The Pentax K1000 -1976 to 1997

The Pentax K1000

I actually don’t know if the Pentax K1000 was the longest continuously made SLR. I’m not that big of a geek to really care. But it must be up the there. When I bought my first camera, it was between a Pentax K1000 and a Minolta X-370. I bought the Minolta. After a year of extensive use, the film loading door fell off. I now know the Pentax was the camera I should have bought. But I was young, and the Minolta looked cooler. (I’m sure the Minolta X-700 has a better door) Like Maya Fuhr, this camera, while it has it’s limits, can produce awesome images.


Pentax K1000


Pentax K1000 – All Mechanical

The Pentax K1000 is a fully mechanical, fully manual 35mm SLR and a cult favorite of many. And for good reason. Other than needing a battery for the meter, you can operate this puppy with or without batteries. (just no meter) And lenses are sharp, plentiful, cheap and come in a wide spectrum of focal lengths. I suppose if I counted back then, Nikon would be “King” for 35mm lenses. However, Pentax was far from “wanting”. Pentax made millions of lenses.

I think the K1000’s were originally marketed at students. I don’t know this, but with it’s solid all metal bodies, and simplicity of use, it seems that half of all K1000’s were bought by schools. Other than the Canon AE-1 and Canon A-1, I doubt there’s a mechanical SLR that outsold the Pentax. While Nikon was the “professional’s choice” at the time, the Pentax and Canons probably easily outsold them in quantity.


Pentax K1000


Pentax vs. Canon

OK, it’s a stupid comparison. However, the Pentax had many advantages over the Canon A-1/AE-1. Simplicity being the top selling factor. It’s a constantly reliable performer. I guess you could niggle about this or that feature, but in the end the differences between the main primes, (50mm, 35mm, 28mm, etc.), is basically 6 to 1, half a dozen to the other. And since you can’t fit a Canon FD lens on a digital Canon, that possible advantage evaporates quickly.

The original Pentax was produced in Japan. But eventually, that was transferred to Hong Kong, then in 1990 to China. (which were separate at the time) The anecdotal techno-heads seem to believe the Japan versions were better built. This may be true, but is easy to pick out a “good one”. The ones with the “Asahi” marking on the pentaprism housing. In fact, if you can find one engrave on the back with “Asahi Opt. Co. Japan” , you’ve struck gold. Uhhh,…in the nerdy camera collector sense. I’ve personally found them to all work equally well. The only guys I know who’ve had to replace their K1000’s are those who lost them.




New Batteries Available

Rewind knob on the left, shutter- and film-speed knob, shutter release button, and film advance with frame counter on the right. While the K1000 was designed for mercury batteries, when “mercury” was cool, you can use new 1.55-volt silver oxide batteries.The lenses are Pentax K-mount bayonet lenses, of which there are every focal length you could ever want. It has a focal plane shutter from 1 second to 1/1000 second, and Bulb. OK, not that fast by today’s standards,….but I have yet to shoot an image beyond 1/1000. Of course the shutter cocks on film advance. No Rube Goldberg stuff here. It takes a normal generic release cable.

The only thing I don’t like is the flash syncs at 1/60 second. Little slow for me,…but then I shoot a lot of hair movement, (and various bodily fluids), with strobe/flash. (and ambient light) It has both a manual/thyristor flash hot shoe and a PC Sync socket. So you can do the whole studio strobe thing, no problem. The viewfinder is clear and pretty bright at .88 mag, and a microprism spot. (at 50mm, of course) While it ain’t no Leica, it’s also not a rangefinder. It easily competes with the other major brand SLR’s.




Only Meter Needs Battery

I guess the only other question is about the light meter.It is coupled to Aperture. And very accurate for a CdS cell needle meter. Easy to use,…easy to see.When you open the back, the film counter resets automatically. It’s also the only 35mm I’ve ever used that consistently gets 37 frames. Why? No clue. Probably something to do with the basic, easy peasy, loading process. It couldn’t be easier. It’s not particularly small. But it’s not large either.

No mirror lock up, no depth of field preview, no exposure compensation, and no DX. (ISO from 20 to 3200 on shutter speed knob) Like I said,…this is a really reliable and well built camera,…but no frills. If you’re a really good photographer, it won’t matter. You’ll still produce awesome images. This camera leaves it all up to you. The bad? It doesn’t come in black? Well, I had to think of something.


Pentax K1000 Manual





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