So, today i got the (second hand) film compact camera, called Pentax Espio 120 SW.

And , it is like... oh my God... it is simply ridiculously cute ! Talk about small ! (Kind of slightly chubby small) Supposedly it is categorized as a more "premium", ultra compact camera for 35mm film.

I got the gray-bluish version, which is striking beautiful. The aluminum shell gives the camera a graceful feeling when it is in your hand. Overall - I can't get over it, how small that thing is, while at the same time having this solid, quality feeling.

I popped in a Kodak T-MAX 400 into it. In a couple of weeks or a month, I'll start developing Black & White films, and will see more about the overall optical as well general exposure quality from this mini camera.


No exposure compensation setting / button

There is unfortunately no exposure compensation button or setting found anywhere on this model (or any other Espio model, i believe). Therefore you can't compensate exposure for example when you are taking photos "with a snow landscape backdrop" (or a bright sky with clouds) leading to underexposure. Or what a person stands against a black wall, leading to overexposure. Those are the classic situations which fool almost any camera or light meter.

I also don't know if the camera can read modified DX-coded film, e.g. ISO 160, ISO 250, ISO 320. Likely just full stops like ISO 400, 200, 100 etc. Ultimately , I don't know how the camera handles "in between ISO film sensitivities".

Maybe Pentax (and other companies) thinking was; people use compact cameras with color negative films (C-41), with enough tolerances for both under and over exposures - therefore an "exposure compensation button wasn't necessary".


Now look at the small size of that thing...

Introduced in year 2001, and a shell made out of metal as i mentioned before - it is striking how small the camera is. Being late introduced in a time, were digital cameras started to make their first, more serious strides into the consumer market. My hope is, that the inner tech - which was at its peak in 2001 - *maybe* overcome the potential issues from the lack of a exposure compensation button.

The small size of the Pentax Espio 120 SW makes it delight to take with you... anywhere ! It is a real pleasure, I can tell you. Also; it didn't break the bank with $144 - tax and shipping costs included. The raw price was only €70 for the camera. Note however that premium (film) compact cameras such as top models like Nikon 35Ti or Nikon 28Ti, Contax T3* etc - can easily cost €700-1000

I can understand that in a sort of wicked way; none of these cameras are being made anymore. They get older and fewer for every year - while at the same time, there is a tremendous surge for film based photography in existence today ! Sadly, we also see that film prices have soared ridiculously high, and inflations adds to it. Almost to a level of make-me-wanna-puke price levels.

Or shall I say "Inflation gives excuses for absurdly priced film rolls" ?!


One thing to consider

Maybe, an expensive compact film camera isn't the ticket that is needed. Because there are tons of film based SLR cameras for a fraaction of the price ! So, in that regard, you still can get high quality in your photos based on traditinoal film negatives.

Yashica FX-103 Program, Minolta X500 or X-700, Canon AE-1, Olympus, you name it. Also compact cameras like Olympus XA, XA2, XA3 and XA4 are very good, small and affordable.

Due to the age and breakdown of my Konica Hexar AF, i dont recommend it. It seems that too many are now breaking down. Which is a pity, because it is like a automatic Leica M with autofocus, yet many manual features.

Really sad, that it stopped working.

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