In my previous post about why the Pentax K1000 is such an amazing camera I mentioned that it’s not as basic as you might think. In this post I will share the tricks and tips that I use and find useful. Some of them I read online and others I found just by using the K1000 quite a bit!
Which K1000 to buy?
With a 21 year production run (the longest of any camera!) there were, of course, a few changes in the techniques and materials employed. The biggest one of these was the fact that production was switched from Japan to Hong Kong in 1978 and then to China in 1990. As the cameras were hand-made, this was done to keep labor costs low.
While every K1000 has exactly the same functionality it is best to buy a Made-in-Japan one if you can.
They have the following advantages:
- They have tough aluminium top and bottom plates instead of the cheaper, less durable plastic ones.
- They have a steel wind lever instead of a pot metal one. This pot metal wind lever can bend and it will then scrape the top cover.
- The meter components are better quality.
- It doesn’t have the cheaper plastic rewind knob and shaft that could potentially break under heavy use.
- It’s not Made-in-China
The Pentax K1000 Manual
First things first. Read the manual! Most of these old cameras don’t come with the original manual and so getting to grips with the handling can be a bit daunting at first.
Depth of Field Preview Trick – The bigger brothers of the Pentax K1000 (KX, LX etc) have a dedicated Depth of Field preview button. You can still preview the depth of field on your K1000. It’s pretty easy. Point your K1000 at your subject and focus. Press the lens release tab which, if looking at the camera from the front, is located around the 8 o’clock position. Check the picture above, you can see it. While holding this tab down start to unhinge the lens. You only need to turn the lens a couple of degrees and it the aperture blades will close to the F-stop you have set. An easy way to test that you are doing this correctly is to set the lens on the smallest F-stop, normally f22. Look through the viewfinder and try to preview the depth of field. The viewfinder should get darker as less light is getting through.
Mirror Lockup Trick - Apparently this works on all K-mount Pentax cameras of that era that don’t have a Mirror Lockup option. I have only tested this on the Pentax K1000. This is quite tricky but with a little bit of practice you should be able to do it every time. Make sure that you practice without any film in the camera! Cock the shutter and then just use a fast sliding motion across the shutter release button. You need to flick it with the tip of your finger. It’s a similar feel to sliding your finger off the edge of a desk towards yourself. You know you have done it when you hear a different noise and the viewfinder goes black. Very useful for landscape and macro photography.
Double Exposure Trick – This is easy and you should actually already know how to do it because it’s in the manual that I linked to before which, of course, you read
I advise that you experiment with this technique:
- Take your first exposure just as you would normally.
- You need to take up any slack thats in the film by using the rewind knob (A) on the top left. Just lightly move it clockwise (looking from the back of the camera) until you feel resistance. This should be, at most, a 1/5 of a turn.
- While holding the rewind knob at this position press and press and hold the film rewind button (B) which is located on the bottom of the camera.
- Cock the shutter by cranking the wind lever while still holding the rewind knob in position and pressing the film rewind button.
This can be quite tricky to do while holding the camera in the air but it can be done! Place the thumb of your left hand on top of the rewind knob to hold it in place and use your third or fourth finger to press and hold the film rewind button. Crank the wind lever with your right thumb. Your right hand is holding the camera in the normal shooting position. This works for me but bear in mind that I have a large hand. Try it a few times and find the best position for yourself.
Important points to remember!
- After your double exposure take one blank shot. Do this by putting on the lens cap and winding to the next frame and releasing the shutter. This is necessary because after your double exposure the film will only wind forward half a frame. If you just took a normal shot instead of a blank shot you would triple expose half of your double exposure! This method of taking a blank shot does mean that you waste half a frame of film between exposures but worse things happen at sea…
- Set your ISO on your K1000 to double that of the film you are using when doing double exposures. So if you are shooting ISO 200 film then set your camera ISO to 400 and then shoot the two frames as you would normally. This is to prevent areas of the double exposure being far too over-exposed. Considering that colour negative and black and white films are extremely forgiving for over-exposure this probably isn’t needed but extra detail is always welcome
- If your first exposure has shadows then more details from the second exposure will come up in that area. If you keep a mental note of your shadow and highlight areas you can try and line them up in your second exposure for great effect
- If you want one of the two exposures more prominent that the other then shoot that exposure at the actual ISO of the film. This allows more light to hit the film and so that exposure will be more visible compared to the other.
|TIP: Shutter Ready Indicator|
I didn’t realise this for a while after I started using the K1000 so I guess a few other people might not see it too! Next to the shutter button there is a tiny little dot which is actually a shutter-ready indicator. If it’s Black it means you haven’t cocked the shutter and if it’s Orange then you are ready to fire away! [Assuming you have film in the camera Everyone forgets to put film in the camera once or twice!]
TIP: Remember to change your ISO when switching films!
My first black and white film was a roll of expired Fuji Neopan 1600 that I found in an old chemist shop in Vienna. I dutifully changed my ISO dial to read 1600 and took some photos I quite liked! You can guess what happened after I finished that roll and then put in a roll Kodak Gold 200. I forgot to change my ISO back to 200 and so all my photos were under-exposed by 3 stops! I generally find that setting the ISO slightly lower than the actual rated speed works well for me [for colour negative and black and white films] as it means I almost never get under-exposed shots even if by mistake I under-expose a shot by a small amount.
TIP: When not in use…cap it!
The cool thing about the Pentax K1000 is that the meter is always on and ready to use. The not-so-cool thing about the Pentax K1000 is that the meter is always on and ready to use. The Ying and Yang of an always on light-meter! As there is no on/off button the only way to stop that tiny battery from dying quickly is keeping the lens cap on when not in use.
That’s it for now…
That is all the useful Pentax K1000 tips and tricks I know. If you know any others or know better ways to accomplish any of the ones in this post then please comment below! As I carry on using the K1000 I am sure I will learn other tricks and I will edit this post in the future to reflect that. Happy shooting!
A useful link: