Pentax LX and film
5 frames with...

5 Frames With a Pentax LX in New York – By Yohan Kim

June 4, 2020

The first DSLR I bought for myself was a Pentax K-5. I remember walking into a shop hoping to compare what Canon and Nikon had to offer only to walk out with a K-5 later. It just felt right in my hands. I was smitten by their DA and FA limited lenses. Small, noisy, playful. Ever since then Pentax occupied a place in my heart.

Few years later I started to shoot film. The idea was to force myself into learning to observe and focus less on gear. The former was relatively successful. Except I would continue to buy and sell film cameras. There was an abundance of treasures from the past I simply couldn’t resist acquiring.

I developed more fondness for few cameras that came and went. Among the top of that list is the Pentax LX. I was thrilled when it arrived. The form factor, build, design were all top notch. The lens that came with the camera was a small but great Pentax-M 50mm f1.7. Besides not having a AE-L function, I had no complaints about the camera.

Flatiron Building in NYC

The Iconic Flatiron Building and Plaza. Ilford HP5+

Why Street Photography?

While growing up, my family moved a lot. I lived in Korea, Houston, Langley, Jos (Nigeria) before moving back to Canada and calling Vancouver my base. My upbringing spurred on my curiosity about people, cultures, and places. It’s been insatiable for all of my adult life. I would wonder what life must be like elsewhere, in another time. I’m curious about people, their stories, our collective human experiences in both the mundane and extraordinary.

Street photography is a gift that keeps on giving. I admire the street photography greats, especially William Klein. NYC felt like a promised land of street photography. I booked a flight to spend a week there. I didn’t agonize over what camera to take.


MOMA. Ilford HP5+

Shooting in NYC

I stayed with a high school mate who lived in Queens. Each day, I would venture out from Woodside station. There was an unassuming air about this neighbourhood I came to appreciate. In my backpack was my LX, yellow & orange filters, Ilford HP5+, Delta 400, and Agfa Vista 200 which I never shot. Each day I would take the subway to a borough, walk for miles and miles, and return drenched in sweat. There was a heat wave while I was in NY and my body was calibrated to the PNW.


NY MTA. Ilford Delta 400

Pentax LX was a perfect tool for the occasion. Metering was reliable. Focus was easy to achieve. I walked and observed. When I liked a scene, I pre-focused and waited for someone to enter the scene. Waiting can be tedious but it was a welcome respite from walking and the heat on this trip. Others photos were just happenstance and I was able to capture it. I had sworn by 50mm if I could only have one lens. While this belief changed since then, the fifty did the job admirably. This trip also helped cement Ilford HP5+ as my go-to black and white stock. Since the trip, I have never wished to have shot colour film.

Times Square in NYC

Times Square. Ilford HP5+

I had my film processed in New York on my last day. That day was purely for experience. I went to Times Square and sat, watched, listened to music. When I came home, I scanned my film with my D850 and the ES-2 kit. In the end I have a collection of images I feel strongly attached to. I tend to quickly lose interest in what I shot. But these photos from NY have withstood the test of time.

pedestrian in NY

NYC and its many parks. Ilford HP5+

Thank you for reading. You can view more photos from this trip here.


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  • Reply
    David Allen
    June 4, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    Ah!! Just loved this article 🙂 I too am a Pentax devotee……………

    The LX is a jewel of a camera; and an amazing system camera at that. Pentax just doing their weird thing because they can!

    • Reply
      Yohan Kim
      June 4, 2020 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks for dropping a line, David. Agreed. LX is a jewel.

  • Reply
    Michael Jardine
    June 4, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    This are lovely photos- I’d love to get to know NYC better and they make me want to do just that when everyone’s regained their stuff a bit. I’ve just had my ME Super properly serviced and scored a sweet 85mm/f2 that’s rapidly replacing the 50mm as a fixture… but I’m still v. jealous of your LX!

    • Reply
      Yohan Kim
      June 5, 2020 at 5:00 am

      Thanks Michael. I’m with you. I can’t wait to go back. Pentax ME was my first Pentax film SLR. Super simple and capable!

  • Reply
    June 4, 2020 at 9:36 pm

    Great pic of the black gentleman in front of the outdoor stage.

  • Reply
    Andrea Bevacqua
    June 4, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    Well, I bet you are in love with these photos. They are lovely. Well balanced and crispy. I adore them.
    Thanks for sharing.


    • Reply
      Yohan Kim
      June 5, 2020 at 5:01 am

      They’re dear to me for sure. Thanks for the kind words, Andrea!

      • Reply
        June 6, 2020 at 10:24 am

        It’s funny… I got my LX last october after a long time of searching for one. Ever since I’ve been keeping it like in a glass box, hesitating to take it out to shoot, fearing to spoil it, silly me. I even loaded a HP5 and it’s not even half way through. Well today after reading your article I am out with my LX with me. Thank you!

        • Reply
          Yohan Kim
          June 6, 2020 at 4:49 pm

          LX is a looker. Even better to shoot with. Happy to hear you got out there with your LX!

  • Reply
    alberto scaccia
    June 5, 2020 at 9:14 pm

    Long life to Pentax, this is my gear:

  • Reply
    Dave Whenham
    June 7, 2020 at 10:12 am

    Fascinating set of images. I’ve an ME but rarely use it these days, might have to treat it to a roll of HP5+ now!

    • Reply
      Yohan Kim
      June 7, 2020 at 4:25 pm

      Thanks, Dave. ME was my first Pentax film SLR and I recommend it to people often. HP5+ is great. my go-to.

  • Reply
    Robert W Rahto
    June 7, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    I bought my LX in 1980 when they came out and shot it regularly until 2002 when I went digital. I still have the camera and the box it came in but rarely gets used. Here is a picture of my LX in full wedding attire.

  • Reply
    Clive W
    June 13, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    These are great, Yohan. I especially like the one of the subway car — the face at the window makes it. You mentioned that you framed a scene and waited for the right person to complete it and this shows in the pictures; they’re not just random shots of strangers but people in the context of their city.

    I’m a longtime ME Super user too, and I have a recently arrived MX that I’m looking forward to getting to know once — well, y’know — but I’ve never even held an LX. I’m a little afraid of what might happen if I did.

    • Reply
      Yohan Kim
      June 14, 2020 at 5:09 am

      Thanks for the comment, Clive. That way of shooting takes patience I don’t always have. Certainly easier when I travel alone.

      The MX is great from what I read. I’m perhaps more dependent on aperture priority than I care to admit.

      • Reply
        Clive W
        June 15, 2020 at 7:53 am

        The exposure systems vary but they all benefit from big, clear Pentax viewfinders and, of course, lightweight, contrasty SMC lenses, both key attributes for the kind of pictures you’ve taken here.

        I’ve got a few thoughts already about the MX and the auto/manual question, but this is your page, not mine, so I’ll save those for my own piece — with some pictures. 🤠

  • Reply
    July 14, 2020 at 11:38 pm

    Great post and pictures. This post made me miss living in the city.

    • Reply
      Yohan Kim
      July 14, 2020 at 11:44 pm

      thanks Rob! I’d love to live in NYC. Definitely will visit again at the very least.

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