Another camera departs the flock. This time it was my Pentax IQZoom 170SL, known as the Espio 170SL outside of North America. I got this camera way back in the pre-history of February when I decided I should get a compact camera to augment the bulky Minolta Hi-Matic 7s rangefinder. I used it a bunch in the intervening months. It was nice to have a dorky late-film era zoom compact. I ended up liking it, despite the low esteem held for most of these super-zoom cameras.
Then on a lark I got the Pentax IQZoom 928. It has a faster and wider lens than the 170SL, plus it has more features, like exposure compensation and double exposure. I figured I’d keep the 170SL since it was more compact than the 928, and had the longer zoom. But if I don’t care about zoom, my Olympus XA2 is even smaller (by a hair) than the 170SL and takes as good, if not better, pics.
When I headed out to Ainsworth on my bike overnight a few weeks ago, I decided to bring the 170SL as the color camera (black and white duty would be handled by my Ricoh 35 ZF). While I could have brought the XA2, I decided I wanted something with zoom, and the 170SL fit easily into a pocket on my handlebar bag. I think I used the zoom a couple times, which meant that I could have “gotten away” with the XA2. And there were a couple times I wish I had the wider lens of the 928 instead of the longer zoom of the 170SL.
If anything, the 38-170 mm zoom on the 170SL is too big and too small at the same time. The 28-90 mm zoom on the 928 is “just right”–a super wide setting, a middle ground (50 mm) and all the zoom (90 mm) for bringing in distant objects or use as a portrait lens. I was finding that for the most part the full extension of the 170 mm lens was more than I needed for usual circumstances. And when I really wanted a zoom for taking a photo of the moon, it was just not enough. See the photo above. That’s as good as I’ll get with this camera. While you definitely can see detail, I realize that if I want to do it right, I need to get an SLR with a telephoto lens.
So the Pentax IQZoom 170SL has found itself a new home: Eric down by Sacramento took it off my hands. Hope he has fun with it. Despite what I said above, it’s still a great little camera that takes good pictures. So if you are looking for a nice compact zoom, you could do worse. Jim Grey has a lot of good things to say about it. And those Pentax compacts still seem to be relatively inexpensive, compared to the other brands. If I didn’t grab the 928, I’d still be keeping it. But I don’t need a lot of cameras, I’ll be fine with the ones I still have.