Mamiya RZ67.


The Mamiya RZ series of cameras to date consists of three models:  the original Mamiya RZ67, introduced in 1982;  the Mamiya RZ67 II, introduced in 1995; and the Mamiya RZ67 IID, which was introduced in 2004. The name “RZ” was derived from the Mamiya RB67, where “RB” stands for revolving back. Originally it was thought that the RZ series would replace the RB series, but this did not happen: as of 2010, the Mamiya RB67 Pro SD and the Mamiya RZ67 IID are still being sold new. The RZ models can use many of the RB components, such as lenses and backs, but with limitations, as the RB series cameras are completely mechanical, while the RZ lenses have Seiko #1 electronic shutters and electronic components are used throughout the camera. Being completely modular, the camera can be configured in many ways. Lenses, viefinders and backs can all be exchanged and full auto exposure is possible with some of the finder options. The RZ models can mostly be found in studio settings as they are quite bulky due to the revolving back construction, but as they are now quite affordable in the used camera market, more of them are in the hands of enthusiasts, who also use them on location. The Mamiya RZ67 IID is still in production in 2010, the latest offering by Mamiya is the RZ33, a RZ67 IID coupled with a 33 Megapixel digital back.

Camera Body

The RZ67 camera body is box-shaped. It is covered with non-slip rubber, to which a dimple pattern is applied. As the system is completely modular, the body needs to be connected to at least a lens and a back to function. One 6V PX28 or 4LR44 battery in the camera body is providing the energy for operation and also for the optional AE finders. There are several viewfinders, which can be attached (see below). While the original body design concept remains almost unchanged to this date, the body has undergone some changes over time. The original RZ67 featured a shutter speed dial with only full speeds from 4 seconds to 1/400th of a second. The RZ67 II and IID feature half speeds as well. The RZ II and IID also feature upgrades to the electronic components, including a safety lock for most types of backs when the dark slide has been removed and a fine-focusing knob on the right side of the focusing gears. The RZ IID features a built-in electronic interface for digital camera backs. Focusing is achieved through a rack and pinion driven bellows, which extends by 46 mm and allows very close focusing with wide angle and normal lenses. The mirror can be locked up by threading a cable release into the cable release socket on the camera lens, then depressing the shutter button on the camera body and afterwards using the cable release on the lens. A double cable release is available to facilitate this operation through the depressing of a single button. It is important to note that the silver connector of the double cable release has to be threaded into the shutter button on the camera, while the black connector has to be threaded into the lenses socket. In the other orientation the camera always fires at 1/400th of a second! The RZ67 bodies feature a built in beeper, which is used to sound warnings. A warning will sound when the battery is low, when the shutter, which is built into the lens needs servicing or when the exposure time in the “B” setting reaches 20 seconds (exposure in the “B” setting will terminate after 30 seconds). Several LEDs at the bottom of the viewfinder are also used to communicate warnings. The darkslide triggers a red LED, while the lack of film in the back causes an orange LED to light up. The Mamiya RZ67 II and IID also support the Metz SCA system through a hotshoe on the camera body, which can connect to the dedicated Metz SCA 395 adapter. This allows the flash ready signal in the viewfinder to be engaged. It should be noted that none of the RZ67 models supports TTL/OTF flash. Film transport on the film backs is achieved through a single stroke of the transport lever. This also brings the mirror down and cocks the lens shutter. A power winder can be used (currently model II) to automate the procedure. On the lower left of the front of the camera body is an electrical interface, which can be connected to remote triggers (an infrared version is manufactured by Mamiya and a radio trigger was made by Polaroid), as well as the shutter releases of the L-grip and the Aerial grip. The connector layout is (from left to right): 6V/BW; Ground; S1 Switch (half press of the shutter button) and S2 Switch (full press of the shutter button).

Mamiya RZ67 II. Picture by Inkyfingerz.

