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04-03-2012, 08:13 PM   #1
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Why is the LX better?

I'm actually baffled by this, I was considering getting one since everyone says they are really great, but then I saw the ridiculous prices used and did a little more homework.
I get that its all mechanical and has lots of nice interchangeable parts and what not. I compare it to my Super Program as they were in the same time period and so are fairly even to compare.
I can see that with the LX batteries are not necessary, but the damn things last forever anyways and can be changed in 30 seconds with a quarter (or equivalent appropriately sized currency) in mid roll of film if necessary, since they are both the size of a squashed pea I'm pretty confident I could find a place to store spares, plus the 357's are available even in auto parts stores.
Is it true that the LX requires periodic CLA of the mechanical linkages to work correctly? The SP still turns out good pics after decades of abuse (it has rust and aluminum oxide if that's any indicator)
Its nice to have all the shutter speeds on a dial, but how often does one actually need to change them faster than the 2 buttons on a SP do?

I feel I must be missing something that makes it super amazing that can't be done on another camera (in this case specifically the Super Program I already have.)

04-03-2012, 08:39 PM   #2
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The specs give it away:
Pentax LX - Manual Focus Film SLRs - Pentax Camera Database and Reviews

The LX has a much more sensitive meter, and it supports fancy stuff like shooting after you've rewound some of the film, and winding in fractional increments.

I personally do prefer the Super Program, though, as it has all 4 basic shooting modes

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04-03-2012, 09:46 PM   #3
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Since my first post I did a little more homework and I get the impression that it is also weather sealed like my K20D (maybe not?), that would be handy as I'll be taking my SP apart soon to fiddle with the shutter button so the half press works again, they don't work so well rusty apparently, but I have a smashed parts camera on the way.
04-03-2012, 10:58 PM   #4
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I have both the Super Program and LX (2 of each, one as backup/spares). The Super Program is great as it has Program AE and Shutter Priority. The LX only has aperture Priority and Manual. The SP veiwfinder info is a little dim and you have to conciously check to make sure you aren't out of speed or aperture range. The LX viewfinder is great as you can see everything clearly. I recently got an MX which is apparently the best Pentax viewfinder ever. Once I have used it a bit I will be able to comment on that.

On the topic of viewfinders, being able to change the LX top for different applications is very useful. You can even shoot with the top off in emergencies. The wider meter range is great and I want to try it for photographing lightning. On a very dark night, stopped down with slow film, it will wait for the lightning flash and then end the exposure. No worrying about trying to time the lightning strike. This is also useful for low-down macro photography where the 4P-A flash cable still allows you full TTL control from the body.

There are also other little things the LX has like the shutter button lock which prevents you taking a picture by accident but can be released with the flick of the index finger (also standard on the MX and a few other bodies). This is very useful with a winder attached where you sometimes do end up taking a shot when you check exposure for the second time. The first half-push on the shutter sometimes "primes" the drive. This is especially bad on the Super Program with the MEII winder. I still need to confirm if this is a problem withe the Motor Drive A.

On the LX, the motor drive (not the winder) gets very clunky with a battery pack attached or with a cable dangling down to a battery pack in your pocket.

Both cameras have their pros and cons and I am happy having both. If you want ease of use, take the Super Program with you, but be prepared to have a few bad shots. If you want to think about what you are doing, take the LX. The best part is having DSLR users look at my film kit and laugh but very quickly shut up when I tell them the LX can do.

04-03-2012, 11:54 PM   #5
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If you are happy with your Super Program, if the films you get back from that one are well exposed, then why look at other cameras?

The LX and the Olympus OM4Ti (and surely some others) have very advanced light metering. The range is larger than many other cameras, meaning you can do a lot of low light shooting and the negatives will be well exposed. The actual light metering happens while you shoot, ^of the plane^ . . . someone will be able to explain it. I photograph mostly in automatic mode with the LX, and in manual mode with a KX or a Olympus OM1. When looking at the contact sheets, the ones from the LX are always more evenly exposed. It just means an easier time printing in my darkroom.

The LX bright finder is an enormous plus. I have a Beattie screen, even clearer than the original. I use the FA2 finder, use no flash and prefer the smaller design. The fact that the LX is sealed is important in my case, because I am far from careful with my cameras, and use them every day.

