1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Pentax MX - the manual experience

Discussion in 'Pentax Chat' started by Bruco, May 17, 2005.

  1. Bruco

    Bruco Well-Known Member

    I recently posted in the Canon forum asking for suggestions for a fully manual second hand SLR (see post "Canon - Going Manual"). Bi-partisan lot that they are, I got a number of non Canon recommends and ended up the proud owner of a Pentax MX with 50mm f1.4 lens. I also promised I'd let them know how I got on with it, but for logical reasons would be relocating to the Pentax room.

    Having only previously used auto SLRs, I was a little apprehensive as I took it out to run my first film through it (the rather lovely Kodak Elite Chrome Extra Color 100). But I needn't have worried - I had a great time.

    First thing I noticed was how much more I had to think about what I was doing before firing the shutter. Sure, the camera's light meter tells me when I've got the correct exposure, but I still have to physically set the shutter speed and aperture, which makes me think about the creative consequences of both. This is in contrast with the AV or TV priority modes on an auto SLR where it's easy to forget the one the camera decides for you. Also, setting the aperture by mechanically turning the lens ring brings me more in touch with what I'm actually doing rather than setting a number on an LCD screen.

    I also have to consciously think "what am i focussing on?" and don't have those tricky moments when the autofocus picks something else or goes into an indecisive spasm.

    After a great snapping session on the South Bank, I had a slight crisis of confidence when I'd apparently taken dozens of pictures with no end to the film in sight. Had I screwed up the very manual film loading? I put the lens cap on and fired off the last few shots until the crank would crank no more, then rewound it.

    The results came back from the lab a few days later and I was gobsmacked. The pictures are just as good as those from my EOS3, and one of them (a surreally coloured Big Ben) is amongst the best I've ever taken.

    Despite being pretty old, all aspects of the camera seem to work except the self timer, but I can live without that. Not tested the hot shoe yet due to not having a flash, but that'll happen soon I'm sure.

    Conclusion - I'll keep my hi-tech autofocus SLR and will probably buy a digital camera soonish too. But the crusty old blokes who slaver over elderly cameras have a point after all.
     
  2. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Glad you like it. It's a nice camera indeed.
     
  3. GeoffC

    GeoffC Well-Known Member

    Errr, less of the crusty please. ;)

    I'm glad to hear you're enjoying it.
     
  4. mattie

    mattie Well-Known Member

    I don't know if you received a manual with it, but the are a few features that are not obvious on the MX. There is a DOF preview switch - simply push the timer lever towards the lens throat.

    Also, you can get mirror lock-up if you quickly tap the shutter release. This takes a little practise, but is quite repeatable after a while. I've heard this might stress the mechanism, but I've used it a few times (when I've been an idiot and forgotten the cable release) with no obvious problems.

    A great camera, lovely viewfinder and a very convenient size with the 50mm lens. The light seals on mine are perishing, your comments have reminded me I need to go out and get them fixed. Many thanks!
     
  5. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    Re: Pentax MX - the__Most Superb_ manual experience

    "Also, you can get mirror lock-up if you quickly tap the shutter release. This takes a little practise, but is quite repeatable after a while. I've heard this might stress the mechanism, but I've used it a few times (when I've been an idiot and forgotten the cable release) with no obvious problems."

    The only problem that may occur is if you are taking pictures in bitterly cold (-10C > -40C) weather as it really cold metal on really cold fingertips can be nasty.......... although not as nasty as say...if you decided to place your tongue on an MX in the same weather conditions :eek:

    Cheers and enjoy your MX in (warmish) climes.

    :)

    Jack
     
  6. Bruco

    Bruco Well-Known Member

    Yes, I downloaded a manual off the web, which has been very helpful (as well as amusing - it has been over-politely translated from japanese into English). Found the depth of field preview, but didn't know about the mirror lock up.

    Does anyone know roughly how old the Pentax MX is. By the design I'm guessing late 70s early 80s?
     
  7. huwevans

    huwevans Not Really Here

    From memory I think it was about 1977 - give or take a year maybe. I remember getting the brochures for the MX and ME at that time.

    A source I've just checked gives it as 1976, so I'm glad my memory was up to the job - on this occasion! :)
     
  8. mattie

    mattie Well-Known Member

    Re: Pentax MX - the__Most Superb_ manual experience

    I should stress that the mirror lock-up isn't a feature as such, it just seems to work - there may be some shared components with cameras that actually have this facility (the LX perhaps?), and by tapping the shutter lightly you can 'trick' it into working. Or it might be that the shutter and mirror require different pressures/duration of release to actually fire, and tapping the release fires the mirror but not the shutter. Still, it works for me most of the time!


    Hi Jack
    Much as I love my MX, I wouldn't lick it as I got it second-hand and I don't know where it's been!
     
  9. johnmcd

    johnmcd Well-Known Member

    If you want to know almost everything about Pentax K mount cameras, lenses and accessories then go here

    http://www.bdimitrov.de/kmp/

    cheers.
     
