Film is alive and kicking – tips, cameras, beginners advice.

For over a hundred years film was the only option. The greatest names in photography all shot film; I’m sure you’ve heard of Ansel Adams.

Some of the most inspiring, well-known photographs ever produced were shot by famous photographers—so why do all the modern-day pros shoot digital if all the greats shot film? The answer is quite simple: convenience and cost.

If Film Is So Great, Why Do We Shoot Digital?

I would like to preface this tutorial by saying that I make the majority of my income from shooting digital. Film versus digital is a very controversial subject and the point of this tutorial is not to claim that one is better than the other, but rather to provide the reader a better understanding of film, and what it can do for them today, even in a digital world.

The digital format…

  1. Allows you to review your work after every single shot, from the camera, without having to wait for film to be developed.
  2. Is easily transferable in digital format from one computer to the next, or from one mobile phone to another, or from one email box to another.
  3. Costs less in the long run to print because there are no developing costs.
  4. Is more versatile because the digital sensor is able to change ISO on the fly.
  5. Does not expire like film does.

I could go on. The simple fact is that digital simply makes sense for the modern 35mm photographer and certainly for the weekend hobbyist. There are no messy chemicals to deal with, you’re not required to sit in a dark room for hours on end to see if your film [properly] developed, and you only need a memory card or two instead of roll after roll of film.

If Digital Is King, Why Are You Recommending Film?

If you are interested in becoming a photographer, starting out can be very expensive. Granted, if you buy used equipment you can save a lot of money. But even used, a digital SLR (DSLR) can run you a few hundred dollars whereas a mint condition film SLR will cost less than $100.

Even the most expensive, top of the line, professional film SLR’s on the used market go for a couple hundred bucks. On the other hand, top of the line DSLR’s go for thousands, even well used. Start-up cost is one of the toughest hurdles to overcome when getting into photography and this is where film can save you a bundle while getting your feet wet in the world of photography.

The second reason I recommend film to beginners is that it’s a more immersive way to learn about the relationship between aperture, ISO and shutter speed. You also have to be more cognizant of your surroundings and available light when shooting film. I have to admit, I’m a little grumpy knowing that many modern photographers never touched or even wanted to try their hand at film; they’re robbing themselves of a truly wonderful experience that I believe can take them to a whole other level.

The digital format allows one to be very sloppy, especially if you’re shooting in digital RAW format. You’re able to over or underexpose and fix it in post rather than doing it right in the first place. Heck, worrying about white-balance seems to be a thing of the past; a simple eye-dropper tool fixes everything for you in post! Learning on film teaches you to truly care about your surroundings while getting intimately familiar with your camera and all of its little quirks.

If you thought my reasons for shooting film were subjective, my final reasons are even more so; but hear me out. In my opinion, black and white photography has yet to be reproduced in digital format to echo the beautiful black and white film formats that are still available today.

It’s hard to explain; maybe it’s the film grain versus digital grain, maybe it’s the seemingly infinite tones that black and white film can produce or maybe it’s a combination of a lot of different elements aligning to “make it happen”. All I know is that I have yet to see consistent results from digital black and white prints that are as astoundingly gorgeous as examples from countless black and white prints that I have seen throughout my life. Obviously, this is subjective, but there you have it.

Canon EOS 630 – Kodak T-MAX400 B&W Film

Okay Fine, Where Do I Start?

Where else? The camera! There have been so many makes, models and formats of cameras over the years that it would be silly to try and review them all. And I don’t want to “fake it”, I’m not going to scour the internet looking for info on camera systems that I know nothing about. I believe that would only dilute my information and rob you of truly useful, real-world experience. My goal is to provide some of what I know so that you can make an informed decision when you go on the hunt for your own film camera.

In this article, I will not address medium or large format film cameras since I could write a book on that topic alone. Not to mention, I wouldn’t be saving you any money by recommending the medium/large format route anyway. Instead, I’ll start with Canon’s EOS systems, I’ll continue with a short glimpse into rangefinders and finish up with film recommendations.

I apologize ahead of time for those interested in Nikon or other manufacturers. I have far more experience with Canon, but some of these same principles should apply to other systems and the film recommendations should work across the board.

Let’s get started!

Canon EOS Elan

Models Include:

Elan II(e)
Elan 7(e)(n)(ne)

Up For Review: Elan IIe

The Canon EOS Elan IIe is a steal when you compare the price to performance ratio. While a 1v is a wonderful (and legendary) film SLR, even now a good copy is being sold for several hundred dollars and that might be a bit much to invest on a used film camera when you’re first starting out, especially since the Elan is so cheap and provides many of the same functions.

The Elan is also very easy to find in online auctions. It uses typical 35mm film and has the modern EF lens mount (versus the older, discontinued FD lens mount). I would highly recommend buying one that comes with a battery grip if you want to use AA batteries, the body itself will only take the more expensive 2CR5 batteries.


  1. Cost. ($20-$50)
  2. Performance and Features
  3. Ergonomics
  4. Pro Features


  1. eBay
  2. Buy/Sell sections on Camera Forums
  3. Local Camera Shops
  4. Yard Sales


  1. Silent Film Operation (Elan was the first SLR with near-silent operation)
  2. Simultaneous AF/MF with USM lenses
  3. A large thumb wheel for control
  4. High speed flash sync
  5. Basically the first “auto everything” SLR with just about every professional control you could ask for in a film SLR


  1. No AE Lock
  2. Not weather sealed (although I’ve had mine in the rain plenty of times)
  3. Known for underexposing when in difficult, mixed lighting situations if using lower ISO film (50,100)
  4. Make sure to buy one that comes with the grip so you can use AA batteries

Photo Sample

Canon EOS 600-Series

Models Include:

EOS 650
EOS 620
EOS 630

Up For Review: EOS 630

The reason I’m recommending the 600 series of cameras is that they’re extremely cheap, built like tanks, and can still be found quite easily. This series was among the first to rely on electronic focusing by communication between the on-board microprocessor and auto-focusing motors in EF lenses. The AF system out-performed anything else at the time.

The EOS 630 was the latest from the 600 line. It had the fastest processor which resulted in faster AF, had interchangeable viewing screens, had an illuminated LCD and could use databacks. It was also all metal construction; it has held up amazingly well over the years.

If I had a gripe, the biggest would be that it’s a pain to do manual metering because of the multiple button operations required to accomplish it. The camera is also not the most comfortable to hold in your hands in comparison with other EOS systems.


  1. Cost. ($5-$50)
  2. Performance and Features
  3. Build Quality
  4. Pro Features


  1. eBay
  2. Buy/Sell sections on Camera Forums
  3. Local Camera Shops
  4. Yard Sales


  1. Modern AF
  2. Interchangeable viewing screens
  3. Illuminated LCD
  4. Databack Compatible
  5. Metal construction


  1. Ergonomics not the best
  2. Multiple button presses for some operations

Photo Sample

Canon EOS Rebel Series

Models Include:

Rebel SII
Rebel X/XS
Rebel G
Rebel 2000
Rebel K2
Rebel Ti/T2

Up For Review: Rebel G

The Rebel series is probably the one you know as the “Andre Agassi camera”. The famous tennis player was hired by Canon to market their line of Rebel cameras throughout the 90′s and 2000′s. It was one of the most successful, mass-produced lines that Canon ever made (and continues that course with the digital Rebel today).

I’m recommending this camera because it costs next to nothing; I’ve seriously witnessed people give them away. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them, on the contrary! They’re quite capable with some pro-level features in a very light and compact package.

The reason they’re so cheap is that there were so many of them made and since they were never a “professional” camera, they were not that expensive, even when new. Don’t expect a lot of pro-features and amazing build quality, however.

If you want to spend next to nothing on a body just to get the experience of shooting and developing film, this is your camera.


  1. Cost. ($5-$30)
  2. Size and Weight
  3. Easy to find


  1. eBay
  2. Buy/Sell sections on Camera Forums
  3. Local Camera Shops
  4. Yard Sales


  1. Very compact and lightweight (half the weight of the Elan II and 630)
  2. Accepts all modern EF lenses
  3. Full meter scale in the viewfinder at all times, even in metered-manual mode


  1. Lacks DOF preview
  2. Viewfinder is cramped
  3. Built-in flash is weak
  4. Plastic lens mount rather than metal
  5. You only have one control to set both shutter speed and aperture, so manual mode metering is more difficult than it should be.

Photo Sample

The Rangefinder

What the heck is a rangefinder? It’s a camera fitted with a rangefinder, duh! For all intents and purposes, a rangefinder is a method of focusing. Most rangefinders show two images of a subject; when you turn a focus wheel, one of the images moves until it is lined up with the other image and that’s how you know it’s in focus. Personally, I really enjoy this method of focusing. Rangefinders are popular because of the following:

  1. Very compact
  2. No moving mirror
  3. Quiet operation
  4. “Both eyes open” shooting

Rangefinders offer a unique shooting experience in that you’re not looking through the lens like you do with an SLR. It’s sort of like shooting through a modern point-n-shoot. Because the viewfinder is off to the side, you can leave both eyes open while looking through the viewfinder to survey your scene as you’re shooting. This makes the rangefinder very popular amongst urban and photojournalist photographers.

If you’ve researched rangefinders at any level, you’ve probably run across mention of Leica, they are the bad boys in the realm of rangefinders, the top of the pack. Unfortunately, that means they’re also insanely expensive.

I’ve had experience with several rangefinders over the years, but I always go back to my Canon QL-17 GIII. I love the photos that come out of this thing, especially black and whites. It is often referred to as the “poor man’s Leica” because the lens quality was able to produce incredible photos for the price.

Canon Canonet QL-17 GIII

You can find them on used camera forums and eBay for $20-$30. The reason you can find them so cheap is that the light seals are often shot, sometimes the aperture blades are frozen and the shutter speed may be off.

If you are lucky enough to find one that only needs the light seals replaced, it’s a relatively easy and cheap fix (we’re talking $12-$15 for the new seals) if you do the repair yourself.

Light Seal Replacement on my Canon Canonet QL-17 GIII

Photo Sample

Canon Canonet QL-17 GII – Kodak B&W T-MAX400

You’ve Convinced Me, So What About Film?

First and foremost, find a reputable local camera lab and give them a call. They’ll tell you what kind of film they’re able to handle as well as what they can print and what sort of print medium they can print on.

Don’t be shy about admitting you’re a film beginner. In fact, I encourage it. Otherwise, they’ll assume you know what you’re doing and you may miss out on some very important lessons while working with your photo lab. After you’ve developed your first couple of rolls, feel free to see if there are other services that are cheaper (including online) if you’re so inclined.

I recommend your local camera shop because I’m a believer in supporting your local industry. And, as I eluded to, you can learn a lot by asking questions and dealing with your lab in person.

Negative and Slide Film

Generally speaking, there are two types of film; slide film and negative film. I’m going to focus on negative film, it’s the easiest (and cheapest) to work with. As you progress, you may want to dabble with slide film as it can technically produce better prints than negatives can and slide longevity is much greater than negatives (which start to deteriorate well within a decade).

Film Speed

Next up is film speed. ISO speeds in digital cameras came from the ISO film rating system and the same principles apply. The larger the ISO number, the less light you’ll need to expose your scene on the film negative.

What I would recommend is starting with an ISO400 film (or thereabouts) so that you have a little more latitude with available light. Any higher and you’ll really start to see a lot of film grain and any lower will require sunlight or lots of interior light, more than a typically lit room in your house will provide.


You may have heard that some people store batteries in their refrigerator. Well, I have no idea if that does anything for batteries or not, but it certainly does for film. I store all of my film in the fridge. Why? Film is made of chemicals that start to break down as heat is introduced. The warmer it gets, the faster it deteriorates.

If you keep your film cold, the process is slowed, although never completely stopped. It doesn’t matter whether you keep your film in the fridge or the freezer, there are no ill effects to film if you freeze and defrost it. However, I keep mine in the fridge so that I can use it immediately instead of waiting for it to thaw.


Here’s some film that I’ve used over the years. I shoot B&W Kodak T-MAX400 almost exclusively these days, although I do pop in a roll of T-MAX100 once in a while. As for color, I can’t remember the last time I used a color negative film slower than 400. I would probably recommend starting with TMX400 if you’re interested in B&W, I find it to be very versatile. Again, call up your local shop and make sure there will be no problems developing whatever film you decide to use.

Black & White

Slow: Ilford Pan F50
Mid/Fast: Plus-X, FP4,Tri-X, T-MAX400


Slow: Kodak Gold 100, Fuji Super G 100
Mid/Fast: Kodak Professional Portra / Royal Gold 400, Fuji NPH

Important Note

When you buy your first used film camera, make sure to put a roll of cheap color film through it and have your photo lab develop straight to a CD so that you can check for possible issues with the camera. You’ll be able to see if there are light leaks, if the shutter is off or the aperture blades are malfunctioning.

I also recommend getting yourself a light meter or using your digital camera to meter (if you have one, of course). Write down the readings and compare them with the photos you get back to determine if your film camera has a metering problem.

Wrap Up

I know you’ll have many questions when you buy that first film camera and run that first roll through it, and a lot of it will be trial and error. But I hope this article will be enough to get you started and I encourage each of you to at least try shooting a couple rolls of film.

I’ve provided some options that cost next-to-nothing, so even if you don’t enjoy yourself, you’re not out that much cash. I’m betting you’ll have a blast!

Just be careful, it can become very addicting very quickly. Before you know it, you’ll be buying developer chemicals and trying to figure out which room in your house you can get away with turning into a darkroom!

All photos © Shane Parker Photography


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).


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.


7 Reasons to return to film photography.

A quick look on eBay will reveal thousands of low use, high quality film cameras for incredibly low prices. It is perhaps the best time ever to buy a film camera, but why would you want to go back to film when today’s digital cameras produce such stunning images. Well, here are some reasons.

The Look of Film.

Many photographers today spend huge amounts of camera time and post processing time to try and recreate the film look. There is a definite and pleasing look to the quality of film, it’s impossible to describe with mere words and it’s not necessarily a better look than digital, its just different. So the easiest way to create the film look?  Use a film camera.

The Feel of Film

Maybe it sounds a little crazy, but those of us brought up in the days of Kodak, Fuji, Agfa and Ilford will tell you there is something very special about putting your hands into your pocket and pulling out a roll of film. Placing the leader of a roll of 35mm into a Nikon, unwrapping a roll of 120, whilst trying not to expose too much of the film to light, simple skills that marked you as a photographer.

The Cost

It might seem odd that I include the cost as a reason to return to film but bear with me on this one. Every time you put a roll of film in your camera, it has cost you money. That cost continues with the development and printing. Every time you take a poor picture, it has cost you, personally. But the counterpoint to that is that every time you a good picture, you will appreciate the value of your knowledge of photography. It’s too easy these days to rely on the camera to create the image. Delete the poor ones keep the good ones. When you have to pay for each image, you will learn to make each one count, and that will stand you in good stead when you return to your DSLR.

Learning to Understand Exposure.

The previous reason, leads us onto learning exposure. Although film is generally regarded to have a higher tonal range than digital, is has a lower tolerance to incorrect exposure, especially if you are using transparency. An underexposed image cannot be recovered by merely shifting the levels, it needs to be right when the shutter clicks and you need to understand what is happening when the exposure is made.

Understanding Color Temperature

Unlike a digital camera where you can set a color balance or let the camera do it automatically, you have to buy the right type of film for the right type of light. The first time you use a roll of daylight film under tungsten lighting, you will start to understand the importance of the color of light.

Pro Cameras at Low Prices

For many of us former film users, cameras like Nikon F5’s, Hasselblads, even Leica’s, were the stuff of dreams. They idea of one day owning one of these marvels of imaging fueled our passion for photography. Take a quick trawl through eBay today, and you will find mint quality samples of these cameras for less than the price of a base level DSLR.

Do it Yourself

For aficionados of the digital darkroom this may sound odd, but getting your hands dirty by developing and printing your own films is in my personal opinion, one of the great highlights of film photography. Its easy enough to make a temporary darkroom in not much more space than it you would need for a desktop computer and A3 printer. The sight of a large black and white print, slowly revealing itself under the gloom of a red safe light should thrill even the most hardened digital darkroom enthusiast.

So there you have it, if you have a hankering for trying out film, there are little or no obstacles. Trawl through eBay, or your local camera store, bag yourself a bargain. Most professional camera stores still sell film and will also know where you can get it developed and printed. If at the end of the day you still prefer digital, old film cameras make great ornaments for your home.