They say that if you see one mouse in the house there are many more ready to come out. Same with the Pentax K1000. It is in the good company of the AE1 and the Olympus Trip, not to mention the Polaroids that pop out of any nook and cranny. It seems that by law each family had to own one of these cameras, for sure in the US.
My fascination with the K1000 goes back many years, to when my brother had studied in the said US and came back armed with the Pentax K1000. At the time, I had a Ferrania that had four moving parts: the wind and rewind buttons, the trigger, and the shutter. Compared to that, the K1000 looked and felt like a Star Wars weapon, only it was a year too early. The camera had buttons and dials, focusing dial, it measured light, in short, an extraterrestrial armament.
I needed to have one, and now I do, five of them. It took some 42 years, but it has come through. One came with a brutalized curtain, the rest operate flawlessly. Some had dings, and evidence of falls, but nothing inside is harmed.
The camera had been in production for 20 years, a tribute to its quality and sturdiness. A heavy body and a substantial size made it a pain to lug around, but as there are still so many of them around I assume they were the reliable camera to have. It is only too bad that not long ago Pentax cameras had seconded production to Mazda. It is definitely so as otherwise I cannot explain how come both Mazda cars and Pentax cameras I had failed just as the warranty expired. Two Mazda cars and two Pentax cameras. Go figure.
Back to the K1000. As said, it is heavy; at 700 gr, it is still 100 gr lighter than its nemesis, the AE1 which was born at the same time. All-metal body with only a thin plastic trim in front of the prism. Dials are crisp, on the body and on the lens. The optics in all my cameras are clear as well as good mirrors, which is a fit for a 40-year-old optical instrument. The viewer is bright and clear, with an indicator needle on the right, showing exposure. The cloth curtain is still fresh as if it was mounted yesterday.
The greatness of the K1000 is in what is not included. No auto mode, no self-timer, no depth of field view, no accessory shoe. A road warrior net tool. Shutter speed is up to 1000 with fewer intervals than other cameras of that era: no hidden tricks or hidden features to discover or learn. Just set the dials, focus, and shoot.
There were minor differences among the cameras made during this model’s lifetime. All are internal and so are invisible to the user.
Lastly, being the forerunner of the K mount, there are plenty of lenses to choose from, either by Pentax or other glass manufacturers.
Current value of Pentax K1000 and variations:
Remove top Pentax K1000
Release three set screws on winding lever. no need to fully remove them. The clear insert may come undone.
LH screw below. Remove the dial. Note that in some editions there could be a Phillips screw. Watch for a dot next to the cross, this is a mark of JIS screw, which prefers a Japanese Phillips screwdriver. You may use a regular one mat also may damage the screw and only te Emperor would know where to get another LH screw. It is wise to get a set of JIS screwdrivers beforehand.
LH nut below. Remove also the black disk. In one camera the inner nut was stuck, and the spanner bit didn’t make it. Some gentle tapping with a tiny punch forced it open. Remove three small screws below.
Remove the black spring washer by turning it a bit so the indentation on the washer will aline with the grooves on the winding lever.
Remove the screw (RH for a change) in the speed selector. Jack in the box underneath. Remove the speed selector. Note the order of the parts as well as the position of the speed selector plate else you’ll assemble it ass-backwards. As happened to me. Twice.
Unscrew the rewind lever. Unscrew the black plate underneath, RH. Remove the flange.
Three screws that hold the top cover. Black trim will pop out.
Watch for the trigger insert not to fly away.
Anything from here that involves wires is above my pay grade.