Pentax LX

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Pentax LX.jpg
Pentax LX with motor winder, sports finder, and accessories
Maker Pentax
Type 35 mm single-lens reflex (SLR)
Lens mount Pentax K
Focus Manual
Exposure 1/2000 ~ 4s, bulb (B), aperture priority (Av)
Exposure metering Off-the-film (OTF) TTL
Flash Hot shoe,
PC socket
Frame rate 2 fps with winder,
5 fps with motor drive
Battery 2×SR44/LR44, 1×CR11108

The Pentax LX is a 35 mm Single-lens reflex camera produced by Pentax in Japan between 1980 and 2001. The lens mount is the Pentax K mount, allowing the use of almost all Pentax 35 mm format lenses, those made before 1975 using a screw-mount adapter with limited automatic functionality. It is the top-of-the-line "professional" camera in the Pentax manual focus range. Compared to contemporary professional bodies from most rival manufacturers, like the Canon F-1 or Nikon F3, the LX body is much smaller and lighter.

Construction and features[edit]

As expected of a professional camera at the time, the LX provides mechanical shutter speeds, ranging from the flash synchronization ('X') speed of 1/75 second to 1/2000 second and bulb ('B'), permitting manual operation without battery power. The slow speeds from 1/60 second to 4 seconds, as well as the exposure meter, are battery dependent. Construction is strong and durable, with a solid cast metal frame and metal covering plates. All buttons and dials are weather and dust sealed, a unique feature not found on other professional cameras of the day. Underneath the satin black finish is black chrome, so that even as the surface finish inevitably wore through in hard professional use, the underlying metal would not look brassy. Both the viewfinder and the focusing screen are interchangeable to suit the task at hand, a large choice of alternatives were available. The camera has a somewhat uncommon frame counter, being able to keep track of the frame number in either direction, whether advancing or rewinding the film; this feature dramatically adds to the flexibility of the camera. The camera supports mirror lock-up, multiple exposures, and depth of field preview. Both a winder and motor drive were available, and a full complement of other professional accessories.

Pentax LX with SMC Pentax-A Zoom 1:4 70~210 mm


Exposure control is manual or aperture priority automatic The LX has excellent low-light performance using dynamic, off-the-film-plane TTL metering called Integrated Direct Metering (IDM). Pre-release exposure information is obtained from light reflected from a patterned shutter curtain back to the sensor. This gives the values displayed in the viewfinder. Once the shutter is released, the light reflected from the film and/or the shutter curtains continues to be measured as the exposure takes place and is used to adjust the exposure time. Automatic exposure time is up to 125 seconds. This exposure metering makes the camera excellent for available light photography. TTL flash control is also available using Pentax dedicated units, again using measurement of light reflected from the film surface during the exposure to control the exposure.

Special releases[edit]

In October 1981, Pentax made available 300 limited edition Pentax LX Gold cameras to celebrate having produced 10 million SLR cameras, the first camera manufacturer to reach that milestone according to the accompanying certificate. The camera and its SMC 1:1.2 50 mm lens is partly gold plated and partly covered in brown reptile skin, while some details are made of brown plastic, and it came with a brown ever-ready case. Cameras for some markets such as the U.S. have brown leather instead of reptile skin supposedly due to import laws. The actual number of cameras made is somewhat higher than 300 since a few were retained at Pentax reserved for their own use. The actual number for sale however was 300 cameras according to Pentax in Tokyo. It is a superb example of Japanese camera workmanship.

Three limited editions of the Pentax LX were subsequently distributed on the Japanese market according to the Asahi Optical Historical Club:

  • The Pentax LX Titanium was produced in 1994 to mark the company's 75th anniversary. The titanium plated limited edition of apparently only 1000 LX cameras for the Japanese market came in a presentation box.
  • Another Pentax LX Titanium was launched in 1996, finished in black in a limited number of 300.
  • The Pentax LX 2000 with a SMC Pentax-A 1:1.2 50 mm lens in bright metal finish marked the new millennium in the year 2000.

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