Pentax User Archive Article: Pentax Z-10

We take a look back to 1991 at the Pentax Z-10 film SLR camera.

22/06/2012 - 00:00

Pentax Z-10

This article was taken from the Pentax User archive vault.

The latest addition to the Pentax SLR camera range is the Z-10 with a recommended selling price of £349.99, complete with a 28-80mm Power Zoom lens. This camera is the smallest auto focus SLR with built-in flash yet designed and weighs only 490g.

Power Zoom has arrived

A lot of new features are built into the Z-10, we'll look at them in detail in a moment. The most obvious is the introduction of a power zoom lens and initially this will be the popular 28-80mm zoom which will be supplied as standard with the Z-10 camera. four other power zooms (designation FA) are scheduled for delivery in the next few months and these are detailed below.

The power zoom lens has three speeds and is operated by a well positioned zooming ring for both power and manual operation. The lens is fully interactive and can be switched from power to manual at any time.

Intelligent interaction

But this is more than just a powered operation of what, up to now, has been done manually. The lens is also intelligent, feeding information to the camera to provide two new features, zoom clip mode and image size tracking mode. The zoom clip mode memorises a particular picture area, immediately shifting the lens to the predetermined focal length as the anticipated shot is formed. the image tracking mode is something very new. It helps the photographer by keeping the subject the same size in the viewfinder regardless of changes in physical difference between the two. A subject moving towards the camera can be framed at the 80mm setting of the zoom to fill the frame, but will continue to the frame as it comes closer since the lens will automatically adjust the focal length down to 28mm. All this and auto focus too!

Faster Auto Focus

And talking of auto focus, a larger sensor panel in the auto focus detection circuit has provided an even faster auto focus reaction. The system is more responsive than ever before, being 1.3 times faster than the SFXn and functions down to EV1 (ISO 100, 1 sec, f/1.4). That's pretty dim conditions!

The Z-10 has two operational focus modes, single shot and manual. But there's a clever extra on te single shot auto focus. A system called predicitive auto focus automatically takes over when a moving subject is detected by the camera. The system predicts the subject's position at the moment the shutter is released and adjusts the focusing accordingly. Very useful for fast action sports.

As with the previous Pentax AF cameras, a green signal appears in the viewfinder and an optional electronic beep sounds when the focus is true.

The new FA lenses all have a comfortably sized manual focusing ring if you choose manual focus or if the lens is used on a non AF camera.

Another improved feature is the wide focussing range on the new 28-80mm FA zoom. It can focus down to just 40cm at any part of the zoom range. With the zoom at 80mm, a 40cm subject to camera distance will give a pretty good close-up.

Introducing Hyper Manual

The Z-10 has four exposure modes: program, manual, hyper manual and program TTL flash.

In the Program mode the camera adjusts both the aperture and shutter speeds to give the correct exposure. If you move to the telephoto end of a zoom or fit a telephoto lens, a micro chip built into the lens links with the camera exposure systems and the program mode will automatically move to fast shutter speeds to guard against camera shake.

Metered manual allows complete control by the photographer. Shutter speeds and apertures can be selected to suit the picture content and the camera viewfinder display shows when the correct combination for correct exposure has been selected.

Hyper manual is a new system. When the camera is in metered manual mode, depressing the hyper manual button instantly sets the correct shutter speed, making it possible to adjust the exposure settings from those automatically set by the camera, and to control the depth of field.

Multi Pattern or Spot Metering

The camera's metering system varies according to the exposure mode. In program, the system is multi-pattern metering, taking evaluative readings from six areas within the frame. When the hyper button is pressed and the camera is pressed, and the camera is in program, it switches to exposure compensation to allow for over, or under, exposure of the subject in 0.5 EV steps by using the +/- button on the back of the camera. When the Z-10 is set to metered manual mode the system uses spot metering, taking readings from the central, 2.5%, area of the frame.

The camera has shutter speeds from 1/2000 sec to 4 sec in program (stepless) and 1/2000 to 1 sec and bulb in manual. The EV range is from EV1 to EV21. The Z-10 automatically sets DX coded film over a wide range of film speeds: ISO 25 up to ISO 5000.

Built in Flash

Like the earlier Pentax AF SLR cameras, the Z-10 has a retractable TTL flash built into the top prism housing of the camera. When used in program mode, it provides program flash capability. The camera automatically adjusts the balance between the subject and the background coupling with the multi pattern metering.

Combining the RTF with the hyper manual mode, slow shutter speed shooting can easily be achieved. This means that you can use flash to illuminate action in the foreground of a night shot exposed by selecting a slow shutter speed. If the lighting conditions are too extreme for a satisfactory result, warnings appear in the viewfinder and LCD panel. The hot shoe fitting on the top plate of the camera will accept any of the dedicated Pentax flashguns.

The Z-10 has a large, clear LCD panel and an exceptionally bright viewfinder with aspheric-micro-matte focusing screen. All film handling (loading, film advance and rewind) is automatic, powered by the single lithium battery housed in the grip and there is a 12 second, cancellable, self-timer. Remote release for bulb exposure is available using cable switch F.

To fulfill all the options available on the Z-10 camera, one of the Pentax FA Power Zoom lenses must be fitted. However, following the Pentax philosophy of lens compatibility, any bayonet mount Pentax lens can be used on the new camera.

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