Sunday, January 6, 2013

Pentax MZ-5N Review

The Pentax MZ-5N was one of the cameras I won in my 'Pentax bundle' auction in December 2012.  Like the Z1-P, its fully automatic.

First Impressions:
Like the Z1-P, its very plasticky. It came with 28-80mm 3.5 lens, as I mentioned earlier I am not a big fan of  zoom lenses. The camera has a nice weight to it, the feel is nice as well - but perhaps it just me as I have small hands.

Giving it a Hoon:
I shot a roll of 12 exposure Fuji Superia 100 ASA and developed it normally. Here is a sample of shots I took at the Winter Garden in Auckland domain:

Final Thoughts:

This camera was actually easier to start using that the ZP-1. To test it I just put everything on automatic. The pictures were pretty good. As with the ZP-1, I went about using this camera without using the manual; in this case, the manual wasn't needed. Here are a few notes:

  • This camera takes 2 Lithium CR2 batteries, I couldn't find these cheaply in New Zealand so I ordered them from the UK at a reasonably cost.
  • The Autorewind will pull the leader into the cartridge. 
  • The Pentax F 28-80 Zoom lens is nice and sturdy, if a bit plasticky. 
Overall its a good camera. There is nothing that would make go 'wow!' about it, so I would probably shoot some of my other Pentax's before giving this one another go. Even though this camera was simpler to use than the ZP-1, I prefer the ZP-1. The off the top of my head score for this cam: 7 outta 10.

Some links for this Camera:

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pentax Z-1P Review

I've won a whole heap of Pentax 35mm cameras before Christmas in an auction, in fact probably more than I could ever have use for! The first one I decided to test out was my fully Automatic Pentax Z-1P. This is just a mini review so check out the review links below for more in depth review:

First impressions:
The first impression at looking at the body was that its plasticky. While I don't dislike plastic, I really like a bit of metal on my SLR's. However upon picking up, it felt as solid as any DSLR i've handled - and its heavy duty plastic, so it feels quite rugged - that is a big plus. It has 28-200 3.8 Zoom lens. Not a big fan of zoom lenses, as I prefer the simplicity and speed of a prime lens, but it looks well built.

Giving it a hoon..
My prior experience with 35mm SLR have only been been AV priority SLRs (namely my much beloved Canon AV-1).  This camera is fully automatic which through me for a curve at first but ended up loving it in the end! The thing that through me off was how to use the dials. I decided that best way to learn was to bypass the RTFM logic and dive right into taking photos. After about 5 minutes of fiddling around, I finally managed to put it on fully automatic. After that it was smooth sailing.

I shot 2 rolls of Fuji Superia 100 (12 exposure) and developed them with Tetenal C-41 kit (normal processing). These where taken at Bayly's Beach in Northland New Zealand on Christmas Day 2012:

Final Thoughts:

I liked it alot, the experience shooting a fully automatic 35mm SLR does have more appeal to me now than before. Here are a few things that annoyed me, all quite minor:

  • Zoom Lens - the friction holding the 'zoom' together wasn't strong enough to keep it contracted while I was walking - so the zoom was always extended when I needed to take it for a shot. This did not effect performance. Overall, though I still prefer prime lenses, it was good fun to use!
  • Autofocus - As with all autofocuses, even DSLRs, if you want to fine focus on something, you'll need to switch to manual or your camera will beep itself to death try to guess what you focusing on.
  • Autorewind - This is probably typical for most 35mm SLRs, it will suck the film leader back into the cartridge. If you self develop film, it means that you have crack open the cartridge in a changebag/darkroom and spool. Not a bit deal, but extra work. 
  • Fiddly Buttons - Figuring out the buttons is not intuitive, but once you are set, its a proverbial piece of piss to take pics.
  • Funky Battery - thankfully this camera has a working battery, but it looks quite unusual and might be hard to replace in NZ (Lithium 6V 2CR5)
Would I shoot this camera again? Yes I would, the automation and picture quality is pleasing. If you can tolerate the quirks above, you might be able to score one cheaply in an online auction. Price? I haven't seen enough of these around to give an accurate price.

Off the top of my head score: 8.5 outta 10. 

Here are some links should you consider adding this camera to your collection:

Pentax Z-1P Manual would advise downloading this.
Pentax Z-1P on Ebay  (may yield null results)
Pentax Z-1P on Trademe (may yield null results)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Expired 126 Film Cartridge Getting Stuck

I've recently had problems with expired film in 126 Cartridge - it wouldn't wind and would get stuck before the first frame. I have 8 cartridges, I've shot 3 but I've had 3 cartridges which seemed jammed. I really was hoping that it wasn't my SL26 camera - as it turned out, thankfully, it wasn't. So if you are trying 126 film (thats very expired) for the first time, this post may be useful.

What seemed be be happening was that the tape holding the film to backing paper had become undone (the film is 26 years old, so its not unlikely the tape just doesn't become sticky and more. When winding the film, it causes a 'log jam' and won't advance the film from one side of the cartridge to the other.

It could also be that I have had the film in the freezer since I bought and perhaps some condensation made it through the protective foil holding the cartridge.

Unfortunately I couldn't rescue the 'jammed' film, however for the next cartridge, I tried something different. Instead of winding the film in my camera, I wound very slowly with a fifty cent coin (any coin will probably do). I was slowly able to come through most resistance until the tape section came out. The tape was frayed at the end, so I cut it off with a hobby knife. I then put a new piece of tape over the old and popped in the camera and Viola! - it went to the first frame.

So while this won't rescue films that are jammed in the cartridge, if you are working with very expired cartridges you might want to manually wind them first. Disclaimer - I've manually wound 3 films so far and was able to rescue 2 of them - so 2 out 3 ain't bad?

Quick Recap:

  1. Use a coin to slowly wind the spindle on the cartridge, if you come across resistance just very gently apply force.
  2. have the emulsion face turned toward you so you can see the film come out. 
  3. When the film comes out, trim any jutting tape away.
  4. Tape it back down.
  5. Pop in Camera, wind to first exposure.