Mamiya RZ67 backs

The RZ67 is a true multiformat camera. Originally designed for 6×7 cm 120 and 220 roll film, film backs also exist for 6×6 cm and 6×4.5 cm formats. The 6×6 cm back supports 120 and 220 film through a pressure plate, which can be rotated, while the 6×7 cm and 6×4.5 cm backs come in two versions, dedicated to 120 or 220 film respectively. With the Mamiya RZ67 II model II 6×7 cm and 6×4.5 cm backs were introduced, which feature two film counters in order for one of them to be on top of the back regardless of the orientation (portrait or landscape) of the back. The 6×6 cm and the 6×4.5 cm backs are provided with metal view finder masks to compensate for the smaller film format. In addition to the roll film backs, a Polaroid film back for 660 type film exists (in 2010 only Fuji Packfilm FP-100C, FP-100B and FP-3000B is available). The film format of this back is 7×7 cm with 45 degree corners. To obtain 6×7 cm images on the Polaroid film, the last models of this back supported two metal masks (landscape and portrait). Earlier Polaroid backs could be modified to take the masks as well, essentially by drilling two quarter-sized holes into the metal mask to override the safety locks. A Polaroid 545i back was manufactured as of 1995, which could also be used for Fuji and Kodak quickload large format sheet film. This back is probably the only one without a film speed dial and electronic contacts, which communicate the film speed to the camera body. The resulting images are 8 x 8 cm, with 45 degree corners. This back is rumored to have been developed on the request of Annie Leibovitz. Most types of Mamiya RB67 backs can also be used after attaching the Mamiya RZ G-Lock adapter. The film speed of Mamiya RB67 backs is not communicated to the camera though. Digital backs were manufactured by Phase One, Kodak and possibly others for the Mamiya RZ67 II and IID. Mamiya makes digital backs for the Mamiya RZ67 IID. It should be noted that currently no digital back with a 6×7 cm sensor exists, the “crop-factor” of each back has to be taken into consideration when choosing an appropriate lens for a job. For the Mamiya digital backs, special ground glass screens exist, which show the sensor boundaries etched into the glass.

Mamiya RZ67 with 180mm RB lens, power winder and extra back.
Picture by Rst90274. 


Several models of finders exist for the Mamiya RZ67. The simplest is the waist level finder. It features a magnifier, which can be engaged. The image is up right, but left and right are switched, which makes this finder hard to use for action photography. The AE prism finder shows the image with the correct orientation. Two models exist, the first one, with control dials on the right side is for the original RZ67 and model II, with control dials on the top of the finder for the subsequent models. Both models allow AE and AE-lock operation with either integral or spot metering. The first model could only be adjusted in full steps, while the version for the RZ67 II (and IID) can be adjusted in half speeds. The switch between integral and spot metering can be automatic or the user can set the system to the preferred mode manually. The use of the “D” screen is not recommended with the AE finders, as the spot metering mode will result in erroneous readings due to the clear center of the screen. A non-metered prism finder with an upright and correctly oriented image also exists. In addition, Mamiya manufactured a “chimney” type AE finder, which magnifies the entire viewfinder image by 3x and is especially useful for tabletop and macro photography. This finder, which like the first version of the AE prism can only be adjusted in full steps, can be used on all RZ67 models and shows the image in the same orientation as the waist level finder. The ground glass, which is attached to the camera body can be exchanged for a number of different models. Most noteworthy are the “A4 checkered” screen, which is useful in general photography and architecture and the specialized screens for the digital backs. All metering viewfinders can be used with linear Pol filters. It is interesting to note that the Tilt/Shift adapter exposure can be measured with the AE finders while tilted or shifted without exposure compensation.

Mamiya RZ67 AEII prism finder detail.
Picture by sensencw. 


