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05-20-2014, 03:58 AM   #1
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Pentax KM light meter seems dead


I got a Pentax KM yesterday, ordered on Ebay. It was a bit dusty but after cleaning it it looks amazingly good.
I checked all its features and seem to be work except for the light meter which stays in the center position all the time.
What I tried:
  1. I only have LR44 alkaline batteries at home. I tried 3 of them in different usage states with voltages ranging from 1.4 to 1.59V. To my knowledge, this should be fine - I understood that silveroxide are better but alkaline should work as-well. And I put them the right way in (+ touches the cap and the camera bottom).
  2. One common problem is the black wire soldering to the back of the battery holder. Indeed it seemed somewhat damaged by time and/or acids. I detached it and resoldered it.
Still, the meter doesn't move. When I try the meter I move the film advance lever and half-press the shutter button (I understood that some cameras need this in order for the sensor to activate).

Do you think it's worth opening the whole camera to track the wire and try to resolder it at the other end? WOuldn't that be a bit complicated? I mean, I expect many springs and things that I have to calibrate after putting all back in and I only have a few tiny (but good) screwdrivers as tools.

Any other advice much appreciated.

05-20-2014, 07:30 AM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Vancouver (USA)
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Congratulations on your your KM purchase. I am sorry though that you are having problems with the meter. From your comments, it appears that you may not have access to the camera manual. That is easy!

Free Pentax KM manual at the Butkus site (donation appreciated)

The meter circuit is activated by a second photo cell in the mirror box. With the lens cap removed, the meter is active. Replace the cap to turn the meter off.* The needle should respond to changes in light, shutter speed, or aperture. Battery test is done by putting the shutter dial on "B" with the ASA(ISO) dial at 100). The needle should be full up for that case. Possible causes for your problems:
  • Dead switch cell/circuit
  • Dead meter cells/circuit
  • Corrosion in the battery compartment traveled up the wire
  • Physical damage to the needle mechanism
You can attempt the repair yourself (get a good set of JIS standard micro-screwdrivers first), have someone else do it, estimate exposure, or use a hand-held meter. If you were in N. America, I would suggest sending the camera to Eric at I don't know who would be a good resource in Romania You might send a message to kcobain1992 here on the Pentax Forums. He is in Romania and has some experience with Spotmatic repair. Good luck.


* This same system is used on the K1000. Pity the person who loses the cap.

Last edited by stevebrot; 05-20-2014 at 07:36 AM.
05-21-2014, 01:04 AM   #3
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Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 138
Original Poster
Thanks Steve,

Apart from the manual you pointed to there is a repair manual for k1000 somewhere online and after checking it I think I should stay away from doing it myself. Until I get a meter I'll rely on my estimations. I'm also considering to get it repaired by a professional but I'm not sure if it's worth the cost... And by the way, I am from Romania but not in my country right now. I'll try to find some shops nearby, in France. Might be a bit easier, although more expensive.
05-21-2014, 02:41 PM   #4
ChrisPlatt's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Queens NYC
Posts: 4,865
IIRC Eric Hendrickson told me the KM uses the same meter movement (galvanometer) as the K1000.
Many other parts are no doubt common to both KM and K1000, so there should be little trouble finding parts if needed for repair.



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