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08-08-2014, 05:00 PM   #1
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The Pentax K2

Hey folks, so I've recently been using a Pentax Super Program in combination with a fantastic Voigtlander 40mm F2 Ultron SLII lens. The lens is amazing and has really given me some amazing images. I find it really needs a manual focus camera with a great viewfinder and I usually shoot in manual mode (with a light meter) although aperture priority is always nice

That being said, the Pentax Super Program is good but I have some caveats with it. In all honesty, I'm looking for a tougher camera with a good focusing screen. Ran into a K2 with a split prism and matte focusing screen (no microprisms) and other than the fact that the shutter had this loud clack, it looked pretty good. Apparently serviced in 1991. Price is a bit high (it's in a local retail store) but... wondering what people think?

Was thinking of an LX but heard parts are becoming difficult to come by and most need a CLA?

08-08-2014, 05:16 PM   #2
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Here are the manual focus film camera reviews.

You will find many devotees of the K2 among the film people here. Some of us really enjoy the shutter sound. It is a Seiko stepless titanium shutter meaning the camera on Auto continuously adjusts Sv to the aperture and light meter reading. It is built like a tank, is large and heavy. One nice feature is the Judas window - a tiny prism that projects the aperture setting on the lens visually onto a very small screen in the top margin of the VF. If you want all that automation in a 70's film camera a K2 is a good choice.

I personally prefer the KX (others prefer the KM) which are less automated (or not at all) and are true mechanical cameras. The KX has a self-timer, mirror lock up and DoF preview lever, plus the Judas window. It uses a match needle meter indicator (blue needle indicates shutter speed; when proper light moves the black needle so it 'matches' the blue needle (usually by changing the aperture) exposure should be correct.

KM removes the MLU (I think) and uses only the black needle, which floats in a range - in 'the box' and you are properly exposed. IMHO the KM gets little following, so the prices are quite low. KM is a great price/value camera. K2's and KX'es are in higher demand and sellers get better prices. Strangely, the stripped K1000 often has higher prices than the other because so many people started with one.

Don't know what you think a high price is, but a well-serviced K2, KX or KM should last many years.

I wouldn't be surprised if several more people chime in om this thread - you should have all the opinion you need in one or two days.

[EDIT: I posted the above from memory. I my fingers worked faster than my brain. Beautiful but there's a reason I sold my K2 - the ASA ring is nearly impossible to keep lubricated unless you use the camera often.]

Last edited by monochrome; 08-09-2014 at 05:37 AM.
08-08-2014, 06:46 PM   #3
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I had the Super Program and now have the LX. I rate their viewfinders the same... maybe I don't understand what you mean? Do you like the split prism or not?

Auto aperature is important to me as well, which kept me LX or newer. The LX is a better landscape camera than the Super Program and seems better built.

K2 is supposed to be a very nice camera, never seen one in person. If you can pick it up and handle it and you like it, why not? The super programs are so cheap hang on to it as a backup.
08-08-2014, 11:26 PM   #4
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I do like the K2 quite a bit... at least from initial feels. The shutter is definitely not quiet (almost a definite "clack") but it's very firm.
Oh, for focus screens (and in the case of the Super Program) it's a little central split image + microprisms in a circle surrounding that + ground glass. In the case of the Pentax K2, it was a split image in the center and almost like a brighter ground glass surrounding and then the normal ground glass. Wish I had a decent image to show. I'm used to microprisms so curious how doing without it will affect my low-light focusing.

08-09-2014, 12:02 AM   #5
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When looking at the K2 check that the ISO ring turns freely. To check this make sure the ev ring is at 0 and press in the button next to the ev ring and then turn the ISO ring keeping the button pressed. There is a knack.

By the way, no Judas window on the k2 due to the location of the ev and ISO rings. There is one on the kx however...

I like the K2 alot. It was the premier model of the k series and still commands a premium over other mechanical bodies but not as high often as the k1000 due to the cult status that model still retains.

08-09-2014, 05:26 AM   #6
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Hi

I would go for
1: Lx
2: MX
3: K2DMD
4:KX

08-09-2014, 06:36 AM   #7
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I've had both an MX and K2 for over 30 years or so now and I think it they are both great film cameras. I can readily recommend either one to you with no reservations.

Personally, I like the viewfinder of the K2. In some ways I prefer it to the MX with the standard split screen with micro prisim collar. The standard focusing screen of the K2 was described a pentaprism with cross-microprism or split-image focusing screen, 0.88x magnification. It works quite well with just about any lens you may attach to the camera.

Unlike the MX, you can't swap out the standard focusing screen - at least you can't do it yourself. On the MX, with the standard screen, you can get half-moon black out areas with some lenses. This doesn't happen with the K2. I have all the screens for the MX and this is just one of the many great features of that camera. It solves the black out issue and it's nice to be able to buy extra toys/attachments for your camera. One feature the MX, LX and K2DMD have over the K2 is the Judas window. This feature allows you to see the F stop in the viewfinder and I find it really handy.

If you want to buy extra accessories for your camera, and who doesn't, you will want either an MX or LX. These two cameras offered more accessories than any other Pentax Manual focus cameras. This included stuff like: focusing screens, bulk film backs, data backs, winders, motor drives etc. The LX even had a very cool set of optional view finders. The K2DMD, as mentioned above had an optional data back and motor drive. The K2 had no options available.

