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Pentax KX

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24 248,641 Sat August 21, 2021
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $128.26 9.68
Pentax KX

Pentax KX
Pentax KX
Pentax KX

The Pentax KX was one of the three original K-mount cameras introduced by Pentax as a replacement for the Spotmatic family of screw mount cameras.

The KX model was one step up from the KM with a more sensitive light meter, a wider ISO range, and mirror lock-up. It had a match-needle exposure readout so that the shutter speed set was indicated in the viewfinder. The aperture set on the lens was visible in the viewfinder through a small window.

The KX is the only Pentax where the wind lever must be pulled slightly out for the meter to work. This makes the camera unsuitable for left-eyed users. Fortunately Pentax didn't repeat this poor design on their later cameras.

Year introduced
Meter range
1 - 18 EV
Meter pattern
ISO range
8 - 6400
DX ISO range
No DX coding
Exposure modes
M, B
Exposure compensation
Not applicable
Exposure memory lock
Not applicable
Shutter speeds (auto)
Not applicable
Shutter speeds (manual)
1 - 1/1000s, B
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
1 - 1/1000s, B
Self timer
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Not applicable
Multiple exposures
Built-in flash
TTL flash
P-TTL flash
Sync speed
Flash exposure comp
Not applicable
Autofocus sensitivity
Not applicable
Power zoom
0.88x, 93%
Viewfinder type
Diopter correction
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Image size
24 x 36 mm
Panorama format
2 x S76
Battery grip/pack
Size (W x H x D)
143 x 91.5 x 52.5 mm
631 g
Price History:

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New Member

Registered: September, 2020
Location: Derbyshire
Posts: 3

5 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 21, 2021 Recommended | Price: $126.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Built like a brick outhouse; wide meter sensitivity range, will out live all mortal flesh, everything you need and nothing you don't
Cons: Viewfinder does not like slow lenses or over cast conditions but I am 56 years old so its probably my fault; dangerous if dropped on your foot or swung at someone

I've used a number of Pentax cameras as an owner - the MX, ME Super, MZ-M, MZ-5n - but do you know what 'KX' actually means? It means the King of PentaX that's what.

The KX was the last of the mechanical SLRs I tried and the last was the best it turns out.

There is no doubt that the camera is a bit of a beast - even more so than my FM2N and I thought that that was well built. The FM3a I have is so embarrassed that it cannot bring itself to look the KX in the eye (anyway, Miss Nikon had to have new mirror box assembly put in by Nikon recently and she was only built sometime at the turn of the century according to her SN, whereas Mr KX was built sometime around 1976!! And still works!).

The pluses for me are as follows:

1. A great meter sensitivity range - it can meter when others wimp out.
2. A proper mirror lock up.
3. Depth of field preview.
4. A really easy to use shutter speed dial - much smoother than the stiff one on the MX (please tell me why?) - it feels more like the one on the FM2N - in other words, as it should be.
5. A Judas window to see the aperture you've selected on the lens.
6. A shutter cocked indicator in case you forget.

I do not mind very much that you have to pull the wind on leaver out to activate the meter. There is also a battery check button that activates the meter needle to tell you that the battery is working (the batteries the KX use are still available widely BTW). And yes, sometimes you can lose the shutter/meter read out in some scenes.

The negatives are as follows:

1. The focussing screen does not like slow lenses. Lenses of f2.8 are OK, but f3.5 - no way - it's hard work and needs time for you to get used to. In fact is just about impossible with an f3.5 lens in bad light (but then again I am 56 now and getting on a bit). The best thing to do is focus hyper focally if you are doing landscapes on slow lenses. And don't bother doing close ups in dull conditions with 3.5 lenses unless you use a torch to set focus and use a tripod.

Yet..............even though the centre prism causes problems you can still focus off axis via the rest of the matte screen. I've used this technique with the 50mm 1.4A I have and I get lovely sharp results. You can also use the finer outer ring of the central prism too - sometimes much easier than the central area with careful framing.

I have recently bought a rather decent third party eyecup for the viewfinder and have found that this improves focussing by just controlling stray light and making the centre of the prism easier to see, so I'd recommend you try something like this yourself.

2. The combination of straight mechanical shutter speed (no intermediate speeds like the FM3a) and aperture controlled metering means that you have to be careful with hyper-focal settings and make sure you stay in the range of sharpness and correct exposure some how with the aperture. Watch out for this.

