Best Film for Pentax K1000 (with sample photos)

If you’re looking for the best film for your Pentax K1000, you’re in the right place! Since it’s more of a budget-friendly film camera, the one criteria in writing this article were to keep the film stocks on the budget end as well.

Before getting to my favorite film stocks for this camera, I’m going to go over the 3 different film stocks you can choose from and some things you should consider when shooting film.

The 3 Different Film Stocks

Color Negative

image of ford truck at sunset

When you think of film photography and the photos you have seen in old family albums, you probably think of color negative film stocks. What I like most about color film is that there is such a huge variety of different film stocks to choose from and each has its own unique characteristics.

Yes, you do get variation between the different black and white film stocks as well, but I think the different characteristics you get with color negative is much more apparent.

So far, I have not tried to develop and scan color negative at home as you have to control the temperature of the developing chemicals a little more. In addition, the chemicals to develop are also more expensive per roll and I have found the colors of professional lab scans to be better.

Black and White

image of dog in black and white

Black and white film is one of the best and cheapest types of film you can put through your Pentax K1000 film camera. One cool aspect of shooting with black and white film is that it completely changes your mindset around taking photos when compared to color negative film. Because you’re not focused on the colors of a scene, you end up focusing more on finding unique light and shadows in an image.

Another nice characteristic of black and white film is that it’s surprisingly easy to develop and scan at home using a mono bath solution like Cinestill DF96 and a Paterson Developing Tank.

When you’re first getting started, I’d recommend you to send your film to a professional lab to scan and develop, but eventually, you should definitely try to do it yourself!

Slide Film

image of slide film being held up

Slide film is easily the most expensive type of film to shoot with and to develop, so it’s probably better to start off with black and white film or color negative film.

The cool thing about slide film is that it’s color reversal film and produces a positive color image after you develop it, so you can see exactly how your photo looks on the film. It is also known for having a higher resolution, better sharpness, and more vivid colors than color negative film.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Film Stock for your Pentax K1000

Film Speed

Most film stocks that you come across will have a stated box speed, which is the ISO or ASA of the film stock. You will most likely see 100, 200, 400, and 800 speed films but there are also film stocks like Cinestill 50d with an ISO of 50 and Ilford Delta 3200 with an ISO of 3200.

One thing to keep in mind about the stated box speed in film photography is that some film stocks perform better overexposed, some perform better at box speed, and some film stocks can even be pushed by 1 – 2 stops with great results.

When you push the film, you can shoot at 1, 2, or even 3 stops higher than the stated box speed, which will give you greater flexibility in lower light situations. Just remember to tell your lab how many stops you pushed your film when you’re getting it developed.

The ISO represents how sensitive the film is to light. The lower the ISO, the “slower” the film stock is, and the less sensitive it is to light. Slower film stocks tend to perform the best in bright light situations like on a sunny day and don’t do very well in low light situations unless you use longer shutter speeds.

On the other hand, higher ISO film stocks like 800 and 3200 are “faster” film stocks and are more sensitive to light. These faster film stocks are more flexible and can work much better in low light situations. Higher ISO film usually has more grain which can be a pro or con depending on your style.

Overall Aesthetic of the Film Stock

image of clouds

Every film stock has a different aesthetic, and each brand is known for a different look. For example, Kodak film stock is known to be warmer, Fujifilm film stock is known to be cooler, and specialty film stock like Cinestill is known to give the highlights in your photo a unique halation effect.

The most fun part about film photography is to try as many different film stocks as you can. Eventually, you’ll find which ones fit your style the best and are your favorites to shoot with.

Developing and Scanning Film

Having a professional lab develop and scan your photos is the best way to start out. You’ll save a lot of time, get the best results, and you’ll get to figure out if you want to continue with film photography before investing in additional equipment.

The downside is that sending your film to a professional lab is the most expensive route to take. The price for developing and scanning film is usually around $15 – $20 per roll of 35mm or 120 films depending on where you go, so the costs can add up quickly.

If you don’t have a professional camera lab who will develop and scan film in your area, here are my favorites that take mail-in orders:

If you know you’re going to stick with film photography, you should definitely try to develop and scan your own film at some point! What surprised me is that it’s much more accessible and easy than I thought it would be. Yes, you will have to pay for the additional equipment, but once you’re set-up, you can save a good amount of money in the long run.

Where to Buy 35mm Film?

photo of many different film stocks

After many hours of researching, here are my favorite places to shop for film and why I like going through them.

  • The Shot on Film Store: An awesome film store in the Seattle area that offers free shipping on orders over $49. They carry a large selection, however, prices have recently increased a little.
  • Freestyle Photographic Supply: A huge supply of different film stocks at a great price. Unfortunately, they don’t have a free shipping option.
  • Adorama: Free shipping options are available. Another good choice for a wide selection of film stock at a fair price.
  • Amazon: Surprisingly, Amazon is quickly becoming one of the best places to buy film after taking into consideration shipping fees and customer service especially if you’re an Amazon Prime member.
  • eBay: eBay is a great place to look if you want to buy expired film stock to try.

If you have any questions about particular film stocks and want to speak to someone, give The Shot on Film Store a call. They are always very helpful when I have questions.

Best Film for Pentax K1000

image of pentax k1000 film camera on white counter

You really will get beautiful results with any film stock that you put through the Pentax K1000. Where I think budget-friendly cameras like the Pentax K1000 are perfect for, though, is as a camera that you take everywhere with you to document your life.

As a go everywhere type of camera I actually think the best 35mm film for the Pentax K1000 is more budget-friendly consumer film stocks like Kodak Gold, Kodak ColorPlus, and Fujifilm C200.

The great thing about these film stocks is that they’re cheap enough that you don’t have to worry too much about each photo you take, but they will still give you incredible results.

I have also thrown in Kodak Portra 400 and Ilford HP5 Plus into the mix as they are two of my favorite film stocks to shoot with right now. These are more expensive film stocks, but I want to show you how they look in case you want to try them out too.

Kodak ColorPlus 200

image of restaurant at sunset

You can sometimes find this film stock at about $1 cheaper than Kodak Gold making it the cheapest color negative film stock from Kodak. Don’t let the cheap price fool you though.

This is another great consumer-level film stock with vintage warm vibes. Compared to Kodak Gold, it’s slightly flatter and less saturated, so if you typically go for a desaturated look and want to keep the warmer tones, this could be the film stock for you.

Many film photographers call this the cheap person’s Portra, which should give you a good idea of the quality of this film stock.

It is a 200-speed film, so if you want to shoot in low light conditions you will have to use slower shutter speeds, flash, and maybe a tripod. For a more detailed look into this film stock, make sure to check out my Kodak ColorPlus 200 Review too!

  • ISO (ASA): 200
  • Best Shot At: It’s best shot slightly overexposed. Try shooting it metered at 100 ISO


image of dog in front of green bush
image of dog in bed
image of dog by sign
image of dog by sign

Kodak Gold 200

image of ford truck at sunset

A classic Kodak film stock with rich, warm, vintage, saturated colors that is a great value at its price point. The film stock works best to capture those summertime vibes, so think bright sunny long days and epic sunsets.

It is a 200-speed film, so if you want to shoot in low light conditions you will have to use slower shutter speeds, flash, and maybe a tripod.

If you want to see my experience shooting with this film stock at Mount Rainier National Park, make sure to check out my Kodak Gold 200 Review too!

  • ISO (ASA): 200
  • Best Shot At: It’s best shot slightly overexposed. Try shooting it metered at 100 – 160 ISO.


image of clouds at sunset
image of storefront
image of hamburger store
image of inside of a hamburger stand

Fujifilm C200

image of store front

Fujifilm C200 is another awesome budget-friendly consumer-level film stock to try out. Overall, it has a cooler color palette than Kodak Gold and Kodak ColorPlus, so if you’re not the biggest fan of the warmer tones of the two Kodak film stocks, the Fujifilm could be a good fit for you.

It is a 200-speed film, so it works best in situations with a lot of light.

  • ISO (ASA): 200
  • Best Shot At: Best shot slightly overexposed. Try shooting it metered at 100 ISO or at box speed of 200 ISO


image of sky
image of front of KFC

Kodak Portra 400

image of mountain range

Moving on to my favorite pro-level film stock, Kodak Portra 400. It produces crazy beautiful soft colors that make any scene you shoot have a romantic airy feel to it. The film stock is also a favorite of portrait photographers as it renders very accurate skin tones and keeps an insane amount of detail in the image.

One of the best parts about Portra 400 is its wide exposure latitude and its 400 speed. Because of this, you have greater flexibility in making mistakes as the film stock can handle underexposure or overexposure very well.

The downside is that this film stock is about double the price of Kodak Gold or Kodak ColorPlus so it’s better for special occasions, trips, or professional work.

It is a 400-speed film, so it gives you more flexibility with different lighting conditions than a 200-speed film.

  • ISO (ASA): 400
  • Best Shot At: Best shot overexposed by 1 stop. Try shooting it metered at 200 ISO although it works great at the box speed of 400 ISO too.


image of donut shop at night
image of girl with hat
image of spread of food
dog and girl in bed

Ilford HP5 Plus

Ilford HP5 Plus is one of the most popular black and white film stocks and is my favorite to use right now. It gives you a classic black and white look and is extremely flexible in its ability to be pushed.

It gives you great details, a lighter contrast, and very smooth grain. The best part is that for the quality of the film stock, it’s not very expensive, so it’s a great way to see if black and white photography is for you.

It is a 400-speed film, so you have more flexibility in different lighting situations than a 200-speed film. It also performs very well pushed 1 or 2 stops to 800 ISO and 1600 ISO.

Note: If you do push your film, make sure to tell your lab you did so when you send it in for development.

  • ISO (ASA) 400
  • Best Shot At: It performs very well at the box speed of 400 or even pushed to 800 and 1600.


image of suburb in black and white
image of cloud over street in black and white
image of dog in shadows in black and white
image of dog on the sidewalk in black and white


These are my 5 favorite film stocks for the Pentax K1000 right now, but it’s just my opinion. As I mentioned before, the best thing you can do is to try out as many film stocks as you can to see what fits with your photography style. Film photography is highly personal and that is what makes it such a great form of photography.

What film stock is your favorite to use with your Pentax K1000? Did I miss any?

9 thoughts on “Best Film for Pentax K1000 (with sample photos)”

  1. Thanks so much for this, Tom! I am just starting to use the K1000, it was my mother’s from her high school photography class. This article was SO helpful. Cant wait to give this a try.

  2. hello! i just got a new k1000 passed down to me, not sure if i should get the external flash, or do i just use it as it is? good read and so excited to try out the camera soon!

    • Hi Sandra! Very lucky and hope you have fun with the camera! I think that’s up to you. I don’t use an external flash and typically use 200 speed film. Just make sure the light condition is ok based on film you’re using and you should be fine 🙂

  3. Hello , I recently got a Pentax 1Q zoom 155s I’m trying to find the correct film to purchase for it. Thank you for your help greatly appreciated!


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