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Modern Classic SLRs Series :
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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1. From : GLOBETROTTER (globetrotterworld@hotmail.com)
Url : http://
Date : 07:09 PM Saturday 23 November, 2002

Many people who read Jay's earlier comments about one of the world's greatest Adventure photographers - Galen Rowell - may not realise that he died tragically, together with his lovely wife, in a plane crash on August 11th this year. A sad loss to the world and a greater loss to the true 'heart' of photographgy. Galen (and his wife, who was also photographer) left behind a lifetime's showcase of his greatest work. Visit his impressive website: www.mountainlight.com - to view and 'feel' the magic 'inner' world of a master photographer.


2. From : Peter (p.smekal@telia.com)
Url : http://
Date : 07:08 PM Saturday 23 November, 2002

Has anyone actually compared a 'normal' LX with the Millennium model? I mean, are there any other differences than the 'cosmetics'?


3. From : GLOBETROTTER (globetrotterworld@hotmail.com)
Url : http://
Date : 06:55 AM Saturday 23 November, 2002

Some good and interesting advice from Jay - I hope many take notice! One of his best pieces of advice, and one that is often overlooked, is the need for a circular polorizer filter instead of a linear polarizer. Normally, in older manual SLR's a cheaper linear polorizer filter is all that is needed, but this will often cause severe under-exposure if used in front of a lens attached to an LX. This was an important point I overlooked during my first months many years back with the LX, and it was only when I finally came back from a photo-shoot in Italy with a batch of very dark pics on parts of the film, did I begin thinking that the camera was working incorrectly. In fact, it was me working incorrectly!


4. From : Jay Hart (ibcom@onebox.com)
Url : http://
Date : 03:25 AM Saturday 23 November, 2002

Perhaps, from the internet chat conversation going on on the subject, folks are not aware that what the meter says in the viewfinder as to LX shutter speed selection on automatic is subject to change once the mirror flips up during an exposure. Then, only after the mirror flipping up, the ongoing split second reflected light reading for the shutter speed actually used by the camera is made directly off the shutter curtain, or off the film itself. So, the camera shutter speed adjusts in the final exposure moment to that available light reality coming to the film (without the partially reflecting in place necessary to viewing mirror). It is necessary with any such SLR mirror in place to make a light reading for an SLR to give any information in the viewfinder at all. It is not necessary to actual exposure being highly accurate to go through the mirror for the selection of a final metering choice. Most SLRs selected their light readings without the final choice of an off the filmplane final reading the LX offers. Leica, Olympus, and Pentax professional cameras used the option of off the filmplane reading to ensure accuracy, for example, on TTL flash readings. This is a more accurate and highly technical way of dealing with the adjustment that the film needs to incoming light without the mirror in place to meet its given ISO rating for proper exposure. Literally no SLR that just uses a reading off the relected or through the reflecting SLR mirror, as most did, can be as accurate. The trade-off for this kind of "second phase" to actual exposure metering to get highly accurate exposure on the LX is that it will then differ from other cameras which represented their reflected off the mirror light readings as being accurate (when they will not be as accurate as the IDM kind of metering result). So, ask yourself, do I want to just be slightly misled by what the meter is saying when the mirror is down, and I can see its picute area and readings, as with all SLRs or do I want the incredibly accurate exposure IDM metering permits? Someone asked why have information in the viewfinder at all if it is wrong. THe question best asked is why not have information in the viewfinder as to probable exposure readings to give the best possible guesstimate, then have the accuracy of IDM? All other cameras without IDM are misleading all other photographers, more so than the LX.

To get an accurate representative light reading in the viewfinder on the LX on automatic using a polarizer, for example, that polarizer must be a circular polarizer. This is because of the way the meter reads off the semi-transparent partial transmission through the mirror, with its for viewfinder viewing partial reflection toward the center of the mirror going up with the rest of the mirrored image, and partial transmission of light coming through the mirror to the meter. The instant the mirror filps up the light meter performs slightly differently, no longer affected by the mirror pass through of light.

At that point in time, of the mirror being out of the light reading method path, a non-circular polarizer gives a perfectly accurate automatic shuttered exposure. So, either kind of filter will work to give a proper on time exposure, on automatic, but only one will give an initially fairly accurate meter reading in the viewfinder prior to actual exposure. Best advice: read your manuals! jay Hart


5. From : Peter (p.smekal@telia.com)
Url : http://
Date : 01:42 AM Saturday 23 November, 2002

Thanks Anton. Just some clarifications: I do not want to stop down the lense when firing the shutter, I just realized this (for me) strange behaviour, and got curious. I was using an M lense (50/1.4). (No A lense thus) Aperture 11 (to give an example). Film speed 400 ISO. Camera on AUTOMATIC. Viewfinder LEDs say 1/30 (Green), i.e. the LX 'thinks' when actually stopped down to 11 in the moment of firing, 1/30 will give a 'correct' exposure.

