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02-28-2018, 05:44 PM   #1
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Short-Lived Battery for K1000

Hi all!

I got my Pentax K1000 about a month ago, and I put a new Duracell 303/357 battery in it at that time as well. I've taken my Pentax on a few cold weather hikes, and I've left it in the car for around a day when the temperature was around freezing.

Basically, the light meter stopped working a few days ago (it was fixed in the center) and I realized the battery had gone bad already. Is this normal? Why did the battery die so fast? It only was subject to the cold maybe two/three times.

Thanks in advance!

02-28-2018, 06:04 PM   #2
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Cold temperature shouldn't harm the battery. The cold only reduces the battery's power output when it is cold. Once the battery returns to room temperature it should be fine.

AFAIK, the K1000 runs the meter constantly as long as there's light falling of the focusing screen So if you leave the camera out with no lens cap, it will drain the battery.

If keeping the lens cap on (or the camera inside a case) does not stop the battery drain then there might be a problem in the electronics such as corrosion around the battery compartment that's leaking current.
02-28-2018, 06:09 PM   #3
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I keep the lens cap on whenever I'm not using the camera, so I'm not sure that's it. How would corrosion around the battery compartment affect the battery life? Sorry for my lack of knowledge -- how would I be able to tell if this were the case? I thought this was an otherwise fully mechanical camera?
02-28-2018, 06:14 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcbeer Quote
I keep the lens cap on whenever I'm not using the camera, so I'm not sure that's it. How would corrosion around the battery compartment affect the battery life? Sorry for my lack of knowledge -- how would I be able to tell if this were the case? I thought this was an otherwise fully mechanical camera?
Well, the more corroded the battery compartment, the more current required from the battery for the camera to function. Because of the higher current required, the battery appears to die faster. The "dead" battery would likely still work in a less corroded camera.

02-28-2018, 06:24 PM   #5
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You can use something simple like a pencil eraser to clean up the compartment. Hold the camera in the normal upright position so the inevitable crud/eraser bits fall out of the camera - don't get it in your eye holding it over your head...
02-28-2018, 06:38 PM   #6
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So I just checked the battery compartment and I can safely say it's not corrosion -- it looks clean. I swapped a new battery into my Pentax and found that the light meter started working again. Then, I switched my old battery into my Pentax (again), and my light meter was still working (again).

I am very confused.
02-28-2018, 06:42 PM - 1 Like   #7
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The lens cap should keep the meter off unless there's really bright light coming in through the eyepiece.

Corrosion would leave a salty residue that could provide a direct path for leakage of electricity. The most likely place for corrosion is around the battery compartment (inside the compartment or just inside the camera body around the compartment). A leaking battery can ooze goop that wicks into cracks and leaves a conductive film. There's also a tiny chance that water getting into the eyepiece could get on the meter sensor circuit and create a corrosion leak there.

If you have a multimeter, you can measure the current with the lens cap on to measure the leakage. A leakage current of only 200 microamps would drain the battery in about a month. The fact that the battery lasted for weeks means the leak is not too severe. You could just make a habit of removing the battery at the end of the shooting day and reinstalling it at the beginning of a shooting day. That may be less of a hassle than trying to fix or replace an otherwise working camera.

The light meter is the only thing in the K1000 that depends on the battery. The rest is 100% mechanical.

---------- Post added 02-28-18 at 06:46 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by mcbeer Quote
So I just checked the battery compartment and I can safely say it's not corrosion -- it looks clean. I swapped a new battery into my Pentax and found that the light meter started working again. Then, I switched my old battery into my Pentax (again), and my light meter was still working (again).

I am very confused.
Strange....

Three potential causes:

1. a bit of dirt or grease in the battery compartment

2. a loose wire

3. gremlins!
03-01-2018, 02:54 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcbeer Quote
I put a new Duracell 303/357 battery in it at that time as well. I've taken my Pentax on a few cold weather hikes, and I've left it in the car for around a day when the temperature was around freezing.

