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:
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)