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I have used the Pentax K1000 for a year now and it’s been on several trips (Austria, Cambodia and London) and I was a little shocked about how much I liked what was coming out of the camera. I had been to Cambodia before and I had taken a Kodak 15 Megapixel “Superzoom” camera and looking at those pictures they aren’t even comparable.
If you are reading this and are thinking about getting a K1000 my advice is to just go for it, you won’t regret it! It’s main selling point its simplicity and durability.
1. It feels great.
Unlike today’s point and shoot cameras (and even lots of DSLRs) the K1000 is made out of metal (if you get an early production model – which I highly recommend). This makes it heavy and it’s not a bad thing. It gives you reassurance that even if you were to drop it the K1000 would still carry on working. Every dial has a good “click” so you know without looking that you have changed the shutter speed or aperture.
2. The K-Mount
The Pentax K1000 takes all of Pentax’s A and M lenses and even the old screwmount ones with an adapter! Another great thing is that you can usually pick up these lenses quite cheaply. Pentax have made some of the finest optics. I own the Pentax SMC 50mm f1.2 which has a huge front element and weighs as much as the K1000 body due to it’s metal construction but it’s an incredible lens that allows one to do some amazing things (assuming you have a functioning brain and plenty of creativity – things which are far more important than any lens)
4. Manual Controls.
In a world where everything is now automatic it’s nice to go back to basics. The K1000 has been universally billed as “the” student camera. This comes as no surprise. It offers no automation of any kind. You set the shutter speed, the ISO and the aperture yourself. This might seem difficult at first but you will learn a huge amount of photography. The K1000 has a small battery (the kind found in small toys/watches) to power the light meter. You just have to make sure to pick the correct combination of aperture and shutter speed to make the needle sit in the middle and then take your shot. Sometimes you need to know when not to have the needle in the middle but this comes with a little experience.
5. It’s built to last.
My K1000 is from the early Japan production run and is around 35 years old. It’s fully functioning and I bet you it will still be fine in another 35 years. It’s a good idea if you want peace of mind to get it serviced by a professional technician when you first get one. I didn’t bother, I just ran a few rolls through it and saw the results.
You can pick up a K1000 for around 50-100 pounds/euros. Usually it comes with a Pentax SMC 50mm f2 lens which is a standard manual focus prime (i.e. non zoom) lens. It will be far sharper than any of these auto-focusing zoom kit lenses you find stuck in-front of DSLR cameras nowadays. Most DSLR cameras cost hundreds if not thousands of pounds! Get yourself a K1000 and 50mm lens and then use the rest of the money to travel and have incredible experiences!
7. Not as basic as you might think…
While the K1000 doesn’t offer any features except full manual controls (you can add an external flash btw) there are a few things you can do “unofficially”. These include Mirror Lock-up, depth of field preview and double exposures.
[EDIT: I have now done a full in-depth post of Tips and Tricks for the Pentax K1000]
Anyway, if there is one thing you should remember…