The Mamiya RZ lens arsenal ranges from the 37 mm fish eye lens to the 500 mm APO Tele. The flange distance is 105 mm. All lenses feature Seiko #1 electronic shutters with speeds from 8 sec. to 1/400th of a sec., B (up to 30 sec) and T and a manual emergency speed (without battery) of 1/400th of a second. The speed dial for these shutters is built into the camera body, unlike the Mamiya RB lenses, where the speed is set directly on each lens. The manual emergency speed of 1/400th of a second is set by moving the collar around the shutter button to the orange position on the left. Most of the lenses feature a filter diameter of 77 mm, with the exception of the 37 mm lens (no filter), the 75 mm shift and short barrel lenses (105 mm) and the 500 mm lenses (105 mm). Several of the later lens designs feature floating elements (50 mm ULD, 65 mm L-A, 75 mm L and 140 mm M L-A). A complete listing of all Mamiya RZ67 lenses can be found at Christoph Sensen’s Mamiya RZ67 lens table. Two noteworthy lenses are the 75 mm and 180 mm short barrel lenses. These can be used with the Mamiya Tilt/Shift adapter at infinity. As the lenses feature electronic shutters, the longest exposure time that can be used in the “B” setting is 30 seconds. For the last ten seconds, a warning beep will sound and then the shutter will close. For longer exposure times, all lenses feature a mechanical “T” switch. The maximum flash sync speed of each RZ lens is 1/400th of a second, as all lenses feature built-in leaf shutters. All lenses feature a PC socket to connect studio flashes. A 1.4x tele converter can be used with many of the RZ lenses. Mamiya recommends to store the lenses with shutters released when they are not used for a long time. The Mamiya RZ models can also use the Mamiya RB lenses. The flange length of the RZ models is 7 mm shorter than the flange length of the RB. For this reason alone, RZ lenses cannot be used on the RB models, and of course the RB models do not support the electronic link of the RZ lenses to the camera body. Auto exposure on the RZ models cannot be used with RB lenses, as the shutter speed of the RB lenses is set by using a ring on the lens. In addition, the power winder RZ cannot be used with RB lenses, as the camera defaults to an exposure time of 1/400th of a second and the winder will wind on while the exposure is still ongoing.

Extension Tubes

The bellows focusing on the Mamiya 67RZ series already provides excellent close focusing capabilities with wide angle and normal lenses. In addition, Mamiya manufactures two extension tubes (#1 and 2), which extend the bellows by 45 and 82 mm, respectively. The short barrel spacer, which was developed to allow infinity focus with the 75 mm and 180 mm short barrel lenses works otherwise just like an extension tube. It extends the bellows by 27.2 mm. Closeup Tables for Mamiya RZ Film Backs, compiled by Christoph Sensen list the macro capabilities of each lens, which is recommended by Mamiya for close-up work.

Mamiya RZ67 II with 140 mm L/A Macro, extension tubes and AE chimney finder.
Picture by sensencw. 

Tilt/Shift Adapter

The Tilt/Shift adapter was especially designed for the 75 mm and 180 mm short barrel lenses, but it can also be used with many other lenses for tabletop and macro photography. The Tilt/Shift adapter is delivered with a special electric cable release adapter, which “bends” the electronic cable release connector on the camera by 90 degrees, as the Tilt/Shift adapter otherwise obstructs this connection due to it’s size. The cable release adapter is only necessary, if a digital back is used on a camera other than the Mamiya RZ IID. The double cable release can only be used with the Tilt/Shift adapter without shift for when shifted up. A ground glass back is available for the use with the Tilt/Shift adapter. This back allows the fine-focusing similar to a large-format camera. To use it, the M/R switch on the camera body has to be in the “M” position, the “T” switch on the camera lens has to be engaged and the shutter button has to be depressed. The Tilt/Shift adapter can be used with the AE finders without exposure compensation! In 2010 Mamiya stopped producing the 75 mm short barrel lens, but it can still be found in the used market.

Grips and Tripod Adapters

Mamiya manufactured a L-shaped grip and an U-shaped grip for the Mamiya RZ67 series. Both grips feature an electronic shutter release, which allows the firing of the camera using the left-hand trigger finger. The U-shaped grip was introduced in 1995 and is also called the “aerial grip”. The Tilt/Shift adapter and the Polaroid backs protrude from the camera body. For these Mamiya manufactured two tripod spacers. Especially model 2 is recommended for use with the Mamiya RZ67 series.

