Pentax K1000

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Pentax K1000.jpg
Maker Asahi Optical Co., Ltd.
Type 35 mm SLR
Lens mount Pentax K bayonet mount
Focus Manual focus
Exposure manual exposure set and built-in cadmium sulfide (CdS) light meter
Flash Hot shoe
Made in Japan, Hong Kong, China
Without lens, showing the K mount and mirror.
Top view, showing the controls.

The Pentax K1000 (originally marked the Asahi Pentax K1000) is an interchangeable lens, 35 mm film, single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, manufactured by Asahi Optical Co., Ltd. from 1976 to 1997, originally in Japan.[1] [2] The K1000's extraordinary longevity makes it a historically significant camera. The K1000's inexpensive simplicity was a great virtue and earned it an unrivaled popularity as a basic but sturdy workhorse. The Pentax K1000 eventually sold over three million units.[3]


The K1000 is the simplest member of Asahi Optical's Pentax K-series SLRs, whose other members are the Pentax K2, KM, and KX, all introduced in 1975, and the K2 DMD (1976). All have the same basic body design, but with differing feature levels, internal electronics, and external controls and cosmetics.

It uses a horizontal travel, rubberized silk cloth focal plane shutter with a speed range of 1/1000 second to 1 second, along with Bulb and a flash X-sync of 1/60 second. It is 91.4 millimetres tall, 143 mm wide, and 48 mm deep, and weighs 620 grams. The body was finished in black leather with chrome trim only, although early production Pentax K1000 SE bodies had brown leather with chrome trim.

The introductory US list price for the K1000 body with SMC Pentax 55 mm f/2 lens was $299.50. In 1983, a K1000 with SMC Pentax-M 50 mm f/2 lens listed for $220; in 1988, the body only was $210, but $290 with SMC Pentax-A 50 mm f/2; in 1993, the body only was $263. The body was priced at $315 in 1994 and remained there until discontinued. Note that SLRs usually sold for 30 to 40 percent below list price.


The K1000 is an almost-all metal, mechanically (springs, gears, levers) controlled, manual-focus SLR with manual-exposure control.[4] It is completely operable without batteries.[5] Batteries are only required (one A76 or S76, or LR44 or SR44) for the light metering information system. This consists of a centre-the-needle exposure control system using a galvanometer needle pointer moving between vertically arranged +/– over/underexposure markers at the right side of the viewfinder to indicate the readings of the built-in full-scene averaging, cadmium sulfide (CdS)battery light meter[6] versus the actual camera settings. The meter does not have a true on/off switch and the lens cap must be attached to the lens to prevent draining the K1000's battery when it is not in use.

The viewfinder also has a focusing screen with a microprism spot focusing aid. The Pentax K1000 SE substitutes a split image rangefinder plus microprism collar focusing screen. The K1000 SE is otherwise identical to the regular K1000, except that the SE's from the first two years of production in late 1977 to 1978 used a Black Diamond patterned leatherette (Pre 780XXX serial number) for approximately 2500 units and then a brown leather instead of black after that on the later early SE models.

A Pentax K1000 SE with a SMC 50 mm f/2 lens

The K1000 is often sold with a version of the SMC Pentax 50 mm f/2 lens. The K1000 accepts all manual focus lenses with the Pentax K bayonet mount, introduced in 1975 with the Pentax K-series SLRs. This includes the K-A mount lenses introduced in 1983. Manual focus lenses made by Asahi Optical are the SMC Pentax, SMC Pentax-M and SMC Pentax-A types.

In addition, almost all lenses with the Pentax K-AF and K-AF2 autofocus lens mounts (introduced 1987 and 1991, respectively) also work in manual focus mode. The exceptions are Pentax's newest SMC-Pentax FA J (1997) and SMC-Pentax DA (2004) types, which lack an aperture control ring. They can be mounted onto the K1000, however have restricted functionality. Asahi Optical sold the Mount Adapter K to allow their older Takumar screw mount lenses (see below) to be used on K mount cameras (with limitations). In 2006, Pentax stated that it had manufactured more than 24 million lenses over fifty years that could provide at least some functionality on the K1000. The number of independently manufactured Pentax-compatible lenses is also huge, but indeterminate.

Except for having an enormous variety of lenses with the popular K mount to choose from, the K1000 has fewer features compared to higher-level SLRs of the mid 1970s. The camera has a flash synchronization speed of 1/60th second,[7] a sleeve-bushing equipped shutter and film advance mechanism, no self timer, no depth-of-field preview, no mirror lockup, no interchangeable focusing screens, no motor drive option, and no autoexposure. The K1000 is a completely manual camera.

The K1000 accepts any non-dedicated hot shoe mounted or PC terminal X-sync electronic flash for guide number manual or flash mounted sensor automatic exposure control. The Vivitar 283 (guide number 120, ASA 100/feet; 37, DIN 21/meters), favoured by many photographers for the same reasons as the K1000, has an even longer life span of 1974-2004. The K1000 is also old enough to use flash bulbs, with a maximum synchronization speed of 1/30th second.[8]

Overall, the K1000 can be described as the reincarnation of the landmark Asahi (Honeywell in the USA) Pentax Spotmatic SLR of 1964 with open aperture metering in a K-series body.

A view of the back of the K1000 in operation

Design history[edit]

Beginning in 1975, there was a complete overhaul of Asahi Optical's Pentax SLR line when the first of the Pentax K-series SLRs were introduced - the Pentax K2, KM and KX. The SMC Pentax K mount lenses were introduced at the same time. The Pentax K1000 and K2 DMD followed in 1976. The K2/K2 DMD was the top-of-the-line model with aperture priority; the KX, the full-featured manual mechanical model; the KM, the basic manual mechanical model. The 1000 in the K1000's name was a direct reference that its top shutter speed was superior to Asahi Optical's previous bottom-of-the-line Pentax Spotmatic SP 500 of 1971. The spartan viewfinder had 91% coverage.

The 1970s and 1980s were an era of intense competition between the major SLR brands: Pentax, Nikon, Canon, Minolta and Olympus. Between 1975 and 1985, there was a dramatic shift away from heavy all-metal manual mechanical camera bodies to much more compact bodies with integrated circuit (IC) electronic automation. In addition, because of rapid advances in electronics, the brands continually leap frogged each other with models having new or more automatic features. The industry was trying to expand to become more friendly to amateur photographers, and many cameras were advertised as being easy to use and carry.

After the introduction of the K-mount in 1975, there was another overhaul of Asahi Optical's Pentax line beginning in 1976 when the M-series SLRs and SMC Pentax-M lenses came out, starting with the aperture priority only Pentax ME and the all-manual Pentax MX. The ME introduced an entirely new chassis and was very compact: 82.5 mm height, 131 mm width, 49.5 mm depth and 460 g weight. The M-series remain among the smallest 35 mm film SLRs ever made, though they are much heavier than the plastic SLR bodies of the 1990s. Asahi Optical also redesigned their lenses to be more compact, although the SMC Pentax-M lenses generally kept the optical formulae of the SMC Pentax lenses.

The K1000 was the only K-series SLR to survive the M-series changeover. It also survived the dramatic electronic growth of the M-series in the wake of the 1976 introduction of the landmark shutter priority Canon AE-1, the autofocus (AF) SLR camera revolution following the landmark Minolta Maxxum 7000 in 1985 and the point-and-shoot (P/S) revolution following the confluence of cheap microchip electronics, high speed film and small aperture zoom lenses c. 1990.

The K1000 gained a unique popularity and sold well for many years as its lack of features came to be regarded an important feature in and of itself. Its spartan nature, without autoexposure or autofocus, meant a sturdy and reliable camera for a low price. The K1000 became highly recommended for student photographers as it forced them to focus on basics of exposure and composition.

Production was not ended until 1997 when manufacturing costs of its older design and supply of its mechanical and electronic parts (especially precision analogue microgalvanometers for the light meter) finally became untenable. It was replaced by the highly computerized Pentax ZX-M (also called MZ-M) in 1998.


Production of the largely hand assembled camera was moved from Japan, first to Hong Kong in 1978 and then to China in 1990, to keep labor costs down. The "Asahi" name and "AOCo" logo was removed from the pentaprism cover to de-emphasize the company name in keeping with the rest of the "Pentax" line. The meter components changed as Asahi Optical searched for suitable supplies. The metal in the wind shaft was downgraded from steel. Cheaper plastic was substituted for the originally satin-chomed brass top and bottom plates and aluminum and steel film rewind assembly.[9] Note that the use of lighter plastic lowered the weight of the Chinese-assembled K1000s to 525 g.

See also[edit]


