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05-16-2015, 09:42 AM   #1
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Questions about my new LX

I just bought a nice, clean LX outfit, but unfortunately it didn't come with an owner's manual. Not to worry, I sez to myself, so I just went to butkus.org and d/l'd a pdf of the manual from there. That site's a great resource, btw, and if you've used it more than once, do like I've done and shoot Mr. Butkus a few bucks for his troubles.

So anyway, I scanned through the manual and found answers to a couple of my questions, but a few still remain, and this is where I'm hoping someone here can help out.

For instance, when I first tripped the camera's shutter, it appeared that nothing happened. I dismounted the lens, only to see the shutter trip and the mirror drop down. So I tried again, leaving the lens off this time. And what I saw was the mirror rise up in very slow slow motion, then the shutter tripped and the mirror flopped back down. I repeated this and the mirror once again moved slowly upward, the fell back down after the shutter tripped. I continued to do this and each time I did, the reluctance of the mirror to rise became a bit less. Until, after I'd tripped the shutter maybe 20 times or so, it was behaving normally.

So, I told myself that this must be a strange quirk of the LX if its been sitting for a while. Perhaps a long while. So this morning I removed the lens and tripped the shutter, watching the mirror. It had been maybe 15 hours since the last time I'd tripped the shutter. And I noticed just a hint of delay the first time I tripped the shutter. The second time I did, it was back to normal.

So I guess my question is, is this a normal behavior that people have seen with their LXes? Maybe because they're getting old now? Or is it a sign that it's past due for a CLA? Probably so, in this camera's case, since the guy I bought it from said it was his late father's and he never used it.

Next question: is there anything else I should watch out for, something that occurs with the LX now that it's been some thirty-some-odd years since its introduction?

Also, I read at Wikipedia that there are variants of the LX. The only ones mentioned at Wikipedia are the special editions. Are these variants limited to the various special edition LXes that Pentax released over the years? Or are there variants to the base model itself? And if so, is there an easy way to tell which one I have?

BTW, I loaded up an old roll of Plus-X Pan into the LX and ran it through, having fun with the camera and its match needle/LED metering. I'm gonna develop the roll today and hopefully everything will look right.

05-16-2015, 10:04 AM   #2
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Your mirror action sounds like the seals and cushions have become sticky with age. This condition is nearly universal for old LX'es that have not been CLA'ed. I recommend a CLA ASAP since opening the camera requires replacing all the dust and weather seals and the seal kits are getting hard to find - they're 15 years old, too.

I recommend Eric Hendrickson to CLA your camera. He did my CLA in 2013 and he's widely thought here to be the premier Pentax film camera technician still working.

Here's a really complete resource on the Pentax LX. I believe Boz's K-Mount Page LX Late Version distinguishes the three visual revisions to the basic camera over its life. Early version here.

"During its long production run, the Pentax LX was updated at least three times. The latest camera revision has three visible differences compared to the earliest: there are two white points missing on the front of the first shutter curtain; pressing the button that releases the viewfinder causes the light meter to turn on, and the shutter-lock switch features a new design. Several attempts to gather information about camera serial numbers and design variations have failed due to inconclusive data."

The principle useful change in the late version is the increase of ASA from 1600 to 3200.

Last edited by monochrome; 05-16-2015 at 10:16 AM.
05-16-2015, 10:51 AM   #3
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Thanks, well that was easy enough to determine. My LX's ISO goes to 3200. I noticed this morning that the meter was on when I removed the finder. I didn't realize that it was the act of removing the finder that switched it on. As for the shutter lock, I'd have to see an old one I guess. This one reminds me of those on some of my Canons.

At any rate, I'm glad to read I have a "late" LX. Less wear and all that. I've sent Eric an email.
05-16-2015, 12:34 PM   #4
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Congratulations on your acquisition!


Just to be sure, slow mechanical operation is common to all cameras that are not getting regular use.

