Product Type: Pentax cameras
Newest Review: ... (automatic) and the camera controls the desired aperture. This is great for the beginner, as they just need to learn to use the Pentax... more
A great introduction to SLR
Pentax MZ 30
Member Name: 137699
Pentax MZ 30
Date: 03/02/03, updated on 03/02/03 (1177 review reads)
Advantages: Simple to learn and use, Excellent quality images, Manual control settings
Disadvantages: Perhaps a little too light, Not compatible with some lenses, Not for the professionals
As such, for her birthday, I thought I would get her a simple, but quality SLR camera. As a long time Pentax user, I wanted to get her a Pentax also. There were many reasons for this; I've been using Pentax products since I was 13, and have never had a single fault with any of their cameras. I've also found their optics to be supremely well constructed, resulting in quality images, and enlargements that don't blur or lose focus at the corners. The other key reason for getting her a Pentax was so that she could use my collection of lenses and accessories.
As a newcomer to SLR photography, I wanted something that could be set up to be just as easy to point & shoot camera, but also have a degree of control over the picture to help her to learn more about photography.
After a bit of investigation, I decided upon the MZ-30. It is a nice light design, much lighter than the MZ-5N, and whilst it doesn't quite have the bells and whistles of the MZ-5N, what it does have is a nice easy to use setup, but with many options to override the automatic settings.
It is a fully automatic SLR camera - meaning it has powered wind-on, auto-aperture, auto shutter-speed and auto-focus functions. The problem with everything being set to fully automatic, is that it is always a compromise - and what might be
right for taking a picture of a mountain range, or river scene, will be completely wrong for fast-moving objects such as motorsports, or aeroplane photography. Similarly close-ups, night time photo's, flash photography again all need different settings to produce a quality image. On the more professional models, control over pictures taken in these conditions is usually left to the photographer, who will need to disable one or more of the automatic modes. However the MZ-30 is excellent for the newcomer, as all the more popular modes are pre-programmed, such that the camera can automatically calculate the best shutter & aperture for, close-ups, scenery, night-time, flash-photography, fast-moving subjects etc. This means that my girlfriend simply has to switch from fully automatic mode, to one of the "tuned" automatic modes, and know almost nothing about aperture, compensation, shutter speed etc.
However, when the time comes for her to want to learn more about these more advanced techniques, the camera can be set to manual focus, aperture priority (AV), shutter priority (TV) or fully manual modes. One of the really neat things about the MZ-30 is that all of the aperture settings are controlled by the camera's LCD display and selection buttons. The aperture ring on the lens is simply left in the "A" position (automatic) and the camera controls the desired aperture. This is great for the beginner, as they just need to learn to use the Pentax's relatively simple controls, and not have to worry about touching the lens itself. The downside is that the older Pentax lenses (without the "A" setting) simply won't work with the MZ-30, although I would suggest that as this camera is obviously aimed at a relative novice, then this would not be a problem.
The other thing that this camera lacks, is compatability with powered zoom lenses. Most of these lenses have a manual override setting, for conventional zooming th
ugh, so these lenses can still be used on the MZ-30, albeit in a slightly more manual useage.
It also has a compact built-in flash, which is simple to operate, and great for short-distance photos. although propper flashguns can be used via the flash socket, for better lighting.
To use the camera itself, is right up with the ergonomic excellence of the other Pentax models. More advanced users might not appreciate the lightweight construction of the body, as this will inevitably mean a steadier hand is needed for dusk or night work, but for a lady of slight build, as my other half is, it is ideally weighted.
She has so far got on extremely well with this particular model. Mainly she has used the auto modes, but has already begun to experiment with some of the manual settings, as well as using filters and the suchlike.
Again, to be expected, in terms of focus, and accuracy, the images are of a quality on a par with all good 35mm SLR cameras - of course more expensive models can produce more advanced images due to their more advanced facilities, but this does not necessarily mean that the quality of the photo at the end will be any sharper or better defined than the MZ-30, just perhaps have different contrast.
So to sum up, if you're a relative newcomer to SLR photography, or don't want a camera which you need to carry your instruction manual around with you to use, then the MZ-30 is for you. If you are an advanced photographer, then you might find the MZ-30 a little lacking in features, and I would point you towards the better models.