Other Accessories (Highlights)

Mamiya manufactures or manufactured a large number of accessories, which are not mentioned above for the RZ67 series. These include:

  • Diopter correction lenses for the various viewfinders, except for the chimney finder (has built in diopter correction)
  • G-2 Bellows lens hood (a simpler version of the G-3 Bellows lens hood)
  • G-3 Bellows lens hood (65-350 mm lens adjustable)
  • Bellows front hood extension for G-3 bellows lens hood
  • 100-200 mm zoom lens mounting ring, prevents G-3 from rotating when zooming
  • Gelatine filter holder for 50-350 mm lenses
  • Adjustable sun shield plate with 77 mm mounting ring
  • Hot shoe PC flash adapter (by Wein)
  • Quick shoe for fast attaching and detaching for tripods
  • External battery case for keeping battery warm in cold weather
  • Electromagnetic cable release
  • Infrared transmitter and receiver
  • Radio transmitter and receiver (by Polaroid)
  • Adjustable flash bracket


Pentacon Six.

The Pentacon Six line were cameras made by VEB Pentacon Dresden in the former East German Democratic Republic from the late 1950’s to 1990. A professional camera with many accessories and lenses, the bayonet mount and the design of the camera were copied inside and outside Warsaw pact countries. Lenses for the Pentacon Six were made by Carl Zeiss Jena and were outstanding in both design and performance, however the camera its self can be a different story all together.

Photo by:  i’m Jac

A professional camera with many accessories and lenses, the bayonet mount and the design of the camera were copied inside and outside Warsaw pact countries (The Soviet built Kiev 60 and West German built Exakta 66.)

First of all, you’ve probably noticed the odd design for a 120 SLRcamera, most of them run film top to bottom or vise versa, but on the Pentacon Six line, the film runs from left to right, like a 35mm camera. This new feature results in a more conventional design but leads to one of the systems most annoying issue, Film spacing.

If improperly loaded the Pentacon Six TL will have spacing issues, this is mostly due to the fact that the engineers designed the camera to fit 13 6×6cm exposures on 120 film, making the spacing small to begin with. Secondly the film advance lever is somewhat fragile, the biggest mistake you can do to a Pentacon Six is to let the film advance lever snap back after winding, gently guide it back to its resting position; not doing so will damage the gears inside the camera resulting in an inconvenient trip to a repair shop. Avoid early “Praktisix” models as these are the most unreliable of the entire Pentacon Six line, your best bet is to get your hands on the most recent and most reliable Pentacon Six TL.

Photo by: zgodzinski

The Pentacon Six TL is all in all a awesome chunk of East German engineering, it just feels well built in your hands, with its faux leather covering and brushed steel trim it looks the part too! (and weighs the part as well !)

The Pentacon Six TL is extremely capable of professional grade images and has a shutter range from 1 second all the way up to 1/1000th of a second ( along with B) , has available TTL metered prisms along with X flash synchronization, making this camera tremendously expandable and worthy of “serious photographers.” Of course the Pentacon Six TL is also a great asset to any “Non-serious” photographer as well as Lomographers.

Another great feature of the Pentacon Six TL is that you get Hasselblad quality pictures at a bargain basement price of around 200-300$ for a well maintained model, a great deal considering how any western built 120 SLR made by Bronica or Hasselblad can easily go for 500-1200$ depending on condition, so why pay more when you can get the same quality pictures out of a camera that has tons more charisma and character at a fraction of the price?

-Great quality pictures at a great price.
-Intelligent design with many features.
-Hundreds of lenses and prisms available for reasonable prices.
-World class quality lenses from Carl Zeiss Jena.
– Made in the DDR! How cool is that?!

– Large, heavy design.
– Can be tricky to load properly.
– Finicky advance mechanism.
– Quality issues on early models.


Hasselblad 500 C/M.

Hasselblad was the first maker of commercial medium format SLR‘s.

They have been around for 40+ years, and the cameras made back then are still functioning perfectly if they were kept right etc. The 500c/m was made from 1970-1994, and was the replacement to the 500c. The only major change from the 500c was that the focus screens were interchangeble, so this single component could now be replaced, instead of the entire system.

The 500c/m is fully mechanical, and therefore requires absolutely no power source. The Hasselblad 500 series camera system consists of 4 major parts. The body, which is where the mirror is located, and is the central part of the system. The Finder, there are many different types of veiwfinders, but in this review the waist level finder (WLF) will be covered. The lens, which is where the leaf shutter, aperature and shutter settings, focus, and flash hookup, is located (so the lens actually does more than the body). And the 4th component is the film back.

