Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL Review

Muhammad Ali and my Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL

In the summer of 2011 I found a Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL at a Wilmette, IL, garage sale.

Greg the owner had a Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL.  I didn’t know much about it but I knew it was a heavy, metal SLR from about 40 years ago.  Perhaps I would make an offer on it.

Mamiya-Sekor 1000 DTL, Front View

And then Greg showed me a photograph he took of Muhammad Ali during the early 1970’s at a civil rights rally in Kansas City.  Muhammad Ali was surrounded by huge African-American men (security guards?) and Greg was within that circle as he took his photo.  So here’s my question for Gregg, the previous owner of this Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL:

Gregg, can you scan your Muhammad Ali photos from 40 years ago and send them to me?  Can you give me a date and location for the photos?  Perhaps a little background information?  I certainly won’t share your name on this website.  Thanks Gregg.

That was it for me, I had to buy this Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL that had photographed Muhammad Ali in the early 1970’s.

Provenance or History

This camera photographed Muhammad Ali at a civil rights rally.  It’s a wonderful photo.  I hope the past owner will share that photo with me for this blog post.

My Repairs for the Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL, Broken Light Meter

Bad light meter

Bad light meters are a way of life for old cameras.  This camera is 40-45 years old (manufactured (1968-1973).  That’s why I carry a light meter with me at all time.

I don’t know of any way to repair a bad light meter on a 40 year old camera.  Sometimes its just better to accept the limitations of an old camera and just shoot with it as best you can.

Missing part on film advance

The shutter was missing a top piece when I purchased it.  The shutter advance on the left is missing a top piece.  I constantly had to hand tighten the visible spherical part of the shutter advance counter-clockwise so it wouldn’t fall off the camera.

Mamiya-Sekor 1000 DTL, Missing Part on Shutter Advance

The owner said that wasn’t a problem.  He was kind of right.  I was able to take photos with my light meter.  But I’ll never know if that missing part from the shutter re-wind somehow controlled the light meter.

How does the Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL feel?

It feels heavy and awkward.  But that’s just one person’s opinion.

Nice features of the Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL?

This camera photographed Muhammad Ali during a civil rights rally in the early 1970’s.  For me, it’s history is its best feature.

Problems?  Yes.

  1. Light meter.  Even with a fresh battery, the light meter refused to operate properly.  I used my light meter for everything.
  2. Missing part on film advance.  As mentioned earlier, this part was missing.

Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL Sample Photos

Let’s just say this camera had 3 strikes against it during its test roll.

    1. On board light meter didn’t work.
    2. My light meter was 30 years old (but has worked just fine in the past).
    3. Expired film.  I used my 5-10 year old expired film.

This may have been my best photo of the roll.  A quirky shot taken on a rainy day from the inside of my car going eastbound on Chicago Avenue just as you cross Halsted (Chicago, IL).  Once again I was using my hand held meter.

MamiyaSekor 1000 DTL, Chicago from the Backseat of my Car

MamiyaSekor 1000 DTL, Chicago from the Backseat of my Car

These are some town homes on one of my walks in the neighborhood.  It’s not a great photo but it’s decent.  If you purchase a 40 year old camera that works manually, you hope to take decent photos with your light meter.

MamiyaSekor 1000 DTL, Townhomes on Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL

Teenagers Boxing on a Chicago Street

I wish I had the photo, I should have been bolder and took a photo.

Bicycling around Kilbourn Park on Chicago’s northwest side I passed two teenagers sparring on the street.  Not a real fight but two friends flicking jabs at each other as kids do in my neighborhood.

I wanted to take their photos but I doubted they had ever heard of Muhammad Ali, or had they?  But while testing all my old cameras, the only time I ever saw two kids boxing on the street was with a camera that had photographed Muhammad Ali.

Perhaps that would put a smile on Muhammad Ali’s face in his retirement.

My Favorite Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL Photo – My Wife

I know my wife reads my blog posts.  She’ll say:

I read your blog today.  It’s a little long but it’s OK.

She may not think this photo is a pretty one but I do.  Using a 40 year old camera, hand held light meter, and expired film, she looks wonderful with one of her passions:  cooking.

MamiyaSekor 1000 DTL, Wife Cooking in the Kitchen

Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL – Summary

I had high hopes for this camera.  After all, it had photographed Muhammad Ali.  (I am still grateful for the purchase and this camera’s fine story.)  But perhaps, for some cameras, their best times are behind them.

In practice, this camera and I didn’t get along too well.  The light meter was dead, It was unbalanced, and I didn’t like how the viewfinder went dark whenever I set the aperture to F16.  I’ve tested other cameras that had dead light meters, somehow I wanted to enjoy this camera greatly but it didn’t work out.  My test photos were OK but they certainly couldn’t compare with Gregg’s photo of Muhammad Ali from 40 years ago.

Thanks for reading my Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL review today.  Although I was a bit disappointed in this camera as of 2012, it created happy memories for its previous owner in the early 1970’s.  Gregg, thanks for your Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL and its Muhammad Ali story.

Thanks for visiting What is a Film Camera today.


Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL Review — 7 Comments

  1. The part that’s missing from the top of the film wind lever is a meter lock release button.

    To activate the meter on the DTL you need to pull the rewind lever back a little until it clicks into place. Now you’re ready to take a meter reading. To take the reading, push the wind lever forward. This activates the meter, and you observe the match-needle inside the viewfinder at the same time. When the needle is located somewhere within the inverted “C” your exposure settings are good.

    When finished, you return the light meter (and wind lever) to the off position by depressing the button on top of the wind lever. Which of course, is missing from your camera.

    By the way, the Mamiya-Sekor 1000 DTL and 500 DTL were the first 35mm SLRs marketed with dual metering system: Spot and Average. There is a switch on the side of the lens housing for you to select one or the other. (You take spot meter reading using that gray rectangle at the bottom inside the viewfinder.)

    By the way, funny you should post your review today. A 500 DTL was my first SLR and also my first 35mm camera when I was a kid. I got it for my 14th birthday on Aug 6, 1968.

    • Brian,
      Happy Birthday!
      So nice of you to drop by and leave a comment.
      Normally I understand my old cameras after a visit to “Butkus” and his manuals (I give him a donation every now and then).
      After reading your clear instructions I wonder if “user error” was the cause of my camera problems. In the next few days I’ll try the Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL again with your clear instructions.
      Thanks for proving to me (and to my wife) that people actually read my blog.
      Again, Happy Birthday.

    • Brian,

      Happy unbirthday (that’s what we say one day after a birthday).
      I followed your light meter instructions and as it turns out, I had done so before. Sometimes remembering camera testing can be a bit cloudy in our memories.

      1) Used an LR44 battery since SR44 not available. Meter did activate as it had before.
      2) I activated the meter per your instructions (advance shutter advance until you hear a click, then push backwards to meter).

      The meter seems to move as I change shutter speeds but does not move at all when I change aperture settings. More importantly, light meter seems to move when adjusting shutter speeds but the meter absolutely does not ever settle within the backwards “C” to indicate good exposure. Light meter needle will “rise” upwards through underexposures and then jump wildly beyond the backwards “C”.

      Also, even though the light meter needle may be close to the backwards “C”, the shutter speed chosen makes no common sense. Hard to explain… Camera light meter thinks light is almost acceptable (close to backwards “C”) but the shutter speed for ASA 200 speed film in bright daylight is 1/8 of second? I think the meter is kaput or working badly.

      Maybe an SR44 would give a different result than an LR44 battery but I doubt it.

      That’s all for today, back to work.


    • Jim,
      Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.
      Another reader left some great instructions for me to try with my camera. Was it the camera’s error or user error in activating the light meter?
      If I find that I was incorrectly using the light meter I’ll post an update.
      It’s encouraging to find real comments on my blog. Thanks again.

  2. “and I didn’t like how the viewfinder went dark whenever I set the aperture to F16”

    You need to flip the auto/manual switch on the lens. When changing the aperture the brightness of the viewfinder should not change. This camera stops down the aperture automatically when the shutter fires. Good luck.

    • Matthew,

      Thanks for your help regarding the Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL. Yes, I was a bit frustrated by the dark aperture F16. Your comment helps.

      I was more disappointed that the battery for my camera that had photographed Muhammad Ali just didn’t work correctly. Sometimes that happens with old cameras.

      I took the Mamiya lens and am currently shooting it with a GAF aperture-priority screw mount camera. Lots of fun.


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