Other LX resources if you haven't already seen them are:
Pentax LX brochure -> Google Translate
MIR review of Pentax LX -> Pentax LX - Index Page / Modern Classic SLRs series
Very good copy of Pentax LX manual -> http://www.lensinc.net/manuals/Pentax_LXL.pdf


Last edited by LesDMess; 05-16-2015 at 12:43 PM.
05-16-2015, 01:06 PM   #5
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Thanks, Les. I'd forgotten how compact the LX is. I don't own an MX, but I'm guessing it's about the same size. I think I''m in love with this camera.

With my other old cameras, about the only thing I consistently find slow on them is the slow shutter speeds. My Canon FTbs, for example, tend to time out at about 1.5 seconds on the 1 second setting. My Nikon F2s are a little better. My KX and KM, however, both time out at 1 second at that setting. My Spotmatic F had a sticky mirror -- sometimes it wouldn't drop back down after firing the shutter. I could get it to drop back down if I set it to a slow shutter speed, however. And then somebody here pointed me to a Youtube video that showed a guy put a small drop of oil on a wheel underneath the bottom plate to fix this problem. So I did likewise, and whaddya know, it cured my F's problem too.
05-16-2015, 04:21 PM   #6
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I've read on the web that there were more than 300 changes made to the Pentax LX from first release to last production run. Some of these changes are seen on the outside of the camera, but most are internal.

Regards

Chris
05-16-2015, 06:43 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by cooltouch Quote
Thanks, Les. I'd forgotten how compact the LX is. I don't own an MX, but I'm guessing it's about the same size. I think I''m in love with this camera.

Michael, congratulations on your new LX, unfortunately like many your suffers of the dreaded sticky mirror issue but if the lens focuses well at infinity it's just a minor nuisance.

The MX is even smaller than the LX, it's smaller than a Leica viewfinder and if you shoot it with long lenses it's better to use the winder to grip it better, for the variants of the LX there are at least three, the last one does have a new redesigned shutter lock, much more modern.

Both cameras are on smallish size so I would recommend to use M lenses and not K because they tend to make them front heavy, the "normal" lens for the LX is the M50mm f1.4, with this combo the Pentax is 2/3 the weight of the equivalent Canon F-1/Nikon F2 combo, it's a cheap lens with good performance.

On mine it's permanently attached the M85 mm f2.0, not so cheap but extremely short and handy:

05-16-2015, 07:17 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Is yours a late model LX? I ask because your shutter lock looks like mine.

Actually, I own two 50mm k-mount Pentax lenses -- a 50mm f/1.7, which now gets second duty on one of my K-cameras, and an M50/1.4, which resides even now on my LX. Maybe someday if I get a cool looking 85, I'll leave it permanently mounted, too. Oh, almost forgot. I took some pics of my LX outfit yesterday. The first pic is of the outfit I bought that came with the LX. Except for the lens on the LX now -- that's the M50/1.4 I've owned for a few years now.







The camera was dusty and dirty in the photo -- I hadn't cleaned it yet. Besides, a flash always exaggerates dust.

Of the outfit you see, I plan to keep the FA280T flash and the Pentax extension tubes. Everything else -- the slide duplicator and the Tokina lens with hood -- is going on eBay, for cheap, most likely. I don't have any use for either. I've already played around with the AF280T some, and everything appears to be working properly. It's a nice little flash, if not that much of a powerhouse (a Vivitar 283 puts out about 33% more light).

I was reading up on the LX and found out that the metal under the paint is actually anodized black, so that if/when the paint wears off, the brassing won't show through. And as you can see, some of the paint has worn off around the back of the finder. That's pretty damn clever of those Pentax folks, methinks. I

