Vintage photography blog

The indomitable Pentax K1000 SLR (single lens reflex) 35mm film camera.

 

 

Here is an image making gem which deserves it’s place in history.  So simple to use and very difficult to break. Solid, all metal body.

Like all delicate instruments, cameras need to be cared for, stored properly and used regularly.

Created by the Asahi Optical Company in 1976 with a manufacturing run lasting until 1997. Extraordinary for any camera. Simple and sturdy.  Pentax K mount lenses offer a range of focal lengths with the camera body usually sold with the excellent 50mm f2 lens.  Other K mount lens could be added as accessories. Everything about the K1000 is manual with the only electrical component being the light meter. No battery is required to fire the shutter, meaning being away in the bush, remote from any source of fresh batteries, you can still make pictures using the ‘sunny 16’ rule.

An L or SR44 button battery is required for the meter and these are available in nearly all supermarkets.  The light meter system is based on a cadmium sulphide cell using a viewfinder match needle to indicate over or under exposure. Adjust aperture on the lens and/or shutter speed on the top plate control wheel. When slightly lifted this control wheel also sets the film speed. The K1000 max shutter speed is 1/1000th which is not to bad considering 70s and 80s rangefinders mostly max out at 1/500th.

Of course focus is manual,  with turning the lens focusing ring bringing the image in the micro-prism centre into sharp focus. With split image focusing all vertical lines visible through the finder will be split into upper and lower. Turn the focus ring to bring the verticals into precise alignment.

You certainly know you have taken a photo as the shutter is LOUD.  I don’t mind this as I like handling vintage cameras that do what they are supposed to without any ambiguity.  Arm your K1000 with the legendary 50mm F2 – a combination which will satisfy most regular photographic needs.  The 28mm F2.8 takes care of any wider angle requirements.  There is a 135mm F3.5 which is good for portrait work.

Taking a step back into film photography can be frustratingly expensive but with a well cared for K1000 any potential frustration can be minimised, especially as cost is quite moderate. An A quality K1000 body and 50mm F2 lens combination can come in between NZ$180 - $260.

We have 3 Pentax K 1000s in stock, body only or with lens choices ranging from NZ$249 - NZ$286 GST incl. (A to A+ condition)

Voigtlander Perkeo II medium format

What a joy to finally put my hands on this little medium format Voigtlander from the early 1950s. Perkeo means pigmy and for a medium format machine it is really small.  Closed it is 125mmlong x 85mmhigh x 50mm deep.  Easy to keep in your camera bag or even in a large coat pocket. This year it will be 66 years old. I doubt many digital cameras from today will be around in 66 years time.  One word to describe the condition – superb.  Precision German engineering from that era stands out. This example can’t have seen much use since it’s birth as cosmetically and operationally it is near perfect. Well, now it has come of age, and it is going to be carefully used.  Everything works as it should with the film loading a little different from the 35mm rangefinders I am used to. Some of these differences are to do with the Perkeo’s  medium format design, some to do with loading 120 roll film rather than the standard 35mm from a cassette.  It is actually a bit easier than some 35mm cameras.

I loved my first Perkeo so much that I invested in a second, but this time with the Synchro-Compur shutter which increases the shutter speed range from 1/300 to 1/500, giving a little more scope under bright conditions. That these Voigtlanders have survived over 60 years of working life is tribute to their manufacturing robustness.

The Perkeo produces a 6 x 6 transparency on 120 roll film giving 12 images, or if you’re careful 13. The empty take up spool goes into the left hand spool recess with the new film on the other side. Before placing the new film in place gently release the paper film retainer being careful not to let the film unravel. There is quite a long leader on these films so there is no immediate danger of exposing  actual film. It would have to unravel quite some way before this could happen.  The Perkeo II has an ingenious mechanism to prevent double exposures.  Once the film leader is securely inserted in the take up spool and the film is running true, before the back door is closed the film counter mechanism lever should point to the right, allowing the film to wind freely. Close the back door, open the red film number window and wind on the film slowly until #1 comes into view. Wind very slowly paying close attention to the film window as it is very easy to wind on past #1. Close the red window and move the counter lever to the left. Now the film can only be wound to the next exposure, the next frame # appearing in the frame counter window on the right of the top plate.  And so on until the last frame at #12. Importantly the shutter will not release until the film is wound on to the next frame, thus preventing double exposures.

