Pentax K1000 review: classic film cameras revisited

Although it may seem simple, the Pentax K1000 has become one of the most iconic film SLR cameras in photography.

1975 saw the launch of the Pentax K1000 35mm SLR. This was also the year Canon released the revolutionary AE-1. The Canon AE-1 brought a variety of technological advances to the K1000, but it was still a fully mechanical SLR.

It was still in production in 1997. However, it was being made in China and not Japan. While it was also manufactured in Hong Kong for a while. Pentax sold millions of K1000s over its lifetime. While it wasn’t a standout feature, its popularity can be attributed in part to its simplicity and affordability, as well as the wide selection of lenses available.

Pentax K1000 Specifications

Shutter speeds Mechanical 1/1000 sec. to 1 second, plus bulb

Exposure metering: Center-weighted

Battery: 2x 1.55V SR44 / 1.5V LR44 batteries

Dimensions 143x91x48mm

Weight: 620g

The K1000 was simple for Pentax, featuring a fully mechanical shutter mechanism. The K1000 required only a few SR or LR44 battery to run the metering system. The K1000 uses full-scene averaging to determine an exposure. The K1000’s meter doesn’t automatically turn off. To avoid overcharging the battery, it’s important to first put the lens cap back on.

The shutter speed was an unremarkable 1:1000 seconds, and the flash sync was rated at just 1/60 seconds. There’s also a PC sync socket.

Pentax’s K mount is a long-standing feature on the K1000, which gives owners access to a wide range of lenses. Pentax’s newest autofocus lenses can attach to the K1000. They can also be used in manual focus. However, Pentax’s newest lenses without an aperture ring will not offer exposure control.

Pentax K1000: Design & operation

Pentax K1000 SE, the later model. Image credit: Alamy.

The Pentax K1000 began with a satin-chromed brass top, bottom plate, and an aluminum and stainless film rewind assembly. However, the quality of materials changed over time and more plastic parts were being used by the end of its life. The overall weight of the Pentax K1000 dropped from 620g down to 525g over its life.

The original Japanese-made cameras are more desirable and durable than the cheaper models. It is easy to tell if you are looking at an older model by the presence of the “Asahi” branding on the pentaprism. This branding disappeared when production moved from Japan.

The K1000 has a very limited number of features. It is easy to use and simple to use. However, its fully manual exposure mode may be a surprise to people who have used cameras that automatically adjust everything. The viewfinder has a microprism spot at the centre. It’s not easy to focus with. However, the Pentax K1000 SE (and an upgraded model) had a split-image feature in the middle.

Pentax K1000: Should You Buy One?

(Image credit: Pentax)

The price of a Pentax K1000 will vary depending on the generation. However, you can expect to pay $200 for a Pentax K1000 with a 50mm F/2 prime lens.

Although it may not have the most advanced features of other cameras, it is still a great camera. The K1000 was an SLR designed for beginners. It was responsible for millions learning how to photograph basics.

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