You also need to take care if ignoring the meter to over or under expose for some reason - just take the time to understand what you are doing and watch the relationship between the black meter needle and the blue aperture needle and the values. I have to say though that 90% of the time, the meter is sock on. And remember that old adage ' Expose for the shadows and let the highlights look after themselves'.

To meter, you do this:

1. Choose your scene
2. Meter the scene so that the blue shutter indicator needle and the black needle are aligned.
3. Then assess: I like to slightly under-expose slide film to get a 'pop' so I ensure that the black meter needle is always slightly BELOW the blue shutter arm where ever it ends up. If the scene is say misty or has snow, I ensure that over exposure is taking place by ensuring that the black meter needle is ABOVE the blue shutter speed needle. This is where you can find the apertures between the apertures on your SMC lenses come in useful.
4. Take your picture, ensuring of course none of the variables will give you camera shake etc.

Another thing is film loading? My advice is to get the film pressure plate looked at but also make sure that you engage BOTH sprockets on the film wind on mechanism when putting film in before closing the rear door - just like the manual says.. And make sure that you've wound the new film in so that the rewind lever goes around when you wind on to check and confirm proper film travel.

Think about the rating of the film you use too. I find that 400ASA film OUTSIDE in bright conditions frequently calls for higher shutter speeds than the metering system and shutter speeds can deliver (the King only goes up 1/1000 of a second). The metering and shutter system works great with 100/200ASA films outside and 400ASA is perfect with the KX for indoor lighting in my experience (taking pictures of my children when they were younger.)

Oh, and there is always filtration - yellow, orange and red for B&W or even ND filters you an use too and a polariser for when you use colour stock to curb the 400ASA issue.

Be that as it may, those are the only quibbles I have.

I love holding this camera and using it. I love the smooth 'clack' of the shutter when it fires, the bevelled bottom base plate that makes the weight seem weightless. Walking around with it is fun - its like heavy weight bling - it brings out reminiscent smiles from older people and quizzical looks from the young 'uns because they can't work out if its a camera, bling or a defensive weapon and should they get one too?

My advice is to get one if you can and enjoy it minor warts and all. It seems that they go on forever - a worthy antidote for our throw away society. Get one whilst you can. Remember - it's the King of PentaX manual cameras!! Right?

In the New Year, 'The King' is off to Harrow Technical for a bit of a TLC.
Forum Member

Registered: February, 2015
Posts: 93

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: July 13, 2018 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Overall quality, size, features
Cons: Meter hard to read in low light

I bought in a package deal 2 KX's, a Spotmatic F, a K 50 1.4, a K 28 3.5, an M 135 3.5, a Yashica rangefinder and numerous filters for the embarrassingly low price of $120 CAD. One of the KX's and the SP F came with the bonus of split screen finders. And all in excellent shape!
Considering I was looking for a good KX and was willing to pay $120, I'd say I had a pretty good day.
This is a great camera! Substantial and well built with almost every option you could hope for to take great photos. I say almost because I wish it was easier to read the meter in low light. But for that I have an MX so no big deal.
It's been interesting comparing the KX to my Nikon FM, the Pentax feels much more robust.
Highly recommended.
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2017
Posts: 1,613

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 24, 2017 Recommended | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: build quality, handling and features
Cons: none

I bought my KX in October 2015 not long after acquiring a KM (which I have also reviewed). Everything said about the KX in other reviews posted here is true. Its a wonderful mechanical machine that is very well built with all the features you need to take good pictures with.
It is relatively big and heavy when compared to the MX, but not massively so - take a look at Canon Ftb s, Nikkormats or Minotla SRTs for big and heavy! It provides a good amount of space to grip the camera with and balances well with bigger lenses - I like to use the 55mm f1.8, 35-70mm A f4,Tamron SPii 90mm and Tokina 70-210 f4-5.6. My m series lenses (20mm, 35mm 40mm and 50mm f1.7) I prefer to use on the MX.
I think that the KX and the MX actually compliment each other. If I know what photo I am going to take I generally use the KX. If I'm just going for a walk and may take a few pictures or so of something I come across I use the MX because its smaller and lighter.
When compared to the KM however I am of 2 minds:-
I prefer the KM's wind on and simple viewfinder display, but don't like the fact that the meter stays on whenever there is sufficient light to power it. I like the facts that the KX has a shutter lock and MLU.
My particular model is in black with just a little brassing showing through. There is some light scratching to the base plate but no dents showing anywhere on the body. I've replaced the light seals myself as there were none, not even goo, and at some point I will need to do the mirror foam. Although everything seems to work perfectly at present I may treat it to a professional service for my own piece of mind sometime this year. Its a camera that's certainly worth it!
New Member