These some in 6×6 and 6×4.5, but I use 6×6 backs so thats all I can speak for, although the only difference is a film mask inside them.

Medium format was and still is for the most part, the inductry standard for fashion and advertising photography, because it can be blown up to enormous sizes. when considering how large an average dslr shot can be blown up, You ask, I wonder how and 8×10 will look…no, no, no, with MF think BILLBOARDS. Also the 6×6 format is a really great format to explore composition wise, and because it is a square, there is no difference between portrait or landscape.

The use of this camera, WILL take some getting used to when switching from a normal SLR or DSLR. it is shaped much differently, and has no “grips” so you must only hold it how you feel comfortable. Also because there is only one mirror involved with veiwing the image, when you look into the WLF it is backwards, and controls are inverted. But you will overcome that by your first couple shoots.

Vital Stats:

6 x 6cm format

Film: 120 film: 6 x 6 (12 frames), 6 x 4.5 (16 frames). 220 film: 6 x 6 (24 frames), 6 x 4.5 (32 frames); 70mm perforated film, Plaroid film. (each requires film specific backs).

Exclusive Hasselblad bayonet lens mount; Accepts all C, CF, CB, CFI, CFE lenses

1 second to 1/500th shutter speed, but shutter can be manually opened for long periods of time 24 hrs +

flash sync at all speeds

flash connected via PC socket in lens


Extremely high quality
Zeiss lenses used
functionality of system
film can be switched mid roll via seperate backs
fully mechanical no batteries needed
syncs at all speeds


Accessories are very expensive
no metering system, seperate light meter reqiured or metered finder which are pricey
can be complicated at first, but everything is easily learnt


This is a great camera for someone looking to do controlled studio type photography, but it isnt very prectical for anything other than that. When used for skateing flashes will have to be used, because of the 1/500 maximum SS. This camera will take getting used to, but once you have adjusted to it you will love it and the images it produces. A full system can be bought for as low as $600, but that would include body, WLF, 80mm f/2.8 lens, and a 120 back. Accessories for this camera are very expensive, so if you want to have a wide range of accessories, Bronica or Mamiya may be a better system for you (the fisheye alone is $7000+ new).


Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16.

Ok, and here it is my first 120mm camera purchase.

I found this beauty on the way home in a shop that sell antiques,  I can’t resist to the camera and of course the excepcional low price (after a few minutes of negotiations with the seller). It was a great deal, after checking the price in various websites.

Let’s move in on to the important part, the camera himself…

Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16 folding camera made in Stuttgart by the famous Zeiss Ikon company. It used medium format 120 film with negatives measuring 6cm x 6cm. It was, in its day, a very high quality camera that used medium format 120 film, though it was the size of a 35mm.

According this source, this specific model it was manufactured in Stuttgart –  Germany, between (month ?)/1949-Dec./1959.


  • 120mm film in 6×6 format
  • Novar-Anastigmat Lens 1:4.5 f=75mm
  • Vario Shutter
  • Aperture: f4.5-22
  • Shutter: B, 1/25, 1/75, 1/200 sec.
  • Double exposure prevention (you can defeat this by using a cable release with the socket on the lens instead of the body shutter release)
  • Manual film advance with red window

A 400 ASA film is best advised when using the Nettar 518/16.

Tthat is because the speed range is rather limited by today’s standards. Speeds range from 1/25 – 1/75 – 1/200 sec. plus B. You should always remember that the lens is a 75mm, so shooting at 1/25 involves a risk of shaking the camera. This leaves you with two speeds that you can work safely with, 1/75 sec. and 1/200 sec.

The fully manual operation, with no built in meter and no built in focus/rangefinder forces you to slow down and think before you click the shutter release. You have to run through a mental checklist (estimate or meter exposure, estimate distance, compose, cock the shutter, release) for each picture, and so while You only get twelve exposures, You can be sure that You thought hard about each and every one of them. Hopefully the discipline will help  even with more automated cameras.