  • Anonymous. "Annual Guide to 54 Top Cameras: Asahi Pentax K2" p. 119. Modern Photography, Volume 40, Number 12; December 1976.
  • Anonymous. "Modern Tests: [Pentax ME] Smallest 35mm SLR: Fully Automatic Only" pp. 115–121. Modern Photography, Volume 41, Number 4; April 1977.
  • Anonymous. "Modern Tests: Pentax Miniatures KX In MX, Makes It Better?" pp. 116–120. Modern Photography, Volume 41, Number 5; May 1977.
  • Anonymous. "Modern Tests: Pentax K1000: Basic Body Still Endures" pp. 78–80. Modern Photography, Volume 47, Number 4; April 1983.
  • Anonymous. "Pentax Miniatures KX In MX, Makes It Better?" pp. 99–101. Modern Photography's Photo Buying Guide '85. reprint from Modern Photography, May 1977.
  • Anonymous. "Modern Photography's Annual Guide '84: 48 Top Cameras: Pentax MX" p. 94. Modern Photography, Volume 47, Number 12; December 1983.
  • Anonymous. “Top Cameras for ‘89: Modern picks 40 of the finest.: Pentax K1000” p. 43. Modern Photography, Volume 52, Number 12; December 1988.
  • Anonymous. "Pentax Manual Focus Bayonet Cameras" from retrieved 13 August 2003.
  • Dimitrov, Bojidar. "Bojidar Dimitrov's Pentax K-Mount Page" ( retrieved 18 January 2007
  • Goldberg, Norman; Michele Frank and Frank D. Grande. "Lab Report: Pentax Spotmatic F" pp. 104–107, 147. Popular Photography, Volume 81, Number 10; October 1974.
  • Comen, Paul. Magic Lantern Guides: Pentax Classic Cameras; K2, KM, KX, LX, M series, Spotmatic series. Magic Lantern Guides. Rochester, NY: Silver Pixel Press, 1999. ISBN 1-883403-53-7
  • Hansen, William P. Hansen’s Complete Guide Illustrated Guide to Cameras; Volume 1. Kennesaw, GA: Rochdale Publishing Company, 2003. ISBN 0-9707710-2-9
  • Keppler, Herbert. "Keppler's SLR Notebook: Are You Buying What's [sic] You Need Or Do You Purchase 'Fashionable' Equipment?" pp. 30–31. Modern Photography, Volume 50, Number 8; August 1986.
  • Keppler, Herbert. "SLR notebook: Byzantine puzzle: When is a discontinued camera a discontinued camera?" pp. 22, 26. Popular Photography, Volume 96, Number 10; October 1989.
  • Keppler, Herbert. "SLR notebook: The ubiquitous 283: an amateur flash that pros have made into a cult" pp. 24–26, 28. Popular Photography, Volume 97, Number 2; February 1990.
  • Keppler, Herbert. "SLR: Why did SLR owners desert and buy point-and-shoots? Can we get them back? Do we really want them?" pp. 14–15, 62–63. Popular Photography, Volume 57 Number 9; September 1993.
  • Keppler, Herbert. "SLR: Why the camera makers built a lens mount Tower of Babel." pp. 15–16. Popular Photography, Volume 60, Number 3; March 1996.
  • Keppler, Herbert. "First Look: Is The Pentax ZX-M A Real Successor To The K1000???" pp. 26, 118. Popular Photography, Volume 62, Number 1; January 1998.
  • Keppler, Herbert. "SLR: Did Pentax really turn the K1000 into a cheap plastic has been?" pp. 11–12, 90. Popular Photography, Volume 62, Number 2; February 1998.
  • Kolonia, Peter. "All 35mm SLRs Compared!!" pp. 44–49. Popular Photography, Volume 57 Number 8; December 1993. $263 body only
  • Kolonia, Peter and Dan Richards. "55 35mm SLRs & 73 Top AF Point-And-Shoots Compared!!!" pp. 97–107. Popular Photography, Volume 58 Number 12; December 1994.
  • Lea, Rudolph. The Register of 35mm Single Lens Reflex Cameras: From 1936 to the Present. Second Edition. Hückelhoven, Germany: Rita Wittig Fachbuchverlag, 1993. ISBN 3-88984-130-9. $299.50 w/55 f/2 SMC Pentax
  • Massey, David and Bill Hansen. catalogue Volume 5, 2006. Atlanta, GA:, 2006.
  • Matanle, Ivor. Collecting and Using Classic SLRs. First Paperback Edition. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 1997. ISBN 0-500-27901-2
  • Meehan, Joseph. Magic Lantern Guides: Manual SLRs; Nikon FM2N, Pentax K1000, Ricoh KR-5 Super, Vivitar V4000. First Edition. Magic Lantern Guides. Rochester, NY: Silver Pixel Press, 1994. ISBN 1-883403-10-3
  • Schneider, Jason. "The Camera Collector: Schneider’s screw-mount SLR saga, part 1: Where did Praktica get its Pentax mount and was it such a Zeiss idea?" pp. 20, 23, 26. Modern Photography, Volume 51, Number 6; June 1987.
  • Schneider, Jason. "A Half Century of The World’s Greatest Cameras!" pp. 56–59, 76, 124. Modern Photography, Volume 51, Number 9; September 1987.
  • Schneider, Jason. "SLR Notebook: Recent Casualties: Vanishing Breed of SLR?" pp. 17–18. Modern Photography, Volume 52, Number 1; January 1988.

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