Pentax K1000 – Manual SLR Popular with Photography Students

Pentax K1000 featured image.

Pentax K1000 – Basic and Reliable

The Pentax K1000 single lens reflex camera is robust and simple to operate. It is a mechanically operated single lens reflex camera (SLR) with manual focus, and manual exposure control, only. Although there is a single 1.5-volt button cell battery (A76, or LR44, or AG13) housed in the bottom of the camera it only powers the light meter.

The Pentax K1000 had an extremely long 21-year production life being produced and assembled, to begin with in Japan, and then later assembled in Hong Kong, and later again in China. The K1000 was made continuously from 1976 to 1997.

Pentax K1000 with SMC 50mm f2 lens

The Pentax K1000 regularly sells on Trademe.co.nz in New Zealand for up to NZ$100.

Later production cameras used more plastic parts in place of metal making them cheaper to produce. The early production cameras made entirely in Japan are easily distinguished having the word Asahi above the Pentax name on the pentaprism housing, and the AOCo logo above. There are numerous other difference between the K1000s produced in Japan and the later cameras made overseas.

Generally, the earlier models made and assembled in Japan are regarded as being of superior quality – made from better materials and more robust. The wind-on mechanism is also smoother.

Early Pentax K1000 (bottom) made and assembled in Japan. The most obvious difference on the earlier Japan assembled cameras being the word Asahi on the pentaprism housing. Above it is a later Chinese assembled K1000.

Early Pentax K1000 (bottom) made and assembled in Japan. The most obvious difference on the earlier Japan assembled cameras being the word Asahi on the pentaprism housing. Above it is a later Chinese assembled K1000. The Asahi version also has six screws holding on the lens mount instead of five on the later cameras.

The earlier cameras had a focusing screen with a micro-prism spot focusing aid in the centre. Later production cameras and the Pentax K1000 SE came out with a horizontal split image rangefinder focusing screen. Later cameras had the split image rangefinder upgraded to 45 degrees instead of horizontal. Personally, I find the split image rangefinder quicker and easier to focus especially in poor light.Pentax K1000 top-plate view.

The Japan assembled camera shown here at the bottom weighs 615g without film. Note the numerous differences that become apparent when the early and late production cameras are viewed together. The later model at the top, made in china, weighs 533g. The small round plug, next to the screw, on the left of the “Asahi” camera (bottom) covers a hole where the battery check button is located on the higher spec Pentax KX. 

The lack of features such as depth-of-field preview, aperture or shutter priority exposure, self-timer, are regarded by many as a plus. It forces the photographer to focus on composition, focus, and exposure. This, together with the low price, made the K1000 very popular with students studying photography.

Type: 35mm SLR with a built-in through-the-lens exposure meter.

Lens: Typically sold with a Pentax 50mm f2 lens.

Shutter: Rubberized silk focal plane shutter. Opens and closes horizontally.

Speeds: B, and 1 – 1000th of a second.

Viewfinder: Pentaprism finder with cross-micro-prism or split-image focusing screen. With 0.88x magnification.

Film Advance: Ratchet-type rapid wind lever with 160 degrees of travel. There is a “cocked” indicator window next to the shutter release which turns orange when the shutter is ready to fire.

Exposure Meter: CDS meter measures the average brightness of the of the ground glass at full aperture, and couples directly to shutter, aperture, and film speed settings. When not actually measuring the light ensure the lens is covered at all time to prevent the battery from becoming exhausted.

Exposure Counter: Automatic reset.

Film Rewind: Crank lifts up.

Film Speed: From 20 to 3200 ASA.

Flash Synchronization: X contact hot shoe with flash sync at 1/60 sec.

Weight: My early camera with Asahi on the pentaprism housing without lens 615g. My later camera weighs, without a lens, 533g. On later cameras, the top and bottom plates are plastic instead of satin-chrome brass.

In the Australian Photography Directory 1978/79, the Pentax K1000 is listed at Aus$285.60. Interestingly in the same publication, the K1000 was being offered by an advertiser for Aus$239.00 complete with Pentax SMC 55mm f2 lens. Typically SLRs were sold below the list price.

Asahi Pentax K1000 by Karen Nakamura

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