Pentax K1000 Single Lens Reflex
The indomitable Pentax K1000 SLR (single lens reflex) 35mm film camera.
Here is an image making gem which deserves it’s place in history. So simple to use and very difficult to break. Solid, all metal body.
Like all delicate instruments, cameras need to be cared for, stored properly and used regularly.
Created by the Asahi Optical Company in 1976 with a manufacturing run lasting until 1997. Extraordinary for any camera. Simple and sturdy. Originally manufactured in Japan, later in the run assembly was transferred to Hong Kong and later still assembly moved to mainland China, These Chinese versions are cheaper quality with more plastic parts. Also, the Chinese versions did not have the Asahi logo engraved to the front of the prism housing. The original Japanese manufacture is the one to look out for. Pentax K mount lenses offer a range of focal lengths with the camera body usually sold with the excellent 50mm f2 lens. Other K mount lens could be added as accessories. Everything about the K1000 is manual with the only electrical component being the light meter. No battery is required to fire the shutter, meaning being away in the bush, remote from any source of fresh batteries, you can still make pictures using the ‘sunny 16’ rule.
An L or SR44 button battery is required for the meter and these are available in nearly all supermarkets. The light meter system is based on a cadmium sulphide cell using a viewfinder match needle to indicate over or under exposure. Adjust aperture on the lens and/or shutter speed on the top plate control wheel. When slightly lifted this control wheel also sets the film speed. The K1000 max shutter speed is 1/1000th which is not to bad considering 70s and 80s rangefinders mostly max out at 1/500th.
Of course focus is manual, with turning the lens focusing ring bringing the image in the micro-prism centre into sharp focus. The K1000 SE version is equipped with split image focusing where vertical lines visible through the finder will be split into upper and lower. Turn the focus ring to bring the verticals into precise alignment. I find this somewhat more user friendly than the micro prism system.
You certainly know you have taken a photo as the shutter is LOUD. I don’t mind this as I like handling vintage cameras that do what they are supposed to without any ambiguity. Arm your K1000 with the legendary 50mm F2 – a combination which will satisfy most regular photographic needs. There are brighter 50mm lenses available being F1.7, F1.4 and F1.2. Progressively more expensive. The 28mm F2.8 takes care of any wider angle requirements. There is a 135mm F3.5 which is good for portrait work.
Taking a step back into film photography can be frustratingly expensive but with a well cared for K1000 any potential frustration can be minimised, especially as cost is quite moderate. An A quality K1000 body and 50mm F2 lens combination can come in between NZ$295 - $365.