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Product DescriptionManual focus, manual exposure, mechanical shutter, 35mm camera produced from 1975-1984. Out of production.
Submitted by Andrew Windes a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: January 29, 2013
Strengths: Absolutely reliable. Mechanical functions--will continue to work (sans light meter) even if battery fails. The bayonet mount this camera uses--the "K" mount--is perhaps the most common of all bayonet mounts, and an almost endless variety of lenses are available. Add to this all of the Pentax screw-mount lenses--all easily adaptable to the K mount via a common and easily available adapter--and you have access to an almost endless variety of lenses. Controls are well-placed. Features built into this camera are among the most useful. All functions are manual, but the light-meter is very accurate and both the shutter speed and aperture show in the viewfinder. Although it had already been well used when I bought it, it continues to function perfectly to this day. The camera is a so-called "tank." Although it had a few dents in it when I bought it--used--35 years ago, and I have added a few dents along the way on my own, it had never required repair. Unlike many cameras of the era, it has never had a problem with leaks. A true classic.
Weaknesses: Only complaint I have is that aperture readout in viewfinder is via a lens/mirror system that reflects number from aperture ring on lens into the viewfinder. Over time, this mirror became slightly out of adjustment--but this made virtually no difference to me for the way I used the camera and I never felt the need to get it realigned. Extremely minor (in my view) problem.
I caught the camera bug as a 12 year-old and after quickly progressing from a Yashica rangefinder which I had inherited to a very primitive Praktica 35mm SLR, I set my sights on what was then the most popular camera in existence, a Canon AE-1. When I was 14, I happened across the Pentax KX in the used camera section of a local shop one day, and since it came with a set of nice Pentax lenses--a 50mm F1.4 and a 200mm F4, would use my existing screw mount lenses (for the Praktica) with a inexpensive adapter, and was still much cheaper than a new Canon AE-1--I grabbed the Pentax. What a great purchase it was. I used that camera to take thousands of photographs as a yearbook and newspaper photographer in high school, and then continued to use it for personal photographs as well as some professional applications through the years. I've owned this KX for 35 years, and while I've made the switch to digital photography for most applications, I still pull out the old KX from time to time and it works perfectly. One of the really great things about using a KX is that an astounding number of used K-mount lenses aree available on the used market at giveaway prices. There are times when a film camera will produce results which I cannot duplicate with a digital camera and with the great variety of lenses out there, all sorts of creative applications are possible. If you are going to take a photography class which requires a film camera, the only other camera which I have used and feel equally comfortable with is the Canon FTb. Unfortunately, the KX's reputation is well known, and they aren't necessarily cheap. If you can get one for a decent price, by all means grab it. It is one of the all-time greats.
Price Paid: $150.00
Purchased At: Nevada Camera, 1978
Similar Products Used: Canon FTb
Type of photography: Other
Submitted by lvrepoman a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: February 3, 2011
Strengths: Absolute reliability. Built like a tank. Superb metering, huge selection of compatible lenses, including the wonderful Pentax SMC line. Also, any Prakica/Pentax screw mount lens is easily adaptable to this camera. The only, minor, fault that I can think of for this camera is that it's exposure meter uses up batteries relatively quickly, but as the batteries are cheap and readily available, this is of minor consequence. Best of all, KX's are common today and inexpensive.
Weaknesses: The aforementioned tendency to use up batteries quickly--hardly a liability. I also would have liked a split image focusing screen, but in practical terms, I never found the existing focusing aids to present any sort of liability. A great, great, camera.
I bought my KX used in 1977. It was my second 35mm SLR (after using an old Praktica for a few years), and I have literally taken tens of thousands of photos with it. I was only 14 when I bought it, and it was really a top-of-the-line 35mm at that time. As a school newspaper and yearbook photographer, I got a ton of experience using the KX and it was an ideal camera for a student photographer. It's all manual, what we used to call "match needle metering," but all of the exposure info is shown in the viewfinder. I found the silicon cell meter to be very accurate, but it was nice to have so much control over the exposure for special situations.
At the time, my great love was sports photography, so I found it necessary to purchase a telephoto lens. I counted my pennies and bought an SMC Pentax 200mm. As others have mentioned, I found out that Pentax lens were, for all practical purposes, the equal of much more expensive Nikon lens. Nothing ever beat the 50mm f1.4 that came with the camera originally. When I view some of the 35mm slides I took 30+ years ago, I am amazed at their clarity, even when greatly enlarged.
The camera followed me through college and into adulthood, and while most of my friends had gone onto 35mm auto-focus cameras, I just kept using my old KX. Over the years, it has taken one hell of a beating. In all that time, I have never once had to have the shutter adjusted, the meter works as good as ever, and the light seals have never failed.
