Pentax ZX-M

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Pentax ZX-M sporting the M 135mm f/3.5 lens

I’ve long joked that the greatest thing about digital photography is that it has pushed the price of old film gear way low. And it’s true, the Pentax PZ-1p I paid $700 for 10 years ago, can now be had in excellent condition for around $100.

Another case in point is this camera. A fellow PDML member found a lens he wanted to buy which came with this camera. The price was low enough he bought the entire package then asked the list “who wants this camera?” He got the lens he wanted and I got a neat older camera in perfect working order for the price of shipping.

While the other camera companies were adding buttons and dials like there was no tomorrow, Pentax simplified this system giving it a very retro look. I think the idea was outstanding, but I don’t think it ever really caught on. Most folks seem to like their bells and whistles, even when those bells and whistles detract from the actual experience of photography. Oh well.

Anyway, the ZX-M was the lowest model of this line. No autofocus. Center-weighted meter only. Mostly plastic body. It was aimed at the beginner/student photographer. It does offer autoexposure modes.

I’ve been shooting with it a bit and it seems like a decent enough camera, especially when you consider how much I paid for it. The viewfinder strikes me as not being as nice as my Program Plus, but that may just be a matter of acclimation. I haven’t sent in any of the film yet so I’ll have to wait for a final verdict.

In regards to my joke about digital photography things appear to be changing though. Prices for old film gear (especially lenses) have been on the rise the last several months. I think this is for several reasons.

First of all, a lot of folks who jumped on the digital bandwagon right off are now switching back to film for some or all of their work. Second, lots of younger folks who grew up in the digital era are discovering the joys of working analog.

And thirdly (and maybe most importantly), some enterprising manufacturer saw all those old, classic, vintage lenses being sold for nothing and invented adapters allowing you to mount just about any lens you find on any interchangeable lens digital camera. Damn it anyway.

Pentax Program Plus

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Here’s the camera and lens I have been shooting almost exclusively for a little more than a year now.

I have an admission to make though. I chose this camera because it was the cheapest available at KEH when I went to place my order.

I have a nostalgic preference for Pentax. When I started my career as a photographer this is the brand I already I owned and I made the choice to stay with it for some time. When I came back around to shooting film I knew I had to get another one.

Yes I had my eye on some of the more well-known models like the MX, but it just wasn’t in the budget at the time. Nonetheless I’ve found the Program Plus a great camera which suits me fine.

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