Every once in a while, we find a special camera that makes us happy just by holding it in our hands. For me, the Pentax MX is one of those cameras.
I may be biased since this camera was a gift from my dad. Having shot film for more than 30 years, he only uses digital now, and does not miss the “old” ways at all. So, when I told him I had been bit by the film bug, he was only too happy to give me the camera and a SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens.
I immediately fell in love. This camera has been around forever in my family and it was easy for me to create a bond. Believe it or not, the same camera I am shooting today was used to take this picture 35 years ago, and that little guy is me! Try to beat THAT, every camera I’ve ever owned!
The Pentax MX is a fully mechanical SLR introduced by Asahi Pentax in 1976. When I picked it up, it had been sitting in a drawer for more than 10 years. I had it CLA’d and replaced the light seals and then it was as good as new. Operating the camera is easy if you are familiar with film SLRs. Everything is well designed and placed exactly where you expect it to be. The best part of the camera is the viewfinder. It’s huge, bright and provides a unique shooting experience.
The SMC 50mm f/1.7 lens descends directly from the legendary Takumar lenses, so the image quality is exactly as you’d expect – awesome. Color rendition is gorgeous, with good saturation and contrast. Pentax glass is famous for the colors it can produce, and for good reasons.
In conclusion, do I recommend this camera? Absolutely yes. Is this the best film camera I’ve ever used? I have to be honest and say that this title still goes to the Leica M6 (mainly because I find rangefinder cameras easier to focus). That being said, the SLR design also has its advantages, such as higher reliability (i.e., not having to constantly worry about your rangefinder going out of whack).
When you factor in the low price on the used market, a Pentax MX make for a great option to pick up and go have some fun!