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Featured Classic Collectible Camera: The Pentax LX
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Featured Classic Collectible Camera: The Pentax LX

This exquisite top-of-the-line professional system SLR


Named in honor of Asahi Optical Company's 60th Anniversary (LX is 60 in Roman numerals), the Pentax LX debuted in 1980 as a world-class professional K-mount Pentax, designed to challenge such well-established archrivals as the Nikon F3, Canon New F-1, Olympus OM-1n and OM-2n, and the Contax RTS.

In terms of construction, finish and feature set, the LX definitely had the credentials. These include a robust, all metal body constructed on a solid die-cast metal chassis with alloy top and bottom plates, an interchangeable viewfinder and focusing screens, an electro-mechanical titanium focal-plane shutter with electronically timed speeds of 125-1/2000 sec plus B and mechanically timed speeds of 1/75 to 1/2000 plus B, color-coded full-information finder with LED readouts, SPD meter cell in the mirror chamber reading center-weighted exposures off the first shutter curtain and/or film for both ambient light and flash exposures, and aperture-priority auto-exposure.

System accessories galore

In keeping with its pro status, the LX's gorgeously finished body is well sealed with gaskets to minimize dust and moisture entry, and its accessory list includes a full-fledged 5fps motor drive, winder, data backs, bulk film magazines, and hand grips. A dependable and durable classic, the only LX foible of note is a mirror that occasionally hangs up when the camera's been stored for a long time, Fortunately, this defect, most common with early production models, can be easily remedied when the camera is serviced.

The connoisseur's Pentax

While the LX never really established itself as a professional contender, it was well appreciated by Pentax connoisseurs (including some pros) and sold steadily over its long life. The LX was officially in series production from 1980 to 1997, but there was also a commemorative Y2K set issued in 2000 with a stylized "2000" emblazoned on the front of the top plate n to the LX, and on the front ring of the matching 50mm f/1.2 Pentax lens. Limited editions in black-finished titanium and gold were also offered, the latter with crocodile leather coverings on the body and the focusing ring of the lens. The last of these limited production LX's was manufactured in 2001.

Obviously, all these special-edition models are rare and pricey collector's items. However, if you want to be part of the Pentax LX legend on a more modest scale, Adorama's used department currently lists a black Pentax LX body in Excellent condition at $480 and an Excxellent + example at $510. Those are great prices for a magnificent and collectible camera that's also a superb and satisfying picture taker.

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