The Pentax K1000: Everything You Need To Know

I’ve shot with several Pentax K1000’s over the last few years and now I know the pros and cons of this tank-like camera.

The Pentax K1000 is a robust classic SLR camera, simple and reliable, the K1000 is a joy. For a forty-year-old camera, this can still produce some beautiful shots. The K1000 is fully manual and can house some of the amazing Pentax lenses so you’ll be able to get some sharp shots.

This article will cover common faults, what the camera is best for, how to use it, is it worth it and much more, if you want to find out more about this classic then keep on reading!

Pentax K1000 Specs

Mount – Pentax K Mount

Format – 35mm Film

Exposure – Manual

Shutter Speeds – 1/1000 – 1 Second

Weight – 620g


Release Date – 1976

Battery – 2 x LR44 Batteries

How Much Is The Pentax K1000?

At the time of writing (2022), the Pentax K1000 with a lens is $200-250 or £150-175. You can find this camera for less but it’s worth paying more for a tried and tested camera.

Is the price worth it? I would say the K1000 is worth it for the price, it’s a durable and robust camera so it should stay in good condition. The price is a lot more than it used to be but it’s still a fantastic camera that won’t let you down.

The Pentax K1000 Compared With The Nikon FM

I thought it’d be interesting to compare the Pentax K1000 with another very similar camera, the Nikon FM. Both of these cameras are fully manual and can be used without a battery if necessary. Both of these are brilliant cameras so there won’t be too much to set them apart.

Pentax K1000Nikon FM
Price (2022)$225/£175$250/£200
Use Without BatteriesYesYes
Ease Of UseFairly EasyFairly Easy
Chance Of FaultLow/MediumLow
Battery2 X LR442 X LR44
Self TimerNoYes
Shutter Speeds1/1000 – 1 Second1/1000 – 1 Second
Comparing the Pentax K1000 and Nikon FM

There isn’t a whole lot that separates the Pentax K1000 and the Nikon FM. There seem to be a lot more K1000’s available than FM’s, so they’re more accessible. Also, Pentax lenses are easier to get hold of than good Nikon lenses, they are both very good quality lenses. The K1000 has a few more common faults than the FM, which I’ll go through later in the article.

The Pentax K1000 is about as good as the Nikon FM while being marginally cheaper and easier to acquire.

Is The Pentax K1000 Good For Beginners?

The Pentax K1000 is a great film camera for beginners, with only a few basic settings, this camera is fantastic for you to learn the basics of film photography. If you want to learn how to use a camera manually then this is ideal.

While having a few basic settings, the Pentax K1000 can still provide brilliant shots because it has such a great variety of lenses, so you wouldn’t necessarily need to upgrade once you got better at shooting.

What Kind Of Photography Is The Pentax K1000 Best For?

The Pentax K1000 is great for all kinds of photography, it’s suited for street photography, documentary photography, portrait, travel, editorial and much more. Since it has a hot shoe you can use a flash, so this camera is suited to all sorts. It’s a fairly big camera and it’s lovely and robust so you’ll feel confident to take it on all kinds of shoots.

Though the K1000 is best for these kinds of things, it doesn’t mean it is bad at other kinds of photography, it’s just best suited to the styles of photography mentioned before.

Why Is The Pentax K1000 So Popular?

The Pentax K1000 seems to be so popular because it was fairly cheap, and robust, it had basic settings and you could get fantastic shots with it. It become very popular with college students as a ‘go-to’ cheap SLR. In the end, three million units of the K1000 were sold between 1976 and 1997.

What Film Is Best For The Pentax K1000?

The best film for the K1000 is probably Kodak Portra 400 for colour or Ilford HP5 for black and white. You may also want to try Kodak Portra 160, Portra 800, Ektar 100 or Cinestill 800T, it all depends on what you’re shooting and what kind of style you have.

For much more information on camera film and the type you should try for your specific style, go and check out this article I made to help you decide!

