Pentax Z-10 autofocus 35mm slr

The Pentax Z-10 is an entry level 35mm autofocus single lens reflex camera from the Pentax Z series introduced in the early 1990’s. It was actually the first of the Z series and paved the way for such fantastic cameras as the Z-1p which is one of my favourite autofocus film cameras.

Pentax Z-10 Images

My Pentax Z-10 camera

This is a camera I purchased for a few pounds simply to augment my Z series collection.

I have the Z-1 and Z-1p which are the top end cameras, and also the Z-20 which is a mid-range unit, so I acquired the Z-10 just to make the collection more complete.

The camera came with a standard 28 to 80mm autofocus zoom lens which would have been a typical standard lens supplied with the camera when new.

Once I fitted a battery to the camera and switched it on everything sprang into life and seems to be working properly. All the camera’s controls are working and the film transport seems to be working correctly although I can’t completely confirm that until I put a film through it.

Pentax Z-10 description

The Z-10 is one of the lower spec cameras in the Z series range and was available for a lower price point because of that.

The Z series followed on from the SF series which were Pentax’s introduction to autofocus (well apart from a single autofocus lens made for a variant of the ME range) and so had a slightly improved autofocus performance from that series. The basic mechanism for autofocus was the same however (and still the same on Pentax’s modern digital cameras) which is a mechanical screw driven from a motor in the camera body. Although this can be noisy and a bit slower than the modern option of ultrasonic motors, it has the advantage of allowing most pentax cameras being able to focus most lenses.

The viewfinder on the Z-10 is noticeably darker than the Z-1 units and this is because the reflective element of the viewfinder is a penta mirror rather than a penta prism which was a cost saving option. The information in the viewfinder is as you would expect for an entry level unit – quite limited. In a panel down the right hand side of the viewfinder is a green P to indicate program mode selected, a red + and – used to indicate over / under exposure in manual mode with a circle to indicate correct exposure, a flash icon to indicate when flash is needed and a green focus confirmation light. In the centre of the viewfinder itself is a rectangle to mark the autofocus sensor zone.

The top of the camera has an LCD information panel, which is a bit of a plus for a camera of this class, and it displays things like frame number, exposure mode, shutter speed in manual mode etc. Because the LCD is on the top of the camera, the external flash connection is in the characteristic off centre position on the right hand side of the camera as with all the models of this series.

The control layout is very simple because there isn’t much to adjust on this mostly automatic camera. There are two + and – buttons just behind the shutter release which alter the shutter speed in manual mode, and the exposure compensation in P mode. The exposure compensation is applied with a small button on the back of the camera, and there is a self timer button just above the main On/Off switch on the top left of the camera. The only other control is the Auto/Manual focus switch on the bottom of the lens mount.

The Pentax Z series included the best 35mm autofocus camera Pentax ever made – the Z-1P and although the Z-10 certainly isn’t in the same class as the Z-1P there are elements in the design which point towards that camera. So although I probably won’t use the Z-10 much I’m glad to have it in my collection.

Pentax Z-10 Camera Manual

I’ve started to augment the collection of camera manuals on the site and since I now have the Z-10 manual in PDF format I’ve included it here as well as the linked, online version in the spec list below.


Pentaz Z-10 specification

  • Pentax Z-10 35mm autofocus slr camera
  • DX coding of film without override
  • Program mode AE and manual mode
  • Pentax K-af2 mount
  • Penta mirror viewfinder
  • Limited viewfinder information + top panel LCD
  • 12 second self timer
  • Automatic film loading and transport
  • Built in flash
  • 2CR5 battery – required for operation
  • Manual available on-line here

10 Replies to “Pentax Z-10 autofocus 35mm slr”

  1. Hi Simon. I want to try film photography but I don’t know which camera should I choose. I’m using pentax k-x now. Mostly with old manual lenses (my favourite ones so far are lenses from ricoh’s rikenon xr series). Does image quality mostly depends on what film is used or is camera very important too? What camera would you recommend for a total film beginner?

    I’m planning to buy scanner for negatives. I will use it as my “home scanner” too so it has to be a flatbed one. Which model (or series) of scanner would you recommend? In Poland I can buy canon scanners cheaply.
    Greetings from Poland

    1. Hi Oskar

      I think the image quality comes down to three elements – the film, the lens quality and the accuracy of the exposure. Since the ‘look’ you get is also dependant on the film it’s best to experiment with a few until you get the look you are after. If you want to carry on using your current Ricoh lenses then you probably want to find a camera body which will take Pentax K mount lenses and you have a lot of choice really as Pentax made some great camera bodies which you can pick up very cheaply. I would probably steer clear of the MZ range because they have reliability issues but the P30 series were good as were the Z series. If you are happy with a large camera body (ie you don’t mind the weight to carry about) the Z-1 were superb. I have taken some sample pictures with many of the Pentax range so if you look at my Pentax collection you can see what the cameras are capable of

      1. Thanks. I know about reliability issues of the mz series. As you mentioned I would like to stay with pentax k mount. I thought about pentax sfx series, z series, p30 series, a series (programA, superA etc.). I heard that p30 series is very good for beginners but I would like to have an AF too 🙂 . Does every AF pentax (with MF lens) film body has this beep to confirm focus (focus peaking?) ?

        1. Hi

          I can’t say for certain but every one I’ve used has the focus confirm beep.

          For AF I would go for the Z series either the Z-1p or the Z-20. The Z-1p is a bit more expensive to find but considering what you get for the money they are fantastic value.

  2. What about MF? Which one would you recommend? I like p30 series cameras. Is looking for A series camera worth effort? Is it a lot better? Is the difference between p30 cameras and A series camera’s so big? I can find p30 cameras in Poland very easily. A series cameras are lot harder to find.

    1. If it’s easy to get the P30T then personally I would go for that since it has aperture priority which is my preferred shooting setup. Since I use that mode 90% of the time I wouldn’t worry too much about the A series since it doesn’t add that much.

  3. Hi Simon,
    Thank you for being so versed in your knowledge of the Pentax…..quick question for you…i recently acquired a Pentax p-z-10 , I need to check it out ,can you recommend where I can get it repaired. Also, where can i pickup batteries and film. I love in New York.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Sussan
      Thanks for the vote of confidence! I’m sorry to say that I can’t advise where you could get a PZ-10 repaired in the US (or in the UK as it happens). Do you know it needs repair or do you just want to check it? The easiest way to check it is to load it up with a film and try it out. The batteries are pretty standard and the film is available in lots or stores – both are available on Amazon. Good luck!

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