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Pentax LX - Message Board/Guestbook

Industry wide indications and ceasing film body development by Pentax altogether in early 2003 more than suggest the manual focus Pentax LX will not be having an upgrade (except, perhaps for very rare Limited Edition Models hand assembled by special commission by the new HoyaPentax Corporation). In 2008 Pentax became a division of Hoya Corporation, which had together with Pentax released jointly developed professional grade optics (since 2005); Pentax has shifted its attention to development of auto focus Digital SLRs having build qualities constructed for the long run--now with weather seals--like the LX. You may use this site for common support and sharing of mutual users knowledge or experiences among yourselves. You may also use this message board as a guestbook for the advanced users Pentax SLR cameras from the LX forward, including many such auto focus film cameras, and Pentax digital SLR cameras. We keep the site going too for the WORD SEARCH FEATURE found here as to its magnificent K mount system user archives: as have been shared here for many years. Have an inquiry related to Pentax gear? First try KEYING IN YOUR KEY WORD(S) for a preexisting archived response on your subject of inquiry from this LX site. If your inquiry or sharing is from advanced users K10D, K20D, or K200D SLR needs, proceed on to t NEW PENTAX ADVANCED USERS K10D, K20D SLR site.

This LX site was specifically created for the great Pentax LX SLR camera model(s), and now has incorporated increased opportunity for an expanded interchange with the introductions of the Pentax K10D, K20D, and K200D SLRs to include advanced and professional digital user models. Interchange is encouraged with the intention to continue as a forum for advanced system users of past K-mount film based SLR systems and the mentioned Pentax DSLRs. With decreasing forum traffic here, and enthusiasts moving on with SLR digital imaging products futures, we hope the continued convenience of this site and its past Pentax advanced LX users data archives--provided by the database KEY WORD SEARCH FEATURE found here--can be very useful to you. Most past site user techniques, systems components, and lenses of Pentax advanced applications--as have been past examined by users on this site--are still of use regarding the newest Pentax SLRs. Please don't mail us with other than constructive suggestions or to rectify mistakes found within this site, thank you. Since this is a non-profitable resource site, maintained by professional and advanced system users, the developer of this site reserves the rights to censor or delete any inappropriate, unrelated, misleading or excessively hostile messages posted herein. If your intention is to dispose of your Pentax cameras or its accompanying accessories and/or you are looking for a used model, or even for any of its system components: please use a separate section with a higher volume of related traffic for these purposes: on the
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Url : http://
Date : 05:22 AM Friday 09 May, 2003

I will be in France and Italy during the next 4-5 weeks, hopefully to bring back a bag-full of good photos - so will be away from this forum for a while. Enjoy your photography, and I hope you capture some 'magic moments'. Globetrotter.

2. From : Svenska Dansk (
Url : http://
Date : 05:04 AM Friday 09 May, 2003

Long lenses present a challenge. For those 500mm and up I use the Swedish naturalist method for support. Get a large diameter plastic drainpipe, cut the length normally used for a tripod. It will prove lighter than a tripod, and slightly more mobile at set-up. In its top cut two opposing Vs to take the barrel of the lens. You catch the idea, I am sure. This absorbs vibration better than a tripod, and carries the weight well, and is maneuverable. It works well even with the 1000mm. It works on various kinds of ground. I've succeeded with sharp pro results at 1/30th with the 500 and 1/60th with the 1000mm with this support. This beats a tripod for stability (even with a cable or wire release) for long lenses are not stable only supported at the balance point, nor by the lens collar, or tripod shoe. Also, Don't hesitate like the man shooting in Africa on this site, to use arms and a hand to push down the lens onto the support (he also used elbows and knees, apparently to absorb vibration). It is the long large end of the lens which is most risky to vibration, and the need to support at the balance point, and especially the long lens end, is great for getting solid shots.A calbe release will only hinder sharpness.

Sometimes I use the SUV hood, padded with my driver's seat pad to catch wildlife or scenes. With the engine off this gives great support, and can become a "hide" for the photographer. Shots below 1/125th are almost impossible to get with a long lens, with the shooting-keep ratio going down as shutter speed lessens while on a tripod. Using a filmmaking liquid head helps or the above metod Jay, let me know if you'll be at Finse this summer, regards, Svenska

3. From : Jose R. Rodriguez (
Url : http://
Date : 02:35 AM Tuesday 06 May, 2003

Hi Jay, I am still here but had not checked the Board in a couple of days. The longest lenses I have owned are a SMC-M* Pentax 300mm f/4.0 and a SMC-K 200mm f/2.5 and I always tend to use (and like using) my Bogen/Manfrotto 3218 Monopod (replaced by 681B) and a Bogen/Manfrotto 3229 Swivel Tilt Head w/Quick Release for support. I do not own "Big Glass" so I really do not have lots of stability problems. My photos always appear sharp (vibration free). Regards, Jose R. Rodriguez

4. From : Jay Hart (
Url : http://
Date : 02:31 AM Sunday 04 May, 2003

Jose R. Rodrigez, are you still on board? Your input is always insiteful. What support systems do you find viable?--JH

Url : http://
Date : 02:19 AM Sunday 04 May, 2003

I used the SMC 500mm 4.5 for some photos handheld on my recent trips in Africa (although most were with a sturdy Manfrotto tripod) and they produced superb results, although I was sitting inside a vehicle with my elbows braced tight against my knees. The best shots with the 500mm were of cheetah and lions at rest, but the 400mm f/5.6 produced far more 'unbraced' sharp shots of moving subjects.

During most of my expeditions to India I have found that the main problem was having too long a telephoto with me. By far the best results, even with tigers, have come from using the 200mm or 300mm, and not with 400mm, 500m, or 600mm - mainly because often I just was able to get so near to wild subjects! I tend to 'live' in tents for 4-5 weeks at a time and this does allow wildlife to come very close (sometimes too close for comfort!). However, when you are on an elephant or inside a vehicle, the shorter but faster telephotos produced the best photos. I don't use zooms, but judging on results from friends who did use them, the 80-200 ED f/2.8 resulted in the best photos.

I also found relatively slow lenses of f/5.6 or slower were OK in good light, but the faster lenses were always needed in the 'gorgeous' warm and filtered light of early morning or late evening - or even at midday under the canopy of forest cover.
So, in my own opinion, the slow Leitz telephotos, although good, would not bring back as many 'winning' shots as the Pentax F* 300mm f/4.5 would.
My other favourite lenses used in India, especially for the fantastic variety of snakes and insects, were the Pentax A* 200mm ED f/2.8 and the FA 100mm macro f/2.8.

6. From : Anton (
Url : http://
Date : 02:37 AM Saturday 03 May, 2003

Robert, just had a thought. Why not get yourself a mirror lens? Okay, probably can't compete with absolute quality of conventional lenses but some have a very good reputation; the Vivitar Solid Cats for one. The Pentax Mirrors may be a bit long, starting at 1000mm but there is a 400-600 f8-12 mirror zoom (the only mirror zoom in existence I think). Of course they're not very fast BUT they're extremely compact, light and easy to wield and you may find yourself getting pictures with the mirror lens and a bean bag or similar that you miss when trying to wield a Telyt and converter, just a thought.

Jay, a speedy and complete recovery to you. Anton p.s. Hoorah! I checked the above in Word and I hadn't made any shpelling mistakes. I knew I could still shpell, I new it.

7. From : Jay Hart (
Url : http://
Date : 02:22 AM Saturday 03 May, 2003

In the world of website publishing let me say that this site excells (even if I do say so myself). Its experienced professional maintainers are from Britain, the USA, and Canada; the chat contributors are from every continent. And our interchange is accomplished decently and with order. So, don't hesitate to pitch in, question and assert. We offer and desire both a lively and contemplative photographers' interchange. And we offer the interpersonal ability to get to the answers we all seek in reference to using the LX and its accessories with bravado. Thanks to all. --Jay

8. From : Jay Hart (
Url : http://
Date : 01:31 AM Saturday 03 May, 2003

As Globetrotter and I have already given answers to your comparison questions, there is no reason to repeat them here. Indeed the SMC Pentax 500 does outperform the Leica cited, but, is a very large optic, difficult to follow focus with. In the past I mentioned that, in its design era, Nikon, Leica, and Canon owners had it adopted to their gear, because it was excellent, and, relatively speaking, inexpensive. It still is a great lens, but cumbersome. The Sigma 400 f 5.6 macro and 135-400 mm zoom lenses are worth researching as less cumbersome.

To answer your question, the ATX manual focus 100-300 f4 will be very good to excellent, just a notch below superb: still better than most smaller optics, even primes, as mentioned in combo (excepting the prime 300 f or fa's). Yes, it has a tripod collar. It is difficult to locate used, as people hold on to them,and it is not being made any longer (nor is the different optical formula ATXII auto focus still being made in that configuration. I have no experience with it.). It is a manageable follow focus lens on a tripod with some head drag, and, at fast shutter speeds, is hand holdable. Build quality is excellent, and its various internal mechanical movements undertaken to zoom do not get out of alignment over time. Its color and definition are amazing, better than some of my SMC lenses. It is at the top of its grouping at the Photozone equpment testing/report site, listed under "Pentax f, fa, and a". This was made when Tokina was just started as a company by ex-Nikon engineers, who wanted to prove something, and did. Third party manufacturers could usurp the OEMs, and save money at the same time.

The additional issue of needed camera/lens support has now been raised and has, in addition to bean or BB pill type bags, many viable solutions. Kirk and others make suspension gyroscopic geometry design type supports for lens tripod collars, which replace the heads on most tripods: while offering support from above or the side, not below from the tripod base. These place the lens in these units suspended center, or at a reinforced arch point(s). In addition, some massive ball heads offer fine adjustable drag features, and actually do absorb some vibration: without whiplash. This vibration/whiplash reality of long lens with motor drive handling is why the stabilization type optics are being now manufactured by Canon, Nikon, and Sigma. Camera/lens movement during exposure--always the bane of unsharp pictures--becomes acutely problematic when going beyond most 400mm focal length lenses size. Yet such lenses longer "reach" is often needed to acceptably compose wildlife without being intrusive. And, obviously, it is wildlife with some captured unusual behavior that editorially sells shots, not wildlife feeding on grass, salt licks, or hay with their heads bent down. It does help attract wildlife into an area to have put out salt licks.

Unusual behavior happens in places like Kenya and Tanzania, where the animals are still in some kind of semi-preditory ecobalance, with, as it were, the law of the jungle still a factor of observance and image capture. This kind of hunting tension, when captured, allures an image's audience and photographers alike. Camera support for such endeavors is quite the challenge for long lenses, even somewhat for the 100-300 zoom and up through 400mm primes as to getting sharp results. Beyond most 400mms, the f 2.8 400mm excepted as being a handling challenge like larger focal lengths, it becomes a matter of acute photographer attention during a shoot: how to achieve the stabilizing of the camera/lens combination, as alluded to often by many at this website?

What other types of supports do LX photographers use to ensure image stability, to lessen camera/lens movement, and tackle vibration and whiplash? Certainly all our combined field use can offer mutally edifying answers to this question...I often use, for example, a folding on-ground camp seat, which is composed of nylon over foam padding, lay it out, and roll up one of the folding halves: for on the ground support of my chest and the camera/lens combo (my chest on the flat half, the camera/lens on the rolled up half part of the seat). This too can second as part of a campsite ground bed system when in the wilds. And I anchor myself often to big rocks or trees and press against these to increase stability, where possible. I use tripods and monopods, when appropriate.

I will read with interest here others own achieved support systems. --Jay PS. I am walking for the first time this week without crutches after the knee surgery recovery! Hiking by summer!

9. From : Robert Clark (
Url : http://
Date : 08:02 PM Friday 02 May, 2003

Jay, Globetrotter, Anton, Thanks for your full and interesting replies.

