Beware counterfeiit K1000 SE cameras!

Some sellers exaggerate a camera's value.

Recently, there have been a rash of camera listings along the lines of, "First Edition Pentax K1000 SE 35mm Camera ... This camera body is an early variant of the K1000 SE.  It has a split image focus screen which is really a pleasure to use compared to the standard focusing screen.  The camera also has the rare diamond grip covering." 

Exciting, yes? 

Well, don't get too excited.

It's deceptive.

While the camera may be an early-production model, Pentax never used a diamond pattern leather covering. Nor did they ever use colored leather, lizard or alligator patterns, or things like paisley.  In their K and M series models, Pentax used only their standard black cowhide-grain-look leather or, in SE variants made before 1980, a distinctive brown cowhide-look leather. 

Any other kind of leather is an aftermarket modification, often made by camera stores -- or unscrupulous eBay sellers trying to sell a camera for more than it is worth. (You'll find that if you challenge these sellers on the veracity of their claims, they'll answer you by telling you that you're rude, they resent your message and they'll not answer you! Then they'll often nitpick your grammar or spelling and tell you to learn about cameras. A response from a seller like that is a sure sign of a scammer. Don't get angry with them, just laugh that you've smoked them out.)

But what about the split-image viewfinder? This was a factory option for the K1000, and some camera stores worked with camera repair shops to offer a similar non-OEM viewfinder screen replacement.

Some sellers do make the honest mistake of selling a K1000 with the optional split image viewfinder as a K1000 SE. Although rare and valuable in their own right, the option alone doesn't make it a K1000 SE -  a real K1000 SE has the "SE" engraved on its front. Pentax never used a sticker to designate the SE, by the way. That's a myth. Note that some unscrupulous sellers will claim the camera  did have the SE sticker, but it "fell off." Sorry, that's a sure sign the camera is a standard K1000 being misrepresented as a K1000 SE.

Only about 5% of the K1000s made had the split-image viewfinder screen option installed, most of which were sold in the Japanese market. It was an expensive option, and most buyers felt that it wasn't worth the money to buy it. For the same money, you could buy a higher-end model instead of a K1000. 

Now, nothing is wrong with a Pentax camera having diamond pattern leather. The problem is the false claim, or misleading implication, that the diamond pattern (or other color) is a Pentax factory production leather covering.

It's not. It's an aftermarket modification.

If you want to buy a Pentax K1000 (or other model) with such a leather covering, then buy it and enjoy -- they're beautiful. But don't pay too much for it, and understand it's not "rare," nor a "special edition," nor anything else of the sort. 

And drop the seller a line to let him know that the listing is misleading, or (at least) erroneous. 

Let's end the practice of taking an ordinary camera, modifying it, then selling it for more than it's worth because it's "rare." 

A special note about diamond leatherette coverings.

Note that Wikipedia and some online forums claim that Pentax did use a diamond pattern leatherette on "1st Edition" K1000 SEs. This is a minority opinion. The overwhelming evidence, along with the absence of any Pentax literature showing such a camera, is that Pentax did not use a diamond pattern leatherette. Some camera dealers at the time did, however, customize standard Pentax K1000s (lacking the engraved SE logo) with a diamond pattern leatherette along with the factory-optional split image focuser - which they then sold as a Pentax Special Edition. It's this past practice by camera dealers that has led to confusion over the issue of whether a diamond pattern leatherette was used on a so-called "1st Edition" K1000 SE. 

So, if an eBay seller offers a "1st Edition" Pentax K1000 SE with no SE engraved, a split-image focuser, and a diamond pattern leatherette covering it is NOT a genuine Pentax factory K1000 SE - it's an aftermarket modification made by a camera store.

You may also find the occasional Pentax K1000 SE that has the engraved SE logo and a diamond pattern leatherette. Is this a genuine K1000 SE? Maybe. It could be a camera that had the original leather replaced with the diamond pattern, usually to replace damaged original leather. It could be the original owner made the modification for personal tastes. Or, it could be an ordinary K1000 that has had its top cover replaced by one with the engraved SE logo and then covered with diamond pattern leatherette - which would make the camera a fake K1000 SE. There's no certain way to be sure in that case, so be on the safe side and assume the camera isn't a genuine K1000 SE.

Regardless, is a K1000 with diamond leatherette a collector's item worth higher costs? That is for you to decide.

What about stickers?

You'll often find Pentax K1000s with a sticker that says "SE" being sold as a K1000 SE, often with the claim that it's a rare "1st Edition" K1000 SE. At no time did Pentax ever add such a sticker to a K1000. Ever. This is a lie, promulgated by deceptive sellers, passed along by misinformed (but otherwise-honest) persons.

Admittedly, some eBay sellers mistakenly believe that they're selling a genuine K1000 SE with a sticker, but they're wrong nevertheless. 

Beware sellers claiming the camera is a K100 SE but "the sticker fell off." Yeah, right, that's a fake as it gets.