I’m often asked what film camera I would recommend someone starting out in film photography. So i’ve created a quick comparison piece focusing on the common conundrum of ‘shall I get a manual or automatic’. Here I am comparing two cameras I own and know well, a Pentax K1000 (manual) and a Pentax Espio 160 (automatic). Both can be found relatively cheap and easily.
Pentax K1000 Pentax Espio 160
Due to its automatic winding mechanism the Espio takes the control out of your hands and makes it very easy to load your film and I am yet to have any trouble with it. The K1000 on the other hand, often has trouble with exposing the first couple of frames correctly (above) but this doesn’t affect the rest of the role.
A negative of the automatic winding system is the inability to create multiple exposures hassle free. Unlike manual which makes it (almost) enjoyable to take the leap of faith:
The manual 2.8/50mm lens allows great versatility with the focus, if your just starting out it’s great fun to play with the focus and see what results you can get. Although sometimes it can be more miss than hit:
Espio 160With the viewfinder not showing what the lens is capturing its hard to know what the automatic focus is going to literally focus on. Capturing something up close is often helped by the use of flash. If your taking photos purely for fun then it can be great fun testing out a cameras capabilities by taking a few varied shots of the same subject.
I always take my Espio with me when I’m out at night (Below). It comes into its own as you will really struggle focusing manually when you cant see anything. Instead use automatic, turn on the flash and wait for your surroundings to light up.
Although taking away the ability to snap a decent shot everywhere you look without thinking, manual settings allow you to take your time and really enjoy the process. Due to the low light conditions of the above shot I selected the aperture and shutter speed needed to capture the effects of the candle without bleaching everything out using flash.
Lacking shutter speed and aperture settings the Espio does allow long exposures:
Overall they are both great, reliable cameras. If you don’t want to worry about settings or fiddling with the focus than the Espio or something similar is a great choice. It is very light and a solid choice for that camera that you leave in your bag. It works really well as a snapshot camera and comes into its own at night.
If your looking to get more involved with the film process and want to learn what affects what then I couldn’t recommend the Pentax K1000 enough.
I regularly upload my film snaps to my Instagram @madisonbeachphotos