This review is part of a hopefully longer series on inexpensive but good quality film cameras. This series will focus mostly on point and shoot 35mm cameras. I find lots of reviews and info for things like the Olympus Epic or the Yashica T4. While such cameras are excellent, they aren't generally cheap to buy unless you just get lucky. On the other hand, there are lots of great cameras that don't have the recognition or status but none the less can produce very nice results. The Pentax Iqzoom 120mi is one that I have found to fall into this category.
There are quite a few cameras in the Pentax Iqzoom line, but this one stood out for me when I found one. It has a fairly compact footprint and shows high quality in manufacture. It is aluminum cased and although a little thick, it will fit in larger shirt pocket. I ran a 1st roll through mine before finding a manual and specs for it, so I was quite pleased when I got what I considered exceptional results for a compact p&s with a zoom.
Compact zoom point and shoots seem to be generally deprecated in favor of cameras with fixed focal length high grade lenses. While I think this is probably correct for ultimate quality in many cases, it discounts the many zoom cameras that also can give very good to exceptional results. Many cameras of this type are widely available and very inexpensive. For this camera I see that they currently sell on eBay for around $10. Pretty good for a higher quality camera that apparently sold for around $250 twenty years ago.
- Focus modes: Infinity and spot focus options.
- Bulb mode: Only a minute maximum, but still potentially useful. (Can be paired with flash! )
- Wide ISO range: 25-3200iso
- Remote: Although it didn't come with one, I nabbed one off another old pentax P&S. It worked fine. Date: (I hate this feature on most film cameras personally. It gets turned on when you don't want it. :) ) Flash: off, auto, slow sync, and bulb mode.
- Panorama. Not useful in the modern world where you are using scanned photos and can crop very easily. Switch is on the bottom and is easy to set to off and forget.
- Shutter: 1/400 to 2sec. Bulb mode 1⁄2 – 1minute.
- Aperture: f4.8 -f12.5
(A bit of note on aperture: I see many times where the widest aperture specification is taken to indicate lens quality and sharpness. This is simply incorrect. Higher grade lenses usually have very wide maximum apertures, however that is incidental to a more expensive lens and not a complete indication of the sharpness of the lens. )
Things That I Really Like
- Shutter button has a good positive feel at half press for focusing.
- It's small but still has a good feel in the hand.
- Controls are all arranged simply on or near the top of the camera.
- Wide DX coding, so you can shoot almost any DX coded film in this camera. Close focusing distance. (about 2ft)
Things That I Like Less
- Uses a cr2 battery. These are still readily available but a little expensive ($5-$6 in the US). Battery life is rated at 5 – 10 rolls. These batteries can be bought far cheaper in small bulk packs online. Since you are probably buying your film online anyway, probably good to get a few batteries at the same time.
- Manual: http://www.cameramanuals.org/pentax_p&s/pentax_p&s_iqzoom120mi.pdf
- More specs and info: http://www.opticsplanet.com/pentax-iqzoom-120mi-camera.html
For me, this is an excellent little camera that is one of many that are overlooked in favor of currently more popular and resale-wise more expensive options. This camera should shoot just about any 35mm film and is a very inexpensive way to get good quality 35mm photographs.