As for the shutter of the K2 it does sound clunky at first. Once you get used to it it will seem less clunky than solid. You also get a faster flash sync with the K2 than you will get with either the MX or LX at 1/125 sec. I should also add setting the ASA on a K2 is a unique experience. Until you get used to it it will seem very strange. After a few rolls of film it will become less of an issue.

If you are buying a used film camera, be it an LX, K2 or MX you should still send it out for a CLA. Like a car these are precision instruments and need service from time to time to keep working at their best. The K2 will be over thirty years old now. Cameras of this era were designed to last a life time but they required some maintenance. You wouldn't drive your car for thirty years without changing the oil would you? You mentioned the K2 in question was last serviced in 1991. You should factor in the cost of a service to the price. This could add up to $150.00 to the bill.

You said you were looking for a tough camera with a good focusing screen. The K2 will fit the bill. The MX and LX are also great cameras and will offer more focusing screen options. As I recall the MX and LX shared the same focusing screens. There was a different screen for every focusing need. If focusing is a priority for you the viewfinder system of the LX is unmatched by any other camera. I don't think you can go far wrong with any of these cameras.

Last edited by 8540tomg; 08-09-2014 at 07:42 AM. Reason: typo
08-09-2014, 07:05 AM   #8
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The K2DMD did have the Judas window. I've sometimes wondered why the K2 didn't, but perhaps it was because the K2DMD was considered to be more of a professional's camera, so the little extra touches helped justify the higher price. It's one of the best cameras I've owned, including the LX.

08-09-2014, 07:20 AM   #9
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There is no other with the viewfinder and focusing screen selection as the LX. If you like the ability to autoexpose in aperture priority mode for as long as it takes while monitoring the scene for lighting changes then only the LX can do that - from any brand of camera past or present.




The MX offers the largest viewfinder magnification in the smallest full manual SLR body.

08-09-2014, 08:30 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
The K2DMD did have the Judas window. I've sometimes wondered why the K2 didn't, but perhaps it was because the K2DMD was considered to be more of a professional's camera, so the little extra touches helped justify the higher price. It's one of the best cameras I've owned, including the LX.
The K2 came out in 1975 as part of the initial “K” Series launch. The K2 DMD came out a year later and besides the data & motor drive option Pentax added a couple more features.
- All K2DMD’s came in black.
- All K2DMD had the split-image focusing screen
- Judus window from the KX.
- Built-in eyepiece blind.
- Exposure compensation warning
- Low battery voltage warning
- Photo memory lock.

Some of these added features were to attract the “professional” crowd, the others to fix annoyances/complaints about the K2.
The missing judas window on the K2 is an annoyance for me and no exposure compensation warning was the big issue for me with the K2. (At some point using the K2 you will set the exposure compensation and forget to move it back. This won’t happen on the K2DMD)

Phil.
08-09-2014, 09:37 AM   #11
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Of all the manual focus Pentax K mount bodies that I've used, the K2 was by far my favorite. I found focusing easier on my K2 than any other body. I liked the EV/ISO ring a lot, and if you use it right you can get 1/3 stop exposure compensation.
The K2 is a bit heavy, and might be considered big compared to the Super Program, but it's actually nearly exactly the same size as a Nikon FE, which Nikon users consider small.
I bought mine for $25, it's a fairly beat up black body, I don't know that it's ever been serviced, and mine has worked (nearly) perfectly for the 4 years I've owned it. When I got it, the self timer wasn't working, the MLU was very stiff, and the aperture indexing arm in the mount won't catch when certain lenses are mounted, but the camera kept on shooting, and was my primary 35mm film body for 2 years.
I found the meter to be very accurate. I shot my last 2 rolls of Kodachrome with my K2 in Av mode, and all my exposures came out great.
08-09-2014, 09:59 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by LesDMess Quote
If you like the ability to autoexpose in aperture priority mode for as long as it takes while monitoring the scene for lighting changes then only the LX can do that - from any brand of camera past or present.
I believe at least one of the Olympus OM models can also do this.

I have a K2 but it's waiting for an expensive overhaul. The shutter sound is wonderful (like a slightly more forceful ME), the winding action is superb and the camera feels great in the hand. I wish it had a faster maximum shutter speed but that's the only important feature it's missing in my view.
08-09-2014, 10:00 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jamey777 Quote
Auto aperature is important to me as well, which kept me LX or newer.
???

All Pentax bodies since the late 1950s have supported auto aperture lenses. Perhaps you are referring to automated aperture control of the lens by the body (required for program and Sv modes)? In which case the LX would still be a disappointment. It has Av and M modes only with the aperture controlled by the ring on the lens.


Steve
08-09-2014, 10:10 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
???

All Pentax bodies since the late 1950s have supported auto aperture lenses. Perhaps you are referring to automated aperture control of the lens by the body (required for program and Sv modes)? In which case the LX would still be a disappointment. It has Av and M modes only with the aperture controlled by the ring on the lens.


Steve
Is he referring to metered automatic exposure using off the film metering?
08-09-2014, 11:10 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
I believe at least one of the Olympus OM models can also do this.
The OM-2/2N is more capable than the others - except the LX, but it is still limited. I have tested this myself along with a host of the other aperture priority capable bodies but there is a write up of the OM-2/2N capability at TP - OM-2/2N
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