Pentax ZX-L 35mm SLR Auto Focus Film Camera

The vast majority of cameras I feature on this site were found at thrift stores or yard sales, but I do sometimes purchase cameras through eBay or KEH. This Pentax ZX-L came from KEH in beautiful condition. At the time, I had a couple other K mount bodies, but did not own an auto focus Pentax film camera. I had owned a ZX-50 years earlier, and had more recently had the MZ-L (which is the same as the ZX-L), but I sold that one by mistake. Anyway, the ZX-L (MZ-L) is a feature-packed, well made, lightweight, compact SLR film body from Pentax that sat at the higher end of the ZX line of cameras. Despite its small size and light weight, it really manages to feel good in hand - very tight and solid in use. You just feel confident that it's going to deliver the goods and keep on ticking. Read on for likes and dislikes as well as sample images...

Pentax ZX-L 35mm auto focus SLR film camera with Rikenon P 50mm F1.7 lens

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I have run several rolls of film through this camera, and it has performed well each time. I used it with the Ricoh Rikenon P 50mm F1.7 (shown on the camera, above), the SMC Pentax-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited (which despite being sold as a digital only lens, provides full frame coverage), and some other unknown lens (okay, I got lazy and didn't document what lens I used for one of the rolls). Incidentally, the Rikenon 50/1.7 shown here is an awesome bargain lens - cheap on the used market yet delivers beautiful sharp and contrasty images.

LIKES: I guess I've already spilled the beans on most of my likes, but formally here... small, compact and lightweight, while managing to feel very well made and smooth in operation - tight seems like a good word, like a small well made sports car. I also love the nice LCD screen, which lights up when you're using the camera in dim light (yes, you read that right - cool feature). It's got a great mode dial on the top left side of the body that seems very logical and easy to use to select your shooting mode. There's also a depth of field preview button, which is always a nice touch.

DISLIKES: Even when I love a camera as much as this one, I try to find something to fault - if for no reason other than that nothing is really perfect. The only thing I can find to pick on here is the hand grip, which I feel could have been a bit larger without compromising the compact size of the camera. I have large hands, and the grip is quite small - sticking out no farther than the lens mount. Pentax probably figured that's as far out as they wanted to make it so that when stashing the camera in a bag without a lens, the grip wouldn't be in the way. But personally, I usually keep a lens on the camera when I'm out shooting, so I think it could have been a bit bigger. But again, I'm trying hard to find a complaint - it's not a serious issue really.

Photo taken with a Pentax ZX-L and Rikenon P 50mm F1.7, click to view sample image gallery

Above: Close-up view of part of a garden shed at the Yarmouth Community Garden in Yarmouth, Maine. Photo taken with a Pentax ZX-L and Ricoh Rikenon P 50mm F1.7 lens using Kodak Ultramax 400 color print film.

View gallery of sample images for this camera

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