The Pentax K1000, initially branded the Asahi Pentax K1000, is a mechanical, manual 35mm SLR. Pentax introduced the K1000 model in 1976 and produced it up until 1997. The camera’s simplicity was a great virtue and earned it a matchless popularity as a basic but solid workhorse. Its biggest claim to fame was also its excellent reputation as an ideal camera for students and amateur photographers. It even made the ALL-TIME 100 Gadgets list in the TIME magazine; therefore, it’s safe to say this Pentax K1000 review is a bit overdue as the K1000 is the most acclaimed camera produced in the 90’s and it sold more than three million units.
This vintage camera is the simplest model of the Asahi Optical’s Pentax K-series SLRs. Other members of this series include Pentax KX, KM, and K2, all introduced in 1975 and the K2 DMD which was introduced in 1976. The best thing about the K1000 is that it uses Pentax K-mount bayonet lenses, of which there are hundreds in the market. This Pentax K1000 review will shed some light on what makes the camera very popular.
Pentax K1000 Specs
The camera is easier to use than other manual cameras making it perfect when you want to leap from digital to analog. This section of our Pentax K1000 review analyzes the camera’s specs to see what makes it one of photography’s most popular and long-lived cameras.
Type: Single-lens reflex (SLR) camera
Resolution: 1,280 × 1,028 pixels
Shutter Speed: 1-1/1,000 seconds maximum, flash sync 1/60 second
Continuous Shooting Rate: 10- and 2-seconds
Size: 93.5 x 143 x 49.5 mm (3.7 x 5.6 x 1.9 in.)
Weight: 21.375 oz. (606.0g) with batteries
Media Storage: SD Memory Card
• On Sale: around $50
• Used: around $100
• Kit Options: Black and white print film 35mm at $7.90
Getting a new K1000 is next to impossible because it was produced almost 20 years ago. However, you can compare the prices of the used model in online stores.
The K1000 has two CdS cells, an ASA of 20-ISO 3,200 and a metering range of EV 3 – EV 18 which comes with the f/2 lens. The CdS meter measures the average brightness of the ground glass when the camera is adjusted at full aperture. It changes from low to high and vice versa depending on the amount of light passing through the lens. However, you need to keep the lens clap on when not in use, to prevent the battery from draining.
The camera comes with a glass prism viewfinder, and as mentioned earlier it is compatible with a broad range of Pentax K1000 lenses, which is amazing. Photographers can also attach Pentax mount lenses with an adapter if you wish. The camera comes with a hotshoe that can be connected to an external flash and can sync up to 1/60 shutter speeds.
One of the flagship qualities of this camera is that it does not need a battery to run. This is quite a breath of fresh air with lots of film cameras since most of the gadgets around us require charge and recharge. Instead of a Pentax K1000 battery, you will need a small and easily available SR44, LR44, A76 or S76 battery similar to the one used in small toys (lightweight toys).
Image Quality & Performance
The camera has an excellent ISO range of 20 to 3200 for a vintage camera. With this ISO, photographers can capture photos with the right amount of light. The ISO sets the right exposure in a given condition to produce high-quality images. For a vintage camera, the K1000 has significant noise reduction compared to the Yashica Electro 35GS and other well-regarded cameras produced in the 70s.
For an old model camera like K1000, capturing photos of 1,280 × 1,028 pixels is very impressive. This resolution complements the exposure meter to produce clear and detailed images. These two features are also responsible for the low-light performance of the camera as well as enhancing the clarity of photos captured at high ISOs.
The camera has a shutter speed range of 1-1/1000 that works pretty well, and you can choose to set the ASA from 20 to 3200. A valuable and interesting feature is the shutter ready indicator located to the right of the shutter button. The 1-1/1000 shutter speed range helps in controlling the amount of light recorded by the camera’s film. It also manipulates the visual effects of the final image to produce sharp photos.
Besides the shutter speed, the camera shoots with speed and ease. The outcomes are consistently amazing, and you are sure of getting better images than with most of the more sophisticated devices.
Here are some pictures taken with Pentax K1000 for reference. Please keep in mind these might have been edited and altered; however, they can still help you get a grasp on how this camera shoots:
Design & Controls
One of the best things about the K1000 is that it is entirely manual. Manual shutter speed, manual focus, manual film advance, manual aperture, manual everything. Unlike the automated digital gadgets, the K1000 has only three shooting controls: focus, shutter speed and aperture that let you take high-quality photos.
There are no features like automatic white balance, automatic advance, and automatic focus among other automatic features that need to be reset every time you want to capture photos. The camera is also very brilliant that you do not need to turn the camera or meter on or off: these two features are always on for instant picture taking.
On the right side of the camera is the shutter speed setting while on the left is the frame counter. The aperture and the depth of field indicator are positioned on the lens. The latter enables you to identify the range that will have the perfect level of sharpness when taking photos. The battery button is located at the bottom of the camera next to the tripod mount.
The camera has very few feature which might not impress some photographers but this is the real beauty of the Pentax K1000. It is stripped down of many features that are available in modern and more sophisticated cameras.
- The camera has few controls making it very simple to use
- The K1000 has manual controls
- Allows for instant picture taking without having to turn on the camera
- 1/1,000 top shutter speed produces detailed images
- Has a PC flash sync socket
- Does not use batteries (only uses one tiny cell)
- Produces high-quality images for an old school camera
- Does not have a self-timer
- There are no custom functions
- Absence of interchangeable focus screens
- Sacrifices a mirror lock-up
- Previewing the depth-of-field is difficult
During the 70s, photography teachers demanded the K1000 in their classes because the camera lets students focus on the picture rather than the camera itself. Today, students, beginner photographers, and professional photographers use it as a tool in their art. The camera doesn’t really work for people who only want a point-and-shoot camera, but rather for those who have a real interest in art and photography.
If you want a regular point-and-shoot, the K-50 from Pentax is a reliable option as it behaves really well in tough outdoor conditions and has above average capabilities. The K3 from Pentax is another good choice due to its excellent image quality. If you’re really serious about photography and videography and are a fan of Pentax, we recommend going for the Pentax 645Z as it’s one of the best.
The K1000 is not a perfect camera, but it is ideal for capturing photos. It is not at the top of many lists, but ranks quite high on some. Other cameras like the Canon AE-1 frequently appear on top lists but given a choice between the two; I’d go for the Pentax in a heartbeat. Most of us will be quite surprised on how the camera delivers without the need of fancy features and controls.
Photography is an art that entails imagination and concentrating on the basics of what makes an excellent photo, and never about the camera. This vintage camera allows us to remain focused on our photography. Share your experiences with us if you already own the K1000 or drop a question in the comment section if you have one.