I bought it serviced, never had a problem. You should be able to get a good one around 250 to 350 euros. When I think back at what I paid for the OM4Ti in the eighties, or what others paid for the LX, that is very little for a whole lot of camera.
04-04-2012, 12:49 AM   #6
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The LX was special, but it is history now. There are cheaper and more reliable film cameras. IMHO, some cannot get pass the fact that the LX was the only pro model ever (or the MX too if you believe marketing) and their mentality stuck in the past somehow. Canon F-1 or Nikon F-3 users of the same era have moved on long ago.
04-04-2012, 02:39 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
The LX was special, but it is history now. There are cheaper and more reliable film cameras. IMHO, some cannot get pass the fact that the LX was the only pro model ever (or the MX too if you believe marketing) and their mentality stuck in the past somehow. Canon F-1 or Nikon F-3 users of the same era have moved on long ago.
If that is so, I am glad I am stuck in the past. The LX may be history to you, but it isn't to me: I make my living with it and know many who do the same.
04-04-2012, 02:54 AM   #8
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My LX is my first SLR bought when I was 16. It has been with me ever since, never failing, always working. Its been all around the world from the heat of Africa to the cold of the artic. Weather seals, durability, size (not to forget size!), change of focusing screens, viewfinders and a very nice motor drive. Battery life is great!

I did a CLA a few years ago, where the ciruit board was change routinly, there are some reports of failing curcuits on the LX, at least from the early versions.

This and the MX is the two best Pentax cameras around, IMHO.

04-04-2012, 05:02 AM   #9
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If you care most about the quality of images, the LX doesn't make sense. The real difference isn't in the features and specs - but in the "fit and finish" and build quality. As an engineer, not an artist, I enjoy taking photos partly because of the wonderful feel and precision of the great film cameras. The LX was the best Pentax could do in that regard.
Yes, the off-the-film light meter is wonderful for low light work, taking 2-minute exposures that automatically compensate for changing light during the exposure, but I just enjoy using the beast.
I prefer the simpler light-meter readout of the MX, and the way the MX fits my hands. The MX also has a pneumatic mirror dampener, so the mirror doesn't just slam into the foam bumper; but the MX mirror still "clanks" down when it returns.
After my Pentax H1a and Canon FT in college, I traded all my SLR gear towards a Leicaflex SL. It still has the best fit, finish, and mechanical feel of any SLR I've tried. But it is big (not compared to todays dSLRs!), heavy, and very expensive. When the LX came out I bought it as a low-cost alternative to my Leicaflex. Almost as good a feel to use, similar results, and better for a carry-around camera.
Today I use my Leicaflex SL more than my LX. On the used market the LX is more expensive, so the SL became a carry-around camera!
04-04-2012, 05:03 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
The LX was special, but it is history now. . . . Canon F-1 or Nikon F-3 users of the same era have moved on long ago.
It's IDM light measurement capability will meter a scene hours long in real time while the F3 - and most all others past and present, will meter at the time of shutter activation and stay the course regardless of scene lighting variations. The Canon new F-1 - and apparently all Canons' with AE, are hardcoded at 30 seconds. Nothing unequaled and unsurpassed about either of it's peers.
The LX does not need a viewfinder blind as it's meter is unaffected by light coming in from it. It has the full upper range of shutter speeds available when battery is depleted and unlike the other two,it's self timer is mechanical and not battery dependent either. With very few exceptions, all other cameras with AE are completely dependent on battery.

No the LX is not history, it's historical now because it's unassisted metering range of EV -6.5 ~ EV +20, is unequaled and unsurpassed.

04-04-2012, 05:27 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
The LX was special, but it is history now. There are cheaper and more reliable film cameras. IMHO, some cannot get pass the fact that the LX was the only pro model ever (or the MX too if you believe marketing) and their mentality stuck in the past somehow. Canon F-1 or Nikon F-3 users of the same era have moved on long ago.
Not totally true, the Nikon F3HP is still highly sought after and I know of several Nikon shooters who have not moved on as they liked the 3 better than the 4 or even the 5.
04-04-2012, 04:44 PM   #12
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It is often said that a camera is just a light-tight box.
It's up to you to decide what qualities, features and capabilities you want/need.

