Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Point and Shoot Review: Pentax IQZoom 120Mi

Last month I picked up a bunch of P&S 35mm cameras for Less than a buck apiece.  In the late 1990s and early 2000s various manufacturers were trying to woo customers with P&S cameras that were ever smaller, and contained more advanced technology.  Some of the APS cameras  at the time had very sophisticated electronics as a prelude to the digital onslaught, and most of those features and compactness made it over to the 35mm world.  First of all, you can pack an amazing amount of advanced features on integrated chips, but you still need room for the film cassette, winding motors, and the lens.   Short-range zooms such as 35-80mm were the typical focal length in many of the 35mm P&S cameras.  However, Pentax produced the IQZoom 120Mi, with a zoom range of 38-120mm.  This camera ranks as one of the more compact models, and despite the zoom range is surprisingly svelte.  It has a metal body, and reminds me a bit of the Rollei Prego models that were out at the time. The size is 4.1"L x 2.5" H x 1.7"D, and weighs about 8 ounces. It definitely feels like a metal camera.

The 40-page manual is a necessity, if you want to know about all of the features and modes that this camera has available.  Fortunately, the camera came in the original box with manual and looks like it had never been used. It requites a 3V CR-2 battery (buy them in bulk online!) and the well-marked off/on switch opens the lens cover and the lens extends slightly from the body when you turn on the camera.  There is an adjustable diopter in the viewfinder, which ia quite nice to have.  Four small buttons across the top deck below the LCD control the flash, exposures modes, remote and self-timer, and AF focus.  You can actually set it to infinity for faster street shooting.  There is a button to turn on the date/time imprinting.

Auto DX-coding from 25-3200 ISO, and if you load a film cartridge without DX coding, the ISO is automatically set to 25.  

Focus is 2.15 feet to infinity, with phase-matching passive 5-point AF system. Spot AF is also an option.

The shutter can be set to B mode, and will stay open as long as you depress the shutter.  You can also have the flash go off in B mode for interesting effects.  There are other shutter speed modes, such as Slow shutter speed with flash off, and Slow-speed Flash Sync.  Red-eye reduction can be turned on.

With any of these compact P&S zooms, the electronic zoom is fairly slow to extend to 120mm and retract to 38mm.  If this camera had only a 35mm 2.8 lens, it would be a work of art.   The max aperture is f/4.8 at 35mm and f/12.5 at 120mm.  So, yes, fast film is a must if you are going to be zooming out. An added bonus is the bottom switch that can turn on the Panorama mask, which is actually fun to use.  Make sure you deselect that mode if you want to short the entire frame.

Likes: compact size and finish, controls, and image quality.
Dislikes: Battery life, slow optics.

When new, these cameras were about $200.  This looks very much like a digicam from the front and top.   It fits easily into a pocket, and

I shot a roll of Kodak Tri-X, and I think the results were quite good.  Most of the shots were taken at 38mm.
Bruno and Christy at CameraMall (with flash)

construction on campus


at 120mm

panorama mode

1 comment:

Gordon Peirce said...

Just found a brand new in box with a battery, and a remote and all paperwork. Receipt says purchased in February 2000 for $289.95. Also came with a new role of 12 exposure 400 do film. Is it worth anything now?