less than a K1000. Give it some thought. (The K-series bodies are also good for self-defense.)

    (Yes, I use all the old lenses with Pentax DSLRs, but I'm seriously thinking of going even further back in time and looking for an Asahiflex. It's pre-M42 mount, and would be a luxury acquisition, if I could find a good user.)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 11, 2007
  8. wolfee

    wolfee Member

    Messages:
    15
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2007
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks for all your input. I had an ME Super for 20 years but a dunking in the Amazon did it in. Actually, I hosed it off and it still worked when set on 125X! I think I'll continue collecting the ZX's. I want the automation for a Zeiss ZK without worrying about the day my LX starts showing me the feared and dreaded sticky mirror.
     
  9. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

    Messages:
    960
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2005
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Send it to Pentax for a CLA *now*, and if it's an early production model, ask them to upgrade it as necessary to avoid sticky mirror. The LX has been off sale in the US for quite a few years now. If yours is one of the cameras that's prone to sticky mirror and you wait until it happens, you run a substantial risk that by then repairs won't be available.