The Nettar 518/16 has a double exposure prevention mechanism which is very handy. A red flag appears in the finder and you cannot press the shutter button without winding the film.


I have not yet photographed with this camera, so I can not have a proper conclusion of myself, but I can leave here two opinions that I have found on the web.

(…) wonderful piece of old mechanical technology that produces great results once some thought is applied.

If you are looking for an inexpensive entry to medium format photography, this is the way to go. Image quality is really really good between f/5.6 – f/11, it is build like a tank with very few things that can break and you can always have it with you due to it’s small size. My only complain is the limited speed range and the lack of a rangefinder, so it might be a good idea to buy and external one.
All in all, a very nice camera and if you find it for anything less than £50 buy it and you won’t regret.

Voigtländer Vitoret DR.

Voigtländer Vitoret DR, 35mm rangefinder camera 1965.

Manufactured: 1965
Film: 135 (35 mm cartridge film)
Frame size: 24 x 36 mm
Lens: f/2.8 Color Lanthar 50 mm
Shutter: Prontor 300 leaf shutter

Image Rights

Voigtländer Vitoret is a 35mm film viewfinder camera manufactured by Voigtländer & Sohn AG, Braunschweig, former West Germany and produced between 1961-1971

The Voigtländer Vitoret series were a very successful range of consumer level inexpensive cameras that were produced from 1961 to 1971. Vitoret series were more inexpensive than the Vito range cause there were the choice of lenses and shutters and a more simple internal design. All series produced with quantity ca 700.000. Many Vitoret cameras are often still useable and capable of providing good results.


Canon T50.

“The Canon T50, introduced in March 1983 and discontinued in December 1989, was the first in Canon’s new T series of 35mm single-lens reflex cameras compatible with Canon’s FD lens mount.”

The manual focus Canon T50 is most likely the simplest camera in the FD arsenal. Program – Off – Battery Check are the only top controls. No “B” bulb, no PC flash input, no cable-release input. Turning the FD lens from “A” Automatic to f-stops switches the camera to 1/60th sec. This gives you the (limited choice) option of going manual and allowing the use of off-brand flashes.

The T50 is simplistic joy – allowing me to concentrate on my shots and leaving the exposure chores to the camera. As an all-manual photo guy, it was difficult giving up the control of shutter and aperture, but the results were more than pleasing.


Pentax K1000.

Pentax K1000

Pentax K1000 SE with SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/2 (22.2 oz./628g with battery, strap lugs and 36-exposure film but no caps or strap, about $60 used for body and lens).


The Pentax K1000 is one of photography’s greatest, most popular and longest-lived cameras.

The Pentax K1000 is simple. It does exactly what it needs to do, and nothing more.

Exactly like Apple, simplicity is the K1000’s greatest strength. All the irrelevant foolishness that chokes fancier cameras, and especially digital cameras, never gets in the way of a great picture with the K1000. While DSLR shooters are standing there cursing at their cameras when they can’t figure out why it won’t take the picture when they press the shutter, the K1000 just keeps shooting.

The Pentax K1000 is a 35mm SLR. It is completely mechanical and needs no battery to run, except for one tiny 20¢ A76 cell to run its light meter.

Unlike the “automated” digital nonsense with which too many people burden themselves, the K1000 has only three shooting controls: aperture, shutter speed and focus. (You also set the film speed when you load it.)

While digital cameras have automatic ISO, automatic white balance, automatic exposure, automatic advance, automatic focus and a zillion other “automatic” features, why on God’s green Earth is it that then the”manual” K1000 lets us take great pictures with only three controls, while fully automatic cameras of today have hundreds of controls that ned to be set? Not only does the Pentax K1000 only have three controls, it even tells us exactly how to set each of these controls all by itself!

The Pentax K1000 is so brilliant that you never need to turn the meter or camera on or off: both are always on for instant picture taking!

While even the most brilliant cameras like LEICA’s $8,000 M9-P still make us stop and do math in our heads to see Zone System values, the Pentax K1000’s brilliant exposure meter has an in-finder zone-system indicator. The middle is Zone V, and up and down the scale are the other (unmarked) Zones. Easy. The K1000’s shutter button is much smoother than any LEICA made since 2002, with none of the LEICA’s notchiness that blurs long exposures.

