Pentax K1000

Well, this is a camera I should never have owned…especially now. But I do and I am very happy about it. I saved it from a battery acid death, or so I like to think.

On a wander around Pontefract, I went into an antique market and there it was, sitting at the back of a cabinet among unrelated items. There were other cameras in the market, mainly Brownies or Coronets that did not take my fancy and were over-priced. Then here this was, a sort after camera, one I had never held let alone try. I asked for the price…£120…oooh far too much for me at the moment, but cheaper than examples on eBay. It came with a bag, flash, and two lenses, well, three if you include the one attached to the body. The lenses being a 50mm, 28mm, and 135mm all Pentax’s own brand. So, given today’s prices, a good buy. But I only have a part time job 😦

I walked outside, telling myself I didn’t need or want it. My friend, who is no help at all in these situations said…go ask for a discount. I figured there was no way I would get it low enough for me to justify the purchase. How do you know unless you try? said she. Fine, so I walked back in and offered £50 and the guy replied, you have to at least try better than that. But I couldn’t so I walked out again and we went for coffee. There I sat eating coffee and a delicious Manchester Tart…going to have to learn to make those.

Sitting there, my friend was waffling on about something, but I wasn’t listening. My brain was thinking about how I could afford the camera, how I could make it possible? Maybe if I sold another camera? If I didn’t buy anything else for a few weeks? If I put it on my credit card? Oi, Oi, you are not listening says my friend. Nope, I am hopeless. So off we went back to the market and I offered £100 and the seller said yes. Thanks credit card company. We went to inspect the camera, I wanted to check it worked. Everything seemed fine, and then I looked in the battery compartment. The batteries had been left inside and they had just burst open. Luckily, they had not yet leaked onto anything, phew. The same could not be said of the flash. The batteries in that had leaked and damaged the connector. If the camera had stayed there another couple of weeks it might have been sayonara for the light meter. Later I covered the damage to the flash with copper tape as you can see in the photos. It came back to life, another close call.

So how is my K1000? the camera that has been written about so many times. Here is one of the many reviews.

Well, let’s start by looking at the serial number and the Japan sticker on the bottom. With those details I can tell my camera was produced before 1984 as the production was moved to Hong Kong after that. The serial numbers from that period start with 78xxxxx. But other than that it could be anywhere from 1976 onwards. From 1990 production was moved to China and cheaper, plastic parts were used. Mine is all metal and the serial number starts with a 6 so I think it is one of the earlier ones, made in Japan. Great. I confirmed this on this website, mine matches the description of the earliest run. So actually I think I got one of the first ones made and a bargain. Apart from the near battery compartment issue, it is in great condition. Whoever owned it, bought the whole kit and took care of it. I doubt it has ever had more than one owner. Even the seals are perfect.

It is a simple camera, no bells and whistles with a +/- needle light meter…crap I now realise I have left the new batteries in the compartment when I picked it up to check…oops. I think I was going to use it again soon and got distracted.

Ok, now they are taken out. The camera is mechanical and will work without the batteries, but heck, nice to have the option. The full metal body makes it slightly heavy for its size, which is actually porridge size, not too big or small. The mirror slap sound is very satisfying, a bit loud. The throw is perfect for my little hands, with a nice ratchety feel. Smooth but sturdy. My example’s movement is as smooth as butter. I am loving this camera.

The first thing I did was load it with some Rollei RPX400, add a red filter and take it for a walk on a lovely day. I had just read the book 400 photographs by Ansel Adams.

So decide to take some Adams-ish inspired shots. Lots of lovely clouds and dark skies.

And a few closer to the subjects.

I have to say the Cokin filter did make it tricky to achieve infinity focus and I had to unscrew it slightly. For these shots I tried all the lenses at some point. The first section being the 28mm. This last group swaps between the 50mm and the 135mm. So all the lenses are in great condition.

I then loaded an expired colour film and went to another park. Covid means I tend to stay away from others when I can, hands-face-SPACE.

No filter this time, I really just wanted to use up that film as it was my last expired roll at the time.

I did tell my friend, I could always sell the kit for more than I bought it for but soon after the this my part time job became more long term. So I am work until xmas at least. Unless we go into lockdown of course and if that happens I will sell it. I love it, but not so much that I am not willing to part with it once I need some cash.

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