The mid-1970s have been a time of big transition in the SLR industry. The largest changes involved that the downsizing of camera bodies (initiated by Olympus), the overall electrification and computerization of many purposes (most notably with the Canon AE-1), as well as the inescapable de-contenting and cost-cutting that came with greater competition between most producers for market share. Maybe no series of SLRs shown being caught in this no-man’s property over the initial three versions Pentax released with its fresh K-mount bayonet in 1975. Two versions would last only 3 decades, the next just six. Yet, paradoxically, the fourth version, introduced in 1976, would go on to be one of the most successful and iconic of all SLRs and would be in production for well over 20 decades. Fortunately for vintage camera lovers, any of these K-series SLRs may still be enjoyed and are serviceable even today. So let us take a look at the tragic trio of the KM, KX, K2, and the student camera extraordinaire, the K1000. The prism housing is more angular, but the overall body profile and control design hardly changed. Which also meant that a large part of the internals were likewise identical in form, or even composition. However, the most noteworthy change for all of the K-models was their namesake, the new bayonet-style”K” lens bracket. This was a result of a brief period of cooperation with Zeiss in the early 1970s.
Many individuals have wondered why Pentax even bothered with the K-Series when they surfaced the streamlined M-series only a year after, in a transparent answer to both Olympus and Canon. A possible explanation lies in the fact that Pentax was at a slow sales decline since 1969, and also the greatest offender was that the antiquated M42 lens mount. While the other producers had long ago adopted modern, quick-action bayonet mounts, Pentax had hesitated to adopt one because of its generation cameras. It was not an issue of capability, for from the debut of the SPOT-MATIC and Metalica prototypes in 1960 and continuing through 1966 with the Metalica II model, a bayonet mount was continuously present. Whatever the reasons for the delay, by 1973, together with sales having fallen 40% from their 1969 summit, something had to be accomplished. With pressure mounting, the quickest way to have the K-mount into production was supposed to utilize the present Spotmatic F and ESII versions with just the essential adjustments to your new bracket, while still adding a couple new features in the higher-end models. The K-Series would consequently get the K-mount on the sector and hopefully slow the bleeding while development of the M-Series continued. To put it differently, the Ks are a temporary step. But, oh what a step!
The K-bodies provide some interesting possibilities so far as the classic SLR experience goes. If you’re interested in finding the Spotmatic encounter without the quirks of the screwmount, or trivial with o-rings and batteries, then the KM and K1000 are prime choices. Dead-simple performance, metering, and proven reliability make them a great choice for novices or anyone who would like to get back to the basic nuts and bolts of photographs. K1000s have great allure nostalgically for a lot of people, but we would recommend a KM due to the addition of DOF preview along with a self-timer. Plus they often sell for the same or less than K1000s, due to their relative obscurity. There is definitely no need to cover that much if you’re considering one; And go for an early production (Made in Japan or ancient Hong Kong) K1000, if you really need you.
The KX is just one of our all-time preferred SLRs here at 678. It has a fantastic meter and viewfinder, a fully mechanical shutter, MLU, DOF preview, and self-timer. Shooting one back-to-back with a KM, you’ll notice the greater viewfinder, the more-precise match-needle metering, and the film winding is smoother, which fits with its high slot at the lineup. If we could only have one K-Series body, this would be it! A KX is a milder beast than a KM, but could often be seen in excellent condition in the higher end of the exact same budget. They are definitely worth it in our opinion! The DMD variant is unquestionably the most desired of both out of a features/collectability standpoint. It was the complete top-end Pentax before the introduction of the LX at 1980. Plus it had been priced accordingly;Inflation-adjusted (2016) MSRPs for the entire body, information back, and engine drive are: $2,700.00, $1,900.00, and $1,368.00, respectively. That comes in only under $5,000 retail for the entire bundle (making that brand new K-1 seem to be a pretty decent deal today, does not it? :). Obviously, not a great deal of DMDs (that came only in black) sold, making them rare birds afterward, and even sexier now. The conventional K2 (black or chrome) offered for about $400 less. Thus, really is a K2 from the cards for you? The biggest problem today is electronics, especially circuit boards (common to most’70s electronic SLRs). In other words, new replacements have been unavailable if yours provides up. The only choice is cannibalizing another body. If you’ve got a working K2, take it’til it expires (and it may not die for a long time;). If you can get your hands on one which was CLA’d (Cleaned, Lubed, Adjusted), that is preferable, since you’ll be aware that it is working for sure. In operation, the K2’s only real quirk (for many folks, anyways) is its own ASA dial. Its place (surrounding the lens mount) and performance (follow the method from the guide, exactly!) Can be off-putting to get some. Conventional K2s fall into the exact same price range as the other K-bodies, which, if you can find one in excellent working condition, which makes them a pretty-decent deal considering their initial pricing. The rarity of this DMD sets it into a completely different bracket. Fantastic state CLA’d examples will fetch upwards of $400 USD occasionally.
Although short-lived, the K-Series was able to stanch the sales decline of the previous seven years for Pentax in 1975. Earnings nearly doubled for that calendar year, and without the K-family, there could have been an eighth year of sales slippage. . .except for the K1000. Its annual earnings for the next 18 years will average 150,000 units. If you’d photos in high school in North America in that age and beyond, 9 chances out of 10 the camera you found on your hand was the K1000.