Old film discovered in my Pentax K1000

I pulled my old Pentax K1000 off a shelf recently and decided to try shooting it again, only to discover that it still had film in it – it was just sitting there waiting to be used.  I didn’t know when I had last used it, but figured it was around the time I got my first digital camera.  There were still a few shots left, so I put a new battery in the camera so I could use the light meter, shot the rest of the roll and had it developed.  Turned out it was loaded with Kodak Tmax 400 film.  Judging from the age of my son in the shots, this film sat in the camera for about ten years, and no doubt endured some hot weather during that time.  The images on the negs came out extremely thin, like they were severely underexposed, and very low contrast – so that apparently is what happens as Tmax ages. The images that I shot recently were just as thin as the ones shot nine years ago, so it didn’t seem to make a difference if the film was exposed when the film was new, then sat, or if it aged before being shot.  I did some major curves adjustments in Lightroom to pull out these images.  The first two images are old ones, the other two are recent ones.  The image of the leaves has the end of the roll visible at the left edge.

The old K1000 seems to still work great.  I got this camera as a gift from my parents when I was in high school, and I’m sure I’ve shot way more photos on it than any other camera.  Picking it up again after all these years, it took no time at all to feel comfortable shooting it and knowing right where the few controls are (right at your fingertips on a couple simple dials, not hidden inside an electronic menu).

The lens that I have on it is a Tokina f:2.8 28mm that I bought in college.  I had wanted a wide angle lens but couldn’t afford much at the time, and this was a pretty cheap lens — but in my opinion it turned out to be a pretty darn good lens.  I shot for years with that one lens after my 50mm got dropped and broken (it was on the camera at the time, and the camera was fine).  I love the wide angle of that 28mm focal length, and some of my favorite images were shot with it.

Mat Marrash wrote a nice article about the K1000 as the perfect starter camera on the Film Photography Podcast site. It was a perfect starter camera for me.  Using a basic full-manual camera like this is a great way to learn.

I’m looking forward to shooting this camera some more.

I wonder how many half-shot rolls of film are sitting in other peoples’ cameras.  There might be some great family memories just waiting to be developed.


6 Comments on “Old film discovered in my Pentax K1000”

  1. Jim says:

    Wow, how cool is that, to find a long-forgotten roll of film?

    My brother bought me a K1000 (used, of course) for Christmas, so I’ll soon get to know its controls.

  2. Kenneth Houston says:

    Hello Rick,

    I know I have about 2 dozen shot rolls of 35mm film unprocessed in a box in my office. God knows what is on them, but after reading your thread I need to send all of those off to see what great surprises await! Stories like yours are what keeps me inspired to shoot film. Cheers!

  3. Matt says:

    Hi Rick,

    I know this is a tired old warhorse of a topic, but what are you using for batteries? I’ve tried the Weins and found them dismally short-lived. I found out that, as part of a CLA, my fine old OM-1’s can be calibrated to use standard cheapo silver-oxide cells. Is that something you would ever consider for the K-1000?

    By the way, I love the old Pentaxes. My first decent camera was a Spotmatic and I wish I still had it.


    • Rick Schuster says:

      Hi Matt,
      Thanks for reading.
      Luckily the K1000 takes a simple A76, S76, or LR44 or SR44 watch battery, so I don’t have that issue with this particular camera. But I use the Wein Cells on other cameras, and in my Gossen light meter, so I know what you’re saying about the short lifespan. I’ve read of other people using some kind of hearing aid battery, that I think (if memory serves me) might last even shorter amount of time, but are cheaper. Or some people just use an alkaline battery that’s 1.35v instead of 1.5v, and they calculate how many stops their meter will be off. Or you can get an adapter, which is a bit expensive up front, but might save money in the long run if you use it a lot. I’ve never tried them. If you’re having a CLA done anyways, and it doesn’t cost much more to convert the camera to a modern battery, I’d probably do that.
      I’ve just been sticking with the Wein Cells as I need them. Sometimes I’ll swap from one camera to another while it’s still working.

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