Pentax MG Repair


When I found this Pentax MG body "as is" in the thrift store for a measly 10 dollars, I could not resist buying it. It was the smallest SLR I had ever seen, barely bigger than some point-and-shoots, and it came with automatic shutter speed, so I reasoned it would make a nice street photography camera. Another camera wouldn't hurt, and even though it was clearly broken at the time, it's only ten dollars, right?

Actually, I was kind of right. Even before I made the payment, I had identified two issues: the film winding lever did not cock the shutter or mirror, and there was a piece of metal hanging out in the viewfinder window. But a day after I took it home, when I began repairs, I found several videos online about the winding lever issue that many people had experienced with a similar model, the Pentax ME (the ME and the MG have identical internal mechanisms). Turned out, I just needed to take off the bottom of the camera and apply lubricant to a mirror latch inside. So I did that, using a bent paperclip to direct bearing oil to the latch, and after a few wiggles and a few shutter cycles, the issue seemed fixed. Sometimes the mirror still didn't catch, so I left the shutter cocked and let the latch break in just to be safe. Meanwhile, I began unscrewing the top cover, but not before realizing I had an assignment due the next day. The following afternoon when I came back to the camera, the film winding issue had disappeared, and so, seemingly, had the bit of metal in the viewfinder. I put the camera back together, and then it was... fully working? I put a couple of batteries in, and the automatic shutter speed worked just fine.

Yeah, ten dollars and at most 45 minutes of repair work. And now I have a working Pentax MG. I still don't have a lens for it, as all my lenses use either m42 or m39 thread mounts, and the MG has a Pentax K mount, but holding up my Spotmatic's Takumar lens to where a lens should go on the MG, everything looked perfectly fine and clear on the viewfinder, so there were no prism issues either. I'm not sure what the moral of the story is. Don't overlook cheap, broken cameras? Take the time to fix old stuff? In any case, I probably just got really lucky.