Pentax LX - Some of its reliability issues and camera controls Part I

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The Pentax LX is a great system camera. Its compactness, new approach to define camera toughness, reliability and of cause, its refined IDM Metering System are just a few exciting key elements which has make this camera truly a classic. Sometimes it make me wondering must a professional camera be so heavy, bulky as in the case of the current top of the range AF pro models like the Nikon F5, EOS1n, RS or even the current one of the best manual focus camera, RTS III from Contax. In many ways, Pentax and Olympus are the two Japanese camera manufacturers that still possess that belief in designing compact size but highly functional professional class SLR camera.


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The LX was a camera available during the early eighties, the last 2 decades prior to that since the inception of the OM system should have inspired the rest of the 35mm SLR players in the photographic community that there can be a compromise between ruggedness and compactness.

Whatever it is, from the perspective of a consumer, if all the rest of the camera manufacturers have analyze well with the immense popularity of the OM system and the Pentax LX received during their entire life cycle, there is no reasons of introducing to consumers with newer models packs with extra-kg in weight in the newer series of AF-camera (Nikon F4, for instance, comes with a dimension of (With Battery pack MB23) 169 x 157 x 77mm, and weighing 1.4kg, just imagine if you are carrying two bodies and array of lenses). Despite the fact, the LX is half mechanical and most modern days top of the line camera have no mechanical mechanism designed within its shell, huh ?

One of the LX most astonishing feature is its exceptionally lightweight and compactness, even though it is built for heavy-duty professional use. Protect within its aluminum alloy external shell, there are more things than just a rugged structure within. The LX was also the first seals-protected SLR camera that has such a unique concept. Although both the New F-1 of Canon and Nikon F3 have claimed to provide such a similar effort in preventing moisture and dust penetration, but nothing come close to Pentax's effort in this area. All major operating parts were given special attention to dust and moisture and protect the internal body and the solid state electronics inside.

The sealed body construction locks out virtually every trace of foreign particles, it has also helped to extend longer camera life and better photographic results although it is not intended to use as an underwater camera. These R&D effort should be highlighted so as to inspired the rest (and Pentax as well) to give us improved models in time to come.

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The contrasty LEDs (note: they will not be lit up all in total number as illustrated here) prove more functional in many dimly lit situation such as this kind of underwater application used inside the housing. When it combines with a 45 degrees System Finder offers by Pentax, it can be very useful and provides a comfortable viewing which is sometimes more comfortable than a speed finder can provide.

Picture courtesy of: Michael Patrick Wong

New) His custom made underwater housing for the Pentax LX is up !

Illustrations of its well Sealed camera body at all critical joints or entry points. Pentax Claimed they did series of tough artificial rainfall test and proved the seals can withstand certain in house standard. But I would rather believe more to a award-winning underwater photographer friend of mine,
Michael Patrick Wong, who has actually punished his LX over the period of 6 years in and around the highly corrosive salt water environment (4 of his LX are housed in a special underwater housing for open sea diving and the remaining two were for general use), all his LX bodies survived and his AF Nikons were not so fortunate though. Anyway, he is so convinced the LX is so good that he is buying few more bodies for his second project.

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The Main body and the upper and lower panels are sealed together with a special high strength bonding agent.

Additional linings in the finder/prism mount provides a tight seal when the finder is mounted on to the body.

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Sealed ball bearing in the film advance mechanism insure smooth, reliable operation.

Special foam seals and gaskets are used under the Shutter Dial cluster.

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Separation of the shaft and bottom of the rewind button eliminates the gap.

The rewind shaft protects against moisture with special foam seals and gaskets.

| Next | Is that All ? No. Some of the basic camera controls in the Pentax LX were very practically designed, and I thought it deserves a mention, but again to avoid lengthy download time, it has to be ported on a separate page.