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Pentax KX

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by PentaxManiac, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. PentaxManiac

    PentaxManiac Well-Known Member

    Firstly, what we’re discussing here is the KX film camera, not the K-x DSLR from earlier this century. I recently picked up a KX in very good condition for a good price and I’m enjoying using it. It’s a superb camera which in my view should have been around far longer than it was.

    The background? In 1975 Pentax introduced three new cameras, each featuring their new K mount: bayonet fitting rather than a 42mm screw for mounting lenses. The three were the manual exposure only KM and KX and the K2, the latter giving a choice of manual exposure or aperture priority semi-automatic. In truth the KM, and the K1000 which replaced it the following year, were basically bayonet mount versions of the older Pentax Spotmatic F. All well and good for those looking for a level of continuity, who could use their existing lenses with an adaptor. But the KX offered more including better handling and more accurate metering.

    The metering viewfinder display set the KX apart: the set aperture is visible via a Judas window, with set and suggested shutter speeds both shown down the right hand side. Contrast that with the KM and K1000, which showed none of the three: both cameras followed the Spotmatic by showing only a swinging needle to be centred for correct exposure. Depending on what you were looking at through the finder, and the ambient light levels, centring the needle could be difficult. The KX has a silicon meter, more accurate and less prone to memory effect than the CdS used by the KM, operative from EV 1-18, as opposed to 3-18 on the KM, and a film speed range of 8-6400 ISO as opposed to 20-3200 on the KM. Then there’s the battery drain problem: you’re only metering on the KX when the wind-on lever is away from the body and you’re pressing the shutter release half way. On the KM you’re metering if the lens cap is off.

    So why did the KX only last a couple of years while the K1000, basically the KM by a different name, stayed in production for more than 20 years? To me, it’s not so much down to the demand for a good, reliable basic manual only SLR as down to received wisdom. In photography as in any other sphere, received wisdom is so often more of a received lack of wisdom. A strictly basics approach, without automation and with the user acquiring knowledge and experience by making all the decisions, is a commendable learning tool. But difficult handling and a lack of information, like having to stop the picture taking process to remove the camera from the eye to check settings, are not an aid to learning but a barrier likely to put people off. Nevertheless, browse any web site about film photography and you’re never far away from someone blathering on about the K1000 as the ultimate SLR.

    Which bothers me not at all. I’ve put several rolls of print and slide film through my KX and all are sharp and well exposed, with no film transport errors. Give me the KX ahead of the K1000 any day.
     
  2. steveandthedogs

    steveandthedogs Well-Known Member

    Wasn't the K1000 a sort of downgraded KM, anyway?

    S
     
  3. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Correct. The K1000 lacked the DOF preview of the KM, which made it even less of a good choice as a learning tool IMHO, The K1000 really succeeded because it was relatively cheap and relatively tough; colleges could afford plenty of them, and they stood up to mistreatment - but were never that satisfactory IMHO for exactly the reasons Martin specifies. But the K1000 survived because it was cheap to make and sold enough. The KX, though, became a victim of the trend of miniaturisation, and was replaced by the much more compact and entirely excellent MX.
     
  4. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    The K1000 was around for a long time, although the later production was more cheaply made in China with a plastic top plate, not sure about the base. These did feel obviously downgraded.

    The MX was indeed excellent.
     
  5. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    I bought a K1000 some time around 1979 and it did the job perfectly until I replaced it with a Nikon FE in 1982. I passed it onto my bother who got sterling service out of it for several years until he passed it back to me about ten years ago. I'm pleased to say that it still works perfectly. As a fully manual camera (the battery was purely for the exposure meter) I always found it to be a great piece of kit.

    Despite owning a K1000 none of the other Pentax cameras have really appealed to me...although if I were to see an LX going cheap there's a good chance I might part with some cash!

    Cheers, Jeff
     
  6. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    In my days of collecting cameras I had Pentax ME-F which was an early attempt at auto-focus. It had a rather large and unique 35-70mm lens.
     
  7. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    I've just had a look on the internet because I'd never heard of this one - wow, that's some battery compartment built onto the underneath of the lens! How was it to use?

    Cheers, Jeff
     
  8. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Unique? It's how most modern AF zooms work, apart from having its own power source - motor in the lens. It's very similar to Canon's T80 lenses, and I have an FD mount AF zoom that again is similar, except has all the AF gubbins built-in, but that works not just on the AL-1, but on all FD mount cameras.
    Certainly an interesting piece of history, as arguably the lens and camera together are the first interchangeable-lens AF SLR, first 35mm AF SLR, and second AF SLR.
     
  9. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    The Pentax LX feels very well engineered and made, the wind on is pure delight, the smoothest I have ever used.
     
  10. PentaxManiac

    PentaxManiac Well-Known Member

    Arguably, yes. But some say this curiosity was even earlier;-

    http://www.ffordes.com/product/14111909255931
     
  11. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    It was. Depends on semantics. ;)
     
  12. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    I think that the 1985 release of the Minolta 7000 in-body auto-focus camera and its system changed the SLR camera market. With three bodies and a range of lenses they made a new technology affordable.
     
  13. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    There's no doubt that it was a gamechanger for autofocus and made the technology not just affordable, but effective and desirable; however, it was something of an evolutionary blind alley with the body-integral focus motor, and cameras like the ME-F turned out to be on the right track with the motor built in to the lens.
     
  14. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Hi PM, how do you rate the focusing screen and aids compared to those in the K1000? Do I recall correctly that it was just a microprism circle in the K1000? I wasn't too keen on the K1000 focus screen. Cheers, Oly
     
  15. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Changed the world, that did, Roger! ;):) In more ways than one. Cheers, Oly
     
  16. John King

    John King Well-Known Member

    Of all the cameras that had a microprism focussing aid rather than split image or even a combined one, I have always thought that the Pentax s/image aid was way out in front of the others.
     
  17. John King

    John King Well-Known Member

    I quite agree, there has been nothing to equal it. I owned a KX many years ago until it was stolen and there not being another for sale at the time, I replaced it with a KM. I took an instant dislike! Apart from anything else the screen was not very bright, even used with a F1.4 SMC lens.
     
  18. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    The Pentax LX was wonderful, and smooth as honey. But then, there was never a Pentax KY that I heard of...

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  19. John King

    John King Well-Known Member

    Roger have you missread my post? I have not mentioned a KY. The one that replaced it was a KM

    If I have misunderstood you - sorry in advance.
     
  20. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear John,

    Ummm.... KY..... Ummm... "wonderful and smooth".

    Sorry.

    Cheers,

    R.
     

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