Camera Review: Pentax K1000

Time for another camera review and this time it’s the Pentax K1000.

It feels like I’ve had this camera forever because I can’t clearly remember how I came to have it.

I’ve got a vague memory of my Dad buying it from Jessops back when I was either going into Aberdeen College or secondary school.

The more I think about it it maybe was when I was still at secondary school, I’ve got vague memories of buying XP2 film in Huntly where I schooled.

Anyway the K1000 was the ‘go-to’ camera for the budding beginner photographer, it was in production from roughly the mid 1970s to the mid 1990’s or there about. I may have been given mine around the late 1980’s or very early 90’s.

Photo by Anna

The only lens I had for the K1000 was a Centon 28mm – 75mm ƒ3.5, and it’s done well to survive this long in it’s current condition, which is just fine.

I do remember using it a lot when I was at Aberdeen College. The first course I did was called a foundation course that introduced you to many different arty pursuits like life drawing, model making, colour theory and photography among other things.

I was often out photographing all sorts of stuff which also included street portraits and the urban environment; not much different from now I guess (see below).

(below) The 2CV was my car for a while and the lady was on my course but I can’t remember what her name was, she was quite funny though.

Below is a photo of Dave (David Farquhar) who I used to jam with. Dave and his bro Darren and I used to be in a couple o bands together from school onwards and even took the show on the road around Aberdeen and Dundee for a while.

After Aberdeen college there was Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee.

I don’t remember thinking too much about using the camera, back then I had pretty much only ever used 4 cameras including the K1000.

The other cameras included a Kodak Instamatic 110, a Polaroid camera of some kind while at Aberdeen college and maybe my Dad’s Praktica SLR.

All these Dundee photos (above) are scans of prints I made at art college as the negatives are LONG GONE.

A Wee Bit About the K1000
It’s one sturdy muddy funster. It’s been hanging around for maybe 25 years and I didn’t have a good track record for looking after things back then so that’s a testament to it’s durability.

The camera is completely mechanical. There is a battery well but that is purely for the built in light meter that is always on so you should store the camera with a lens cap to save your battery.

Shutter speeds range from Bulb to 1/1000 in the usual increments and feels sturdy in the hand. The body takes the long standing K-mount lenses which are still quite pricey thanks to some of the Pentax digital cameras ability to take those lenses.

The flash sync is up to 1/60, marked with an orange ‘X’, which I guess isn’t great by modern standards but it’s perfectly fine as almost all of my other film cameras, save for the Nikon FM2 and the GF1 (digital), are around 1/30.

There was a while when I rediscovered the camera that I didn’t like any of the pictures that came out of it but I slowly realised that it was just me sucking like an unweaned seal pup (Douglas Adams quote).

I’ll keep saying this but if anyone was looking for a starter SLR to learn on then this is the camera for you. It’ll teach you everything you need to know about the basic mechanics of photography.

Iain Kendall

I know that the Film Photography Project have a lot of love for the K1000 as I believe one of the occasional contributors uses one.

So, from around 1990 to 2013 I’m still using this guy and loving it. It’s actually quite a chunky camera and feels so in the hand but recently I bought a Vivitar 28mm prime for £5 which is a lot smaller than the longer Centon 28mm-70mm so the camera feels a wee bit smaller.

I’ll say it again and again if I have to, if you’re looking to try out film for the first time and are looking for a cheap reliable SLR you can’t go wrong with a Pentax K1000. I’m still using mine and there’s no way I’m selling it now.

Until next time.

Le Fin


4 thoughts on “Camera Review: Pentax K1000

  1. There’s no way I’m ever giving up my K1000. She’ll have to be cremated with me. I bought her new in 1993 and only had a Takumar 28-80mm f3.5 to shoot with until just about a year or so ago. And you’re right about it being a tank. Mine just took a tumble off a crappy tripod and a stone wall, and landed on concrete. It’s got a flesh wound but absolutely nothing happened to it in terms of function. And it just feels right. That might be because of how long I’ve been shooting with it, but then again, that might be why I’ve been shooting with it so long!


    1. Hey, it’s likely you got her around the same time I did and a similar sounding lens to boot; I too only got a different lens fairly recently.

      When I bought my first interchangeable lens digital camera, the GF1, and I hated it because I was comparing it to the K1000 – I’d been ruined by it’s simplicity and ease of use.

      Thanks for commenting, always interesting to hear others K1000 stories!



  2. A to the men; this is a camera one could use the rest of his or her miserable life and capture 95% of everything ever needed to be captured. There are lighter and easier-to-use bodies out there, but one gets the hang of this one soon enough. And you can’t go wrong with Pentax glass.

    My ex was a pro photographer and her personal camera was a K1000. She took endless perfect family photos with it. Enough said.


    1. You’re right Jim, it’s such an easy camera to know and although it doesn’t have fancy features like DoF preview or a multiple exposure switch like my Cosina has but it’s a cracking camera that does everything well enough.



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