Chris
04-04-2012, 05:46 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
The LX was special, but it is history now. There are cheaper and more reliable film cameras. IMHO, some cannot get pass the fact that the LX was the only pro model ever (or the MX too if you believe marketing) and their mentality stuck in the past somehow. Canon F-1 or Nikon F-3 users of the same era have moved on long ago.
Actually, it has at least one spec that has made me consider it a few times. That is off the film metering.
04-04-2012, 05:47 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by PPPPPP42 Quote
I'm actually baffled by this, I was considering getting one since everyone says they are really great, but then I saw the ridiculous prices used and did a little more homework.
I get that its all mechanical and has lots of nice interchangeable parts and what not. I compare it to my Super Program as they were in the same time period and so are fairly even to compare.
I can see that with the LX batteries are not necessary, but the damn things last forever anyways and can be changed in 30 seconds with a quarter (or equivalent appropriately sized currency) in mid roll of film if necessary, since they are both the size of a squashed pea I'm pretty confident I could find a place to store spares, plus the 357's are available even in auto parts stores.
Is it true that the LX requires periodic CLA of the mechanical linkages to work correctly? The SP still turns out good pics after decades of abuse (it has rust and aluminum oxide if that's any indicator)
Its nice to have all the shutter speeds on a dial, but how often does one actually need to change them faster than the 2 buttons on a SP do?

I feel I must be missing something that makes it super amazing that can't be done on another camera (in this case specifically the Super Program I already have.)
I.ve ownd Super Programs since the mid 80s and LXs for over 10 years. They are very different cameras. Both have their good points.

The Super Program is a very capable all-round camera. It meters well and works very nicely with A and newer lenses. Its construction is pretty good. I've used mine in some very nasty conditions and they've done well. I keep a Super Program loaded with black and white in the kit with my K20 because it plays nicely with AF lenses. One nice feature of the Super Program is shutter priority auto, whch is handy for action photography. I did a lot of sports with my Super Programs.

The LX meter, as others have said, is in a class of its own. The LX has mirror lockup, which the Super Program does not. LX viewfinders are superb. From my perspective, the LX is more useful than the Super Program for the sort of work I'm doing these days. I shoot a lot in dense forests, often with heavy overcast. I work on a tripod with lenses usually stopped down in the f/8 to f/16 range. Exposures regularly run from one second to a minute. The LX with its superb aperture priority auto and mirror lockup is wonderful for this sort of thing. I could get by quite well with a Super Program in those conditions, but the LX is better. In my work I'm pushing the envelope of 35mm, making large prints for sale in galleries. The special qualities of the LX result in a higher success rate under certain specific conditions.

The build quality of the LX is great. From my perspective, the LX was built as a serious photographic instrument while the Super Program happened when the photo industry was sliding into building cameras as commodities.
Aestheically speaking, I would rather work with the LX. On the other hand I don't mind the Super Program at all.

I got my LXs when my income was at its highest, so could afford a certain amount of self-indulgence. I also got them for a lot less than the current going price.

Is the current price for LXs too hign? Not compared to other classic cameras.

Should you blow the extra money on an LX? Only if you absolutely know what you're doing. To be blunt, unless you are prepared to invest your time in bringing your skills to a very high level, you would be better off with a good digital.

John

Last edited by John Poirier; 04-05-2012 at 08:29 PM.
04-05-2012, 10:31 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
The LX was special, but it is history now. There are cheaper and more reliable film cameras. IMHO, some cannot get pass the fact that the LX was the only pro model ever (or the MX too if you believe marketing) and their mentality stuck in the past somehow. Canon F-1 or Nikon F-3 users of the same era have moved on long ago.
Having owned and used Pentax cameras from the S1a to the K20D as well as non-Pentax cameras such as the Yashicamat 124G and various Canon EOS things I can never remember the model number of, the last camera I would get rid of would be my LX for all the reasons mentioned above. That doesn't mean I only shoot an LX, far from it. The last few rolls of film have been shot using a FED2, a SFXn, an ES and an ESII! (and I still have unfinished rolls in my MX, SFXn and Rollei 35LED). But if I really need to be sure I am going to get the shots I want, I use the LX.

The question should be: do your current bodies not do something you would like (i.e., accurate long exposures)? If your current camera does everything you want, then stick with it! If, on the other hand, you would like some feature the LX has, then get one. At least with an LX the second hand prices are holding nicely and should you decide you don't need/want it you can sell it on.

Cameras are very personal things, you have to live together and learn to get on before you get the best out of them. If it doesn't work for you, then move on and try something else!

K.
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