I was over the moon to be able to pick up a Pentax K1000 from my local camera shop a few months ago. Manufactured between 1976 and 1997 (unbelievably) it’s a wonderful, solid workhorse of a camera. I put that to the test recently when I was poking around a ruined castle and managed to slip down a flight of moss-covered wooden stairs, scattering everything I was carrying to the four winds. Although I lost some skin and some pride, the K1000 was perfectly fine, which was great – broken bones mend, broken lenses don’t.
The K1000 was known as the go-to camera for students: it’s fully manual, but simple. You have control over everything, but there’s not enough to get you bogged down or confused. It’s quickly becoming my favourite 35mm SLR. The only electronic thing on it is the light meter, which displays as a needle swinging between – and + in the viewfinder. It uses one watch battery, fortunately of a type you can still buy.
Predictably, that one bit of tech on the camera was the only thing that played up. I loaded it up with ISO 400 Kentmere B&W film and all was well for the first few shots. Then I began to notice the meter was giving daft readings (this happened before I fell down the stairs with it, in case you’re wondering).
I popped back in to the camera store and explained the problem.
‘I’ve got a 400 speed film loaded,’ I said, ‘and a shutter speed of 500 but when I go out on a bright, sunny day, the needle barely moves out of the minuses. Even if I point it straight at the sky, I have to step it down to f.2 before it moves towards “correctly exposed”, that can’t be right.’
The shop owner took the camera and fiddled with the settings. ‘Looks like it’s reading a few stops out,’ he said – the master of understatement.
So now my poor K1000 is sitting in a room somewhere being recalibrated. I can’t wait to shoot with it again. In the meantime, here are some photos I did manage to grab with it, using a combination of the sunny 16 rule and good old guesswork.
Somebody thought it would be funny to put a Christmas tree in a phonebox. Perhaps there’s some deep message I’m missing.
The ever-photogenic Wrest Park
The gatehouse to the keep at Dover Castle
The port of Dover
Kentmere 400, developed in Ilfosol 3