The Pentax K1000 is always declared to be the camera to learn photography. But is it any different from any other manual camera?
I never owned a K1000 in the analogue days, I was a Praktica user – a fully manual MTL3, a selection of Pentacon primes and a telephoto zoom from Boots. Yet even then, it was the K1000 if you were serious about learning photography – Zenits and Prakticas were only for those on a budget.
With a rejuvenated interested in film and a mission to acquire cheap stuff from eBay, I still wasn’t tempted by the K1000 due to the often inflated prices compared to similar spec’d cameras from the likes of Chinon and Ricoh. Then I was given a well used K1000 about to be binned as it didn’t work. Well it did – the mirror was sticking up – a squirt of 3-in-one down the wee rod under the baseplate sorted that and I was the finally the owner of a Pentax K1000.
First things first – it doesn’t have the “Asahi” mark above the Pentax on the prism, so it’s obviously one of the later Chinese models – not as good, apparently. And the lens is an A series f2, again I could’ve done better. Would it, however, be the Praktica killer?
Well, it does look nice and doesn’t have the weight of the Praktica and less of a recoil when you press the button. The lens was pretty sharp across the apertures and the viewfinder clear and uncluttered.
There’s a simple + or – for the meter reading. And here is the first niggle with the K1000. The meter is always on through the lens. If you don’t have a lens cap, the battery is going to drain quickly. So I have a lens cap.
And the next .. thing. The shutter wind lever sits fairly neat with the shutter selector so changing shutter speed isn’t as freely done as it could be.
Compared to the Ricoh KR5 and it’s lever-resting position for both metering and selecting shutter (albeit with a smal range of speeds) these quirks would surely affect the K1000’s legendary status?
Anyway – would it work with a roll of film. With a roll of Kentmere 400 loaded, I took a walk around Dublin.
So a quick photo walk with the K1000. And the verdict? It’s perfectly fine. The design quirks aside it’s nice to use, looks and feels well and – well that’s about it for me. It’s a competent performer, I certainly don’t dislike it and would definitely use it again. Is it the student camera? It certainly fits the bill but you’re going to get much better value buying other less celebrated names and at 30/40 years old, reliability is hit and miss with any make. I’m not going to sell the Prakticas just yet.