How to Use a Pentax K-1000 35mm Film Camera

Hey, Jon here with Prime Studios and in this video I’m going show you how to use the Pentax K-1000 SLR film camera. Now in my personal opinion, this is the absolute best camera that you can use to learn photography. This isn’t any Pentax K-1000, this is my Pentax K-1000 that I got when I was about 8 or 9 years old and my father taught me how to use it. But now I’m going to show you. The great thing about this camera is that it gives you absolutely everything you need and nothing you don’t and it’s all manual so it’s it’s perfect for learning, so let’s get started. First off is the battery, which is located on the bottom of the camera. It’s this right here. Now the easiest way to get the battery compartment open is to use a quarter. Just go ahead and twist that off and this camera uses a little button battery which is, I believe, a PX76 (LR44) battery. Now this battery is really only for controlling the light meter itself in the camera. That’s all it’s for, because the awesome thing about this camera is that it’s all mechanical. The shutter, the aperture, they’re completely mechanical and don’t require any electricity in order to work. Which means you can technically take pictures without this battery at all you just won’t have a light meter to read off of. So V 76 PX there we go. That’s what it is. Now this is a Varta battery, which I’m the big fan of Varta batteries, and you can see that on the back of the cover here it has the positive symbol, and on the positive symbol the battery right here. So you want to put the battery in this orientation when you put it back in like this. Now for those of you who don’t know how to load film yet in this camera I actually have a whole separate video and have a load film which I’m going to put a link right here (Top Right) on how to do that. But before you do that, you want to make sure and take note on your film of what ISO it is. The ISO is the light sensitivity of the film and it’s going to be measured in a number like this. Here it says 400, so that’s the ISO that we’re going to go with today. Now for the purposes of this video I’m not actually going to load any film so I can show you a couple things. But definitely take note of that. So after you’ve loaded the film you want to go ahead and set your ISO. On this camera the way you do it is around this knob up here. Now if you’ll notice there’s a little window right here. It says ASA, that stands for American Standards association Association instead of ISO. So it’s just an older organization that’s no longer around that would determine things like the sensitivity of film. But the numbers are going to be the same. So the way you do it is you lift up the outer ring on this and as you can see you can turn it and change it to the ISO of the film you just loaded. So I, in this video we’re going to go with 400, so that’s 400 ISO film. This is going to determine what your light meter shows in the viewfinder. So it’s very important that you set that correctly. Now for those of you who don’t know the basics of how an SLR camera works, I actually made a whole other video for that which I’ll put a link right here (Top Right). So you can click on that and that way you’ll understand all the basics of what’s going on with these settings I’m about to show you. So the first setting I can show you is the shutter speed. The shutter speed is controlled by this dial on the top here you actually turn the whole thing. Lifting up the outer ring and turning it that changes the ISO, but turning the whole thing here, that’s actually for shutter speed. All these numbers here indicate fractions of a second. So 1000 is 1/1000th of a second. 125 is 1/125th of a second. And if I go all the way down, if I do 2, that’s half a second or 1/2. If I do 1 that’s one full second. Now if I do “B” that stands for Bulb, meaning as long as I hold down the shutter button the shutter will stay open. So let me cock the camera here and I can hold down the shutter button and the shutter’s still open and then it’ll stay open until I let it go. And I can do something like 1/8th of a second or 1/15th of a second. Now as far as changing the aperture, It’s going to be this ring right here on the lens. The smaller numbers indicate a larger aperture opening which is the iris inside the lens. A bigger number indicates a smaller aperture. So it’s kind of opposites. Now the viewfinder for the K-1000 is very very simple. On the right hand side you’re going to see a needle that can move up and down and you’re going to see a plus and a minus symbol. As a photographer your job is to adjust the shutter speed and the aperture in order to get that needle in the middle. In the middle means that the picture will be properly exposed. Now you can see what happens if I adjust my shutter speed here. If I slow it down, the slower shutter speeds the needle moves up towards the positive mark, meaning my picture is going to be brighter and brighter. If I make my shutter speed faster, so 1/60th of a second, 1/125th of a second, 1/250th of a second then it’s going to go down into the negative, my picture is going to be dark. My goal is to adjust my settings, obviously, to get it right in the middle and when in doubt, overexposing a little bit is usually the best way to go. Now the other thing I can do is to move my aperture. Now if I carefully move my aperture here you can tell that the needle is also moving. Either the shutter speed dial or the aperture ring on the lens itself will adjust that needle, they can go up or down. Next is the focus: the focus ring is on the lens itself, and if I move it here very slowly, you’ll see in the very center is a small circle. Now depending on what the distance is of the objects are trying to focus on is, the circle in the middle will change from fuzzy to clear once it’s in focus. And if it’s really out of focus, it will be very very fuzzy within that circle. Now one very last important thing to remember is that the light sensor in this camera is activated when light actually enters the lens. So that’s the ON-OFF switch, is actually the lens cap itself. So if you want to turn off the light meter, you put on the lens cap. Keep in mind that if you don’t keep the lens cap on when the camera is stored it can be very easy for the battery of the light meter to drain very quickly. So whenever you store your camera or don’t use it make sure to put the lens cap back on the turn off that light meter. Now you’re going to see some other markings on the lens here. Besides the aperture itself, you’re going to see some numbers going from 4, 8, 16, 22…this is referring to what aperture you’re on. So let’s say I’m on f/16 and if I look here I can turn…this is your focusing ring. So this is what you turn to focus the lens. So if I’m say, like this…I have a 16 on this side and a 16 on this side. Now if I look up I can see measurements in Feet and in Meters. What this is telling me is that I’ve– I’m at f/16, my depth of field, or basically the things that are in focus, are between 3 Feet away and about 1 and a half Feet away. So anything that’s between 1 and a half and 3 Feet away from the camera is going to be in focus. Anything in front of me, that’s, in front of 1 and a half Feet or beyond 3 Feet from the camera is going to start to go out of focus at f/16 on this particular lens. That’s what these numbers indicate. And then you can also see it in Meters in the yellow numbers. Now the actual way you take a picture is the shutter button. Which is located right here. Now it’s very obvious, very simple. All you have to do is just push it down. Right now the camera is not cocked, so pushing it down doesn’t do anything. But I can wind with the winding lever here that’s going to advance the film and if I actually had film in here this knob here would turn. If you have film in your camera and it’s not turning when you pull this advance knob then there’s something wrong and your film’s probably not loaded correctly. But now the shutter is cocked, and if I push it down, then it takes a photo. Now let’s say you wanted to activate the shutter here while the camera was on a tripod and you wanted to reduce vibrations. There’s a way you can do that with a tool like this. This is a shutter release cord, a plunger type, which as you can see, as I push down the button, it sticks out this little thing here. You can attach it by screwing it into the top of the shutter button. So whenever I push it then it takes the photo. Now another cool thing you can do with these types of plungers is if you switch your shutter to Bulb Mode, so that the shutter will stay open as long as the shutter is pushed down, well, you can usually find a little mechanism like this, turn the wheel and if I push it down, it will then lock down. And because it’s in Bulb Mode, the shutter is still open and it’s going to stay open until I push down on this little circle thing, if I can turn it here, and then the shutter door closes. So that’s for exposures like on a tripod that are very long, so 10 seconds or 30 seconds or 5 minutes or whatever you want to do. Now an important point for me to make about the winding lever is that I have always gotten into the habit of taking a picture and then immediately winding the film again. Now the problem with this on this camera is that the shutter button does not have any kind of lock switch or anything like that. It does have a little indicator here indicating whether or not it’s wound so if I take a picture, it turns black, if I wind it it turns red. So that’s kind of like is it wound, is it not wound, you can tell just by looking right there. Now the problem with this is that if it’s wound and you, say, place it in your camera bag, you can accidentally hit the shutter button and take a picture when you didn’t mean to and thus waste a picture. So it’s kind of important to remember if you’re about to take a picture and then maybe put the camera back in your bag right away to not wind the film again. Now you can also see as I wind the the winder here and take pictures, I have this little indicator here. This is indicating how many pictures…or what picture I’m on with my current roll of film. Now currently you can buy rolls in either 24 or 36 exposure and keep in mind that every time you wind, this should also be turning because it’s advancing the film across the back here. Now in order to change lenses on the Pentax cameras, the release button is right here. So what you do is you push that down and you turn the lens counterclockwise. Now on Pentax cameras they have a red dot both here on the camera and on the lenses. And this is true of all Pentax cameras, whether it’s older film cameras or their newer digital ones. The really nice thing about Pentax cameras is that I can use this older film lens on a actual Pentax digital camera, and I have a video for that, and I’ll link to it right here on how to do that. But when you’re ready to attach another lens on there all you have to do is line up the two red dots and then twist in a clockwise motion until it clicks. There you go. Now the K-1000 does have the ability to use a flash. Now you have your hot shoe up here, and it’s just a single contact. So it’s just going to make a flash go off. So it’s going to be all manual flash. Just like the rest of the camera is manual. But you’ll notice that there’s a red X. Now on your shutter speed here you’ll notice that 1/60th of a second. There’s also a red X. That’s because that’s your shutter sync speed. Anytime you’re using flash with this camera, you should be using 1/60th of a second. Another cool flash accessory, is if you look here, there’s another red X. This is indicating what’s called the PC sync port. So I can take the little cover off here, and this is actually a little bit older style connector port for what’s called a PC sync cord. So there’s a connector you can push in here, and it’s a cord that runs from the camera to an off-camera flash. So, like for a studio flash or a speedlight flash off-camera, and you can even connect a current radio trigger with the right cord. And as of the making of this video PC sync cords are still pretty widely available. Now once you’re all done taking your pictures, the release button for rewinding the film is on the bottom here. What you do is you just push that down and that’s going to unlock this mechanism here, and then your rewind knob is right here. You can see it says a “R” for rewind and it has a arrow indicating which direction to go. So it actually opens up like this, and you’re going to rewind the film back into its canister all the way until you can, you’ll be able to feel it go all the way back in. Now once you’re done with that you can open up the back of the camera simply by lifting up on the rewind knob and it pops open. Then you can go ahead and take your film out and get it developed. Then you can go ahead and close the camera back up and lock it down. you

Comments 96

  • Thank you very much :).

  • were do you guys develop your film at

  • This video was super helpful!! Thanks.
    I bought the pentax k1000 off a guy on Ebay. The camera's outer body came in a really bad condition. The black colour was completely faded, and it looks very washed up. Any tips on how I can make it look all nice and shiny again? Like is there some specific paint that can be used? Lemme know please, thanks!

  • This was so helpful to me, thank you so much! I'm very excited to go out and try to shoot!

  • Awesome video.

  • i just found one of these in my basement in great condition, but i can't find the lens cap, do you know where to buy one

  • Where can I buy one of these? ☺

  • very helpful video! i had no clue that putting on the lens cap turned off the light meter, i used to take my battery out every time i wasn't using my camera hahaha.

  • The k1000 taught me everything about photography. At first I struggled with depth of field when I relied on the view finder and things kept coming out blurred. So depending on what type of photo I was taking I learnt to set the focus using the depth of field gauge so, if I was doing a landscape with a person in the forground, I set it from 12 ft to infinity and not worry about what I saw through the lens.

  • Beautiful work!!!

  • just ordered one from the link you put in the description… so excited!! Ahhhh!

  • Very clear and thorough. Thank you!

  • Does using a battery make a drastic difference or not, I recently got a Pentax K100 & I'm learning photography on my own. Any tips & advise is useful. (sorry if my English is bad, not my first language)

  • I found you video very information I recently got a lend of a pentax zx-m which I think is the sister of the k1000 they seem to be very similar. Have you ever used a zx-m and if so what did you think of it?

  • You should do a video on the canon ae-1 program

  • how do i get my photos from the film in the end?

  • how can i differentiate the Pentax k1000 made in Japan of the others (China, Taiwan,Hong Kong) ?

  • do you know how to use a Kodak retina reflex 4

  • can someone recommend cameras like Pentax but with micro SD?

  • I bought a k-1000 and it came with a flash. how do I synch it?

  • Is it possible to use 35mm color film with this camera?

  • Great video! Thanks for deepening my knowledge.

  • Thank you so much!

  • please do a video like this about a Pentax MZ-10 film camera 🙂

  • Excellent description of how to use this camera! Question: I am very near-sighted and wear glasses. Does this camera viewfinder have a diopter adjustment? If not, is there a solution since from what I gather it is manual focus only.

  • Somehow weird when somebody talk about a Pentax K1000 as it is some stuff from the Medieval Age. Well, I was just past the teenages when I saw it first time, and really dreamed to have one. Could never afford to buy one, thought. I started with a Praktica TL. Today I have a Pentax K5 (digital). A fantastic camera, but very underrated. Nobody talks about Pentax cameras no more. You may just wonder why.

  • Do you need to buy film for this camera??

  • This is such a well made video. Thank you

  • I think you forgot to mention for the flash setting, that the 1/60th of a second is stating the fastest speed that you can use for flash, but you can also use any speed slower than 1/60th to take flash pictures as well, like when you want to drag the shutter in low light situations, so that you can let some of the background ambient light to brighten up the picture behind your subject.
    That way you can see some of the background, and it will not be like a cave behind a properly exposed subject in most indoor photos, or to take a flash picture of a person, with the shutter speed slowed down to catch a beautiful sunset, for example.
    Still have my k-1000, still love it, because it got me started in real photography. 🙂

  • In my opinion the only camera you will ever need.  Its so simple to use and durable.  Once you master manual camera operations this camera or any other manual unit will seem like an extension of your mind.  I've never owned and will never own a digital camera.   I only wish Pentax still made them.

  • Why does this life saver not have more subscribers?!

  • Very simple and extremely helpful for a beginner! Thank you!

  • Just brought a Pentax K 1000 the light meter seems to be suck in negative, I have not yet loaded it with any film, is that the issue ? If anyone could help me that would be great ✨

  • Very informative and great advice!

  • How do you know what's the best mix between shutter speed and appature, I normally just mix the to randomly until the needles in the middle but should you have certain numbers??

  • great video man thanks so much !

  • How do I fix the problem of the rewind button not turning?

  • Great video

  • I have that exact same camera and i developed and enlarged a black and white photo.

  • One interesting note I don't think you mentioned: (and I remember reading this in the manual oh-so-many years ago) You can use the release on the bottom in conjunction with the advance winder to take intentional double exposures! If you press the button, and advance the film, it will not move the film, but will reset the shutter, and you can take a second photo over the first. I seem to recall this, but it has been decades since I really went through the manual for my K-1000

  • It's ISO, not I.S.O., one word, not an acronym.

  • Got one of these with 5 lenses for 10$.

    For the battery cover, I'd recommend using a nickel over a quarter, as it fits more snugly in the slot.

  • How can you tell how old your Asahi pentix camera is?

  • Hello, I have a question, what if the left knob with the R is turning very slightly, it’s not completely stopped but it’s not rotating fully. Is there a problem with the way I loaded the film? I would appreciate any feedback!

  • FYI:
    ISO meaning is not “International Standards Organization”, a quite common misconception. The corporation, ISO, name is “International Organization for Standardization”.

    Scroll down to where it reads:
    It is all in the name
    Because 'International Organization for Standardization' would have different acronyms in different languages (IOS in English, OIN in French for Organisation internationale de normalisation), our founders decided to give it the short form ISO. ISO is derived from the Greek isos, meaning equal. Whatever the country, whatever the language, we are always ISO.

    Thus it is not I.S.O., it is one word, iso

  • It is not pronounced ISO as in three separate letters. It is a single word, iso.

    ISO meaning is not “International Standards Organization”, a quite common misconception. The corporation, ISO, name is “International Organization for Standardization”.

    Scroll down to where it reads:
    It is all in the name
    Because 'International Organization for Standardization' would have different acronyms in different languages (IOS in English, OIN in French for Organisation internationale de normalisation), our founders decided to give it the short form ISO. ISO is derived from the Greek isos, meaning equal. Whatever the country, whatever the language, we are always ISO.

  • thank you so much for making this video!!! ❤️

  • Very useful! Does anyone know how to set the photo indicator to zero when you start a new film? 😉

  • I feel like the Canon AE-1 is a more user friendly camera to learn on with its film memo on the film door to help you remember what film you're shooting, speed, and how many exposures are on that roll. Along with lack of a shutter button lock and the lens cap acting as the on/off switch, it seems like this camera has some quirks that could make learning photography a little harder

  • This video cured my terminal prostate cancer

  • Hello, I am having trouble with my light meter. It seems to not be very responsive when I move either the shutter speed or aperture. However, it does sort of automatically adjust depending on the lighting. But I am not sure how to make it move to the middle all the time.

  • Thaaaaank you so much for this video. I was given this camera several years ago, and even if I have film photography notions, I have always had questions about this model. Thanks !

  • Thanks for a clear, precise, non-hyped, weird music tutorial on this camera! I'm subscribed now 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing this information! My uncle just gifted me this camera as I am getting into photography as a hobby and I had no clue where to begin!

  • nice, little, clean video …

    only, i hoped you'd done an even better job by also doing what comes below:

    1. showing more detailed ECU (extreme close up) shots of things like the red indicator window that confirms a 'cocked' shutter mechanism … (it's not quite visible in the video at that distance and under the present lighting!)

    2. showing the actual shutter mechanism itself at work when explaining the time difference between those shutter 'values' by opening the camera's backdoor and shooting the video through the film gate itself … (front and rear)

    3. true, the mixed- rewind knob / backdoor opening lever also turns (and confirms) the film is loaded and wound when cocking the shutter via the film-advance lever … but it's not done 'by-default' really UNLESS we also rewind the film a little and gently when after loading the film canister inside the camera and before closing the backdoor … (it's a little tricky thing to do btw as if not done the correct way can cause issues such as scratched emulsion or back surface on the film roll …)

    4. yes, putting the cap back on when the camera's not in use is the right thing to do in order to save lightmeter battery … (as well as just as importantly saving the lens from dust, funji, accidental fingerprints or scratches …) however, if not using the camera for a long time, the battery HAS TO be removed and kept outside its chamber in order to avoid battery leakage that could cause a lot of damage to the entire camera's inside mechanism!

    4a. btw, touching coin batteries by bare fingers is also not a good idea as skin grease and scratches CAN damage such batteries! (from a Pentax MX camera manual of 1976: Handle coin batteries as if you are handling a gramophone record!) 😉

    5. there are 2 'dots' on most Pentax lenses of the time that help us in determining how to align the lens with the bayonet mount on the camera's body:

    5a. the red (orange) dots explained and shown in the video, one on the lens, the other on the bayonet mount

    5b. the white (sometimes red or orange in some other lenses) plastic hemisphere on the lens itself that aligns with the lens release lever … (it's said that was added to the then 'new' K mount Pentax lenses to be of help when changing lenses in the dark … not sure how true that is though but does sound legit enough …) 🙂

    last but not least, the circle in the viewfinder you talked about when talking about focusing the lens is not clearly seen in the video! (maybe it's my laptop's screen and brightness setting?)

  • Thanks so much for this video you saved my life!!🙏🏻

  • my problem is that the needle doesn‘t move. I try to change the numbers of the aperture or the shutter speed but nothing happens and also my battery is new so.. can you pls help me 🙁

  • Thank you. I was given this model by my step father, the view finder has fungus in the inside so i will have to remove the top to clean it but everything works, looking forward to trying it!

  • does anybody have one i can buy lol????

  • This tutorial is great. Can you or someone tell me if this camera is similar to the spotmatic? Thanks

  • Asking for a help here, let's say i bring 2 cameras one is a film camera (mine is the sp500) and the other one is a mirrorless (sony a6500) on a trip or holiday. if i shoot with my SP500 and sony a6500 with the same iso, aperture and shutter speed will the result be the same ? in terms of exposure

  • thanks for the video! I found this camera in a house I helped clean out over the summer, now I'm going to use it for my photo 1 class.

  • I bought my K-1000 and the Pentax LX back in '83 when I lived in Western Alaska. I picked up the K-1000 body to backup my LX. I eventually loaded the K-1000 with B & W 400 and shot color prints with the LX. I'm presently using the Pentax K10 so as to make use of all my old lenses. It seems film photography has come back into fashion. My K-1000 is in mint condition and has had about ten hours of use in its very early days. I still have all the original packaging and receipts. In fifteen years I'll probably take it to Antiques Roadshow and see what gives.

  • 'My father taught me how to use it and now I'm gonna show you.'

    Thanks Dad.

  • film photography is so intimidating but i want to try

  • I just got my first roll developed on my k1000. I am very confused about what I did wrong. Out of 24 pictures, only about 13 came out. Out of those 13, only like 3 were semi-OK. The rest were super dark and grainy. I went with the usual rules, when shooting inside. I set it to 60 speed and 5.6. Those didn't come out at all. Things to note. This roll might have been an expired roll. I don't know if it was expired or not since it was included in a bundle when I bought the camera. So I had the ISO set to 200 (what was on the roll). Pictures shot outside, were at 22 and 16 and speed of 125. Any help, advice , or recommendations welcomed.

  • I've had this camera in my dad's old closet for over fifteen years and this video was so helpful in teaching me that it is NOT broken or too old to use! Thank you so much! 🙂

  • For Pentax Spotmatic veterans, the Pentax K1000 is a cheapened/Made in China facsimile of the original. With no light meter switch, the meter is constantly on when the lens cover is removed, shortening battery life. The workmanship on this camera is slightly more crude than the Pentax original. Users are better off buying a used Pentax Spotmatic and have a shop do a clean/lube/adjustment. The original Spotmatic camera is a smooth operating and well balanced instrument.

  • What about A Mode? When I use it, the needle goes all the Way down

  • lucky enough to find one of these in my garage

  • Really great introduction of film photography

  • Im currently 24 years old and i just bought one of these from my first grade teacher. It came with extra lenses and Accessories. I got it for $40, is that a good price? Can you or someone on here let me know please?

  • Thank you! I now understand how to work this camera 😊

  • I have a simple question for this camera, can this be turned off?

  • Great video. Thanks

  • I can’t move the iso and needle things…

  • you did a great job explaining how this camera works! Thank you for making this

  • My light meter works in reverse I think. When I increase the shutter speed the needle goes up

  • Would you recommend this camera to start out, I saw one when my friend showed it to me and I liked just how it looked.
    I wnat to get into photography, is this a good place to start?

  • so if i dont put a battery? i can take pictures normally without any problems ?

  • Do you recommend black and white or colour film if you’re new to film photography?

  • Very helpful video

  • this walk-through was SO good. everything about the camera was discussed, and done so in a clear and easily understandable way. this encouraged me to get the Pentax I was thinking of buying from a local shop, so woohoo! excited to use this bad boy!

  • THE simple !!
    I also use

  • My dad just gave me his Pentax K1000 tonite as he thought I would enjoy it since I bought a Minolta X-370 two months ago. Funny thing is that last night my mom gave me her Pentax IQZoom AF Macro too XD

  • Great video! Needed a little refresher and this was incredibly helpful. Thank you!

  • Thanks for nice video.

  • I have this camara 23 year old 1996

  • Just a question, we don't need a lr44 (battery) to shoot films ?

  • Does the grip take a battery

  • I've always painted and drew, but now at 38 ,I am thinking about photography. I think I'll look into this more.

  • Great vid! I have a question if anyone wants to answer. My film like ripped apart when I tried to rewind the film… I don't know what happened. Did I load it wrong? Went the wrong way? I don't know but it happened twice and luckily the second time I got the film place to just open it in a black bag. lol >_<

  • Simply Extraordinary

  • After watching this video, I am now able to walk using both my legs

  • My dad owned a camera store in Boston. He had all the top cameras in his private collection. The K1000 was one of them. He always praised it as one of the best made cameras.

  • If I was given a camera when I was 8…….it would have been lost in 3 days

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