Pentax MZ-S aperture readout

Discussion in 'Pentax' started by anirbanbanerjee, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. Hi everyone,
    I am lusting after an MZ-S.
    Can anyone tell if the aperture readout in the viewfinder and LCD works for manual K/M/A, i.e., non-FA/F lenses?
  2. It does with the A lenses. On my MZ-S with an SMC A lens attached, the aperture ring set to the A position, and the camera in the "Programmed AE" mode , the camera's choice for aperture is displayed in both the viewfinder and the LCD.

    The MZ-S is a delight to use, by the way. I don't shoot much film any more, but I can't bear to part with it. KEH had some in LN condition, last I looked.
  3. Agree with Dave, MZ-S is a really great body. The aperture readout in the viewfinder does not work with pre-A (K, M) lenses; it is not possible as the lens doesn't provide minimum/maximum aperture range to the body. The other small difference concerns variable-aperture zooms; KA (Pentax-A variable-aperture zooms will return only a single focal length to the body, so the viewfinder-indicated f-stop won't change when zooming. Should still expose correctly though. Note that none of these are MZ-S shortcomings--no Pentax body does any better in this regard.
  4. I just bought -- and, sadly, returned -- an MZ-S. Reasons here.
  5. Thanks guys for the responses.
    I went through the user guide myself. The lens mount is not crippled like the digital Pentaxes.
    What seems really awkward to me and you'd have to turn the aperture ring to the non-A settings for aperture priority,
    but then the camera won't show you the aperture on the VF even though it can sense what the aperture position is!
    At least Pentax could better make use of the lens "A" setting by providing an in-body aperture control like the PZ-1.
  6. Bob Keefer:
    I read your reasons for needing to return your MZ-S. About the first two points I have to say that with my MZ-S that I've been using for the past six years, I have only gone through 2 sets of CR2 batteries in the first two years and then for the next four years I used a battery grip with AA batteries that also seem to last forever. Perhaps you have an electronic short-circuit in your MZ-S that is draining the batteries. I once bought a used LX and noticed that it sucked the life out of new batteries overnight. I replaced that LX and the other the one I have now lasts a couple of years on one set of batteries.
    The other thing about not being able to read the film details in the perforation of Tri-X is that since Tri-X is a 400 speed film, it is more sensitive to light. Therefore you should set Pentax Function #15 to 'Low' in order for it to not print so blotchy. Perhaps you have Pentax Function #15 set to 'High' and therefore it is trying to imprint this data with too much light on such a sensitive film. I have used 400 speed film (Ilford HP5 and Provia 400X) and I have no problems reading the writing in the perforations.
    About the lenses... yes you are correct to not be able to use non-FA or non-A lenses on an MZ-S. You should get an FA lens, which is full-frame, and use that on your Pentax digital cameras without limitations. FA lenses can be found for very reasonable prices new and used. They all work on pentax digital cameras.
    But yes, I understand your dream of getting the impossible system. Perhaps if you hit the jackpot then you could get a film Leica MP and a full frame digital Leica M9 with a 21mm, 35mm, 50mm and 90mm. I'm estimating all this would cost you about 30,000 dollars bought new. Till then, we'll all keep dreaming without harm! :)
  7. Asim,
    Thanks for the info. Yes, I set the Pentax function correctly and still couldn't read the imprinted info.
    I was curious whether the battery usage was typical, as it semed rather extreme.
    FA lenses, sad to say, can be hard to come by these days. You can use non-A lenses, but they're inconvenient.
    All that said, though, I liked the camera. If I get a chance I might buy another one, if it doesn't eat batteries for breakfast.
  8. Bob,
    You and I have very similar wants from a camera system.
    Small, light, and multipurpose without having to duplicate stuff.
    I'd take a serious look at the PZ-1P, it's not as well built as the MZ-S, but it does have very few limitations to lenses mounted to it. In that respect, the MZ-S was a huge step backwards.
    It takes a bigger battery, and my experience is I went through very few of these over the years. Downside, no grip option (but as you noted, what is the point of a compact camera if you add a grip).
    From a perspective of all around features, as well as backwards compatibility and speed of use, the PZ-1P was the best camera Pentax made in the AF era. It's too bad the MZ-S didn't just improve on it, rather than completely redesign it.
