New (to me) Pentax IQZoom 835

My trip to the grocery store started out innocently enough. I was on a mission to acquire more Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. It seems that there is a Dunkin’ Donuts within a short drive everywhere on the USA’s East Coast. Here on the West Coast we have no Dunkin’ Donuts coffee stores, so I have to buy the coffee at a grocery vendor and brew it at home. I quickly found the coffee, ignored the freshly baked bran muffins, then checked out at the self-serve checkout machine (I’m still waiting for my 1% discount at that machine, since I’m doing the work of the store employees…).

I threw the coffee into the saddlebag, and since I was parked near a drug store (“chemist” for those of you in the old country), I went in to look at the picture frames. The type of matted frame that I like was “On Sale”: Buy one, get the second for 50% off. I bought six of them and returned to the bike. The coffee and frames took up the better part of one of the saddlebags.

I rode toward the edge of the shopping center, then remembered the thrift store on it’s outskirts. I often visit the thrift store when I’ve run out of books to read. It feeds my reading habit, but used books don’t cost a fortune. I realized that there might be some inexpensive photo frames lurking within the store, so I went inside. I found a half-dozen suitable 5X7 and 8X10 unmatted frames for a total of $10. Not a bad deal.

At the checkout counter, I asked the question I always ask at that store: “Is there any photographic stuff in the store?” That question had always been answered with a negative before, but it doesn’t hurt to keep asking. This time one of the clerks mumbled something vague about “putting the cameras over there”, then pointed to a corner of the store.

I dug around in the indicated corner. It was filled with multiple shelves containing a jumble of kitchen odds and ends. I quickly turned up two point and shoot film cameras. Neither looked promising, since they both looked like they had endured a good deal of hard use. I then spotted the corner of a box partially buried under spatulas and pans.

The box was labeled Pentax and contained a IQZoom 835 Date, a point and shoot film camera that appeared to have been used very little. There was a battery taped to the box and a printed user manual with curled page corners. The green price sticker on the box read “Camera $6.00”. I figured that the Pentax was a good risk at that price and bought it along with the picture frames.

First Glance

This Pentax appears to have originally been bought in 1995, since there is a note that indicates the purchase date on the user’s manual. This autofocus zoom camera only uses DX coded film cassettes. There is no way to set the film speed manually. I turned off the date imprinting feature, since I don’t see much point to ruining a photograph by printing the date on it. I hated it during the era when everyone was using that feature on both film and digital P&S cameras. The zoom range is 35mm to 80mm, more or less equivalent to 2X. 

Following the instructions in the manual, I loaded a roll of Ultrafine Extreme 400. Though the film cassette is upside-down and the camera winds the film from right to left, loading the film is very easy, as easy as loading my N90s cameras: just position the cassette, pull the leader out to the prescribed length and close the camera back. The camera will automatically load the film to frame 1 when the camera back door is closed. When the roll is finished, the camera automatically rewinds the film. There is also a manual control that allows you to rewind the film when only part of the roll has been shot.

There is a simple (one point) focus lock. Focus by pressing the shutter button half way, hold the button down, recompose, then shoot. The built-in flash is suitably annoying, as usual, but it can be turned off with a button on the top of the camera. When the camera is turned off and back on, the camera resets to it’s default values, so the flash function must be turned off  yet again (if so desired).

There is a “panorama” mode that can be used with this camera. It was apparently a positive selling point when the camera was released (a selling point that no doubt made only the marketing department happy). But it does not produce a true panorama negative, it only decreases the usable area of the negative to 16mm X 36mm. Pointless.

Overall Impressions

If this camera produces good film negatives, it will be a handy addition to my collection. I like the size, since it feels right in my hand and will easily fit into one of the front pockets of my leather riding jacket. It will also take up very little space in a saddlebag. I’ll probably put it in a plastic Ziplock bag before placing it in a saddlebag, which should protect it from the usual dust here on the edge of the Mojave Desert, and also minimize travel wear from other objects in the bag – wouldn’t want to scrape up the exterior of my $6 Pentax!

I took my grandson to school this morning. He was interested in the Pentax and quickly picked it up and discovered how to use it. Rather than make pancakes for breakfast, we went to a local restaurant, the Golden Ox, on the way to his school, and both of us shot test frames with the camera. I’ll show the results of the test roll on the next post, Pentax IQZoom 835 Test Frames. Stay tuned…