Glen Gair

  • Glen Gair

Pentax Zoom 90 - My Favourite (and Only) 35mm Point & Shoot Camera

Updated: Jun 16, 2020

There's a lot of buzz around 35mm point and shoot cameras thanks to *googles US celebrity name* and a movement of young thirty-something folk craving a break from modern technology and instead lusting for the Blighty spirit of the 90's - minus the hooliganism and the band Aqua. Suddenly everyone seems thirsty for the Yashica T4/T45 with its 35mm Carl Zeiss lens or even the Contax T2/T3 with its 35mm Carl Zeiss lens. If you have a spare £500+ and a fetish for Carl Zeiss lenses then of course these are decent options. However, if you're like this lonesome nostalgia-ridden soul and you're currently experiencing a financial wetting then here's the good news: you don't need to spend big to get decent images out of a point and shoot.

Last year I purchased my first, and so far only, point and shoot camera, the Pentax Zoom 90. With an adorably ugly leather case to boot, the camera cost me £10 from a local charity store. Original working batteries included and a skip in my step from the thought of ethically robbing two old ladies and their shop, I proceeded to treat the camera to a roll of #KodakEktar100.

See, the camera was clean and in excellent working condition so I was confident that I wouldn't be wasting a roll of what is relatively expensive film. My guess is a lot of people will spend a decent amount of money on a 35mm point and shoot as a fashion accessory and then use it in a similar manner to when it was originally released, as a casual consumer camera. And there's nothing wrong with that, but treating it as your go-to holiday snapper means you're more likely to use cheaper film with it, which again, there's nothing wrong with that, but don't be disappointed if your results aren't living up to your unrealistic and professional standards. Remember, you have limited control with most point 'n' shoots and are often reliant on the camera to automatically find the correct exposure. So a cheaper camera + good film stock = decent results, overpriced "cheap" camera + consumer film stock = okay results. If you can afford a top of the line camera AND professional grade film then absolutely do it, but the results won't be drastically different to that of a more affordable camera.

Specs of the camera inc:

  • Lens: 38-90mm 1:3.5-7.5

  • Focus: Active IR AF

  • Metering: Programmed

  • Shutter: 1/5-1/125

  • Batteries: 2xCR123A

  • Flash: Built in

  • EV(100) at wide: 9-16.5

  • EV(100) at tele: 11-16.5

It's not as compact as the majority of more modern point and shoots but I find it incredibly comfortable to hold and the viewfinder sits well in front of my eye when shooting or when pretending to shoot to impress the ladies. Yes, the shutter speed is not the quickest so if you're trying to capture a mugger then you'll likely have a more artful shot with a hint of motion blur around the assailant to show the police. I also don't see a celebrity cradling this camera on a talk show anytime soon. It's not an ugly camera but if an Aunt were to compliment it she'd likely say it has "personality." It's fun to shoot with, simple in setup and easy to get to grips with especially if you've shot on something like a DSLR before. Everything is automated as you'd expect, from loading (feed the film in, ensure it's caught on the notches) to maintaining a count and rewinding when finished. Just know that if the display isn't showing anything (or just --) then the film hasn't been loaded properly. Feel safe in opening the back and realigning the film.

Again, because I don't feel like I broke the bank buying the Pentax Zoom 90, I didn't cry when shelving out for a roll of Ektar. This was also a decent chance to explore the camera's capabilities with a fine grain, low ASA/ISO film. To my surprise, I loved the results. It's clean and characterful. In comparison to the more popular P 'n' S cameras it more than holds it own. Easily pocketable if you have large pockets and very durable in design. The plastic shell feels like it could take a knock or two, not that I'm planning on pitting it in a fight with Mike Tyson or the modern equivalent.

Definitely buy one if you see it. You really won't be disappointed. Just had quick google and found one in good condition on Etsy UK for £30. Absolute bargain and I have no affiliation with the seller.

Any questions about the camera then ask below and I'll do my best to answer.

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Glen Gair Photography

(This guy is a Film Photographer & Filmmaker except on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays.)