Pentax K1000 Review: Comprehensive Film Camera Guide 2016

In this Pentax K1000 Camera review, we outline information about the camera, it’s performance, usage and recommendations. The Pentax was originally marked as the Asahi Pentax K1000, but was shortly after was changed to just the Pentax 1000.

The Pentax K1000 is a ridiculously simple camera to use and that’s why it is one of the favourites of newcomers to the 35mm film realm. It skips out on all the other bells and whistles that don’t add so much utility to a newbie learning the ropes of a film camera.

The camera is completely manual and fully mechanical, it only needs a small A76 battery to power its light meter.

History of The Pentax K1000

When did the Pentax K1000 come out? It was released in 1976 and was manufactured in Japan for 21 years up until 1997.

The Pentax K1000 was so popular it eventually sold over three million units.

The design of the K1000 is a derivative of the original Spotmatic series of screw mount SLRs that were introduced in the 1960s. It was originally released and targeted to the amateur photographer and its longevity even surprised the manufacturers as it survived much longer than expected. It eventually became the archetypal student 35mm SLR camera as it was a fully mechanical, manual camera making it perfect for learning the ropes of shooting on film.

The camera was released as a bare bones operation with only the basic necessities in order to shoot: a TTL metering system, the compatibility with all K – mount lenses made by Pentax and other distributors such as Ricoh and Cosina, and had a wide enough range of shutter speeds from 1 s to 1/1000. Some later models even omitted features such as the self-timer, depth-of-field preview and a separate meter switch to turn it on or off.

Performance

Where does the K1000 sit on the spectrum of 35mm SLR cameras? Well if you’re talking from a purely mechanical and manual point of view it’s hard to fault it. The camera is dead simple to use and very intuitive. The one area that the camera can let its user down is with the light meter. One must be careful that these are properly calibrated as they have a reputation for being faulty and still giving an output which may lead the photographer astray and waste a roll of film!

For a beginner looking for somewhere to start the camera has all the performance you need. Get one of the earlier models and you’ll have a rugged piece of metal that will just keep shooting rain, hail or shine. The shutter just keeps on going and that’s all you really need to know. If you know what you’re doing then you don’t even have to worry about a potentially faulty light meter and just shoot f11 and be there! Alternatively, one could pick up an inexpensive external lightmeter to gauge the appropriate settings.

Why Should I Get The Pentax K1000?

You probably hear plenty of recommendations to get the Pentax K1000, there’s good reason for this – the cameras are built like a tank, they just work! You can be rough with them, throw them around and they will keep on shooting.

This makes them a great travel camera if you plan on shooting some film on your backpacking adventures.

They are also affordable making them easy to replace if stolen or broken and it’s easy to find replacement parts for them.

Why Shouldn’t I Get The Pentax K1000?

If you want some more freedom with your shooting style, to shoot on auto or don’t want to miss that decisive moment on the street. That’s the only real drawback I can see from using the Pentax K1000.

Quality Of Shots – Take A Look

Pentax K1000 photo of field
Source: Flickr
Pentax K1000 photo of girl
Source: Flickr
Pentax k1000 photo of winding gorge
Source: Flickr
pentax k1000 photo of beach
Source: Flickr
pentax k1000 photo of misty road
Source: Flickr
pentax k1000 photo of misty rolling hills
Source: Flickr

Pentax K1000 Battery

The Pentax K1000 battery is a simple LR44 that should cost no more than $5 for a pack of 6. Make sure to get Energizer or Duracell as these are usually the best.

The best places to pick up the Pentax K1000 battery is from Amazon as they offer the best prices and the fastest shipping! Check out the prices here.

Pros

  • Very affordable camera
  • Earlier models are very rugged
  • Simple fully mechanical and manual setup is awesome to learn on
  • Easy to replace or find spare parts for

Cons

  • There’s a chance the lightmeter may be poorly calibrated
  • Later models aren’t as robust as earlier ones (built in China with plastic bottom plates instead of metal)

Recommendations

Get One Of The Earlier Models

Make sure to try and get the models that were made in the 1970s as these had the best build quality and were manufactured in Japan. Manufacturing of later models was moved to China and there’s the notion that build quality was compromised – this was due to the sturdy metal bottom plates being replaced with plastic.

If you want a camera with a little bit more freedom in what you’d like to do and the ability to shoot on fully auto mode, then check out our Canon AE-1 Program review.

If you want the toughest camera in this 35mm SLR range with a highly accurate light metre that still won’t break the budget, then check out the 

Where Do I Find Pentax Film Cameras For Sale?

The best value for money for these is found on eBay, where you are really spoiled for choice. Buying off Craigslist can be very hit and miss – one can surely find their fair share of bargains, but I’ve been burned one too many times from Craigslist and prefer to use the safety of eBay where one can buy from reputed sellers and be relatively certain of the quality of the camera.

Looking for the best deals on high quality Pentax K1000 cameras?

To find the best currrent prices on Pentax film cameras for sale check out 

Summary

A fine starting point for someone looking to dip their toes into 35mm film photography and learn the fundamentals without breaking their bank.

Read Next: Which Is Better? The Pentax K1000 vs Canon AE-1

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James Grundy

I’ve been photographing for 13 years and have a penchant for 35mm and medium format film. Black and white street photography is my go-to. My work has been featured in online and print media through a few publications like Shutterstock, Brooklyn Resource Mag, Off The Rails and Collective Quarterly.

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