Something else that I find to be pretty clever is having the diopter adjustment on the removable finder. Nikon had to wait until the F4 before they figured that one out, and Canon never did it with a removable finder camera. Because of the adjustment's placement, it's sort of odd the way you adjust it -- leaving the finder hanging half on and half off the camera and all. Seems to me it might have been better to locate it on the exterior somewhere, but I guess they had their reasons. And besides I don't have that little tool that was supposed to come with the camera. I don't have the manual, either, far as that goes. I had to d/l it at Butkus's site to learn about the tool and how you're supposed to adjust the diopter setting. Fortunately for me, I'm only slightly nearsighted. My right eye is -1.5 diopters, which is the max minus setting for the FA-1 finder. So I just dialed it all the way to the right. And I now see images perfectly. Just as an aside, I've found that a lot of camera makes dial in about -1 diopter into their finders just as a matter of course, and in fact Bronica dialed in -1.5, which I think is a bit on the high side, but hey, it works great for me when I'm using my ETRSi. And I can still see clearly at -1 diopters so I don't have to use the corrective eyepieces anymore. When I was younger, my eyes were as bad as -2.5 diopters and I had to use eyepiece diopters if I didn't want to use my glasses, but as I've gotten older, my vision as has actually improved. That's at least one good thing I can report about getting older.

You know, you mentioned something about the K-mount lenses I've been wondering about. You say the K-lenses are bigger than the M lenses? Do the K lenses predate the M lenses? I was wondering about all this, and tell me if I'm right or not. Before Pentax introduced the KA lenses, the K-mount lenses were just plain Pentax lenses. But then after the KA lenses were released, Pentax offered a series of "M" lenses at reduced price for those cameras that didn't need the Automated setting. Am I fairly close with my guess? If so, are the "M" lenses of acceptable quality when compared to the older ones? I was looking on KEH yesterday, and it seemed that they did price the M and regular K lenses differently -- as I recall, the M lenses being cheaper. They aren't Pentax's version of the Nikon Series E lenses are they?


Last edited by cooltouch; 05-16-2015 at 07:43 PM.
05-16-2015, 10:28 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by cooltouch Quote
You know, you mentioned something about the K-mount lenses I've been wondering about. You say the K-lenses are bigger than the M lenses? Do the K lenses predate the M lenses? I was wondering about all this, and tell me if I'm right or not. Before Pentax introduced the KA lenses, the K-mount lenses were just plain Pentax lenses. But then after the KA lenses were released, Pentax offered a series of "M" lenses at reduced price for those cameras that didn't need the Automated setting. Am I fairly close with my guess? If so, are the "M" lenses of acceptable quality when compared to the older ones? I was looking on KEH yesterday, and it seemed that they did price the M and regular K lenses differently -- as I recall, the M lenses being cheaper. They aren't Pentax's version of the Nikon Series E lenses are they?
M lenses are perfectly fine. They're just (AFAIK) much more common than the original K lenses. (Plus there are a few K lenses that are sought after, since they were never made as part of any other Pentax lens series. e.g. the 50mm f1.2.)

A quick (partial) history of the naming:

The original lenses for the K-mount, aka the "K" lenses, are just labeled as "smc Pentax". The "K" designation came later, so as to distinguish them from later lenses, and is from the bodies they were released with. [KM, KX, K2]

The "M" lenses, labeled "smc Pentax-M", were the first revision of the K mount lens lineup. They were released in the mid-to-late '70s at around the same time as the first of the M cameras—namely the ME and MX—and are in keeping with Asahi's design philosophy for those cameras, in that they're smaller and lighter than their predecessors.

The A lenses weren't released until the early-to-mid '80s.
05-16-2015, 11:47 PM   #10
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I ran across an interesting website that has a rather thorough step-by-step guide on how to replace these sticky pads on the LX. There are some other interesting how-to's at that site as well. It was a good find. I found it by searching through the archives of the now-defunct camera repair forum, hosted by the rangefinder forum. The archives can be found here:

Topics - The Classic Camera Repair Forum

And the how-to guide on replacing the sticky pads is here:

Fotomozaic.ro - despre si pentru fotografie

I'm not sure of the language this website is in -- Romanian, maybe? But at least the how-to's are in English.

Actually, the dismantlement process, as he shows it, is pretty straight-forward. Nothing I haven't already done before, really. The only touchy part looks like re-aligning the mirror after one is through with replacing the pads. But maybe if I don't have to jar or displace the mirror I can dodge that part.

