Another camera leaves the stable, this time the compact superzoom Pentax IQZoom (Espio) 928. I got this camera back in July, and was initally impressed by its charms. Charmed enough that I got rid of the sleeker and zoomier IQZoom 170SL. But over the course of the last half year, I realized that I didn’t care that much for this camera.
I will say that the 928 was a decent machine, with a really impressive set of features, many of them uncommon for ’90s point-and-shoots: Bulb mode, double exposure mode, infinity focus lock. exposure compensation +/- 3 stops, and a wireless remote. But I realize that I was underwhelmed by the photos. It seemed to do decently in lower-light situations, with or without the flash. That can be attributed to the fairly wide f/3.5 maximum aperture. But the minimum aperture was somewhere between f/8 to f/11. My shots done in good sunlight seemed washed-out, with obvious vignetting in the corners if I had the lens at 28mm.
I’d probably forgive some of the shortcomings if the camera was smaller and looked better. But it came from the height of the nineties, where point-and-shoots were ungainly plasticky blobby things. This type of camera doesn’t excite me much. These were the cameras I looked at every day when I was Electronics Dept. Manager at a Kmart. I couldn’t be compelled to buy them then, why would I be now?
I will admit that the Pentax IQZoom 170SL looks better and is way more compact. It also gave me better shots. In retrospect, it might have been a better idea to hold onto that one, but I was dazzled by the spec sheet on the 928, so I kept that one instead.
Will I go find another 170SL or similar? Perhaps at some point, but I’m in no hurry. The late film era superzooms still seem plentiful and relatively cheap (for now), though it looks like the price on the 170SL has gone up.
The reality is I don’t enjoy using these types of cameras that much. I don’t like all the automation, the constant pressing of buttons to turn on/off modes when firing up, or the slow lenses. For point-and-shoots, I enjoy using my Olympus XA2, which “fires up” when you open the clamshell, and is smaller than the IQZoom 928. The Olympus Pen EES-2 is also proving itself. And I have both a wide angle (28mm) and telephoto (135mm) lens for the Minolta SRT-101, so there’s little need to keep the IQZoom 928 around for that stuff anymore.
I know that some folks like those ’90s cameras, but it turns out that I dig cameras from an earlier era. And now I have a good selection of compact cameras with great lenses to choose from, so I’m all set.
Hopefully the new owner of the Pentax IQZoom 928 will find joy with it!
The full set of photos from the IQZoom 928 are below, or click here.
I’ve had a few Pentax plastic fantastics from that period and they never really impressed me. I do enjoy using my Yashica L AF as the autofocus and auto exposure is consistently amazing when using fresh Fujifilm. See my post here https://yashicasailorboy.com/2017/02/09/yashica-l-af-date-field-test-2/
Finding a good, reliable film point and shoot has eluded me. Everything from the late 90s and early 2000s with buying is also so beyond my budget that I can only dream. Meanwhile the late 80s and early 90s cameras tend to fall in the same category as your Pentax, affordable but not that exciting or good looking. At least some of them sound like they’re optically quite good.
If you can get you’re hands on a Contax T2 let me know. I call dibs when you’re done with it! c(=
Ha! Yeah, it’s the fact that the zooms made the lenses not as capable as what came before. The ’90s ones with the good non-zoom lenses command such a premium. The early autofocus cameras of the ’80s typically had a good non-zoom prime lens (f/2.8, 38 mm), but the autofocus system was not as refined.
Really, I think the ticket is something like my Olympus XA2: A great lens, no zoom, and a simple three-zone focus. While some people hate zone focus, I don’t have a problem with it. And there’s no “is the camera focusing on what I want?” with the autofocus cameras. Plus, the size and compact form-factor of the XA2 tops that Pentax IQZoom 928. The IQZoom 170SL had a pretty good small form-factor, but that zoom is too much.
Spot focus is perfect for street photography. Combined with a fast 50 or 35 and I’m in heaven.