Suitable for Students. The K1000

The Pentax K1000 is always declared to be the camera to learn photography.  But is it any different from any other manual camera?

pk2

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.

pk4
nicely under-elaborate

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.

pk3

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.

pope merch
Pope Merch – Francis was in town
pope queue
queueing for the Pope-bound Luas
norseman
others weren’t so bothered about the papal visit
Dublin bikes
dublin bikes.  Dublin
Dublin Arlington Hotel
Arlington Hotel – the Celtic Nights show is great craic here

 

barrels
Barrels.  Probably Guinness

 

seafood cafe
Oysters no doubt served here.

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.

Not Overly Complicated: The Canon T50

T50 ele2
Welcome to the 1980s

I never intended to buy a Canon T50. I had rescued a T70 body from impending landfill, and after a clean and new set of batteries, it seemed to work. Needing a lens, the typical eBay rate for a 50mm f1.8 was around £30-£40 quid. So as is often the case, I ended up buying one attached to camera for a tenner. In this case the camera was the T50.

While the AE-1 and AE-1 Program had wowed the market since the mid-70’s (and continues to do so as a regular hipster choice – and at hipster prices), 1983 saw the release of a new Canon entry in the beginners market.  Gone was the sleek-lined black and chrome look the AE1/AV1 shared with it’s competitors in the Olympus OM and Pentax M ranges, and its simple, classic engraved logo .  Instead we were given the future of camera design.  It was big and chunky, plastic, noisy and a more flashy screen-printed logo.  Welcome to the Eighties.

The T range is considered to be a bit of an ugly aberration in the Canon SLR series – a short lived 1980s mistake between the classic A series and the EOS range of cameras which evolved into the DSLRs of today.   In a non-revisionist opinion however (as a young Praktica user in 1983 I seriously wanted one of these..) I have to say the T50 is not the ugly duckling of popular opinion but a beautiful design classic of the era.

It’s certainly a bit on the minimalist side.

T50 top
The new logo

It has a big black shutter button, a function selector wheel, film rewind lever, a hotshoe and a big black thumb grip.

When I say function selector though, it’s more of an on-off button.  The T50 is (almost) a fully automatic  point and shoot camera.  ‘L’ is off and ‘PROGRAM’ is on.  BC checks the battery and ‘SELF’ is the 10 second self timer, which operates in ‘PROGRAM’ mode.

T50 control
the various functions..

And PROGRAM is a glorious unknown.  There is no indication of aperture or shutter speed other than the sound of the mirror slap giving you an idea of duration.  You do have a viewfinder warning where the ‘P’ indicating PROGRAM mode flashes when you’re going to get camera shake.  Or need a flash.

The other manual intervention is setting film speed.  There’s a dial in the usual place.

T50 ISO
manual intervention – film speed

There is a slight opportunity for manual control. The A setting on the lens is for fully auto operation. But when you move this to an aperture setting, the camera responds with a shutter speed of 1/60th. No metering indication other than an ‘M’ for manual in the viewfinder, so you’re on Sunny 16 for this.

And that’s as complicated as the T50 gets.  It takes AA batteries (thank you Canon), has a remote control socket (don’t have a remote control) and takes a dedicated flash (included in my £10 bundle).    The other thing about the T50 in addition to its opinion-dividing looks is the audio.  Its built-in auto winder is one noisy fecker – no Leica street photography stealth with this camera, it’ll definitely attract the attention.  Especially if you keep the shutter button pressed where it’ll go off on a 1.4fps continuous burst.

Using it is a blast.  Stick in a roll of film, compose and focus the nicely sharp Canon 50mm 1.8 and press the button. I used  Kentmere 400 to ensure decent shutter speeds in what was overcast weather.  I was pleased with the results.

traditional
Menu includes drink
oneills
O’Neill’s, Dublin
Hairy Lemon Dublin
The Hairy Lemon, Dublin
el campello statue
Sculpty thing, El Campello, Spain
but is it art
but is it Art?  Dublin
beach costa blanca
Three trees on a beach.  Costa Blanca, Spain
bernardo
Bernardo O’Higgins, Liberator of Chile.  His Da was from Sligo

And that’s the Canon T50.  A big beautiful point and shoot with a Canon FD lens.  It’ll wind on for you but you need to manually rewind.  It has manual control but only at 1/60th and no metering.  You can get it for the fraction of the price of an AE-1 or AV-1.  But don’t use late at night – you might wake the neighbours.