Registered: February, 2016
Location: Arnhem, Netherlands
Posts: 1
Review Date: November 22, 2016 Recommended | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: built like a tank, fast metering, DOF preview
Cons: Weight and size

This beautiful beast puts you in full control of the picture. The light meter instantly flicks to a specific shutter time and all you have to do is change the settings of the shutter or the aperture to match the colored needle in the viewfinder with the black one of the meter. Then forget about it.
Press a knob on the front of the camera and you get a perfect DOF preview.
It shares the attraction of the widely available K-mount lenses with the K1000-model and the later ME and MX's. Still I leave it at home too often and take my ME instead not because of the ME's auto exposure, but for its lighter weight, its bigger viewfinder, its smaller size and quiet shutter (making the camera less obtrusive - I like street photography).
I paid €70 for my black KX, including a smethless 1.7/50 PK lens and poor light seals. Both sides of the ground glass badly needed cleaning since the mirror cushion seal had desintegrated before migrating all over the place. Opening the top had a surprise for me. A peculiar black metal ring that sticks downward into the darkness of the camerabody and operates the light meter switch, escaped before I knew it. Somehow I got the little bugger back in its proper position, but don't ask me how.

Registered: December, 2008
Location: Perth, Australia
Posts: 1,497

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: April 13, 2016 Recommended | Price: $260.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build quality, clockwork everything.
Cons: Not still in production!

My price above includes case, flash, K55 f/1.8 and cost of getting the light seals professionally replaced.
Build is just gorgeous. There's also no mistaking that you've taken a photo - the shutter makes a really sharp 'Schunk!' noise that can surprise people.
Not as large and heavy a camera as I had expected, it's just right.
If you like the size and weight of a K-3, this is about the same, but without the deep grip.
Full featured viewfinder is great and 'match needle' metering is really easy to use and responds near instantly to changes in light.
Focus can be slightly hard to judge, as the focus matte is a bit subtle when it 'pops' into focus. On the other hand, the view is more clear than with more textured focus mattes.
The manual is excellent too - very clear.
Here are links to scans of my manuals:

Inactive Account

Registered: March, 2015
Posts: 6

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 8, 2015 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 


This camera is really a perfect 135 SLR.

All the controls are easily accessible. The shutter speed dial can be readily turned with just the index finger, unlike the dial on the MX.The viewfinder is bright and large, with plenty of eye relief for those who wear glasses; the entire field of view is easily visible. The aperture-setting window is a great touch, and makes all your key settings visible through the view finder.

The meter is accurate, even at low light levels. The match-needle system is extremely easy to use, and allows the user to easily set exposure compensation. Furthermore, the batteries are standard watch-batteries, which makes the KX relatively future proof (compared to Olympus OM-1 or Nikon Photomics, which require battery modifications to use in contemporary times).

Try one out if you get a chance; it's wonderful.
New Member

Registered: March, 2012
Location: Berlin
Posts: 9
Review Date: September 12, 2014 Recommended | Price: $30.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Just great for taking pictures.
Cons: The advance lever/lightmeter situation

I just love this camera. It feels great in the hand, solid and well balanced. It takes great pictures. Everything on it works so well. I love the depth of view preview button, the match needle exposure system, the judas window. The lightmeter is the most consistent and accurate of all the cameras I have used. Its a hard thing to quantify, but I just really trust this thing.

my ONLY gripe is the unusual system for activating the lightmeter by half-cocking the advance lever. It's annoying.

The K-series lenses I have used have also been fantastic. It seems for a few golden years Pentax really had something going before they started miniaturising everything to hell.

Junior Member

Registered: March, 2014
Posts: 27
Review Date: April 4, 2014 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: solid, black & beautiful, mechanical shutter

Got the camera together with K105mm 2.8 lens, they were bought by my mum on a second hand street market for under 10 euro... it is my first Pentax and I consider myself to be very lucky, since it indeed (see all the other reviews) is an excellent camera. I used some Nikkormats in the past (20 years ago) and the KX reminds me of them; very solid build quality.

I very much like the fact that it works without batteries, and that the batteries it uses are silveroxide types and not mercury types. No fuzz with adapters. The focussing screen (in my case) has a split-screen focus aid, which I also like. Switching on the lightmeter by pulling the advance lever a bit is marvelous! I never forget to turn it off that way. With my Olympus OM2n it happened more than once that I forgot to turn the switch to off, resulting in an empty battery after some time (often exactly at the moment you want to make photos again...).

Might have to change the light seals after a while but the camera is completely reliable and going strong!

