I gotta tell you, the more I shoot with Pentax gear, the more I fall in love. From the M42 screw mount Takumars to the K mount SMC-M and SMC-A primes, the lenses are simply amazing. And amazingly affordable! I haven't yet found a Pentax lens that has disappointed. Or a Pentax camera that I didn't gush over. My current rush of enthusiasm for the brand made me bold enough to pack only Pentax gear on my most recent trek to the photographic holy lands of the Monterey Coast. And if that's not adventurous enough, of the two Pentax bodies I packed, one was an un-film-tested MX I picked up off of eBay just before my trip!
First, the camera. The MX is a nifty little K-mount 35mm manual everything body from the 1970s. I'd compare the MX to Nikon's FM/FM2/FM2n bodies; TTL center-weighted metering that provides the photographer with exposure information which is then set manually. The MX has a very nice viewfinder with a unique circular display of shutter speeds and a series of LEDs that let you know when you're good to go. This camera is a little bit like a Spotmatic that has been shrunken down a size or two with all of the controls feeling very familiar to any Spotmatic shooter. The MX is small, well balanced and very light. I carried it over my shoulder for hours on end without issue. My MX came with a SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/1.4 lens.
I shot mostly black and white (Tmax 100 in my Pentax LX) during my four days bopping around Carmel, Carmel Valley and the Santa Lucia Highlands. Before packing the MX in my camera bag, I loaded some fresh batteries and tested the metering. It seemed to agree with my digital meter. I dry-fired it through its shutter speed range and it sounded close enough.
Here are my first two shots with the MX on day one; an old John Deere in front of a winery in Carmel Valley.
Carmel Valley Road begins as a busy four-lane at the Pacific Coast Highway. Over the next 30 or so miles of its length, it narrows to barely a lane and a half while twisting and turning through some dramatic scenery before depositing you into the Santa Lucia Highlands wine growing region. It's far enough inland here to think that they would grow Cabarnet or Zinfandel, but the cool coastal breezes sneak their way up the gap allowing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes to thrive here.
The buds were just beginning to break at Hahn Vineyards.
It was such an overcast day. If the sun were shining, I can only imagine how well this lens would perform.
Odonata Winery was my favorite! I bought several bottles of their wine to take home. This is the view from their parking lot.
Later in the day, back in Carmel, the clouds began to break up and finally, some sun!
The old MX revealed a shutter capping problem towards the end of the day, one of the risks of traveling with an untested camera. It's an easy and cheap CLA fix, but it spoiled my sunset shot.
I woke the next morning to sunshine and the sound of the Pacific. I snapped this shot out of my hotel window. I was impressed at how well the MX's meter performed here. Hey, who needs matrix metering?
Later that day, relaxing with an Arnold Palmer.
I enjoyed using the MX enough to spend a few dollars and have Eric Hendrickson service it. It's a simple, inexpensive camera that is robust enough to throw into the car and take anywhere. And these Pentax lenses...oh my! I'm toying, seriously toying with the idea of selling off all of the rest of my cameras, throwing the funds into my retirement fund and just shooting Pentax from here on out.