How To Use The Pentax K1000

The Pentax K1000 is a pretty simple camera to use, that’s why people love it so much! You only need to do the basics, shutter speed, ISO, aperture and focusing.

To Remove The Lens, you must push the small black flap-like button located to the left of the lens when looking front on. While pushing this flap you then rotate the lens to remove it. When putting a lens back on, you simply match up the red dot on the rear of your lens with the red dot on the camera body, slot it in and rotate it to lock it in place.

To open the battery compartment, find the battery compartment on the bottom plate of the camera, and use a coin to undo it by twisting it anti-clockwise.

To control the shutter speeds simply rotate the dial on the right-hand side that shows the number one to one thousand.

To change the ASA or ISO, you will see a window that says ASA in orange, inside the window it is white and there will be numbers inside, that is your ISO number. To change your ISO, you have to lift up the silver outer ring that surrounds the shutter speed dial and then rotate it. 

To change your aperture just look down on your camera from the top view around the lens you will see the numbers like 2.8 to something like 16, this is your aperture. In order to change the aperture you simply have to rotate the aperture ring and choose what F-Stop you would like the camera to be at. 

In order to focus your camera, you simply have to rotate the middle of the lens, The numbers on your lens correspond to the distance that you are currently focusing at. Usually, it is shown in both metres and feet. With this lens feet are shown in blue and metres are shown in yellow. Usually, you can focus as close as 0.5 metres all the way to Infinity. 

In order to attach a flash you simply have to slide a flash onto the hot shoe located right at the top of the prism of the camera (see where the red ‘X’ is on the image above), then you have to make sure that you have your camera at the flash sync speed which is 60. 

In order to unwind and unload your camera You will first have to press a small button at the base of the camera which releases the spool so that you can unwind your film. Once you have released the spool you can then rewind by using the winder located on the left side of the top of the camera. You must wind anticlockwise until you feel it go loose. After it becomes loose continue to wind it for a few more seconds, then you can open the back of the camera by pulling up on the winder until the door pops open. 

To load your film is fairly easy but while you’re here you may as well check this video:

Common Faults For The Pentax K1000

Unfortunately, although the Pentax K1000 is such a great camera and generally incredibly reliable it does have a number of common faults. Over the years  I’ve learned exactly what to look out for so I can help you make sure you’re getting a good camera. 

Viewfinder Fungus is a common fault with the K1000, this can affect the whole viewfinder or just a small part of it depending on how severe the fungus is. Having tried to fix this myself I quickly realised that this fungus was based in the prism and not in the actual viewfinder. In order to clean the fungus you would have to replace the prism which is not easy. This is a very common issue with old K1000’s and although the camera would still be usable it is not very desirable and it’s very annoying. To make it clear, this would not transfer onto your images but it would make composing an image very frustrating as it’s an integral part of your image-making. 

A faulty Lightmeter is another common issue with the K100. This is usually due to the fact that someone has left batteries inside the battery compartment and the batteries have leaked, over years over the years the corrosion caused by the battery acid has corroded the wire that connects to the light metre which results in total failure of the light metre. The Pentax K1000 is fully usable without batteries, however, most people would prefer to use the K1000 with a light meter as they would with any camera. I’m sure this issue is fixable but it would require soldiering a new wire or at least the old wire back in place. 

Damage to the lens is common with all old SLR cameras. It’s always worth checking if your lens has any fungus, scratches, dust or separation. Most lenses are fine after a good clean but you can’t fix a scratch and if the fungus is very bad your images will certainly be affected.

Light seals are important, you will probably need to replace the light seals. If you don’t replace the light seals then it’s likely that you will get light leaks on your images due to the degradation of your old light seals. Luckily I’ve created a great guide on how to replace your light seals and you can check that right here. 

Final Word

The Pentax K1000 is one of the best film cameras of its time. Remarkably easy to use with professional results. Popular due to its simplicity and reliability, I would suggest anyone to try this SLR for themselves. Hopefully, with the information I’ve provided you’ll be able to buy one in confidence that you’ll know what to look out for.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *