Written by Samantha Stortecky
Ok you guys, let’s get this party started! I’m here to tell you about this amazing little camera, the Pentax A3000 35mm camera (Find at KEH Camera or on eBay). This camera has been my baby for the past year. It follows me everywhere and about 98% of my personal images are shot with this little beauty!
I first stumbled on this camera at a yard sale last autumn. It was in a big bag with several other lenses, just sitting on top of a table patiently waiting for me to scoop it up and save it from a lifetime of collecting dust. I ended up buying the camera and three other lenses to go with it all for a whopping $30! Talk about a crazy steal!
Technical Details of the Pentax A3000
Pentax released this SLR camera in 1984, and it features a K mount for its lenses. It weighs in at 18.7 ounces and takes two AA batteries (which is a huge bonus since AA batteries are so easy to come by). At the time of this article, it looks like you can easily find it on eBay for around the same price as what I found at that yard sale!
When I purchased this camera it came with the Pentax-A lens as well as a Tamron Macro lens (and an unknown brand telephoto lens). As far as my shooting has gone, the original Pentax-A lens has stayed on the camera 100% of the time. In my opinion, the Pentax-A is so universal it’s really the only lens you need with this camera.
Loading and Rewinding the Film
Loading film into the camera is a breeze! Very much like most 35mm cameras, once you put the film roll into the camera’s film chamber, you line the film into the proper sprockets, close the back, press the shutter button, and let the camera do the rest!
With this camera, you need to manually wind the film back into its canister when you’ve finished shooting it. This can be a bit confusing since it automatically winds the film at the beginning of the roll. So many times I thought I was shooting a fully automatic film camera and got confused when it wouldn’t roll the film up at the end of the roll. Oops.
Light Leak Experiments with the Pentax A3000
But have no fear, this manual winding of the film makes for the perfect opportunity for light leaks because you get to control when and where you expose your film to light! I recently experimented with doing light leaks by winding the film up four full winds and then pulling the lever up to release the back and then immediately closing the back to let in a tiny bit of light. Then rinse, lather, repeat! Just don’t forget that after closing the back, to press the film release button on the bottom of the cameras again! If the film doesn’t wind up easily, don’t force it or you’ll tear your film!
I’m such a sucker for light leaks, and I’m in love with the results. Just make sure you don’t open the back any more than what pulling up the lever does on its own, you’ll expose your film to way too much light if you do. I’ve even had good luck without even opening the back and just slapping the bottom of my camera onto the palm of my hand. It jostles the camera just enough to let in a tiny bit of light. Overall, experiment and have some fun with it!
Aperture Priority Mode and the Internal Meter
This camera’s main shooting mode is Aperture Priority AE Mode. This is fancy talk for once you set the films ISO and the aperture on the lens, your camera will automatically find the correct shutter speed for proper exposure.
This can be concerning for most film users because we’re taught to not trust the camera internal meter. And while some cameras do a terrible job with their internal light meter (like the Canon 1V), I’ve found that after shooting numerous rolls of film, this camera does a pretty swell job of finding just the right exposure! Very rarely do I get back an image that is too underexposed to save, and I’ve shot on multiple rolls of expired film with it! Because you don’t have to take the time to use an external light meter, it makes shooting fast-paced images effortless. In my case, it also makes shooting a group of rowdy children super easy. All you need to focus on is… well focusing your lens! Easy peasy!
Why I Love the A3000
One of my biggest pros of this camera is how light it is. I’m one of those photographers who will always hold her camera in her hand rather than using a neck strap. I can’t stand having things hang around my neck, especially the really old and heavy film cameras in my collection (I’m looking at you Pentax 645N). This constant hand-holding inevitably leads to me stuffing my camera in a bag and forgetting about it, which then leads to a ton of missed pictures. Not cool. But because of how light this camera’s weight is, I have absolutely no problem with letting it swing around my neck while I do my thing. It’s made for family events and everyday outings to be captured easily and effortlessly.
Cons of the Pentax A3000
A con for this camera is, like most old film cameras, it doesn’t always work the way it was meant to. When I first bought this camera, I remember bringing it home and trying to figure out how it worked. Because it had spent so much time on a shelf collecting dust, the shutter kept getting stuck in the closed position. I had to fiddle around with it and warm it up to get some life into it again. Even so, a lot of my first rolls of film would come back with random images where the camera’s shutter speed malfunctioned or went off on its own. It’s an older camera, and it will inevitably come with some wear and tear.
Speaking from experience, because of it’s easy to use functions and the fact that it automatically shoots on AV mode, this camera would be a fantastic camera for film beginners! It’s one step up from the Canon AE-1 in my opinion. You still get some manual as well as automatic functions with the camera, and it would be a great stepping stone for people looking to up their film photography game.
It’s also great for at home personal work, which is what I use it for 100% of the time. This little camera always has film loaded and is either sitting on top of my office dresser for easy grabbing when at home or thrown into my purse so that I always have it when leaving the house. I’ve shot almost all of my own personal work with this camera and it has yet to fail me. So if you’re in the market for an easy to use and light 35mm film camera, I can’t recommend this little beauty enough! It’s been, my perfect little sidekick!
Thank you so much, Samantha! Samantha is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and you can check out her other articles here. You can also check out more of Samantha’s work on her website and Instagram.
You can also check out all of our film camera reviews here.