The Best Pentax K1000 Lenses for Film Photographers on a Budget

The Pentax K1000 is one of my favorite 35mm film cameras ever made. K-mount lenses, sometimes referred to a PK lenses, are affordable and easy to find.

The 3 least expensive lenses, while still having excellent image quality will be the 50mm f1.8, 28mm f2.8, and the 135mm f2.5. These would be the first 3 lenses I would recommend purchasing.

Everything from wide to telephoto, primes and zooms are covered. In fact the Pentax K-mount is still being used on current Pentax DSLRs. An incredible achievement to go from manual focus to state-of-the-art.

Stay away from zooms as they have not aged well. Problems with fungus, haze, and dried helicoid grease are too common.

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When the camera was new, there was a discount available to buy a 50mm lens with the camera as a “kit” lens.

These are going to be the most widely available lenses. Good condition lenses should be easy to find for relatively low prices compared to rarer lenses.

SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 Standard Prime Lens
SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7
  • “Kit” lens for the K1000.
  • Terrific value compared to other Pentax lenses.
  • The lens is light, small, and compact.
  • 49mm filter threads.

The SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 is the best first lens to buy for the K1000. The 50mm f/1.7 is likely the most common lens, is very affordable, has fantastic image quality, lightweight, and compact.

The 2nd version, the SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/1.7, is also good.

SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4 Fast Prime Lens
SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4
  • Easier to focus in low light.
  • Optical multi-coatings reduce flare and chromatic aberrations.
  • Easy to find.

At the added burden of weight and size, the SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4 is approximately a stop faster compared to the f/1.7. An f/1.7 or f/2 lens will cost more. Many people consider this the best lens for the Pentax K1000. The prior version, SMC Pentax, and next version, SMC Pentax-A, are both compatible with the K1000.

SMC Pentax 50mm f/1.2
SMC Pentax 50mm f/1.2

Pentax created this 50mm “halo” lens to show off. The SMC Pentax 50mm f/1.2 is a expensive, fast, and large lens. It is the best K1000 lens for low light photography. The large aperture will keep the focusing screen bright.

The lens can be tricky to get because it will work on Pentax DSLRs so the desirability extends beyond use with 35mm film cameras. Finding a copy of the lens for sale can be difficult.

SMC Pentax-M 28mm f/2.8 Prime Wide Angle Lens
SMC Pentax-M 28mm f/2.8
  • Great combination with a 50mm lens.
  • Many copies are available.
  • Well corrected for barrel distortion.

The SMC Pentax-M 28mm f/2.8 isn’t the best option. The reality is, many people may not consider it a wide angle lens. However, it is a whole lot more affordable when compared to any wider option.

There is an abundance of wider focal lengths to consider, but they are either significantly higher priced or third-party alternatives have noticeable amounts of barrel distortion. On top of that, it is easy to see chromatic aberrations and other optical problems in third-party lenses for the Pentax K1000.

As the field of view gets wider, lenses become more expensive. Fast lenses will also be more expensive.

  • SMC Pentax-M 20mm f/4
  • SMC Pentax-M 28mm f/2
  • SMC Pentax 18mm f/3.5
  • SMC Pentax 24mm f/2.8
SMC Pentax 135mm f/2.5 Telephoto Prime Portrait Lens
SMC Pentax 135mm f/2.5
  • 85mm substitute.
  • Excellent value.
  • Relatively inexpensive.

85mm focal length lenses weren’t as commonly used as they are currently compared to when the K1000 was released in 1976. On account of being more affordable, 100mm and 135mm focal lengths were more frequently used.

There is an abundance of telephoto lenses to pick from. Focal lengths longer than 135mm and 85mm lenses will be expensive.

  • SMC Pentax 85mm f/1.8
  • SMC Pentax 85mm f/2.2 Soft
  • SMC Pentax 105mm f/2.8
  • SMC Pentax 120mm f/2.8

Before the introduction of autofocus, in the 1980s, there were a small number of lenses made by third-party manufacturers that performed better than what Pentax was offering.

A large number of the best performers were released with the Vivitar brand name. Zooms with the Vivitar Series 1 branding are going to have the best optics you can expect to see from a vintage zoom lens.

Sadly, finding a lens for the Pentax K1000 in useable condition can be quite difficult. In addition to that, no vintage zooms offer noteworthy performance. If you find a copy available that is inexpensive enough, it might be worth picking up.

Vivitar Series 1 28-90mm f/2.8-3.5 Zoom Lens
Vivitar Series 1 28-90mm f/2.8-3.5

Here are several more options that you can consider if you really want a zoom lens for your K1000. None of them are going to be amazing, and you would likely be better off using a couple of primes.

  • SMC Pentax 85-210mm f/3.5
  • Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5
  • SMC Pentax 45-125mm f/4

Macro lens options for the Pentax K1000 suffer from availability problems. The available supply of Pentax K mount choices is tiny, which increases prices higher than you’ll pay for comparable Nikon F mount or Canon FD mount lenses.

SMC Pentax 100mm f/4 Macro Lens
SMC Pentax 100mm f/4 Macro
  • Ideal focal length for 1x magnification.
  • Widely available.
  • Mediocre value.

A few people online have experienced balsam separation of the front doublet. This is troubling because even a little separation will expand gradually and make it unusable. If you see any signs of balsam separation, avoid that lens and keep shopping.

Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro
  • The second best vintage macro lens I’ve used.
  • An outstanding lens for close-up photography.
  • Can achieve life-size magnification without needing an extension tube.

My favorite vintage macro lens I’ve used, the 90mm Vivitar, was manufactured with a variety of camera mounts. However, it’s tough to find a copy that’s got a Pentax K mount.

The Vivitar 55mm is my second favorite vintange macro lens for the Pentax K1000. Take into account that it does have a shorter working distance when compared to the 90mm. It is good for table top and close-up photography, but it is not the best choice if you want to take macro images at life-sized magnification.

Both Vivitar macros were built by Komine and were sold under various different brand names. If you decide to look for a copy also search under the Panagor, Elicar, Quantaray, Spiratone, and Rokunar brand names.

There is a Vivitar 90mm Macro Review and a Vivitar 55mm Macro Review.

For taking photos at life-sized magnification, 90mm-105mm focal lengths are going to be the most desirable option. You’ll have a large enough working distance to allow the use of flash, while staying away from excessive weight and excessive costs that come with longer focal lengths.

Pentax-M and SMC Pentax lenses were designed to include a stop-down coupler that provides a linkage to the camera. The stop-down coupler enables the camera to know the aperture is set to so that the light meter can meter accurately without being required to use stop-down metering.

The Pentax-A series introduced the feature for the camera to set the aperture in the lens. Cameras that support the Pentax-A changes have the capability to do shutter priority and aperture priority modes.

Pentax-A lenses are good for photographers that also want to be able to use the lenses on DSLRs.

That’s it for information on the best lenses for the Pentax K1000. Here’s further information that will provide you with more info about the camera can be found below:

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