Pentax made loads of Espio cameras. You can find different versions all over. The 35-70 AF Zoom is one of the bigger, clunkier ones, and it does all kinds of things, like double exposures and a thing where it takes one shot at tele, then zooms out and takes one at 35. All of these were, for me, best ignored.
In operation, it’s fairly simple: zoom rocker and shutter button. Ergonomically, it’s ok, but the corners are a bit too squared off, and it’s not the easiest or most comfortable to hold.
The f/4.9-8 lens is sharp enough, and the AF system works ok, when it wants to, but it’s terribly slow, and with a closest focus distance of .6 meters, it’s never going to reachthe “Full Macro” that’s stamped on the front. I was never really sure what that stamp meant.
Like most of the 1990s offerings from most of the major camera manufacturers, it’s competent and capable of making sharp, well exposed photographs, if you don’t mind it’s limitations and quirks.
I tried to like this camera. I really did. But I only put 5 rolls of film through it in the 3 years I had it. One of the first rolls through it was one of the first rolls I developed myself, back in late 2014 when I wasn’t too sure of what I was doing, with the camera or the developing. I forced the flash off and the limitations in the shutter speed and aperture led to the pictures from a little walk around the neighborhood with my darling, adorable wife being some of my favorites.
And then, one of the last rolls I shot with it had a couple of favorites in it too. By then, I had the camera and the developing more or less locked: with limited cameras like the Espio, you’ll usually get the best results by letting the camera do what it wants (unless you’re sure you know better and have a good reason for it), and developing is easy, as long as you’re reasonably consistent (I’m usually not).
Interestingly, both of these rolls were Lomography stocks: older, Ferrania-made 100 and newer 400, probably Kodak-made.
I ended up mailing the Espio off as part of my #EmulsiveSanta 2016 gift. I hope my giftee enjoyed/enjoys it, and like most other cameras, ymmv. And remember, sometimes the cameras you like least can help you make some of the pictures you like the most.
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