New Member

Registered: December, 2012
Location: Capital Federal, Buenos Aires
Posts: 10
Review Date: July 20, 2013 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 


Hi guys I need help with this wonderful piece of history. My grandpa gave me his old Pentax KX that looks brand new by the way :P

Im having problems with the film speed indicator and its pin. It used to spin and work well but sometimes it cames loose and spins ineffectually.

If the lightmetter is on and I change the film speed to a higher asa value, the lightmetter needle is supposed to go up, isn't it? PLEASE HELP becasue I don't know if it's working properly.

Site Supporter

Registered: August, 2012
Location: Queensland
Posts: 4,188

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: November 22, 2012 Recommended | Price: $70.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: The best, last, full-size pure manual Pentax camera
Cons: A removable screen would have been good

I have read the previous well done reviews so won't go over what has already been well stated about the mechanics. Rather I will talk about how one relates to the camera. When I bought my Pentax MX in 1976, I figured I had the ultimate Pentax. I still have that one along with two others, but fast forward 35 years, and I went on to become more acquainted with the original K series. What I had dismissed as 'practice cameras' until they made the MX, gave way to a new appreciation. I first came across the KM, and immediately thought of it as a beefed-up MX, wonderful. That set me going up one more step, the last pure manual step in the K series - the KX. (The K2 had left the pure manual world and and was in the land of the battery dependent).

Do I love the KX as much as my MX? Almost, but that is just the long term relationship coming through. The KX is fabulous, and only the fixed viewing screen is a subtraction. Here is the strange part. The K1000 which was a bare bones stripped down KM, had been dismissed by me as made for beginners. Now I began to appreciate it's solid simplicity as an asset, and that beginners were best suited to the automatics that did their thinking for them. The new appreciation for the K1000 only strengthened my love for the more sophisticated KX.
There you have it: K1000, KM, KX and K2, the K family in order of price and ability, but not quality. To me, the KX is the sweet spot, without more gizmos on it than most will need, but not so many that it will spend time in the shop getting them fixed.
Anway, I stuck a Rikenone 50mm lens on my KX and it was happy to snap me this "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" (top photo) The lower two are with M50mm/f1.4

Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2007
Location: Sparwood, BC, Canada
Posts: 12,382

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: February 29, 2012 Recommended | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: All mechanical. Batteries only required for meter needle. Full view viewfinder including both shutter speed and aperture.
Cons: I recall none

When my original 1957 Asahi Pentax shutters got too worn, I sold it to a collector and bought a used KX with 55/1.8 lens and a mount adapter K to continue using my screw mount lenses until I could replace them with bayonet lenses. It worked hard for me, and it always worked. I traded it on an SF-1 when I was a stringer taking sports for a newspaper and discovered that my KX did not have the winder drive on the bottom. To this day, I regret not keeping it. I see that others say the viewfinder was dark, but coming from the old original, I did not find that. Perhaps the change from f/2.2 to f/1.8 compensated, but I never had troubles focusing with the camera. The screen was split prism. I frankly still prefer a viewfinder without focus aids, but with good grain, and my K10D is wearing an LL-60 screen for that reason.

I can recommend a KX to anyone who wants an excellent camera to shoot with film. For my stringer duties, I used print film, but I have a huge number of slides from my personal photography.
Veteran Member

Registered: August, 2011
Location: Austin, Texas
Posts: 302

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: November 9, 2011 Recommended | Price: $108.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Everything
Cons: Don't make them anymore...shucks

I have owned a number of Pentax cameras: a Spotmatic, K1000, MX, K2, K20D and now the original KX. My new baby is up there with them all. I was lucky to snatch a beautiful, virtually pristine late production black body for a rediculous price of $65. It cost me $43 more for new light seals, which was the only thing "wrong" with it. All I can say it is a pleasure to use. If there is any criticism it would be the flash sync of only 1/60, but hey, I didn't buy it for flash work. My K20D is much better there. I do a lot of macro work, so the mirror lock-up was a must-have. It works really well. I suspect I'll be using this camera as long as there is film to put in it. I love the simplicity of the match needle metering, plus I can use all my old Pentax lenses...Hooray!
Senior Member

Registered: December, 2006
Location: Lincoln, UK
Posts: 229
Review Date: May 27, 2011 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 


My first SLR was a KX and my wife bought it for me secondhand as an engagement present 35 years ago. It eventually needed a good service about 5 years ago but other than that it is still going strong.