  10. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    Re: Pentax MX - the__Most Superb_ manual experience

    Morning Mattie,

    I hope you are wearing rubber gloves or wash your hands quite a bit [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Jack
     
  11. Bettina

    Bettina Well-Known Member

    Re: Pentax MX - the__Most Superb_ manual experience

    Glad Bruco is happy with his coice.

    Tapping that shutter release to get a mirror lock-up? Jack, are you having us on? [​IMG]
     
  12. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    Re: Pentax MX - the__Most Superb_ manual experience


    Morning Bettina,

    You know that "I" wouild never do that to you although I am not sure about those "Bath Boys" [​IMG].

    Seriously, it does work.

    [​IMG]

    Jack
     
  13. fulvio

    fulvio Well-Known Member

    EOS 3 ... THE AUTO EXPERIENCE

    Curiously, I am doing the exact opposite: using a fully auto Eos 3 after years of just using my two MXs ... and I am missing the MXs, which are small, light and beautifully designed. (Like you, I also use the slightly better quality 50mmm F1.4 - although it's actually a bit heavy on an MX compared with the very good F1.7).

    After three weeks, I still haven't got to grips with everything on the Eos 3, and I've only fired off six rolls. But I find it quite complicated when I move off Program mode. So, right now, using it can be slower for me than the MX - just things like insisting on wider/narrower aperture than the camera wants to give me. And I can't remember how to get one focus point as opposed to a cluster although I get there with a little playing around - whereas with the MX I just go up and get closer to the subject, set exposure, move back and press! Not sophisticated, but it works for me.

    On the other hand, the EOS 3 pics are pin sharp with the 28mm and 50mm Canon primes I am using. I had to use it for a job in Bulgaria last week - one of the few occasions when I do have to take pics for work - and the auto wind and auto focus meant I was quicker taking pics of people than would have been the case with an MX. I also fired off far more frames than I'd normally do, but then I wasn't paying for them.

    The real advantages of the EOS 3 for me will come, I think, when I get my 550EX and shoot fast moving subjects - horses jumping etc.

    While I do miss the sense of being involved with an MX - setting the shutter and aperture and focussing - it has happened too often that I have taken a really good unrepeatable pic and then found the focus was just a little soft.

    So, I am glad I bought an EOS 3.

    That said, I wouldn't have paid full price for it before the digi revolution wiped out its value. The relatively small improvements wouldn't have been worth it for me. But for £280 with the 50mm lens, I'm happy. And it does mean that when I have to get a picture there's a better chance I'll get it.
     
  14. Lounge Lizard

    Lounge Lizard Well-Known Member

    Enjoy both

    I have modern Canon cameras inc. digital and I also have a range of older cameras including an MX and ME Super. I use the modern cameras when I need results and I use the 'oldies' for pure enjoyment. It's a bit like having a Ford Mondeo for commuting and having an MG Midget for enjoyment at the weekends.

    Certainly, I'd recommend a manual camera for learning photography because you have no choice but to understand what shutter speed, aperture and focussing do. Buying a modern auto camera means that learning to use the camera takes a higher priority than learning the basics of photography. Even with my modern EOS cameras I sometimes have to think 'how do I get the camera to do this or that' which, with a basic manual camera, I could set the controls straightaway without thinking which mode, which button, what wheel do I turn.

    Age of the camera has little bearing on image quality and the older cameras are more repairable than electronic wizardry that goes obsolete in weeks. In fact, I have a talk I give to camera clubs that demonstrates that a 50-year old camera costing a fraction of a digital SLR can give results the equal of, and often better, than a modern digital. I love dispelling the myth that you have to have the latest (and usually most expensive) to get the best results. The truth is, the best results are obtained by understanding photography and making the principles work for you regardless of the camera.

    Enjoy!
     
  15. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    Re: Enjoy both

    "demonstrates that a 50-year old camera costing a fraction of a digital SLR can give results the equal of, and often better, than a modern digital."

    Morning David,

    Along a similar vein, I was out on Monday with both my IST*Ds (December 2004) and my AshaiFlex IIb (1952)....must admit I had a few heads turning [​IMG].

    [​IMG]

    Jack
     
  16. jchrisc

    jchrisc Well-Known Member

    Re: Enjoy both

    They don't often see a bloke as handsome as you Jack.

    Good morning.
     
  17. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    Re: Enjoy both

    Morning Chris,

    Thanks [​IMG] and you do have a very good point there [​IMG]

    Cheers and hope you and Elsie have a wonderful weekend

    [​IMG]

    Jack
     
  18. Fen

    Fen The Destroyer

    Re: Enjoy both

    i uv my little MX, don't take her out much these days though
     
  19. Maxiie

    Maxiie New Member

    absolutely! How can we call ourselves photographers if the camera pics how to take the picture for us? hehe :) glad u found happiness in the world of manual photography!!
     

Share This Page