Why the Pentax K1000 is the best 35mm film camera for starting photography.
A little History on the Pentax K1000
Produced from 1976-1997 this 35mm SLR has been one of photography's most popular cameras. The popularity of this camera stems from the simplicity and reliability of the design. This is a no frills camera that will shoot without any batteries! The camera does use an A76 cell battery to power the light meter, however, the shutter is all mechanical so you can still shoot without the light meter (I have had days ruined due to my Canon AE-1 Program battery being dead or dying on me). The camera has three shooting controls: aperture, shutter speed, and focus. This is one of the reasons this camera has been recommended for photography students. With just three controls to worry about photography theory is ingrained early on and you can pick up any other camera later and shoot some badass photos.
Finding a Camera
Since this camera was in production for over 30 years, you can always find one for sale at a decent price. The K1000 was produced in Japan, China, and Hong Kong. The best quality ones were all metal and produced in Japan. An easy way to tell if it was a Japan model is to look for ASAHI & AOCo engraved on the prism. Prices for the camera have been going up and you can expect to pay more for an ASAHI one. I found my camera from an older lady in 2019 on Facebook marketplace. She lived in Alabama and I was not going to drive a whole day to pick it up. So, after stalking her Facebook profile and deciding that she really was just an awesome grandma and not a scammer - I contacted her. We decided I would mail her a cashiers check for $80 bucks plus shipping and she would ship the camera and two lenses to me. I HIGHLY DO NOT RECOMEND DOING THIS! I have had many friends ripped off from Facebook market place by sending money through the mail. Luckily grandma was awesome and my camera arrived safe and sound (I was willing to risk the loss if it didn't pan out). I would recommend Facebook market place for in person meetings or eBay! I've had great experiences with eBay cameras. Just buy from a seller who has great ratings and sells/refurbishes lots of cameras.
The Pentax k1000 is a Tank!
Over the years I have fallen in love with my Pentax K1000. Just because this is a no frills camera doesn't mean the photos it takes can't be thrilling. If I am going out of town, this camera is always thrown in my bag with the Pentax-M 1:2 50mm lens. From portraits, details, and nature shots - this combo does it all beautifully for me. I highly recommend picking one up and keeping it close. This camera will never be sold by me and has a special place in my heart as I learned to develop my own film while shooting with it.
Please enjoy the photos below that were shot on my Pentax K1000. All photos were shot and developed by me in my home studio. Notice I included a few scratched up photos from me learning how to load film in a changing bag into a Paterson tank - imperfections and artifacts of the analog adventure.
Portraits & People-Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm
Places & Things-Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm