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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 : 03:14 PM Friday 02 May, 2003

Another note that may be of interest, the Pentax SMC 500mm f4.5 gave better test results in sharpness and contrast when compared to the old Leica Telyt telephotos. (The Leica APO 400mm f2.8 was probably Leica's best ever telephoto lens, but there again, so was the price. In that respect, the Pentax 2.8 version is a cheaper option!).

Url : http://
Date : 02:56 PM Friday 02 May, 2003

Robert - I would say that the 300 FA 2.8 with 1.4XL converter would match (and exceed in most cases) the A*,and FA 400 f/5.6 lenses.
In my view the Sigma 400 f/5.6 macro is better than the A, and FA 400mm f5.6 lenses.
The FA 300 f/4.5 lens is far sharper than the FA 400 f/5.6.

I have owned two A* 300 f/4 lenses and found them very good, extremely compact and versatile. I also used it with the 1.4XS converter and found it OK (but not superb) - 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 conveter-to-lens bayonet. Extra support under the lens-converter dramatically improves matters, but a removable tripod collar (like found on the Sigma 300 f4 Macro version) would have been better.
I can see the same problems with the FA 300 f/4.5 as it does not have a sturdy tripod mount like the A* 300 2.8 or FA 300 f.2.8 lenses.
Another problem is the F/4.5 aperture of the FA 300 when matched with a X1.4 or X2 converter. The older manual F4 version was better in this respect, although the F4 actually became F/4.5 when the manual 300 lens was focused from near to distant objects due to non-inner foccussing.

If you already have an FA 300mm f/4.5, then I would just buy the extra converter, but if you primarily need a hand-holdable 400mm, then I'd go for the Sigma 400mm F5.6 macro. (Although the Pentax 400 5.6 lenses have never been their top telephotos, the manual Pentax A* 400mm f/2.8 was, and still is, one the sharpest 400mm lenses ever made.....but sadly one the heaviest and most expensive!).

3. From : Jay Hart (
Url : http://
Date : 03:09 AM Friday 02 May, 2003

Robert, I recommended the Tokina ATX-I, manual focus, because of years of fantastic experience with it, including wide open at 300mm. Perhaps I have a very good unit. The color and definition are unbeatable even by outresolving primes. It collimates well as to indications vs. primes. Sharpness and Snap are there. Yes, even with the 1.4Xs I have very good results. It is neck and neck with the 300A star and that combo, and closed down, slightly better than the A star.

I have no experience with the F or FA 300mm f4.5 with this combo, but Mico or Globetrotter may. Certainly the 300 4.5 f or fa is an uncanny lens, highly rated. Better than the A star f 4, but lesser than the Fa f 2.8. Pentax recommended the aforementioned 1.4 Xs combo with the F 300mm, and, I suspect for marketing reasons, not with the Fa (they recommend the 1.4XL, as was not initially available), supposedly the same optical configuration without the tripod mount many prefer. I used to buy these latter convertors at their warehouse sales for friends, at about 40% off, who swear by the results with their big lenses.

I have tried to stay away from owning massive cumbersome long optics, though the widest aperture prime long lenses with low dispersion glass are usually the most superb. The set-up and use of these is difficult. I recently borrowed the 300 f2.8 FA and was amazed at the results (but do not wish to invest $4500 in it). As I occasionally shoot the Canon Eos system as an assignment jobber for news agencies owning this gear, including their digital bodies, I can say that Pentax is the finest 300mm f 2.8 I've ever used, better than Canon, and almost as fast focusing with the MZ-S. The Tokina ATX pro 300mm f 2.8 is just slightly lesser in quality, here going for about $1700, a strong consideration, and better than any other third party like lens: it outrates the fa 300mm 4.5.

I have had disappointing results with the FA 400mm, f 5.6, am selling it, and have been picking Globetrotter's brain on alternatives, including the discontinued Sigma 400mm macro, with 77mm filter. He has some positive experience, including with its 1:3 so called "macro" capability. He calls it a good build quality too. This has been discontinued by Sigma and may be replaced by an ex version, but, with long focus zoom trends, perhaps not (it may be usurped by the 80-400 ex).

The trend is to manufacture medium to long tele zooms, aperture for aperture, as evidenced with research, quality seemingly led by Sigma. The 135 to 400 f4-5.6 is a winner, the Tamron and Tokina 80-400 mm are not. Sigma ten years ago, and in consumer zooms, had very bad build quality, shying away pro users, just like consumer zoom others. Recently Sigma came out with an 80-400 mm ex stabilization optic of similar aperture to the fixed long primes--not available for Pentax due to the HSM type of approach alone for this one. I have not found any user ratings posted.

The thing that the lens tests do not show, or confirm, is color and snap, and ergonomics of use. I still stand by the ATX-1, which, for about $180-250 used in an A mount is a quality leader. Nothing compares without putting up a couple of thousand more dollars. Years ago I had a Novoflex 400 f 5.6 in a leica mount, which was very good, but other coatings have eclipsed its reality rendering.

Certainly the ATX will be lesser in outcome than the Leica or Canon in the focal range you desire, and lesser than the wide open aperture primes, including the wonderful Sigma 500 f 4.5. The thing though is to look at the slides as a result of tripod shooting, and draw your own use conclusions. I have probably dumped a dozen lenses since going to the Pentax mount in my lifetime, not this one.

By the way, the five test sites I have under "favorites" in my browser do vary in their findings on the advocated Tokina zoom. I think the Photozone site, built of user input, would be the best for your consideration in that regard. Teleconvertors are another whole ball of wax; so I am wondering if any 1.4X auto focus convertors made by anyone will prove useful? Good hunting, Jay

4. From : Robert Clark (
Url : http://
Date : 10:04 PM Thursday 01 May, 2003

What would you expect to give you better results: the F 300mm f4.5 plus the 1.4xS converter, or the 400 f5.6 on its own? I am particularly interested in the differences at the widest apertures.

Jay has recommended the Tokina ATX 100-300mm f4 zoom as a good wildlife lens, yet on taking his advice and checking the photodo MDF charts I am not particularly impressed - wide open at 300mm it seems weak and certainly much poorer than the FA 300mm f4.5 at maximum aperture. I know the zoom would be theoretically more flexible in use, allowing a backing off when needed, but I am reluctant to pay the price in resolution, colour balance and weight.

I have long lusted after a Leica Telyt 400mm f 6.8 in combination with a Leicaflex SL2, for premium quality, bright finder and superb ergonomic stability. The results I have seen, even at slow shutter speeds, are stunning. Novoflex even make their own fast focusing grip for their own version of this Leica unit, complete with a shoulder pod, for use on a Pentax, but at 2,500 Euro it is out of my price range and the Leica Telyt, even plus Leicaflex SL2 in excellent secondhand condition, is cheaper.

Any experience with the F 300mm f4.5 and converter? Will it be so much poorer than the Leica? I am aware that a great advantage with the Leica set up is the stabilizing shoulder grip for hand-holding. However I am sure I could rig something equivalent up for the Pentax F 300, converter and LX if the basic optical quality of the combination is worth the effort.

Url : http://
Date : 07:06 PM Thursday 01 May, 2003

Anton, are you sure that it isn't because your 'model' just prefers to be as far as possible from you?!
Mind you, the flattering perspective of photos taken with the 500mm 4.5 when compared to your 50mm 1.2 or 135mm 1.8 may be the reason she keeps pretending she doesn't hear you.....

By the way, the 500mm 4.5 works quite well with the grey ED Pentax A-1.4XL converter, although watch out for vignetting at smaller apertures.

6. From : Anton (
Url : http://
Date : 07:25 AM Thursday 01 May, 2003

Just to let you all know that the SMC 500 f4.5 makes a very fine portrait lens. Flattering perspective, nicely sharp on the subject and turns the background into soup. The only problem is communicating with the model from so far away. If it's windy even shouting can fail to be heard.


7. From : Anton (
Url : http://
Date : 03:59 PM Monday 28 April, 2003

Camera Direct in Sunny Brighton UK is a good source. Peter often advertises new LX fastener straps and sometimes lists them on eBay. Go to: head for Other Brands and you should find his new Pentax kit. Anton

8. From : Donald Brown (
Url : http://
Date : 05:07 AM Monday 28 April, 2003

Hi all: Does anyone know of a source for an LX strap or strap connectors, preferably in UK? Or does anyone have a spare gathering dust which they would be prepaired to sell Many thanks DB

Url : http://
Date : 05:08 PM Friday 25 April, 2003

There are no doubts in my mind that the greatest chances of obtaining sharp and superb portraits of rare species of birds and animals is to take them in zoos, game parks and nature reserves, or even expensive "wild" cat, wolf, bear reserves etc. Safari Parks and National parks often offer better opportunities to obtain nature photos in a more naturally 'wild' setting. Time is often the deciding factor, and it may take several months to take a decent photo of a wolf in the wilds of northern Canada, where as it could take only a few hours to obtain a similar-looking photo, or even better photo from a local wolf reserve. The Canadian or Russian wilderness photo of a wolf may be important to the actual photographer, but rarely is it to the magazine or book editor. I tend to work in both spheres, blending my photography work in both semi-captive and wild photography. As always, it is the semi-captive shots that make the better sellers, but the wilderness shots that make the more important impacts on my own life, satisfaction, and memories. In the wilds, I use large-aperture long telephoto lenses on tripods for distant large animals or birds, smaller-aperture long telephoto lenses handheld for stalking, macro lenses for insects or snakes, medium telephoto or wide-angles on tripods for remote-control work, and wide-angle (plus the odd telephoto) for landscape work. Sportfishing in remote and wild locations forms a large part of my work, and possibly the most used lenses for this type of work are the 24mm, 100mm macro and 400mm (the wide angle lens taking 90% of the shots). The comments about photographing wildfowl and other birds at water height is a good one. Most of what we see as we walk around is viewed at head height 5-6ft above the ground or water. A photograph taken either from a great height, or at ground and water suface level often makes a bigger impact on our visual excitement, merely because it is 'out of the ordinary'. Often the most important factor that makes a good photo great, is its originality......

10. From : Jay Hart (
Url : http://
Date : 02:06 AM Saturday 19 April, 2003

Tim FitzHarris (SP?) has a recent book release on the "ROCKY MOUNTAINS" which shows the saturation beauty of Pentax SMC 645 lenses combined with high saturation transparency films, primarily on Fuji Velvia. In its photo technique section at the rear of the book he mentions always using graduated ND filters for such scenics: to balance the sky's contrast with that of the land. And he mentions that he does not mount these on a lens using filter frames, such as the Cokin and others, but uses "duct tape" as his choice for mounting. Any insight into this way and need for mounting? I've most always used slightly larger ND graduated filters, as those sized for 6X6 cm lenses, on 35 mm lenses with filter adaptors. But Tim's work is so compelling and inspiring as nature color work, I wonder why the tape? He uses too the standard axiom of shooting within the first or last two hours of daylight for interesting color and contrast. Further, he mentions shooting wolves and other animals from a released captivity ranch being "the only way" he knows how to have them as available subject matter. For birds he uses blinds, in Alberta and British Columbia, with lens height set about 8 inches above the water, for a natural angle akin to the waterfowl, while standing in the blinds in chest height waders. I wonder what other techniques for animal and bird work in outdoor environs have proven useful to LX photographers? --Jay

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