I don’t mean to knock a camera right off the bat, but honestly, Pentax could have done far better than the Pentax MG. Built as part of the compact M series of Pentax SLRs following the release of the Olympus OM-1. Designed as an entry level camera and it shows, bare-bones, simple, and so small it hurts. But you have to take the good with the bad in these reviews, and it’s been a while since I found a camera that I immediately disliked the moment I picked it up. Thanks to James Lee for loaning out the MG for review.

CCR Review 85 - Pentax MG

The Dirt
Make: Pentax
Model: MG
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 35mm, 36x24mm
Lens: Interchangeable, Pentax K Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1981-1984

CCR Review 85 - Pentax MGCCR Review 85 - Pentax MG

The Good
Probably the best part about the camera is the fact it has a K-Mount, you have at least access to a set of fantastic lenses that you can easily mount, and you may even get a solid Pentax-M lens attached when you get the camera. Operations are simple, a pull out to turn on with the advance lever and that has a great short throw. You have your shutter speeds displayed along the edge of your viewfinder which is far better than the MV which was the original entry-level camera of the M-Series. But in this case, as soon as I took the camera out the battery died, thankfully the manual override speed of 1/100″ I could at least using the Sunny-16 technic to keep going. And the camera has next to no weight so it can be carried in any bag or even a large pocket if you must especially if you have the 28mm Pentax-M lens.

CCR Review 85 - Pentax MGCCR Review 85 - Pentax MG

The Bad
As I mentioned in the introduction, the camera is so small it hurts. I can barely wrap my hands around it comfortably. Which is, what the designers were going for, but honestly even though it’s light I couldn’t imagine using it for a whole day and actually enjoying it. Despite being easy to use, the camera itself feels cramped. I’ve had the chance to use both the ME and ME Super, and while they are designed to be semi-automatic cameras, they at least have a little more space around the controls. And finally the viewfinder is fairly dim, even with an f/2 or f/2.8 lens and the LED readout for the shutter speeds works great in daylight but in low light situations can be hard to read.

CCR Review 85 - Pentax MGCCR Review 85 - Pentax MG

The Lowdown
The small form-factor Pentax cameras are excellent choices, they provide a less-expensive option and if you already have a set of K-Mount lenses, you can easily move between the larger models like the K-Series and the M-Series with ease. But you want to avoid the entry-level options. If you are considering a purchase the ME Super or MX will be a better choice than the MV, MV1 and especially the MG.

All Photos Taken in St. Jacobs, Ontario
Pentax MG – SMC Pentax-M 1:2.8 28mm – Fomapan 200 @ ASA-100
Pyrocat-HD (1+1+100) 8:00 @ 20C


  1. I have to disagree. I have taken photos in Victoria Australia’s High Country. That friends could not believe that they were photos I had taken. They thought that they were professional postcard. That was back in 1986. I have only recently pulled the camera out again and am putting it to the test once more.

    1. Author

      Fair enough! I’ve reviewed many cameras that I have thought were bad, only to have others reply that they find them amazing. It’s all about personal opinion. I write about my own experiences with each piece of equipment.

  2. I’m not sure the battery has anything to do with the camera. I have had the same battery in mine for 3 years. Perhaps replace the battery before you do the review?

    Also, the camera is small and fits in a jacket pocket and comes with a really good f/2.0 lens most times. I am not sure why you feel the camera is cramped, there are literally no controls to use , just the Aperature ring. Just look through and press the button, with artistic control over depth of field. It’s what the camera was designed for.

    Good meter, will do long exposures In the 15-20s range in my experience.

    Good for street shooting vs a point and shoot if you want to try different lenses. I walk around just holding it in one hand for hours.

    1. I disagree, I like this camera és with 50mm f2, which is perfect for street and I often use it for portraits as well. Reliable and since I keep it in a bag I don’t have any problem with the battery. I even worked with it in a studio. So as entry level camera into analogue photography I would recommend it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *