Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Pentax LX - Interchangeable Viewfinders

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Aperture Window

Displays f/stop set on camera lens.

Red Flag

Exposure compensation warning.

Blue Flag

Indicates position of shutter dial.


Indicates overexposure when lit.


Indicates automatic exposure control.

Shutter Speed Scale

Represents shutter speeds as they appear on shutter dial.

Green LEDs

Glows to indicate meter selection of hand-holdable speeds from 1 /2000th second to 1/30th second.

Yellow LEDs

Glows to indicate meter selection of speeds slower than 1/30th second as reminder to open lens, use tripod or flash.


Electronic flash synchronization. Red LED glows to indicate automatic flash synchronization and flash ready with Pentax dedicated flash units.


In manual, indicates "B" shutter setting; Red LED glows to indicate long time exposure in automatic.

The Pentax LX was the first Pentax SLR model to provide an interchangeability of viewfinder prisms. I certainly hope it will not be the last - but indication spells that it might be. The top of the line flagship AF models haven't seen that commitment from Pentax. But whatever the decision, I still have to salute Pentax for their superb showing and displayed their full creativity and imagination in designing the interchangeable viewfinder system for the Pentax LX.

Pentax Magni Finder FE-1

One of the many strong reasons why Pentax LX was chosen by so many professionals was its unique and complete viewfinder system - the best among its class. Although the Pentax LX's viewfinder is not designed to show 100% coverage of the whole picture area. In actual fact, a very high figure of 98% horizontal and 95% vertical is provided. The New Canon F-1 has 97% coverage, 0.8x magnification at infinity with a standard lens, while the Nikon is the only model that offers virtually 100% coverage. But in real life situation, this is of more than sufficient when takes into consideration of the slide mount for positives or cropping by the color lab in print film.

<< -- Pentax Magni Finder FE-1 without Hot Shoe for LX Camera (Waist Level Viewing with High Magnification for Close-ups, Built-in -5 to +4 Diopter)

Credit: - Image courtesy of BESTBUY CAMERA <>

But despite what the difference here mentioned, the image in the viewfinder doesn't reflect that, it projects a very large, bright, contrasty and most of all, very comfortable view of the entire image field, including the data display. The color coded LED may be offensive and distractive a little, but serves its functions well as the respective color codes has its purpose and meaning, alarming the photographer of what are the status in the exposure modes. I like the exposure compensation alert in particular, much better than the Nikon F3's plain LCD and New Canon F-1 match needle way of presenting viewfinder info. By the way, Nikon's explanation to opt for the LCD instead of LED was, LCD consumes 1/10,000 of the power as compared to LED, but since LX has more backup mechanical shutter speeds to operate in case of power failure, that shouldn't be much of a concern, except - of cause at the expense of metering functions and lower usable speeds.

Can anyone pick on the LX's viewfinder brightness ?


Pentax LX's interchangeable focusing screens is a piece, rather than an optical block as the Nikon or the Canon New F-1. Why ? Perhaps may be due to the principle of its superior seal-construction concept. A FIXED condenser lens is placed with the relevant shutter speeds indexes printed on to the lens. Thus, Pentax LX users have to use either a finger or a clip provided to change the screen from the lens mount. Well, this also resulting in the LX's screen being the most economical among the few players in its class.

Pentax LX professional SLR camera body top plate section for various camera controls
Standard Finder for the Pentax LX

Credit: Image(s) above courtesy of some nice folks from DigifanCN®. The group also operates their own active, popular EBAY STORE, trading for many major camera brands and collectibles. Image Copyright © 2008. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

No. First factor being the 15 layer SMC multicoated applied half mirror to improve the reflectance ratio, both in terms of brighter viewfinder image and more accurate color rendition in the viewfinder. But the real trick was due to a newer type of focusing screen, Clear-Bright-matte focusing screen developed by Pentax. The improved grain on the surface of the screen boosts 30% brighter at f1.4 and 70% brighter at f2.8 to f8 as compared with the original Clear-Bright-Matte process (Figures compared internally with Pentax's older screens). It has some slight edge over the Nikon's screen but Canon's new Laser-Matte screen somehow let me felt theirs are the brightest among these few (But also came with a ridiculously price tag and choices are few). Another slight weakness in the LX was the viewing comfort at eyepiece for extended or long photo sessions. The Olympuses (OM1 & 2n) has smaller body dimensions (136mm x 83mm x 81mm) compared to the LX (144.5mm x 90.5mm x 50mm), but their fixed pentaprism wide-vision finder shows 97% of the actual picture field, but provide an extra-large eyepiece, which provides very impressive viewfinder image magnification..Errr, must be cursing. But based on experiences, long or extended hours shooting, eye relief is of a concern.

Adjust Dioptor.jpg

Viewfinders with adjustable diopters Finders FA-1, FA-1W and FA-2 include a diopter lens that can be adjusted with a special tool (supplied) to correct the photographer's vision. Such accessories as Adapter M for SMC diopter correction lenses, Eyecup M, Magnifier M, and Teleconverter A can be attached to any of these three viewfinders.

Eight Different Finders One for Every Shooting Situation. The LX system provides the professional photographer with viewfinders for nearly any conceivable shooting situation. There are finders for eye-level, waist level, and 45°-angle viewing. There is a special magnifying finder for close-up shooting and a high-eye-point finder for action shooting. And all finders show a full image area of 98% horizontal and 95% vertical.

Automatic exposure is possible with any LX finder or no finder at all since the LX's IDM System is contained entirely inside the body. The IDM System also prevents incorrect metering due to light entering through the eyepiece. No eyepiece shutter is necessary and metering is accurate even when the eye is removed from the eyepiece.

revere view.jpg

Adjustable Diopters All LX eye-level finders are equipped with a built-in diopter adjusting mechanism. An easy adjusting mechanism lets you adjust the diopter while looking through the viewfinder image by turning a screw at the bottom of the finder until the image is clear.

finder.jpg finder.jpg
Wfinder.jpg Flipup view.jpg

* Images presented here are not to scale
8 Types of Interchangeable Finders for Every Professional Photographic Need
Spdfinder.jpg Magfinder.jpg FB1finder.jpg Magfinder.jpg
For more detail description of their respective application and the optical structure, we have to separate those info in another page, if not it might not pose a very happy browsing experience - download time will be very lengthy then.(New) His custom made underwater housing for the Pentax LX is up, see the 45 degree viewfinder's advantage!

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