Pentax newbie. Just bought a ZX-50.

Discussion in 'Pentax' started by mark_stephan|2, May 14, 2012.

  1. I just won an auction for a Pentax ZX-50 and 35-80 lens. Paid $29, thought this would be an inexpensive way to explore the world of Pentax to see how I like it. I also plan (currently bidding) to add a manual focus body and lens(es). I'd like to know what users of the ZX-50 think of this body? It looks like the perfect cheap starter camera.
     
  2. Fine little body with any of the autofocus (Pentax-F, -FA, or -FA J) lenses.
    Close to useless with manual-focus lenses without an "A" setting on the aperture ring. Also, as a Pentamirror finder, not practical for manual focus.
    The most interesting models of that series are ZX-5n and ZX-7.
    The ZX-5n is the most traditional. It has a real pentaprism, so you have a shot at manual focus. You can exchange the focusing screen with the split-image one from an ZX-M.
    The ZX-7 is a simpler program mode interface. It has a pentamirror finder, so the finder isn't really good enough for manual focus lenses. It has an easy-to-use multiple-exposure mode.
    Both of these cameras will properly meter and expose with any K-mount lens.
    The whole series is dirt cheap. They have an Achilles' Heel of a plastic gear on the mirror motor that cracks. But just buy another one.
    Other hassle is the high price of CR2A batteries.
    The Pentax autofocus zoom lenses are very affordable, some are pretty reasonably sharp. The Pentax autofocus prime (fixed focal length) lenses are very expensive used, only four of them are still affordable new (31mm, 43mm, 50mm, and 77mm).
     
  3. I think you will enjoy the ZX-50. But please don't judge Pentax image quality based on that 35-80 lens. I am sorry to say it is the single worst performing lens I have ever used. It is noticably soft even on 4"x6" prints, and even through the viewfinder. Pick any of the other cheap Pentax lenses for a better representation. My personally favourites from the Pentax cheap-and-cheerful film lens lineup: the Pentax FA-J 18-35mm (a bargain superwide angle); the Pentax FA 28-90mm (with lovely colour rendition, very "Pentax" image rendering); and the Pentax A 50mm 1.7 (manual focus, so best used with your next manual focus camera -- this cheap standard lens is renowned as one of the best 50mm lenses ever made.)
     
  4. John, can you please elaborate on the plastic gear on the mirror motor? I have two ZX-5n bodies. They were stored in a drawer for a while, and when I finally pulled them out to sell them (had switched to a K-7) one worked fine and the other made a whirring sound when I pressed the shutter. I am wondering if it is the problem that you describe. Too bad, as I really enjoyed this camera during my film days and had hoped to find them both good new homes. I take it by your "just buy another one" comment that it is an expensive repair and I am better off scraping the camera.
     
  5. Nothing wrong with it as a starter camera. One of the drawbacks of this model is that its mount is crippled regarding use of older manual focus lenses (like Pentax-M) that lack the 'A' on the aperture ring. But if you're sticking to Pentax-A or newer autofocus lenses, that should be a non-issue.
    If you generally like the camera, you might want to look for battery pack Fg, it's an inexpensive battery pack that allows your camera to take 4x AA batteries and you might find it makes the compact camera a little more comfortable in your hands. I believe it fits all MZ/ZX bodies except for the flagship MZ-S.
     
  6. Two methods of repairing the gear are discussed in this Pentax Forums posting:
    http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-film-slr-discussion/39450-mz5n-mirror-blocked-service-manual.html
    One is to replace the mirror motor with gear. $24 part, serious teardown of camera. Lots of soldering to the very fragile flex circuits.
    Other is to just replace the gear. It's tricky and fiddly to get it in there, but not soldering is required. The gear costs a few dollars.
    Paying a professional like Eric to do it isn't economically practical, except perhaps on the MZ-3.
    I did the "replace the gear" option on my MZ-3. I can solder very well, but this sort of soldering is nasty.
     
  7. I have the FA 35-80 lens I got it for my ZX-7 It is extremely sharp through out it's range. In fact it has become my walk around lens. I hope you enjoy the 50 as much as I do my 7. I did how ever buy a battery grip for mine so as to use AA batteries.
    A good place to check on Pentax cameras and lenses is Pentax Forums They have a data base for lenses and cameras
     
  8. I've been puzzled by the claims that the F or FA 35-80mm lens is terrible. I have the A 35-80mm lens, which some claim is the same optically, and it's fine. Quite sharp, in fact. Of course, its maximum aperture is f4 to f5.6, which can be limiting.
     
  9. Thanks everyone for your responses. I didn't know about the crippled body functions with manual lenses. That's okay though as I plan to add a K mount manual focus body soon. I'd like to ask about the 35-80, what size filter does it use and what lens hood should I get for this lens? I'm thinking a rubber hood should do the trick.
     
  10. Specs for 35-80. Not sure whether you have A, F, or FA version but most specs are similar, all take a 49mm filter.
    This is the RH-RA49 hood that Pentax specified for the lens, but I don't know how hard I'd try to hunt one down -- even if you find one it will probably cost more than you want to pay. The picture might give you an idea of roughly the size & shape of what Pentax would have recommended.
    Hoods for zoom lenses are nearly always compromises. You want one wide enough that it won't darken the corners on your images (and note that this won't necessarily be easy to detect in your viewfinder that doesn't offer 100% coverage). Unfortunately the wider it is, the less effective it is for the 80mm end of your zoom.
    Some of the rubber ones are adjustable or can roll back for transport which might be useful.
    Another possibility is using a step-up ring from 49-52 or 49-58 which might increase your options and work on a future lens. 58mm is also a pretty common size for Pentax lenses.
     

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