Pentax Espio 120SW Film Camera

It feels like forever that I have been researching digital cameras. I realised some months ago that I had developed a hobby called ‘Researching Digital Cameras’.

I have a bodgy $100 Hewlett Packard HP Photosmart 635 that is 2mp and has 3x optical zoom. That is why my images are only available as cards on Red Bubble.

I have wanted a better digital camera since I bought the HP 635 back in March ’04 but having started photography on a Pentax Me Super 35mm SLR with 28mm lens, I decided I wanted a wide angle digital camera.

When I first started looking, Ricoh were the only brand that made wide angle digital cameras and the reviews weren’t great, so I kept looking. Then Panasonic started making wide angle cameras but they were more expensive than their other cameras so I decided to wait for prices to come down.

Then Canon, Olympus and Fuji started making wide angle cameras too.
But now I wanted a big zoom, image stabilisation and aperture/exposure controls if I was shelling out hundreds of dollars, and I haven’t found anything suitable and affordable yet.

Then I noticed High Dynamic Range photography had some interest on Red Bubble and realised the limitations of current compact digital cameras, which made me think about wide angle film cameras. I could still use my Pentax SLR but it is cumbersome and very manual. I wanted something handy.

I did some research online and found Ricoh wide angle film cameras were highly regarded but the fixed 28mm cameras such as the Grs1 are still pricey.
Then I found the Pentax Espio wide angle cameras and searched eBay.

Yesterday I bought a Pentax Espio 120SW (I reckon SW stands for Super Wide) on eBay and hope to receive it early in January.
It has a 4.3x zoom (28-120mm), f/5.6-12.8 and is 11cm x 6 and 4cm deep.

I can’t wait to take film photographs again. I like the accessibility of digital images and the instant review, but the quality of compact digital is still not great compared to film. The other thing is, that when you have 24 or 36 shots at a time that will cost about $10-15 per developed roll you tend to think a bit more about your shots, and then there’s the moment of excitement when you first open the photos envelope.

The digital vs. film debate from the pro digital camp always points out: no film & no processing. But with compact digital there’s low dynamic range, batteries, spare batteries, battery chargers, a power point, flash cards (reusable yes), environmental energy consumption, very short product cycles, image enlargement quality limits and unless you have a photo quality printer, inks and paper, you still need to use a photo lab for prints.

I’m not bagging digital at all, but film is a slower, more considered experience that has it’s surprises, and not always good. But life can be like that too.

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