Pentax KM

When I shot my Pentax KM during Operation Thin the Herd, I dropped it onto a stone floor. I’m such a klutz. At first I thought I’d only dented the bottom plate, but later I discovered that any lens’s aperture ring turned stiffly when it didn’t before. I worried that the fall had bent something in the mount.

It took me 2½ years, but I finally sent it off to Eric Hendrickson for repair and CLA. Eric fitted a replacement bottom plate and adjusted whatever was needed so lenses operated properly. He also replaced the entire metering system as the original wouldn’t stay calibrated.

Man, did it feel good to have this camera back! It’s not just because I enjoy using it, but because this camera previously belonged to my longtime friend Michael, and before that his father, who bought it new. I still have the original receipt.

Upon its return, I immediately shot two rolls of Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 with it, using my 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M lens. The KM performed beautifully. A few photos I made of Margaret with our granddaughter in the front yard were stunning.

Grandma and granddaughter

I took the KM on a gray-day walk through Starkey Nature Park. Eagle Creek cuts through here, and an old railroad bridge remains.

Starkey Park
Starkey Park
Path at Starkey Park
Path at Starkey Park
Up the stairs

I also made a few photos around my yard, as I do.

Purple flowers
Tulips and the statue
Potted pink posies

I also shot the KM at an annual event in downtown Zionsville. I’ll share those photos in an upcoming post.

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23 responses to “Back from the shop: Pentax KM”

  1. J P Avatar

    Getting an aged or damaged device repaired to “good as new” is a truly wonderful feeling.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My Depression-era grandparents would approve.

  2. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    The KM is next on my list for purchase. I was never a fan of the K-1000, and considered the shutter to be very “rough” compared to my old screw-mount Spotmatic. I have two of the “K’s”, because people keep giving them to me, or I find them for 20 bucks! I’ve been told that the KM has a much smoother and better built shutter similar to the Spotmatic, so after I save a few bucks, I’ll dive in! Can’t beat the look of those Pentax lenses, tho, great looking colors here….

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I would think the KM uses the same shutter as the K1000. I’ve always been under the impression that the K1000 is the KM minus DOF preview and a self timer. However, the KM was made only in the mid-late 1970s and the K1000 of course was made for a very long time. Maybe later K1000s weren’t as well built, or used lesser components, than the early ones, and the KM.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        You may be correct. The K-1000’s I have (which have been fully serviced), still have very loud shutters, and what I can only consider to be high vibration and a lot of mirror slap. Compared to my screw mount Spotmatic, they seem very rough! I’m assuming that the higher cost body Pentax made would also have a better shutter, less shims / more ball bearings, etc., BUT I could be wrong, I’ve never been able to test them side by side for fit, finish and feel. Some people have only alluded to the fact that they might have a better shutter. Under the auspices of the idea that the internet is 90% full of mis-information; I’ve read a lot of people “saying” the shutters are the same in the K-1000, KM, KX, and K2, but from what I can tell, these are “arm-chair” geniuses, who really mean that the shutters have the same specs and function, but that doesn’t mean they are the same! I’ll write Eric and see what he says!

        1. tbm3fan Avatar

          I’ve taken up doing CLAs on early Pentax SLRs from the S and H series to the Spotmatic. I have a K1000 next to me right now and just compared it to a H1a. The advance of the H1a is smoother than the K1000 by a bit. However, the K1000 is just as quiet and in some cases more quiet. On my desk is an H1a, H3v, SP1000, and Spotmatic. The Spotmatic has the loudest slap but I have yet to take out the mirror box to replace bumpers. The H3v has an advance so smooth it is like a hot knife through butter. I’m going to say some variability along the line just like one day a car comes off the line like a lemon and the next day the same model car is perfect.

        2. Andy Umbo Avatar
          Andy Umbo

          Thanks for chiming in TB, good information to know!

        3. Andy Umbo Avatar
          Andy Umbo

          I got a response from Eric H, I asked him if it would be an advantage for me to move up from the K-1000 to the KM or KX because it would be a better and quieter shutter, and he just replied that the K-1000 would be the best bet. So there you go. I’m sure, as people have stated on here, at over 3 millions units, they aren’t going to run out of repair parts for my lifetime!

  3. John Holt Avatar

    Wow, you got some really good photos with the KM! Dew on the grass!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes! That 50/1.7 lens is a peach.

  4. Adilson Brilhante Avatar
    Adilson Brilhante

    Tenho uma Pentax KM que funciona perfeitamente. Tenho, também, uma Pentax SP500. A Pentax SP500 tem um segredo, ela possui 1000 de velocidade, basta avançar mais um ponto no botão das velocidades. A Pentax SP500 é a mesma Spotomatic 1000.

    1. tbm3fan Avatar

      Ah, Portuguese, talking about the secret of a SP 500.

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve heard that! I suppose that’s one way to broaden your product line inexpensively!

  5. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    There is something very satisfying about getting a camera back from CLA.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      To feel it working as it should, and to know you can truly rely on the camera…oh yes.

  6. Michael Avatar

    Ah, now I know why it got CLA. Glad it’s back in tip top shape.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Me too. It’s one of the cameras I use regularly.

      I don’t always remember now where all of my stuff came from. Was there a 50mm f/1.7 in your kit? Is that where I got this lens from? It and the Olympus OM 50mm f/1.8 are the two best 50mm lenses of any I’ve ever tried, in any system.

      1. Michael Avatar

        It looks like from one of your previous postings that it was a 55mm f/1.8 that I probably had. I imagine those lenses look identical aside from the numbers though.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          The 55/1.8 is very nice as well. I also have a 50/2 and a 50/1.4 — I have plenty of Pentax 50s! The 50/1.7 is my favorite.

  7. Darts and Letters Avatar
    Darts and Letters

    That’s great that you can use it again! It’s neat that it belonged to your friend and before him, his father. Is that old railroad bridge just a pedestrian bridge, now?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I love it that I’m connected to this particular camera in this way. Yep, that railroad bridge is at the end of the Zionsville Rail Trail.

  8. Steve Mitchell Avatar

    Nice camera, and nice pics. Definitely worth keeping!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Without a doubt!

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