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.