Pentax MX (1976) pro quality 35mm film SLR

Pentax MX film SLR camera

Pentax MX manual only

If you have never handled a Pentax MX you are in for a real treat. This little compact camera is an absolute joy to handle. If you can find a good working black paint version you really have struck gold – the black paint models are highly prized by Pentax users and collectors. The paint tends to rub off the brass on the corners of the camera with normal use. I don’t feel this detracts from the appearance at all. You would have to pay hundreds of dollars for a mint example without worn paint. Most of the Pentax MX cameras you see for sale on the internet are have satin chromed brass top and bottom plates.

Despite it being very small, for an SLR, it has a large bright viewfinder. With a Pentax SMC 50mm f1.7 lens the image jumps instantly into sharp focus way better than any digital SLR.

Pentax MX black paint model. View of top plate.

My Pentax MX was given to me by a man who no longer wanted it when I collected a lens I had purchased from him on Trademe.co.nz. It is well worn with a good deal of brassing on the edges. The small size of the MX makes the Pentax 50mm lens look quite large. The shutter speed dial is stiff as is the case with all Pentax MX cameras. I have read that the brass is thinner than most SLR cameras of the era and easily dented. Luckily mine has no dents. All functions are working except for the self-timer which ticks back but for some reason doesn’t fire the shutter. I really like this camera. 

The Pentax MX in its day was a pro-level SLR that can be used with a motor winder. It also has interchangeable focusing screens. In addition to the standard split image and micro prism focusing screen – there are 7 other focusing screens available for the MX.

This is a manual only 35mm SLR film camera. The LED read-out lights for the exposure meter are powered by two 1.5volt batteries, however, these are not used by the camera for any other function. All shutter speeds, film speed, and aperture setting on the lens can be made without batteries in the camera.

The Pentax MX was produced from 1976 until 1985. It headed the Pentax range of SLR cameras until the introduction of the LX.

Well worn black Pentax MX with 50mm SMC Pentax-M lens.

Robust and Relatively Simple Construction

The MX is very similar in size and handling to the ME Super released in 1979. The ME Super is much faster to use, particularly for street shooting, with its aperture priority mode. During the 1980s I used two Pentax ME Super cameras commercially. A black one and a silver one together with a motor drive. I loved those ME Super cameras but eventually, they started to have ageing problems with the electronic failing and I switched to a Nikon 801 kit. It isn’t unusual to find an ME Super that is in great cosmetic condition but sadly is either jammed or the electronics and shutter aren’t working. These faults can be fixed on the ME Super but the cost is prohibitive. In this regard, the Pentax MX is far more robust and tends to keep working long after an ME Super has died.

The Pentax MX, especially a black one, can sell for hundreds of dollars. It would be well worth having this one, shown in the pictures, sent away for a full CLA (clean, lubricate, and adjust), and hopefully fix the self-timer. With many old film cameras having expensive work done on them isn’t worth it. Usually, you can find another one in good working condition for a lot less money than it would cost to have repairs done.

One of the best things about collecting and shooting with old film cameras is that you can buy old “top of the range” rangefinders and SLRs for very little money. This is certainly the case with the Pentax MX which was highly sorted after back in the 1970s and 80s.

A good shop for quality used film cameras and lenses in New Zealand is Photo & Video, in the Merivale Mall, Christchurch.

There is a huge amount of info on the Pentax MX at Pentaxforums.com

Pentax MX 25mm SLR film camera with open back.

1 Comment on "Pentax MX (1976) pro quality 35mm film SLR"


  1. I have two MX cameras and am looking for a pair of MX Motor Drives; the Ni-Cd Battery model M. Any ideas where to look? I’m not having too much success myself.

    Reply

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