I have gone onto using a DSLR for most of my photography, but I have never given up using the old KX entirely. The fact is, if I know that I am going to want a top quality photograph, I'll use the KX in preference to a digital camera. You just can't equal the clarity, the deep color reproduction, or the absolute control over the final image that you get with a fine film camera with a modern digital camera.
If you can find one--and they are always for sale on ebay, usually at bargain prices--buy one. When you add the fact that you can get beautiful Pentax K lenses for dirt cheap to the equation, the deals become unbeatable.
Duration Product Used: 21+ years
Price Paid: $300.00
Purchased At: Camera Store
Similar Products Used: Canon FTb, Praktica LTL.
Type of photography: Other
Submitted by MidnightCommando a Expert
Date Reviewed: November 6, 2007
Strengths: Almost impossible to totally wreck
Wide selection of lenses available
Standard batteries, because of power bridging circuit
Bright, clear viewfinder
Availability of parts and bodies makes for a good student camera, or a backup camera for professionals
Weaknesses: No interchangeable focusing screens
Shutter speed goes only from 1 - 1/1000, I like to have 8 - 1/4000
I inherited this camera when a friend of mine died. I have found it to be a most capable camera, and while it is very heavy (due to the all-metal construction and glass lenses), I have found it more adaptable than my Nikon, any of my Praktica L series cameras, or even my favourite Rolleiflex TLR.
There is a certain feel and sound when an entirely-mechanical camera is fired, and the KX is one of the cameras that conveys the "feel" most accurately.
I've never had one seize up on me, it's never jammed, all my lenses produce crisp images, flash synch is perfect, and the internal metering is dead accurate, even when the batteries are low.
Duration Product Used: 6-10 years
Purchased At: Inherited
Similar Products Used: Nikon FE2
Praktica F.X. 3
Pentax Spotmatic SP II
Type of photography: Other
Submitted by stobber a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: April 24, 2006
Strengths: Quality of the Picture is superb with my SMC lense. It's built like a tank. It can function with out batteries if you've got the knack. It's so heavy that if you can't help but notice if its missing. Fully manual so it's really you taking the shot.
Weaknesses: None that I will admit to.
I picked up my KX while living and working in South Korea. The shop was a graveyard of metallic 35mm bodies. I was lucky to have a friend who gifted me with the wisdom that Pentax lenses were as good as Nikons but at much less cost. Well, heck, for $50 I picked out the KX and have never looked back. It has survived my very extreme travel decisions for the last 10 years with nary a complaint.
Yes, the light meter died on me several times but if you use the camera enough you know what the settings should be. I got caught in Nepal on a high mountain pass without fresh batteries. I spent a roll using guesswork and familiarity before I discovered a tiny shack off the hiking trail selling exactly the correct batteries. While I was glad to have the meter back, I found that all of my exposures were correct on the film I'd shot without the meter. This bit of luck had naught to do with me; I credit the camera for its consistency.
And, yes, the KX is a very heavy camera. I’ve never left it sitting on a café table, a bus seat or information counter for precisely that reason. It’s worth the weight.
Duration Product Used: 11-20 years
Price Paid: $50.00
Purchased At: Small Korean Repair
Similar Products Used: Nikon, Canon, Olympus 35mm from the 70's and 80's.
Type of photography: Fine Art
Submitted by pastor1045 a Expert
Date Reviewed: March 11, 2005
Strengths: Rugged, dependable, easy and fun to use
Weaknesses: Not suited for sports photography or where auto focus would be necessary. I find I need auto focus whenI want to caputure people and their changing expressions. I use the superb Contax G2 system for all my portrait, travel and wedding photgrapy.
I had wanted to return to a more simple approach to photography in landscape and fine art work where I do not need auto focus. I had used Nikon AF equipment for many years, but when I purchased my son a Pentax K1000 so that he could learn photgraphy I was remined of how much I enjoyed using these mechanical cameras. There's just something about the feel and sound of taking pictures with these cameras that cannot be beat!
I had used the MX years ago but I did not like the metering system. Bright light tends to make the diodes hard to read. So I bought a KX on Ebay. It is in mint condition, so I paid top price, but I am well pleased. It has DOF previes and mirror lock-up. The meter is intuitive and easy to use. This is a rugged well made camera that would probably cost about $900 if it were bought new today. I find this camera a joy to use in photography where I can take my time, set up my tripod and think about the image I want to capture. The following M series lenses are rugged and very sharp: 50mm f1.4 & 1.7; 100mm f2.8; 200mm f4; 35mm f2 and 75-150mm f4. Great fun!
Duration Product Used: 21+ years
Price Paid: $300.00
Purchased At: Ebay
Similar Products Used: ME Super, MX, Nikon 90s.
Type of photography: Outdoor
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