Focusing is old school, zone focus, or as Voigtlander characterises it ‘snapshot settings’. There is no inbuilt rangefinder or light metering. If you are street shooting preset the lens to the triangular mark which is for subjects from 2.5M – 5M. For sufficient depth of field to achieve sharp focus the aperture should at least F8.  Good daylight is needed to allow a suitable hand held shutter speed,  1/30 minimum. Slower shutter speeds require firm camera support, preferably a secure tripod. For more distant subjects from 5M to infinity set to the round distant focus mark keeping the aperture to F8 or smaller.  The larger the aperture number, the smaller the aperture opening and the greater the depth of field. A handy accessory for the Perkeo is an external rangefinder which will slip into the accessory shoe. Larger apertures can then be used with confidence of sharp subject focus. Another very useful accessory is a hand held light meter. You probably already have one but if not I can recommend the Sekonic Twinmate. Small, simple and quick to use.  These 2 accessories are not truly needed to successfully shoot the Perkeo but they give confidence that each frame will have sharp focus and be correctly exposed.

The Perkeo is a well made, engineered camera with all parts precision fit, yet it is not hard to damage with careless use. The bellows are the obvious weak point, but this can be repaired or a new bellows fitted. The open/close mechanism for the baseboard is solid, durable and will be troublefree so long as care is taken to investigate any stiffness – never force the baseboard to close.

The Voigtlander Perkeo II is a beautifully made precision instrument and deserves to be used and treated with care.

Use Minolta MD mount and Pentax PK mount lenses with your Sony full frame mirrorless E mount.

This is a great way to make use of some excellent quality lenses you may have in your gear cupboard or can purchase inexpensively for the quality gained. Using a standard lens – body mount adapter the lens focal length is not changed, but there is no auto focus or exposure. The Sony mirrorless system has the marvellous focus peaking feature which clearly lights up in the viewfinder or on the screen when  focus is achieved manually. Set the aperture (aperture priority) on the lens according to your scene conditions and the effects you are after then set the shutter speed manually on the camera. Perfect shot. A little slower to set up and shoot than using a Sony or Zeiss AF E-mount lens but the satisfaction gained from being able to use a much wider range of legacy lenses is definitely worth it, to say nothing of the price differential. A Zeiss Batis 25mm F2 is about $1700 whereas a 28mm F2.8 Minolta MD is around $180 plus the adapter at about $45. We use the K&F Concept adapters and have very good success with these. Consider these inexpensive, yet high quality options.

Olympus 35 RC rangefinder

 

There are several cameras I can take with me travelling – they are all good image makers, some digital, most film. I have a choice between 35mm or medium format. The MFs are too large to take far, except the wonderful little Perkeo from Voigtlander which shoots 120 film producing a 6x6 image. But on this trip I decided on my Olympus 35RC for 3 reasons – it is very small, it has a great lens and shooting is foolproof. In auto setting with an appropriate shutter speed selected, shoot away but if the RC can’t select an aperture to suit your shutter speed choice then the shutter locks. No blown out pictures to discover when you get home.  Everything just works with the RC – no fiddly buttons or knobs to adjust, only the rangefinder focus which is quick and easy. Depending what your image target is, the focus can be pre adjusted to suit street shooting or landscape infinity. Especially useful on the street where the image possibility can evaporate fast.  The only slight bugbear with the RC is the positioning of the aperture ring. Quite thin and right next to the body. Hard to grip but no problem if you’re in ‘A’ mode.  Even if you’re shooting full manual, usually aperture is not adjusted for each and every shot, so only a small niggle for an otherwise great and faultless travel camera.  Uses an MRB 625 1.35V Wein cell battery which we carry in stock.

 
 
 

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