Exposing Film: Shooting a K1000 in a Digital Age

The camera is now boxed up and ready to ship to its new owner, but for a few short weeks, I was a 35mm film SLR shooter.

I was trolling Craigslist, and saw a listing for a broken Pentax K1000 with an SMC A 50mm lens. I wanted the lens and the price was right. So I haggled a bit, and walked out with a great lens, attached to a broken film SLR. But it wasn’t just any film SLR. It was a Pentax K1000. A classic. It is a very mechanical box that performs the basic functions of an SLR. It’s a great body for people new to photography to learn on. They made varioud versions of this same basic body for over two decades.

But mine was broken. The mirror would not drop. I asked online, and tried some things, but there wasn’t an “easy” fix. I had nothing to lose, and the K1000 is a very manual body, so I grabbed my tools and opened this bad boy up. I took the bottom off and marveled at the gears and springs that made the thing work. After a little bit of playing with the pieces, I realized that there was one that was a bit warped. So I took it apart and used my pliers to straighten the bend. The tenderly put it back together. And it worked. Just like that I was in business. I could never do something like this with a DLSR, or even later film SLRs. But the K1000 was straight forward to work on.

Now that I had a working film SLR, I wanted to try it out. You should know that if you are still wanting to buy film for a camera, it isn’t as easy to find as it once was. I had to try two stores, and the second had one kind of film: Kodak 200 speed in a 3 pack.

My first roll was a bust. I loaded the film wrong. The K1000 loads the take up reel “clockwise” as you look down at the top of the camera, and I tried to load it counter clockwise. I shot what I thought was 24 pictures, and went t develop it. An hour later the clerk said, “There was nothing in the film.” Then she asked if I wanted the exposed film back… not sure why.

The 2nd attempt was better. I ended up with a couple decent shots. This was one of the best.jennygrace film my kids kept asking to see the pictures, and running up to look at the back of the camera. I kept having to explain that we can’t see the images until we developed the film. You really had to think through the shots. There were a couple I just knew I blew, but most I just hoped I had the settings right. My time with a DSLR helped me know the basic settings to try. The camera performed great, but there was a piece of foam in the film area, which caused a thin black line in the bottom left of every shot. I cleaned it thoroughly, and loaded the last roll.

I have a 16mm Zenitar Fisheye lens that is supposed to be so wide on a film camera that it will do almost 180 degrees. I took a few with this lens, and this one turned out pretty good, for just playing around. grace fisheye film

Overall I had good time shooting with film, but I missed the immediate review of digital. If you make a mistake, you know it. The cost of film developing isn’t something to sneeze at either. I decided that while the film SLR was kind of fun, I wanted the features of a DSLR. So off to eBay it went, and sold for a whopping $2.24, plus shipping. There are much better examples of the K1000 available, if you want one, and most run about $20. It isn’t a huge investment to have the experience of shooting film.