This may be the easiest camera review I’ll ever write.
That’s because the Pentax KM is in almost every way the same camera as the Pentax K1000. You see, the KM came first, in 1975. Then in 1976 Pentax removed the KM’s depth-of-field preview button and self timer, called it the K1000, and launched one of the most iconic SLRs of all time.
So if you go read my review of the K1000, you will know almost everything about the KM. They function the same. That cuts at least five paragraphs from this review right there!
My KM belonged to my longtime friend Michael, who parted with it so it could have a place in the Jim Grey Home for Wayward Cameras. That’s Michael there in 1986, shooting me with this KM as I shot him with my crappy 110 camera.
And here’s this KM today. I was glad to get it because I know Michael takes excellent care of his things. It performs like new.
As you can see, this body shows only slight signs of use and wear.
This KM came with the pictured 55 mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax lens as well as a 28 mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M lens and an 80-200 mm f/4 Sears zoom lens. I was set for bear!
If you’re a Pentax fan as I am, you might also enjoy my reviews of the compact ME (here) and the screw-mount Spotmatic SP (here), Spotmatic F (here), and ES II (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.
I dropped in a roll of Fujicolor 200 and an LR44 cell to power the light meter and got right to shooting. I tried all three lenses. The 28 mm lens was attached when I shot this tulip in my front yard.
I’m usually not a fan of 28mm lenses but this one performed very well in my front garden.
28mm lenses are best used to get wide things in the frame, like this grand old church. I was shooting Kodak Tri-X 400 here.
The KM is solid and hefty, but not oppressively so. There are far heavier SLRs out there. The controls are all in the places SLRs of the era tended to put them, so there’s little learning curve.
I had the most fun, and was most impressed, with the 55 mm lens. I attached it and headed to the freshly renovated Juan Solomon Park near my home to shoot its new playground equipment. I was shooting Fujicolor 200.
I was very impressed with the results from the 55 mm lens for its crisp details and easy blurred backgrounds. Here’s a photo of a bouquet I made on Kodak T-Max 400.
More from that roll: a broken window at an abandoned school.
I kept the 55/1.8 on for a roll of Ferrania P30 Alpha. Just look at that sharpness.
I just love the moodiness of this silhouette shot backlit by my bedroom window.
I tend to shoot black-and-white film most often in my KM. Here’s more T-Max 400.
See my full Pentax KM gallery here.
I like my Pentax KM just fine and have used it many times. It’s a great camera. Still, I use my smaller and lighter Pentax ME more often as it is more comfortable to hold and use. I have such an embarrassing wealth of great old gear that a camera as good as this KM takes a back seat.