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Pentax K (Tower 29)

Reviews Views Date of last review
5 204,895 Wed September 27, 2017
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $415.00 9.40
Pentax K (Tower 29)

Pentax K (Tower 29)
Pentax K (Tower 29)
Pentax K (Tower 29)
Pentax K (Tower 29)
Pentax K (Tower 29)

The 'S' model, was soon followed by the 'K' model, which improved the top shutter speed to 1/1000s. More importantly, the 'K' model introduced the first version of what was called auto-aperture: With the new Auto Takumar lenses, the camera would stop down the aperture to the shooting value just prior to firing the shutter. One then had to manually open up the aperture again with a lever on the lens. The later Super Takumar lenses solved this inconveniece - their aperture would open up again automatically after the exposure.

Asahi Pentax K
Also marketed as
Tower 29
Asahi Pentar K
Year introduced
Year discontinued
Automatic aperture stop down
No light meter
Exposure modes
Manual, B
Shutter speeds (auto)
Not applicable
Shutter speeds (manual)
T, B, 1 - 1/1000s, X
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
T, B, 1 - 1/1000s, X
Self timer
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Not applicable
Multiple exposures
Ratchet type rapid wind lever (for film advance and shutter cocking). 10 pre-advance and 160 advancing angle
Flash hot shoe
Built-in flash
TTL/P-TTL flash
Flash sync speed
FP and X terminals - 1/50s?
Flash exposure comp
Not applicable
Viewfinder type
Pentaprism finder with Fresnel lens focusing screen
Diopter correction
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
None at the time of production. Available through switch on later lenses
Image size
24 x 36 mm
Size (W x H x D)
145 x 92 x 50mm
The camera had two shutter speed dials. The one on the top plate sets the fast speeds: 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60s and X, the one on the front the slow speeds (controlled by a timer): 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, and 1s.
Price History:

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Registered: August, 2016
Posts: 405
Review Date: September 27, 2017 I can recommend the Pentax K (Tower 29): Yes | Price: $415.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Masterfully crafted
Cons: None

I found this camera on ebay with it's original box, lens, paperwork, and warranty card confirming the serial numbers of the body and lens as a matched original set. I got the set for $100 in non-working condition and it needed more than just a CLA so I had to also buy anothe K as a parts camera. after the cost of this camera, the parts camera, and Eric's bill, my now fully functional K set me back a total of $415. I probably could have done better had I been more patient and not decided that I had to have the S/N matched lens at any cost. In hindsight, the $85 parts body and an $85 CLA would have been a much better deal but what's done is done I guess.

Do I love this camera? Heck yeah! I am one of those odd people that really appreciates this kind of fantastic old-world craftsmanship that this camera just oozes. The silky smooth mechanical operation of all of the mechanicals is really like nothing I can even describe. Just get one in your hands for a while and you'll know what I mean.

As a photographic tool, It is missing a few things that some users might consider deal-breakers. I'm talking about a self-timer and an internal meter. Keeping this review in context though, I was not able to take points for these "missing" features. In fact, from the perspective of what this camera is and the era in which it was manufactured, I consider the lack of a meter a positive. The lack of a meter and the unusual addition of the slow shutter speed dial on the front of the body actually adds to the appeal of using this vintage masterpiece. I think of it this way, some people might prefer an illuminated optical sight on their rifle but such a contraption would greatly detract from the appeal of using a classic Winchester model 94 levergun. Any points this camera might lose for lack of features is MORE than made up for in pure coolness and an amazing feeling of precision craftsmanship in use.

Registered: August, 2012
Location: Queensland
Posts: 3,781
Review Date: November 6, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax K (Tower 29): Yes | Price: $430.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Historic and well crafted
Cons: None, in context

Finally I have a "K". This is an historic model even if it is not the very first.They are rare, less than 25000 made I understand, and had a lot hand crafting in them. There is a quality feel to them that is not quite so evident in the later mass produced Spotmatics - which were very good themselves. I paid a lot for this at $430, but it had been serviced by Eric Hendricksen recently, and came with a Zebra Auto Tac f1.8. This was the second SLR (along with the 'S') camera made by Ashi, which came after the AP of 1957. The "S" and "K" came out a year later, a month apart, however, the K was the real step up. "K" refers to the 1/1000 speed it now had. It also had the first Auto aperture (not on the AP or S) for which the Zebra Auto Tacumar were designed. The S and K stayed in production till 1959, when the H2 came out.
The K was the foundation for SLR cameras to the late seventies. It was the last Pentax to have a separate slow speed dial. However, other than that, with the addition of a light meter and self timer you have a Spotmatic.
To use the slow speed dial on front, one sets 1/30 on the top dial, and this transfers the settings to the front dial, down to 1 second.
About the Auto function of the lens, one focuses with the lens wide open by moving the lens knob down. That opens the lens regardless of aperture set. Now, pushing the release button halfway, first releases the aperture to the preset setting, after which full pressing trips the shutter.
One has to manually set the film counter to zero after loading a film, but other than that, it is pretty similar to operate as any modern manual camera. I enjoy just looking at it right now.
New Member

Registered: March, 2010
Location: west berks, GB.
Posts: 3

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: June 21, 2012 I can recommend the Pentax K (Tower 29): Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Design, feel, auto aperture, facilities.
Cons: None, perfect for its age.

I have given the K a 10 as it is just a joy. A joy to hold, A joy to look at and a joy to use. It also takes good pictures!

I acquired mine from it's original owner. Kept in an ever ready case, it is in very good cosmetic condition. The K and I share the same birth year but on the camera everything still works well after 53 years. I'm not in quite such good condition!

I know they used to use the, 'Just hold a Pentax', slogan for the Spotmatic but they could have easily used the same slogan for this camera.
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2008
Location: Florida Hill Country
Posts: 17,297
Review Date: May 16, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax K (Tower 29): Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: sleak, compact, well made
Cons: no metering, but then it wouldn't be a K

This was Asahi Pentax's improvement upon the "AP" and S. It was released in 1958. It features a mechanism to take advantage of the Auto Takumars. These cameras are a work of art and one must hold one to fully appreciate the small form factor of a full frame camera. These shipped with the Auto Tak 55/1.8 'Zebra' lens which was one of the few true zebra lenses produced by Asahi. This little gem of a lens was icing on the cake so to speak. How anyone could refer to the "AP" or "K" as a reviewer did regarding the AP is a mystery to me. He must have confused it with a Nikon F.

The "AP" and K showed Japan and world what a 135 SLR was supposed to look and feel like. Subsequently, Canon and Nikon quit cloning Leica and Contax rangefinders and started making SLR cameras. Therefore, these bodies have to be a 10.
Veteran Member

Registered: January, 2009
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Posts: 3,294
Review Date: March 25, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax K (Tower 29): Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Build quality, size
Cons: No meter

Pros Build quality, size
Cons No meter
Rating 8
Price (U.S. Dollars) $400
Years Owned 3 years

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
"Rating" and "Value" will be somewhat subjective to what someone is looking for. This is a legendary camera and very special to own, but obviously it won't outperform many of it's newer counterparts. Asahi Pentax cameras from this era were all small and well balanced. Regarding performance, the winder is smooth, all shutter speeds are reasonably accurate, and the shutter fires solidly.

Camera Review
I hadn't gone looking for this particular camera, but instead came across it and it looked to good to pass up. The camera looked new, came with the original case, zebra 55/1.8 Takumar lens and caps, so I probably paid a bit of a premium.

From the pictures it looked like a nicely made camera, but being a 50+ years old, I expected it to be a little "clunky". When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. The viewfinder was bright and clear and everything worked so smoothly. The next morning I grabbed some film, used my ME Super as a light meter and shot a roll. I presumed I would have ruined half of the roll, but not one shot was under or over exposed. It's a great little camera.

Here is a shot of the camera, and another from the camera.....

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