It is rugged workhorse. The MX was out but I chose this as it had the mirror lock up and to my mind a better finder display. I also find the MX to small. It has been round the world several times and never faltered.

I paid for my first LX by selling the photos I had taken with this. Since then, it has taken a slight back seat to the LX but it always the backup body. It used to be much cheaper secondhand than the K1000 but not anymore. They now seem to be keeping their value like the MX.

Junior Member

Registered: July, 2009
Location: Europe, Benelux, Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen, Terneuzen
Posts: 26

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: September 27, 2010 Recommended | Price: $250.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: All mechanical, pleasant matte screen
Cons: no connection for winder/motordrive (separate version, but rare) no interchangable screens

Pros All mechanical, pleasant matte screen
Cons no connection for winder/motordrive (separate version, but rare) no interchangable screens
Rating 10
Price (U.S. Dollars) ƒ 250 (dutch guilders)
Years Owned since 1994

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
For me the Pentax KX is the best camera I ever had. It is uncomplicated (yet full-featured), easily operated and runs very smooth.
1) Fast SPD (silicon photo diode) light-meter, contrary to the slow CdS meter of most contemprary competitors (including K1000 and KM).
2) Depth-of-field-preview, Mirror-Lock-Up (and Self-timer)
3) great matte focussing-screen and viewfinder with full exposure info (although not as bright as more recent camera's)
4) pleasant shutter-sound, although not as silent as many cloth-curtain-shutters. Just run it at 1/15 and you hear the same sound as that of the legendary Spotmatic-shutter.

Camera Review
For me the Pentax KX is the best camera I ever had. It is uncomplicated (yet full-featured), easily operated and runs very smooth.

This camera gives full controll to the user. I can fully confirm what Stevopedia wrote above here. I prefer it well above the MX and LX just because those miss the smoothness that the KX has. Despite MX has a motor-drive-connection and is more compact, I do not like it as much. The needle is more convenient as the led's and dials on the MX are way too difficult to adjust.

For me the best 35mm SLR's Pentax ever made are:
1) KX (this one from 1975, not the digital version of 2009)
2) LX not as smooth as the KX, but definately second and with so much extra I still regret not buying one in 1993 (instead of Z-1).
3) SV the most Elegant of all Pentaxes

Other competitors in the top 10: Super-A, K2(dmd), Z-1(p), SFXn, MZ-S.

In fact, I like KX and LX more than the Z-1. Nowadays I use a K200d but still like to incidentally use my S1a and would do so with the KX if I hadn't made it's shutter lock. (I would also still use the LX, but the one I bought has a back that opens when a film is inside)

I started photographing with my father's Voïgtlander Vitoret D (viewfinder) and Agfa Colorflex (reflex, inherited from my grand-dad) which both had an uncoupled selenium-lightmeter. I preferred the Agfa because I could accurately focus (using split-image) instead of setting the lens to an estimated distance only. For my first camera I settled for a secondhand Ricoh KR-10 super. That is how I entered the K-mount world.

In the following years I had a couple of lenses including a Vivitar 400mm f/5.6 which I used for birding, mostly using a shoulder-mount. As I wear glasses, it is not possible to advance the film with the camera at the eye, e.g. while following a the moving subject. Therefore I purchased a winder for the Ricoh. Despite that I constantly hit the limitations of that camera:
the lack of a depth-of-field preview, lack of AE-lock and high sensitivity to bright skies being the most important. In 1993 I bought a Pentax Z-1 which would addres all these issue's.

The KX seemed to me the perfect addendum to the Z-1 and indeed, since then the Ricoh has hardly been used.
Veteran Member

Registered: October, 2006
Location: NJ USA
Posts: 13,072

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: July 23, 2010 Recommended | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: A K mount pinnacle
Cons: none

Pros A K mount pinnacle
Cons none
Rating 9
Price 100
Years Owned 6

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Superb basic camera with some magic
One of the better Pentax viewfinders
Spotmatic like size and heft

Camera Review
The reviews above cover this camera rather well, so I'll just add some of my own observations.

The viewfinder - excellent information, really a joy to use. While not the largest or brightest Pentax ever, the KX excells in focusing: the image pops into focus better than with any other Pentax I've used.

I like the manual metering, very accurate, and I get to pick what to measure.

Finally, there's something intangible with this camera that has resulted in a bigger 'hit' ratio in my photography than with other cameras. I suppose it's the balance of all features and controls, the beautiful view finder, and the size and heft overall. Or maybe it's the Pentax pixie dust

The incredible Pentax KX (1976) by Nesster, on Flickr
Add Review of Pentax KX

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