  9. Unlike MZ-S, and like PZ-1p, the MZ-6/ZX-L allows for use of aperture ring OR body controlled aperture. Also not built as well as an MZ-S but it's quite versatile. Has a nice, cheap AA grip Fg that helps handling a bit too. Biggest complaints for me are the smaller viewfinder and the kind of odd coupling of spotmeter to AE-L, available only in AE modes.
    "you are correct to not be able to use non-FA or non-A lenses on an MZ-S"​
    This isn't really accurate. Unlike, say, a crippiled *ist, you can use pre-A lenses very effectively on an MZ-S with the relatively small drawback of no viewfinder indication of aperture, and not surprisingly at all, only in Av or M modes. Note that no manual focus bodies showed aperture in the viewfinder with these lenses except via an optical readout (KX, MX, LX, K2DMD). The behavior with 'A' lenses is comparable to Super Program--only shows aperture when in P or Tv.
    A little disappointing Pentax didn't include manual body-controlled aperture in MZ-S, but I believe they designed the camera with a philosophy of eliminating redundancies and making the camera relatively friendly towards users of classic cameras who found newfangled interfaces like PZ-1p intimidating and complicated. For what it's worth, I don't believe PZ-1p would show aperture for pre-A lenses either. If it helps, the F lenses will work like FA as they also report current aperture to the body. If you want better film-body support, you could go for a FA77/1.8 rather than a DA70/2.4--it costs a bit more but might be worth it if MZ-S compatibility is a goal.
    On the other hand you can look at MZ-S and its dependence on aperture rings for full compatibility as something as an evolutionary dead end. The writing was already on the wall regarding aperture rings by the time the MZ-S was released in 2001; Pentax had already started crippling their low-end MZ-series bodies as early as the 1997 MZ-50. Aperture ring-less lenses arrived with the otherwise similar to FA "FA-J" series in 2003 though Pentax introduced a few more ringed lenses, the 'D-FA' 50 and 100 macro lenses in 2004. Strangely though the latest 'D-FA 100 Macro WR' no longer has an aperture ring, it appears that they're using 'D-FA' to represent possible FF compatibility instead...
  10. I'd have to pull out the PZ-1P and a non A lens, but I am pretty sure Andrew is correct. The aperture is not shown. Like he said, very few cameras did show it.
    However, the PZ-1P did have an aperture coupling so it did work much better with non A lenses than do the current DSLRs (and I suppose the ist 35mm which worked similarly to current DSLRs). That is the metering was always active, no need to press the green button (or in the PZ-1Ps case the IF button).
    Andrew, I think it's funny, the PZ-1P gets bashed around essentially because it was 10 years ahead of it's time. Of course a lot of great products suffer the same fate. If you look at the K10D (and consequently the K20D, and similarly the ist D) all were heavily based on the PZ-1P. These days no one talks about how complex and hard to use they are. And really the PZ-1P was the last Pentax film camera to compete with Nikon or Canon at the high end prosumer level.
    To me, the PZ-1P almost made too much sense. I've seen people note that (there was a review on which might be gone now), that said exactly that. The reviewer said (basically), "it took me a while to figure out that there was nothing to figure out."
    I didn't realize the new D-FA WR 100 is aperture ringless, that is too bad, especially for a macro where I like being able to set the aperture on the lens so I don't accidentally change my settings.
  11. I can read the imprinted info just fine on ADOX film, but have to set it to the lowest imprint value to be able to make it out on Ilford film of the same speed, and even then it is sort of over exposed. I love my MZ-S, however, really a great camera.

    I have used my Pentax M lenses on my MZ-S and it works fine, much better than on my K20D which has the crippled mount. I select the aperture I want to use and the built-in lightmeter uses the selected setting for the exposure correctly.

    See here for examples of my MZ-S with my 32 years-old SMC Pentax-M F/1.7 50mm lens on F/22: and F/1.7:
  12. I bit the bullet and bought an EX+ copy from KEH. So far, I love it. The focus point select button is a little hard to reach (middle finger of left hand, thumb and index for the aperture ring), and that is the biggest usability issue I have faced.
  13. BTW, Hans, I really like your B&W work.

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