Basically, the light meter stopped working a few days ago (it was fixed in the center) and I realized the battery had gone bad already. Is this normal? Why did the battery die so fast? It only was subject to the cold maybe two/three times!
If you have a volt or multimeter to check the voltage on your 357 battery, check it. Because I teach a film photography class, I see at least 40-60 film SLRs each year with a variety of power issues. About 5% of the time, students will claim they have brand new batteries, but when I test it, the voltage is low.

A fresh, new 1.5v battery usually outputs around 1.6v brand new, and begin to fail on the cameras once they hit around 1.48v or lower. Iʻve seen new batteries that had low voltage, either because it expired its shelf life or it was defective.

If as you stated you did not leave the lens cap off, and direct sunlight didnʻt randomly shine into the viewfinder, then itʻs possible that there is a short in your camera that is draining the battery prematurely. Or there could be internal corrosion that is contributing to parasitic drain on the battery.

My best guess is that the new battery was in fact an old new battery and the cold was enough to drop the voltage below the cameraʻs needs.

Volt or multimeters are not that expensive and much more useful than a battery tester that simply reads "replace" or "good".

Hereʻs a cheap, small, and simple to use one for under $8:
D-FantiX Digital Battery Tester Battery Checker for AA AAA C D 9V 1.5V Button Cell Batteries (Model: BT-168D) - - amazon.com?tag=pentaxforums-20&

Hereʻs a multimeter (a/c, d/c, volts and amps) similar to one that I use for $17:
https://www.amazon.com/all-sun-Digital-Multimeter-Tester-Continuity/dp/B013J...rds=volt+meter

03-01-2018, 08:57 AM   #9
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If you don't mind potentially sacrificing a battery, just leave the fresh one that's working in the camera and see if or how quickly it fails. If it doesn't fail, the first battery was most likely defective. That said, not all 303/357 batteries are created equal. My Minolta X-570 took two of those batteries and it would eat the alkaline ones for lunch. There was a somewhat more expensive silver formulation that would last for several months of heavy use. Granted, the X-570 was fully electronic and thus much more demanding of the batteries than a K-1000. The newspaper I worked for had a K-1000 that got almost daily use by just about all of the news staff. The camera was purchased new in 1987 or 88 and was still on its original battery when I left the paper in 1991.
03-01-2018, 09:11 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by E-man Quote
Iall 303/357 batteries are created equal. My Minolta X-570 took two of those batteries and it would eat the alkaline ones for lunch. There was a somewhat more expensive silver formulation that would last for several months of heavy use.
The 357 are all silver oxide and should last longer and output better voltage during its usable charge. The equivalent voltage and sized SR44, MS76, EPX76, 76S, etc, are also silver oxide equivalents.

LR44, A76, 357A, or AG13 are alkaline equivalents.

Last edited by Alex645; 03-01-2018 at 11:27 AM. Reason: corrected silver oxide & alkaline names
03-01-2018, 09:16 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
The 357 are all silver oxide and should last longer and output better voltage during its usable charge. The equivalent voltage and sized LR44, MS76, EPX76, are alkaline equivalents.
Wouldn't MS76 be a mecury battery? Not that those are really available anymore.
03-01-2018, 11:23 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by timw4mail Quote
Wouldn't MS76 be a mecury battery? Not that those are really available anymore.
No, the MS76 is actually silver oxide. I'll go back and edit my original post as other parts are inaccurate or incomplete. In the mid to late 90's, batteries containing mercury were banned and replaced.
03-23-2019, 12:40 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
AG13
I was just about to ask that question. I just popped in an AG13 and it worked so I'm assuming it should be safe?
03-23-2019, 09:37 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by brightseal Quote
I was just about to ask that question. I just popped in an AG13 and it worked so I'm assuming it should be safe?
Yes, absolutely. And when you say "safe" I assume you mean for the camera in terms of voltage/amps. The unsafe thing about the original mercury batteries was it's affect after disposal on the landfill or for the factory workers handling mercury in manufacture.
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