About a week ago I picked up a Pentax K1000 35mm film SLR. It was mint condition with a Pentax 50mm f2 SMC-A lens, and is about as old school as you can get. If you follow the links, you can learn a little bit about the history of the camera, but essentially it’s a full manual film camera that was made in large numbers for a fairly long time, and is considered one of the top, if not the best, student cameras ever made.
Why did I buy one? A couple of reasons. One was that I’ve had an itch to shoot with a film SLR again for some time now. Second was that it was the very first SLR I’d ever used and I thought it’d be fun to relive that experience a bit. Third, and last, was that it’s been really hard to find a truly compact DSLR that is of the same quality as a lot of these old film cameras. You may remember that I had owned an Olympus E-420 a year or two back, and that was as close to an old film SLR feel as I have ever gotten in a digital camera. Eventually though, I sold it because I thought it was distracting me from using my D200 which had been basically sitting around collecting dust at the time as a backup to the D3. Truth be told however, I fairly regret it as it was just such a handy little thing and really provided a unique experience with reasonable image quality. Still, it’s gone and I have no intention of getting another as in the end I’ll go right back again to where I was when I sold it, I think. Of course, I could check into one of the new OM-D’s from Olympus, but it’s not a true DSLR and I absolutely hate electronic viewfinders, so no good, though it looks like a good camera by every other measure.
In any case, the K1000 showed up last Friday and over that same weekend I put a test roll through it when we went to Mill Creek Park to kill some time as always. As you’ll see from the pics below, it takes a fine picture. Exposure was spot on for the most part and required very little adjustment in post. Resolution-wise it’s somewhat of a mixed bag though, but that’s a film limitation more than anything; all my film cameras suffer the same issue, and that may have more to do with scanning the film than any fault of the lens and film itself. I use a fairly inexpensive Epson V500 Photo scanner, which for my needs is adequate, but there are better units out there if you hunt around.
Anyway, for regular use I typically scan my negatives so that I end up with about a 19MP file in the end, which is quite large, so at 100% you can see every little fault which can lead oneself to make the mistake that the overall IQ isn’t very good. Fact is though, if I print the files at normal sizes (4×6, 8×10, 12×18) it is very comparable to digital, and at web sizes it’s almost the same as you’ll see. Still, digital surpasses it for the most part overall in many ways, so YMMV.
Now to the fun part – the pics. Here’s a selection of photos from the test roll. No art, just some decent snaps while out walking and enjoying the fine February weather (how about that this year?!). Note that in some ways they look very digital, but in others – namely color – they have that certain look to them that signifies film in almost every instance. Whether you like that or not is up to you, but I don’t mind it at all, personally. Film was Kodak 200 Gold, so nothing fancy, but more than adequate.
What do you think? Not too bad, huh? Quite nice actually. If after reading this your interest is piqued, hop on over to eBay and have a look. Fun cameras to use, cheap, and a very relaxing change of pace from your typical DSLR (which I still love).