If the camera works fairly correct the shutter speed when firing should be in the range of 1/30 - otherwise the viewfinder information would be useless. Now I stop down with the DOF button, and the LEDs go way down to 1s (Yellow). The LX suddenly 'thinks' that 1s will give a correct exposure with aperture 11. Of course less light is falling on the photo diod, but shouldn't this 'darkness' have be calculated for in the AUTOMATIC mode when not pressing the DOF button. Well, I guess I'm just too stupid to get, but thanks for your help anyhow!


6. From : Jay Hart (ibcom@onebox.com)
Url : http://
Date : 01:33 AM Saturday 23 November, 2002

Reflections on the LX and the site:

I read this site about every three weeks, often e-mailing responses directly on technical issues from message board posters. I have owned three LXs, currently own two, and have Pentax autofocus Z series bodies as well. I use 16 pentax lenses for professional use. I have six flash units, three TTL, and three 283 Vivitars with accessories. I own Norman 2400 flash packs for portable location use, with appropriate reflectors and heads. I use a Minolta flash meter. I view photography by the classical definition: imaging (writing) with light. The rendition of Pentax photography equipment is the best out there, read the website testing reviews for thirty years of optical tests. Now being able to buy used 20th century Japanese optics on ebay for half their original cost is the best kept fine photography secret going. The new consumer zooms are frankly inferior.

As the late Galen Rowel noted (a Nikon Photographer and technical climber, once sports car mechanic, and noted outdoor photographer/author)some newer optics cannot replace certain older optics: as to lens speed, sharpness, lower distortion, color fidelity, reliability, and ease of use (not to mention careful/even prideful last century Japanese origin and assembly). Galen kept his mechanical 20mm Nikkor from 15 years back long after going autofocus. As globetrotter notes, this is the strength of keeping LXs going too, the precision and predictability for handling, great results, and use when maintained. It is the known outcome of certain older optics, i.e. their predictability and snap which is worth keeping it all going.

As for single focal length wide aperture optics, as the tests show, focal length for focal length this Japanese Pentax glass is excellent, even superior in many instances to the competitors. And Pentax kept it "miniature" through the introduction of the F series lenses. This meant more optics in the same size case than the other larger systems. And, unlike, e.g. Olympus, mechanically Pentax lenses were built for the long run. With true apertures, even often to the T stop. If the glove fits, or if the system fits your style of shooting and handling gear, this was and is a way to go. 16 X 20 prints from Pentax glass I have on hand are razor sharp, with incredible color depth, and snappy detail. Better than from the Nikorn F gear I started with. In twenty years of LX ownership, one body, in the year 2000, required maintenance. It was for sticky mirror syndrome (after 20 years of professional shooting, I cannot complain). Then Pentax USA replaced the meter variable resistor, as well as gaskets and the film advance mechanism parts which were damaged on auto advance when the mirror froze. This included replacing gears in the attached winder too, all for around $170.00. All specs were brought up to date and ensured. The workmanship was excellent. It is back to regular use. Recently another body, after 18 years of operation, has lost the mirror lock-up feature because of the screw that comes from the inside of the body to its control--also the self timer control--has loosened. Coincidentally, it seems that the penta-prism flash contacts are intermitant. I attribute these needs for maintenance to regular and demanding use. How often do you use your mirror lock-up or depth of field button? For me, every shoot. How many cars go up to twenty years, with as many moving parts as the LX, and do not need tweaking but every 20 years? No shutter intermitant unpredictablity, reported by some on this site, has ever been encountered. But then, it seems, people are playing witht the theoretical limits of the meter coupling range (3200 at f 1.4 reported not firing properly, as to the posted coupling range, na, of course it is na, give me a break!). In the manual, there is a section on meter coupling range for the IDM metering system. Under normal temperatures and humidity the wonderful and highly precise meter has a greater range and accuracy than comparable Nikon, Leica, and Canon gear. Leica dealers loved selling the LX when it was in production for its "leicalike" handling qualities (not to mention comparable glass, because of SMC). The known secret was that Japanese Pentax glass was par excellent! It still is.

I have had one lens of all develop oil on the diaphragm in twenty five years of its ownership (35mm f2), yet it still takes great pictures and functions (and, I think, was transported in heat on a local airline in the boonies, so it is not Pentax's engineering that failed). This is rugged and good gear, fits in everything from my climbing gear, to hard cases on the airplanes: and keeps on keepin on. My only complain from a design perspective is that the black finish is not hard enough, and scratches easily. But this, I am sure, has kept bandits from ripping me off on occasion. As for the digital SLR needs we all have from Pentax, they were wise to drop the Phillips Sensor, and high cost of the resulting body. Contax has had to recall and to wait to release its $7,500 body with the sensor. Even then, the chip developed heat and light hot spots on imaging. Pentax is wise to wait for a reliable 35mm comparable size CCD that is affordable to build a digital sensor body around. This will happen in time, I assure you. Fuji and others suffered from bringing digital SLRs too soon to the marketplace (as based in that case on the Nikon 60s body, which fell apart). Pentax will do it right, when it happens, as they have from the start.
One can be assured that Pentax engineering, from Japan, will know what is ahead before they tread the deep waters of Digital SLR offerings.

The site, great, but read your manuals! --Jay Hart ibcom@onebox.com


7. From : Anton R. Browne (anton@antonbrowne.co.uk)
Url : http://
Date : 04:45 PM Friday 22 November, 2002

Hello Peter I think I understand what you're asking and I assume you're talking about auto operation. When you set the lens at f8 there is a lug on the lens that transmits this fact to the camera body. The meter will give an indication of the shutter speed chosen for this aperture with the current light level. When you then stop down the lens the light level falls and thus the meter indicates a longer exposure. Don't forget though that the LX actually determines exposure when you trip the shutter and just before (or during) the actual exposure so stopping down won't result in an error - The LX sets the actual exposure with the lens stopped down anyway, as this happens when you fire the shutter.

With non auto lenses there is no lug and so the meter presumably 'thinks' you have an f1.2 wide open and will simply measure the light level. As you stop down the light level will fall and it will just 'think' it's darker and set an appropriate speed. When you fire the shutter the body will go to shut down the lens but nothing will happen as there's no coupling (but of course the lens is already shut down inherently) it will then give an appropriate shutter speed.

So you're right, with auto diaphragm lenses stopped down, the indicated speed on auto will be wrong but the actual speed will be correct. Using the camera on manual with an auto lens stopped down however will likely result in overexposure.

Two things:

1. Why do you want to hold the lens stopped down when you fire the shutter, why not just do that to assess depth of field and then let go. 2. All the above may be wrong as I just sat down and thought about it, I haven't checked it out so correct me if I've been an idiot. Anton


8. From : Peter (p.smekal@telia.com)
Url : http://
Date : 08:03 PM Thursday 21 November, 2002

Maybe somebody can explain a strange little phenomenon I have noticed on my LX. Working in automatic mode it chooses let's say aperture 8 and 1/250 s for a certain motive. When I then stop down to this shooting aperture with the DOF preview button, shutterspeed is set to something much slower (let's say 1/8 s). How come? I understand that less light now falls on the photo diod, but aperture 8 is aperture 8, or?


9. From : GLOBETROTTER (globetrotterworld@hotmail.com)
Url : http://
Date : 03:28 AM Thursday 21 November, 2002

Cheon, I understand your dismay at some of the problems encountered with the LX, but I’ve encountered many more when using the Nikon FE2, FM2, F3, F4, F5, Canon F1, Eos1 range, Contax RTS range, Leica R range, and Minolta range of SLR’s. Some of these camera bodies have both advantages and disadvantages when compared to using the LX. If like Anton, you are using a camera for a specific purpose, then you are best to look at ALL cameras offered by each camera brand and then pick the one that best suits YOUR type of photography.

With my early years of photographic learning made up by acquaintances with the Mamiya, Praktica, Yashica, Contax, etc., I eventually moved into the Pentax arena. During the following years I thoroughly tested many other cameras, including numerous autofocus models. I’ve found the Pentax Z1p able to match the EOS1n and Nikon F5 in most respects, and I’ve yet had one Z1p body fail in ANY way during many serious global expeditions. Of course the LX is not autofocus, so in reality it needs to be compared to likewise manual camera bodies. Some of the best and most notable superb SLR’s (in my view) are: Nikon FM2(n), Olympus OM4T, Canon T90, Leica R6 and Contax RTS II, and of course, the Pentax LX. Why use the LX rather than the other superb manual cameras mentioned? The main reason (like Anton’s own reasons) is that it fits the requirements I need to deliver top-notch photos. I earn a living from my photojournalism, so there are very few compromises to take when choosing the correct equipment. The LX is very sturdy and only half the size of comparable SLR bodies that are built to ‘take the knocks’. But the main reason is its absolute superb metering system. No, it doesn’t quite match matrix or hexagonal multi metering in more ‘advanced cameras’, but it does have THE most sensitive meter on the market – and this is extremely important for a lot of my work. Only the Olympus OM4T has a metering system to almost match that of the LX. So, if asked why I have chosen to stick with the Pentax range for so long, I would answer with: Their superb lens range (with forward and backward adaptability with ALL Pentax bodies); The incredible low-light metering and dependability of the LX; and the ease of handling with the Z1p (plus its many functions not found in other company cameras – such as the triple-selftimer). Saying “dependability of the LX” may sound odd if you read some of the comments we’ve all mentioned during past weeks in this Forum, but when taken into context with the amount of rugged use and abuse I deal out on my LX bodies in desert storms, tropical rains, or freezing snowfalls, year-in year-out, then I can truly call it “dependable”. Many of you (like myself) have not bought ‘brand new out of the packet’ LX stock, so we do indeed take some chances buying from the second-hand market – without knowing how that particular body was used (or abused) prior to purchase. An almost ‘mint’ looking LX body could have been dropped in a lake, then air-dried with a fan only an hour before you bought it! But when all is said and done, buying carefully on the secondhand market can save you a ‘hole lotta dough’ and enabled myself to build up a complete professional arsenal of equipment that would have needed a win on the lottery to achieve if bought from new.

Buying lenses on the secondhand market carries fewer pitfalls than buying a body of course, plus a good quality lens will still be able to use on modern digital bodies in the future, while old ‘film reliant’ bodies may be left to gather dust in attics – or loved and cherished by collectors. So, coming back to an earlier question of which LX it is best to buy at the moment, I would have to say (other than it being a body that has had a cherished past) that the very latest versions after serial No. 5350, or at least after 5340, are the ones to go for. The LX bodies with old KX type shutter release were on the camera prior to serial 5275 in early 1982. In 1982 some LX’s were sold with new roller, but still with KX type shutter release. Later in that same year, bodies were introduced with high-rimmed shutter release, new improved roller, and added meter activation - to aid handling when vertical release is used on LX motordrive (unlike the later Super A mortordrive, the LX vertical release button does not override body metering contact). Between late 1982 and 1992, the LX went through many changes (some experts say that no less than 15 external & internal changes were made during two decades). What few people know is that some LX bodies were released onto the market between 1983 and 1986 with improved roller and meter activation switching, yet without improved high-rimmed release guide. I think the possible explanation to this was that one of the Pentax factories had a huge surplus of the pre-1982 release buttons and needed to cut some overheads during a difficult period of the decade. The main reason for Pentax stopping production of the LX body was the sheer expense of producing it. Right up until the last year of production, each LX was being put together laboriously by hand. Modern plastic mouldings and auto-robotic production lines tolled a bell on the mighty LX.

Maybe, for us photographers who still need something special in a camera that other cameras haven’t got, we will continue using the LX for some years to come….


10. From : Anton Browne (anton@antonbrowne.co.uk)
Url : http://
Date : 04:04 PM Wednesday 20 November, 2002

Fair question

The LX has just the right features for me. I like to use auto occasionally, I really like the wind on - just the right arc - the KX & MX go too far and my thumb gets tangled in the strap. The weight and size suit me, the extended auto range is great for trying things out. Its abiltiy to handle flash and several guns is great. The all metal build and the ability to use alternative viewfinders.

You see it's very tempting. My first LX (and the eldest) I got from my local Jessops for £260, it's near mint. I got it home and it had sticky mirror (didn't know what that was back then - sure do now). I took it straigh back to the shop and they sent it off for repair and CLA. It duly returned and has worked perfectly ever since. Respect to Jessops. My most recent one hasn't every been CLA'd but is working perfectly (it's 13 years old so a CLA is on the cards at some time, but sleeping dogs etc.) These are old cameras and I'm prepared to make some allowances but they mustn't ruin shots.

I like the LX, it seems it can be made to work properly if the right people have a go at it and where else do I go with my Pentax lenses. Wait until I get mine back from Pentax Europe. If they have sorted my troublesome one out, I would suggest sending repairs straight to Europe and forgetting Pentax UK. I will report. Anton


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Maintainers for Pentax LX Series SLR Camera Models Message Board:
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Jay Hart (ibcom@onebox.com); Philip Ashman (genesisphil@hotmail.com)

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