Perhaps I should be a little clearer in what I am looking for and what I do not want.

I don't want any monster lenses, so that cuts out any 300 or 400 2.8's. I also don't want any large lenses without tripod mounts -so no FA 300 or the A* or M* 300's.

That sort of leaves the F 300 f4.5, or the Tokina ATX that Jay favours.

I'm still considering the Leica combination - mostly for ergonomics and hand-holdability and top quality. (I was surprised to read that Globetrotter claims the F 500 f4.5 Pentax outperforms the leica Telyt - this seems to contradict all that I have heard - where did you see this?)

I am assuming that the 100-300 Tokina ATX has a tripod mount - is that so? Does anyone else have experience with this lens or has, at least, seen the results and can confirm the 'snap' and 'colour' that Jay so likes? I don't want to seem too sceptical, it's just that I have never heard anything about this lens before. The price is obviously very attractive - can it really compare with the Pentax F 300 f4.5?

I already have the 1.4xS converter, so any lens I buy would have to perform well with that.

Here in India, when I am out photographing wildlife, I am far more likely to be wandering through a Nature reserve, stalking a Rhino or Gaur than I am to be sitting in a hide with a tripod, so something I can walk around with (therefore lightish) and something I can steady quickly in my hands (shoulder pod) would be the most useful combination.

This is why the big f2.8's are no good.

So you can see why I'm thinking either about the handgripped Leica Telyt, or the more versatile 300 plus converter and a self made shoulder pod. I don't mind having only f4 or f4.5 (or F5.6 -f6.8 with the converter or the Telyt) if they are top notch at this aperture, since it makes them easier to handle.

A lot of shooting is at dusk and dawn (this is when the animals appear), so the ability to have optimum quality at the maximum aperture available to me is a must.

Just one more note on the Telyt. People I know who use them say they never bother to stop down because it is so good wide open. Would this also be the case or could it with either the F300 f4.5 or the Tokina ATX with the converter? Or would you expect that I would have to stop down to compete with the Leica? If so, by how much would you need to stop down to compare?

10. From : Anton (
Url : http://
Date : 04:34 PM Friday 02 May, 2003

GLOBETROTTER says 'the main problem with sharpness when used with the converter is not the extra glass, but more the problem with extra vibration caused by the slightly lose fitting of the converter-to-lens bayonet. Extra support under the lens-converter dramatically improves matters.'

I say yup! Get yourself a beanbag. (more like 7 years when it comes to my favourite only slightly obscure film requirements) was selling The Pod - a beanbag with a tripod screw - for only a tenner. When I mount the 500mm 4.5 on my Manfrotto 058 tripod - this is a big centre braced beast with the 029 big three way head - the end of the lens visibly bounces if I tap or touch any part of the camera/lens combination. Firing the shutter causes some visible vibration - not a lot but a bit. If I screw the pod into the tripod socket of the 500 and rest it on a firm surface or even the top of the tripod, there is no bounce. The lens of course can wander if I don't keep still but it doesn't bounce. The tripod screw on the pod is great for lenses with a tripod socket and makes the assembly quite manoeuvrable. I just pick up the LX/500 SMC with pod screwed in and plonk it down where I need it, I can swivel it around as needed and I have shot at 1/125 with good results.

The screw on The Pod becomes a nuisance with lenses without a tripod socket as it threatens to scratch things, you can turn The Pod over but you may scratch the surface that your resting on or spoil the thread of the screw if you're on rock etc. Also the reverse side (bottom) of The Pod has a shiny water resistant surface that doesn't grip the lens very well... and also the central position of the screw doesn't suit cameras (or the LX winder) that have their tripod socket at one end. A bit of a one trick pony then but nothing does that one trick better... and for £10!

My suggestion: Get The Pod but do some research and also get a good quality PLAIN beanbag for lenses with no tripod socket - let us know if you find a good one.

Now, there should be no spelling mistakes as I typed this in Word and pasted it… cheating I know but I got ‘manoeuvre’ completely wrong.


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