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  1. #41

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    If image quality is important, you should consider a Yashica/Kyocera Contax and some Zeiss lenses. I would recommend the Contax 139 Quartz and a 50mm Planar as a start. This will cost only a bit more than the other cameras on your list.

    The Yashica equivalent of the 139 Quartz is the FX-D and can use any Zeiss lens ... and Yashica lenses, of course, which also can be used on Contax bodies.

  2. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by GRHazelton View Post
    I'm a Pentax shooter and can comment on the LX. It is a wonderful camera, excellent ergonomics, (for me!) especially with the Grip B added. Very smooth acting wind, metering (center weighted) is very accurate and consistent. Auto exposure from about EV -6 to +20. As someone above commented auto exposures can run to many, many minutes. Since the meter reads off the film changes in lighting are compensated for, and there's no need for a viewfinder blind. The camera is weather sealed, although after so many years that may not be dependable.

    Ideally you could handle examples of the three you mention. A camera is ideally a very personal possession, I'm sure many of us have bought a camera and never "warmed" to it. For example, the Pentax is quite small for a professional system camera, this may be a factor in your decision. I've found that the winder, which is not too hard to find, adds a little heft which is nice, and also furnishes power rewind. Pretty cool!

    Now as with any camera there are downsides. Any old camera probably needs a professional CLA; I'm not sure Pentax is still servicing the LX. Eric Hendrickson in Tennessee is the Pentax expert, his charges are moderate, but the LX is intrinsically expensive to work on, especially if the integrity of the body seals is preserved. Beware the "sticky mirror" syndrome, in which the mirror action is very slow, or the mirror refuses to descend. A proper CLA would run about $150. As with any old camera be sure you can return it in case there's a problem. With the LX make sure the speeds below X sync work; they are electronically controlled and thus vulnerable. If it will furnish a timed proper exposure of, say, five minutes, it should be okay. BTW, X sync is only about 1/70 sec, pretty slow by today's standards. So it goes with a horizontally run titanium foil shutter, I suppose.

    An operating LX in reasonable condition would cost probably $350 to $400.

    While the LX can use hundreds of lenses, back to the first K mount, Pentax label lenses aren't as commonly available as, for example, Canon or Nikon. While the LX is a full system camera, finding a motor drive or a 250 exposure back for the LX is not easy, nor is finding the various system viewfinders, nor the interchangeable screens. BTW, while Ricoh uses a variant of the K mount it has an extra pin which can "lock" the lens onto the mount of a Pentax digital SLR. I don't know whether this applies to the LX. Like the Hassie the LX uses special lugs for the neck strap, if your purchase doesn't come with them there is a strap with compatible ends from B&H or Adorama. Not as attractive, however.

    I also have a Pentax 645n, like Alan Gales says its like shooting with a big, noisy 35mm SLR. I'd suggest the 645n, which has a better viewfinder than the original 645, autofocus with confirmation beep/icon, film edge exposure imprinting, 16 exp per roll rather than 15, and a really intuitive operation. Wonderful lenses, but no third party producers. Note that the longest reasonably priced tele is 200mm, about like a 135mm on a 35mm camera. With a hard to find adaptor the 645 can use lenses from the Pentax 67, but that camera's long lenses are pretty costly. It uses inserts, so no mid-roll switching. BTW, the 220 inserts are usually cheaper than the 120 and are easily "converted" to 120 with a tiny screwdriver and a little care.

    Ken Rockwell, so often dismissed, has a good "take" on the 645n and a few of its lenses.
    Wow. Thank you for the detailed answer. It was very useful.
    How about adapting m42 lenses?

  3. #43

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    Also like the Contax option....thought.

  4. #44

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    I own an Canon A-1 as well as the F-1 New... the F-1 is in mint condition and but had to be CLA'd for a slow mirror for ($150). with budget of 300-400. getting the a-1 with say a 50 1.4 and 28mm as well as an 85 or a zoom is reasonable... if you get the F-1... you might have change to spare for the 50 1.4 and a wide angle... but you getting close to the 400 budget end.

    i don't know if you shoot digital, or plan to ever shoot digital... but if you get a nikon F2... the lenses you get, will most likely fit onto a dslr... unless they are non-ai (not all non-ai lenses fit on digital)... Canon's FD on the other hand, is now unsupported, and can only fit with an adapter to shorter digital camera mounts like sony's e-mount (as the rest of other lenses)...


    Also... there are three Canon F-1's... F-1, F-1n, and New F-1 or F-1 New..... i believe the accesories for the latest New F-1 don't fit on the other two. and the latest one is more battery dependent... without a battery it shoots 1/125 and up to 1/2000... so 1/60 and down does not function without a battery. Again i used the a-1 and there is a great difference in quality, but it shows in it's price, and the a-1 can take plenty of abuse, and performs very well.

  5. #45

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    One thing about SLRs is the brightness of the focusing screen. I can't speak about some of these cameras, but the Contax 139 (and 137MD) have brighter viewing screens than my Nikons (F2A, EL2, F2 and Nikkormat FT3), Pentax KX and MX, Minolta XD11, Olympus OM-1 and OM-2 and any other camera that I own.

    Where this comes into play is when you use something other than the standard lens. When you move to a slight slower lens, f/2.8 or slower, it's not uncommon for half of the split image to black out while you're trying to focus - unless you're eye is precisely centered.

    Generally, however, you really can't go wrong with any of the cameras on your list. I would say that all of them will need to have new foam seals. But once that is done, you should have a good camera that should last you decades, provided that you don't beat the daylights out of your gear.

    Check the focusing action of the Zenit lens. It's not uncommon for the lubrication on Soviet lenses to have congealed or hardened, making it difficult to focus.

  6. #46
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    IMHO you will go a long way to find a finder screen brighter then the one that comes on the Pentax LX. I really wish they would have kept on developing that camera. They really did a great job on the first model.

  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by flajcsi View Post
    Wow. Thank you for the detailed answer. It was very useful.
    How about adapting m42 lenses?
    M42 to K mount adaptors are available both from Pentax and others. They allow focussing to infinity, but no lens automation. I gather there are adaptors for 645 lenses to K mount but I know nothing about them. The LX doesn't use foam seals, BTW.

  8. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post
    IMHO you will go a long way to find a finder screen brighter then the one that comes on the Pentax LX. I really wish they would have kept on developing that camera. They really did a great job on the first model.
    I've always heard great things about the LX. Perhaps, it's time to find one.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post
    IMHO you will go a long way to find a finder screen brighter then the one that comes on the Pentax LX. I really wish they would have kept on developing that camera. They really did a great job on the first model.
    Hear, hear! They had a strong competitor to the Nikon F3 and then sat on their hands. What a shame! For all intents and purposes there was only one model, with minor running changes, the major being an increase in the top ASA from 1600 to 3200.

    BTW, I forgot to mention in my earlier post on the LX's faults a glaring omission in its feature set: It has no AE lock, which can be a PITA on occasion.

  10. #50

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    I've recently seen Nikon F3s in the 100 to 150 US$ range on e-Bay. I had an F2s and think they are a little more breakage prone. IIRC the F2as meter head was more given to problems than the other heads. My F2s ate batteries like candy.

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