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Doldrums: Between the MX and the MZ

DOLDRUMS
PENTAX MX + SMC PENTAX A 35-70/4 + KODAK GOLD 100

The years immediately after getting married and having Erika join our family (1990-91), was the time when my photographic activity was reduced to family related events, my equipment shrinking down to the bare minimum: a Pentax MX with its winder, the SMCP A 50/1.4, the SMCP A 35-70/4, the SMCP K 135/2.5 and a Velbon tripod; no flash. By 1996, I decided that I needed a new camera as the MX was definitely showing signs of aging; even if I did have it CLA’d it will have to take a back seat to a more updated equipment.

Pentax was nowhere to be found and reading what was written on the wall, it may be time for a paradigm shift. I picked up a Nikon FM10 with which I plan to start building a new system. I quickly found myself in a mine field as I discovered that while it is theoretically possible to physically interchange different variants of Nikkor lenses with various Nikon bodies, making them work together or not even damaging each other is another thing. I assumed too much from the last time I handled a Nikon a decade earlier and read into it the compatibility I enjoyed with Pentax. Whatever I may buy for the FM10 may possibly not work with whatever I visualized in my upgrade path.

I retreated and sold off the Nikon FM10. While contemplating my next move, two events would take place: the K2 I sold a decade earlier came back to me as “junk”—it seems that its electronics died and it now only functions at 1/125 and B, and the Centennial of the Philippine Independence takes place in 1998 (see the story here). The result was that I decided to stick it out with Pentax and what were readily available at that time were some old stocks of the Pentax P30t.

It was robust and solid—it was the embodiment of the ME Super with dials (not buttons) and worked seamlessly with my existing Pentax lenses (except for the A 50/1.4 which I lost to fungus). Later, a P30n would come along when a friend asked me to give a dying camera a home. The P30n was a slightly older version of the P30t had problems with the winding knob—had a bad drop, so my friend said.

The viewfinder information actually looked liked the extended version of the A3000 (whose display showed only 1/100o to 1/30); the shape actually reminds me of the A3000 sans the built in winder. The P30 seems prone to the pentaprism's coating flaking off causing dark spots in the viewfinder. Both the P30t and P30n had that problem and a couple of other P30's I would manage to get my hands on had it in various stages.




PENTAX P30T & PENTAX P30N WITH THE SMCP A 35-70/A

Nevertheless it was with these cameras that I began reintegrating myself in professional photography. They were stop gap cameras as I knew full well that I needed a more robust camera if I were to go professional, but in the meantime flexing all my photographic muscles with what I already have.* Thinking out of the box, I knew I will go against the grain by not choosing a Canon or a Nikon. A Pentax distributor would soon appear in the local market: Sanly.

I knew what I wanted.


* As of this writing (January 10, 2008), there are only two entries under Pentax P30t in the Pentax Photo Gallery
one of which is mine—and only one entry under Pentax P3n (as the P30n is known in the US) which is mine as well. The Spirit of the K1000 is alive and well.

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