Most 35mm cameras expect us to guess if their film is wound or not to the next frame. While LEICA, Nikon, Canon and other cameras demand that we remember this from day to day, the Pentax K1000 has a shutter-ready indicator right next to the shutter button. Orange (as shown) means ready, and black means not wound. Brilliant

There is a very good reason every photo teacher demanded the K1000 be used in their classes: because the K1000 is an extraordinary camera that forces you to think about your picture instead of your camera.

Pentax K1000

Pentax K1000 SE with SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/2.



35mm Single-Lens Reflex.


Pentax K mount.

Pentax screw-mount with adapter; manual diaphragm and stop-down metering.


K1000, spotlighting the advanced 1/1,000 top shutter speed.


Through-the-lens full-aperture metering.

Instant-return mirror.

Single 360º rotating shutter speed dial.

Full-aperture coupled metering.

ASA setting on shutter dial with automatic ASA lock.

Full-aperture viewing with fully automatic diaphragm (closes down to set shooting aperture and reopens to full aperture automatically for every shot).

Bright Fresnel focusing screen with microprism center spot (also additional split-image on K1000 SE).

“Pure Image” finder with no distractions except the meter/zone system needle.

Automatic double-exposure prevention.

Shutter-cocked indicator.

Combined shutter cock and film-wind lever.

Ratcheted multi-step wind lever. Many Nikons don’t have this.

Automatic resetting frame counter.

Rewind crank with folding lever and rotating crank tip.

Ratcheted single or multi-stroke wind lever with comfortable plastic tip.

X-sync hot shoe.

PC flash sync socket.

Threaded for a conventional cable-release.

¼-20 tripod socket. Tripod Screw Maximum Depth: 5.5mm.


0.88x magnification with 50mm lens.

Glass prism.

Ground glass with central microprism spot.

The luxury K1000 SE version seen here has a combined split-image rangefinder with microprism collar.

Meter needle, and that’s it.


Horizontal rubberized-silk focal-plane.

1 ~ 1,000 and Bulb.

1/60 flash sync.

For flash bulbs, use 1/30 and slower with M, MF and FP bulbs.

Orange “cocked” indicator next to shutter button.

Uses a regular screw-in cable release.

Wind Lever

Single or ratcheted multiple strokes.

160º throw with 10º stand-off.

Frame counter goes to 37, starts at 00.

Rewind Time

11 seconds, manual crank.


Two CdS cells.

Single live needle in finder: center is OK, up is brighter and down is darker.

ASA 20 ~ ISO 3,200.

Metering range: EV 3 ~ EV 18 at ISO 100 with f/2 lens.


One tiny 20¢ A76, LR44, SR44 or S76 cell.

Power Switch: None, just leave on the lens cap so the CdS cells sucks no power.

I measured 200 µA current draw with the needle centered, and 100 µA in the dark.


3.7 x 5.6 x 1.9 inches HWD.

93.5 x 143 x 49.5 millimeters HWD.


Japan: with battery, strap lugs but no caps, strap or film: 21.375 oz. (606.0g).

Japan: with battery, strap lugs and 36-exposure film but no caps or strap: 22.155 oz. (628.1g).

China: with battery, strap lugs but no caps, strap or film: 18.567 oz. (526.4g).

China: with battery, strap lugs and 36-expoousure film but no caps or strap: 19.347 oz. (548.5g).

50/2 (Taiwan): 4.920 oz (139.4g).


Temperature Range: -20ºC ~ 50ºC (may need re-lube at low temperatures).

Maximum Rate of Temperature Change: 20ºC per hour.


No self-timer.

No easy double-exposures.

No motor drive, except for this one.

No Autofocus

No auto exposure.

No easy depth-of-field preview (you can press the lens mount button and half-unmount the lens to preview depth of field.)

No mirror lock-up.

No intervalometer.

No custom functions.

No interchangeable focus screens.

No batteries (just one tiny cell).

No problem! None of that other stuff is important; the K1000 lets us pay attention to our picture instead of our camera’s instruction book.

Pentax K1000

Pentax K1000 SE.


The Pentax K1000 like a breath of fresh air. It just goes.

The biggest gotcha is that all of the samples I’ve tried to use have meters well out of calibration. Many of these meters are broken but still read; no single setting of the ASA dial will work accurately for all light values.

The best samples of K1000 I’ve gotten read consistently, but like most 35mm cameras, require a little testing to determine the best setting of the ASA (ISO) dial for any particular film.

Shutters usually work well, although the nice one here was 2/3 of a stop fast at 1/30 (1/30 is actually 19mS or 1/52).

The all-metal Made-in-Japan versions are the nicest. They say ASAHI PENTAX, with “AOCo” engraving on the prism.

The Hong Kong and Chinese versions use a lot more plastic and may have grindy film advance levers. These cheaper versions didn’t say ASAHI on the prism.

The K1000 has moderate to low vibration (recoil) when fired.

There is a marked red tick at frame 36, and the counters stops at 36, even though there is a white tick at 37.

The shutter release is super smooth. There are no notches of kinks as have modern LEICAs.

Pentax K1000

Pentax K1000 SE.


The Canon AE-1 Program is another favorite of mine. It requires a bigger and less common 6V 544 (4LR44) battery to operate and is more plasticy, but has a much more reliable exposure meter and fully automatic exposure.

The K1000 and AE-1 Program are amateur cameras, while the Nikon FM, Nikon FE, FE2, FM2 and FM3a are professional-level cameras. The Canon and Pentax of this era are not as tough, while these Nikons can cheerfully take a beating and keep on shooting.

The K1000 is simplicity incarnate, the AE-1 Program adds a better meter and automation, while the Nikon FE is as simple, while built much tougher with a far more accurate meter.

Want simple for the lowest price? Get a K1000 for $60 complete with lens.

Want automatic exposure and a better meter, but with a little more complexity and harder to find battery? Get a Canon AE-1 Program.

Want professional toughness and metering, but for more money? Get a Nikon.

The K1000 never asks you to move or think about a power switch, while the Canon and Nikon do.

It’s much faster and easier to set the K1000’s manual exposure than to play with other camera’s menus.

It’s much faster to turn the big focus ring than to dick with other camera’s autofocus settings, and no matter what you do, the K1000 always fires when you press the shutter.


Pentax K1000

Pentax K1000 SE with SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/2.

Read Pentax’ K1000 User’s Manual.

Battery Check: Set ISO 100 and BULB. If the needle is up, you’re OK.

Before you go shooting, be sure to compare the K1000’s meter to a good light meter. Feel free to use the meter in another camera, or use the Pocket Light Meter on your iPod.

With every 35mm camera, be sure to shoot some tests first before shooting something critical. Especially be sure to check the exposure, and set the ASA or ISO dial accordingly so the next roll will come out perfectly.

My particular sample seen here give the best results with its ASA dial set to ASA 32 forISO 50 Velvia, and set to ASA 64 for ISO 100 film. Every camera is different; test yours, and set a lower ASA if your slides are too dark, and a higher number if they are too light.

The meter has a limited range and won’t read if you set something crazy; for instance, with my ASA 50 film, the meter won’t read at 1/1,000 of a second. No big deal, meter at 1/500 and change the aperture by a stop.

To use the Zone System, Zone V is the center of the meter needle range. The top and bottom of the “OK” area is ±½ stop. The top is Zone VIII and the bottom is Zone II.

There is no depth-of-field preview button, but you can press the lens-release button and half-unmount the lens to preview depth of field.

Double Exposures: Tighten the film slack with the rewind knob, press the rewind button, advance the film, and pray. Pentax suggests making a blank exposure on the next frame just in case.

Motor Drive

Pentax K1000

Pentax K1000 with Motor Drive (custom).

There was no production motor drive, however this one-of-a-kind camera turned up and is for sale at National Camera Exchange.


The K1000 is a great camera for shooting. Since it dispenses with all the baloney (it doesn’t even need a power switch), most of us will be quite surprised at how pleasant it is to shoot.

Photography is all about our imagination and concentrating on the basics of what makes a great image, and never about our camera. The K1000 lets us pay attention to our photography.