Also, as I was doing some searching on this topic, I ran across a couple of older posts by Jon Goodman -- the guy who's The Guy to buy light seal kits from -- and he stated in these posts that he has these replacement pads. So I think I'm gonna shoot him an email and see if he still has the pads.
05-17-2015, 05:34 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by cooltouch Quote
Is yours a late model LX? I ask because your shutter lock looks like mine.
That's quite a nice small system you put together! When you solved the sticky mirror problem it will be time to load her with some E6 and go on the prowl in Texas!

My camera is a second model, the one that lasted longer I think. In the late 90s (I think) the shutter lock became something like this very late special edition:



Take into account the LX remained in production for a long time (almost 20 years it appears) so probably there have been more changes than what we see from outside.

Regarding the M lenses, most of them were dramatically redesigned to make them smaller and lighter (same trend as Canon and Minolta, think about the difference in sheer weight difference between the old FD 55mm f1.2 and the FDn 50 mm f1.2, the filter size dropped from 58 mm to 52mm), for instance the K 50 mm f1.4 has a filter thread of 52 mm and a weight of 265 gr, the M is 49 mm and 235 gr and 5 mm shorter (more than -10%, so considerable), of course we retroactively call the first generation of K lenses "K mounted" because in reality they were simply called "SMC Pentax 50 mm f1.4" on the official catalogues. The only lenses that remained in their original form were those too big to be designed like the F1.2.

IMO the K series lenses were better optically speaking, my "K" is a VERY sharp lens, the sharpest f1.4 I own hands down (like the Takumar 7 elements I own, that are the same lenses with a different coating) but other people might disagree on the matter, my LX also came with the 1.7 but for this camera I decided to go 1.4 and use the smaller 'seven on the smaller MX.

Just for comparison, this is a shot with the "K" 1.4:



This is a shot with the M:



Different films (Neopan C-41, XP2 the second) and in the latter case I also used a Y2 filter.
05-17-2015, 09:40 AM   #12
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Hey Cuthbert, thanks for the additional info. To me, both 50/1.4s look like they produce good results. And since I own the M version, I'm glad to see that. I shot a roll of Plus-X Pan with it a couple days ago -- haven't developed it yet. But when I do, it should give me a good idea of this M lens's performance.

This LX's sticky mirror is just a slight annoyance right now. After having it sit overnight, at least it moves more or less normally once I've tripped the shutter four or five times. I can see my having to get this repair done in the not so distant future.
05-17-2015, 11:14 AM   #13
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The LX is quite compact without even considering that it has interchangeable viewfinders.

Fullsize pic


With regards to issue with older cameras, unfortunately I am finding out that without enough exercise, some of mine develop issues. For instance my Canon New F-1 has a slow sequence (mirror raise, shutter fires, mirror returns) but works just fine if I hold it upside down. Having a few bodies can be a curse or a blessing . . .


When it comes to viewfinders and diopters, the LX has the most complete choices of any.

Fullsize LX viewfinders


I don't yet have an FA-1W which has an even wider diopter range.

Unfortunately, for a camera that was in production for a long time, finding these items is not so easy!


Of course the icing is that all the Pentax prime lenses that I have acquired used and cheap are exceptional performers.

Last edited by LesDMess; 05-17-2015 at 11:21 AM.
05-17-2015, 01:52 PM   #14
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Most of the Pentax special editions are pretty yuck but I do like that LX 2000... I doubt I'll ever buy one though as I'd rather put the money into class glass.

K.
05-17-2015, 02:50 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by womble Quote
Most of the Pentax special editions are pretty yuck but I do like that LX 2000... I doubt I'll ever buy one though as I'd rather put the money into class glass.

K.
I think there's a member here that strips lenses and rechrome them, he does a neat job...an idea would be to strip a LX maked down to the aluminium shell, chrome the barrel of the lens and use some nice leatherette to make your own "special edition"

I'm seen a lot of redressed Minolta because the skin they used was pretty bad and more than once I thought about re covering my Leica M3 with real leather.
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