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12-18-2015, 03:07 PM - 1 Like   #1
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I think I'm in love - the Pentax K2

I've been on a journey through SLRs over the last few years. It all starts with my black Spotmatic F. It was my Dad's, and it's been mine for decades. It's a handsome beast, with a history. It was a photojournalist's camera and saw time in the Vietnam war. For me, it defines what an SLR should look like and feel like.

Unfortunately, the F sometimes get's finicky -- the meter doesn't come to life reliably. Plus, it's not the world's most responsive meter. The needle is always a little sluggish. Plus there is no actual information displayed in the viewfinder... just a needle that wanders up and down indicating over and under exposure. The mirror is a little dark too, making slow lenses tough to use. Of course, K-mount lenses start to pile up as I bought into Pentax DSLRs as well.

My journey has really been to find an SLR that gives me the Spotmatic F experience, but fixes the things I wasn't crazy about. It's a journey that even took me into Nikon-land. After all, when I came of age, photographic books and education emphasized that the REAL king of the hill was the Nikon F3.

In order of exploration, my journey took me through manual focus SLRs:
(God bless the rise of digital; this was a cheap journey and I could sell everything for what I paid.)
  • Nikon F3HP -- an amazingly built camera with the best viewfinder I've ever experienced. But flash sync was just as slow as the Spotmatic. And no Pentax lenses!
  • Nikon FM2n -- I fixed the flash sync problem with an FM2n. Seriously good camera, and 1/250th is as good as it gets. It's the right size camera too. But somehow it felt flimsy. Not solid like the Spottie or the F3HP. Lack of Pentax lenses killed this one too.
  • Contax 159 MM -- I decided to try out the legendary Contax line. I was encouraged by having adapters for M42 lenses (yay!) Handsome camera, but the build quality was definitely plastic. Didn't fall in love, so this one went out too.
  • Pentax Program Plus -- available in black, just like my Spotmatic F. Never fell in love with the push-button shutter speeds though. Build quality was good, but not great. Probably similar to the FM2n. Gone.
  • Pentax P3n -- an ugly camera, but really solid. Electronics are rock solid, the viewfinder display is good. Metal shutter is reliable, flash sync is reasonable. Wish I could set my own ISO, especially now that I develop my own film. Keeping this one.
  • Pentax MG, MV -- nice solid little cameras for aperture priority use. A bit small, and limiting. Gone.
  • Pentax MX -- I really wanted to like this little guy. Many people's favourite SLR. Sturdy and simple LED metering, but I wished it covered more range and was easier to read in daylight. Hated adjusting shutter speeds, because the controls were jammed together -- too small. Gone.
  • Pentax KX -- getting closer. Right size, right feel, but a little bit plasticky with the trim and judas window. Good viewfinder display. Silver though... and not in great shape. Gone.
  • Pentax LX -- I went through two of these. The first one was essentially mint. I found I didn't want to carry it because it was too pristine. I also wished the sync speed was a little higher. Sold the first one, and missed it. The viewfinder is great, the best of the Pentaxen. Bought a second one, in "user" condition, and this one gets lots of use. But somehow... the proportions aren't quite right. And it's got a lot of plastic on it compared to the Spotmatic F. I'm keeping the LX, just not loving it with all my heart.

And finally the Pentax K2. Wow. It's like the friendly girl from high school who comes home from college looking great. All the awkwardness and flaws of the Spotmatic F have been smooth out. The viewfinder display is perfect. The shutter sounds great, sync speed is good. Aperture priority automatic is very accurate, and easy to use, just like the LX. It takes readily available (cheap) batteries, and it even had a handy battery check light. It's a black K2, just as handsome as my Spotmatic F.

This example is in user condition, not bad. It's got a bit of funky smell, so I've ordered a new set of camera leathers and the whole thing will get a thorough cleaning. It will be a labour of love.

12-18-2015, 03:11 PM   #2
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I hope you enjoy that black K2 (and I expect that you will).

However, your "journey through SLRs" will not yet (or ever) be over...
12-18-2015, 04:16 PM - 3 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by filmamigo Quote
And finally the Pentax K2. Wow. It's like the friendly girl from high school who comes home from college looking great. All the awkwardness and flaws of the Spotmatic F have been smooth out. The viewfinder display is perfect. The shutter sounds great, sync speed is good. Aperture priority automatic is very accurate, and easy to use, just like the LX. It takes readily available (cheap) batteries, and it even had a handy battery check light. It's a black K2, just as handsome as my Spotmatic F.
Yep the K2 is great, but if you really like it then you will enjoy the K2DMD even more!

Phil.
12-18-2015, 04:30 PM   #4
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The K2 is my least used Pentax body. The K2DMD was better, but still not good enough to keep.
I'm not sure why these bodies don't "grab" me. I do love the Pentax KX though. To each his own...

Chris


Last edited by ChrisPlatt; 12-18-2015 at 05:25 PM.
12-18-2015, 04:37 PM   #5
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Hm... if there is a K-2 slr... the pentax FF can't really be upgraded from the K-1 to the K-2, can it... They've really pickled themselves with the name.
12-18-2015, 05:13 PM   #6
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Very cool little historic journal .... reading through the models and progression, it's not really a surprise where you've landed. (nor will it be one when you've picked up a K2DMD)
12-18-2015, 05:32 PM   #7
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They've done it before. There was a KX film camera (Pentax KX - Pentax Manual Focus Film SLRs - Pentax Camera Reviews and Specifications) that was out from 1975-77, then there's the KX digital camera that came out n 2009 (http://bit.ly/1Yr6Iue)
12-18-2015, 05:45 PM   #8
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K-1a, K-1 II, K-1 MkII, K-1 MkIII.

K-1 is FF.

12-18-2015, 08:58 PM   #9
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I have a K2 that I've used just enough to determine that I really, really like it. It's in Tennessee right now, being rejuvenated by Eric.

The KX is still my favorite, but I expect the K2 to give it a run for its money.

If there was a way to smash the KX and K2 together and get the best features of each, I think I'd have the perfect camera.
12-18-2015, 09:37 PM   #10
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I've had an on-again, off-again relationship with the K2. I've bought and sold 4 of them, and a K2DMD (I should have kept that one). Right now I have a very early serial silver K2 and a very late serial black K2 (serials from the PF database). Both have working, if finicky, ASA rings. While I think they're beautiful cameras and a joy to take photographs with (and I love the shutter), the ergonomics of the ASA ring and Exposure Compensation ring will eventually sour me on using the cameras and I sell them off.

I think the KX is the perfect Pentax film camera.
12-18-2015, 10:56 PM   #11
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Pentax isn't the only company to re-use model names. Canon has the A-1 film camera, the A-1 waterproof point and shoot and A-1 video cameras.
12-18-2015, 11:15 PM   #12
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What a cool journey and nicely explained. I've been fortunate in that I've been extremely satisfied with my initial FSLR purchases. My first Pentax (645), my first Nikon (F3HP), are still with me. The digital world, of course, is a process of obsolescence and other than a few retro attempts like the Df, will always be a journey of new equipment.

Imagine if we ever get to technology that is more organic so that things will age like a classical guitar or violin or a fine wine and improve with age.
12-19-2015, 02:46 AM   #13
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If you found an old K2 the ASA ring is typically stiff from lack of use. It is easy to take it appart, clean and lubricate. Then it will work smothly for years.
12-19-2015, 02:49 AM   #14
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Very interesting to read your thoughts on these cameras. I'm a fan of the P30 series. They're not perfect but for what they cost they really are wonderful. I make my own D labels from paper and tin foil to fool the ISO when necessary.

I like my KX a lot but something is missing, maybe it's just that the shutter sound is all wrong compared to the Spotmatics or the K2. As for the K2, I have a black one and a silver one and have never used either because both need a good CLA to clean out the gunk that's jamming the mechanisms. One has a useable ISO ring, the other one is very firmly jammed. Once I eventually get them going I suspect the'll be m favourites.

One thing about the Pentax film cameras that has always bothered me is that so many models are limited to 1/1000s max shutter speed, even many of the newer ones.
12-19-2015, 06:24 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by gofour3 Quote
Yep the K2 is great, but if you really like it then you will enjoy the K2DMD even more!

Phil.
Yup, unfortunately I don't use very much the K2 but the DMD is one of my best cameras, in terms of feel it's a tank like a Canon F-1, of course ideally it should have a 50mm f1.2 with original hood:

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