Not too long ago I was choosing the K Pentax digital camera as my first contact with the dSLR world. It was shortly put, love at first sight. Great ergonomics, very good build quality (especially for an entry level camera) , a tool that fit me and my needs. It just worked and did the job it was made for. I talk here about the K100d model, an entry level camera from Pentax launched in 2006 I think. It had more features than any other camera from the competition. In the same time I also switched from the screw mount (M42) system to the same K mount for film cameras too. I kept of course the M42 lenses. They can be used on the K mount cameras by using a mount adapter. So, combined with the only two AF Pentax lenses,I used other manual focus lenses picked up off ebay. At first I considered the film cameras a little too expensive while there were cheaper alternatives that used the same camera bayonet. So, I went after the cheaper Ricoh (what irony that in these days Ricoh bought Pentax) , Chinon cameras and the P series from Pentax (probably the cheapest ones in the Pentax's manual focus cameras line up).
Time passed by and after about three years the prices of Pentax AF lenses sky rocketed surpasing the competition in this regard. So ,if I wanted to buy cheaper and to find easier lenses the Pentax lens market was too small. Using already for about one year a film Nikon F80 I sold the K100d and bought the D90 after which came the 35mm f:2.0, and 24mm f:2.8 (the 50mm f:1.8 I already had it) . I didn't completely left the Pentax system. The lenses awaited for better times, times that came about a year ago when I spotted a nicely looking Pentax MX on ebay. I liked it so much that I've bought a ME Super body. a black MX and a "plastic fantastic" MZ-M and a wide angle lens, a smc Pentax-M series 28mm f:2.8. Finally I owned the real thing, as I called these Pentaxes :-)
In a few words I'll describe some of what I consider as streghts and weaknesses of my moslty liked MX and ME Pentaxes altgough one must play with then to understand better what I talk about
- They're small, but sturdy
- Sturdy , mostly metal made camera bodies but I must add that the metal/finish is not the same as the Minolta's XD 7 (or XD 11 in the States)
- they're not so cheap, especially the black ones
- there is a well dumped mirror/shutter assembly in both the ME Super and the MX (although they have different kind of shutters)
- the viewfinder is just great, big , clear, bright and can compete with the one of the Minolta's X500/x700 model.
- there are times when I miss the shutter speed dial on the ME Super but at least its speeds go till 1/2000 of a second.
- both have mechanically controlled shutter speeds (all an the MX, and one, 1/125 on the ME) in case the batteries or the electronics die.
- both use the LR-44/SR-44 (ag13) widelly found batteries that can last forever.
- the cameras operation is smooth, the shutter sound is a pleasure to hear it and the whole photographic process is way more enjoyable.
All in all if I think there is a camera that solves the minuses while keeping the pluses. And that's Pentax's flag ship model of the more or less same era and now my dream film camera: the LX, Pentax LX .
Coupled with some Pentax lenses like a 35mm f:2.0 and the 85mm f:1.4 * (star) can make a great kit ;-)