The 1990s and early 2000s were littered with pudgy little point-and-shoot 35mm cameras. Gone were the sleek, straight lines of the 1970s and 1980s. But in were giant conveniences like autofocus, programmed autoexposure, built-in flashes with many modes, and zoom lenses. Even the big camera makers, including Pentax, were in the game. One of Pentax’s point-and shoot series was called IQZoom; this one is the IQZoom EZY.
Its lens and shutter aren’t really that fast: a 38-70 mm f/4.8-8.5 zoom of five elements in five groups, and a top speed of 1/320 sec., stepping down to 1/3 sec at its slowest. It reads the DX coding on film canisters from ISO 25 to 1600. It offers several shooting modes. A 123 lithium battery powers it all.
Mine includes a date back; not all of them did. Oh, and I hear that in some markets this camera was called the Espio 70-E.
By the way, if you’re into point-and-shoot 35mm cameras also check out my reviews of the Yashica T2, Kodak VR35 K40, Olympus Stylus, and Canon AF35ML. If you’re a Pentax fan, my gosh have you come to the right place. I adore my Pentax ME, and my Pentax KM. Or you can check out every film camera I’ve ever reviewe here.
This camera belonged to my friend Alice’s dad, who gave it to me with a bunch of his other gear. When I told Alice I was finally shooting this camera, she praised it as a solid performer, the go-to camera when her dad photographed family functions. She said its flash lit smiling family photos just right.
So naturally I shot nothing like that. Instead, I loaded up some Kodak Gold 400 and took it on a photo walk with Margaret through a couple neighborhoods on Indianapolis’s Near Eastside. We began in up-and-coming Cottage Home. The first thing I noticed about the IQZoom EZY was its rubbery, uncertain shutter button. Press it and at some point it decides you meant it and fires the shutter. Instantly, one second, two; you never know. Bleargh.
But the IQZoom EZY delivered good results, sharp and contrasty. The colors in the scans were blah. These might even be a smidgeon underexposed. But it took very little Photoshoppery to wake them up.
Cottage Home is currently a mix of restored and unrestored homes from around the turn of the last century, plus a handful of new homes. This was a working-class neighborhood in its heyday, but it didn’t fare well in the last half of the last century. It’s gentrifying now.
Most houses in Cottage Home are modest; this is a rare large, ornate one.
We also walked through nearby Woodruff Place, which was Indianapolis’s first suburb. Just writing that cracks me up, because it’s just a mile or so away from Downtown. But in 1872, when it was founded, that was a good distance away from the city. It is a planned community of three parallel boulevards lined with large homes.
In contrast to working-class Cottage Home, Woodruff Place attracted the affluent, who built grand homes. But the neighborhood declined sharply after World War II. Gentrification came early to Woodruff Place, and since the 1980s and 1990s it’s been lovely and charming again. Home prices reflect that. Meanwhile, the setting sun and thick tree canopy conspired to dim the natural light. The IQZoom EZY switched on the flash and I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off.
I get it; these cameras are meant for people who don’t know anything about cameras. But I really hated having the flash fire. I’m very much a natural-light guy. I love the look of this storefront shot — except for the flash uselessly reflecting off that window.
I finished off the roll at home as my peonies began to bloom. The IQZoom EZY figured out what to focus on even at this close range.
But strangely, it whiffed focus entirely on this shot of my peony bush by the front door. This should have been easy for the EZY.
But back to Cottage Home for a moment, where this camera had its best moments.
To see more photos, check out my Pentax IQZoom EZY gallery.
The IQZoom EZY is a fair to middling 1990s-era point and shoot. Its rubbery-blubbery shutter button will guarantee I never shoot it again, but really, other than that it performed well enough. As I researched for this post, I found all sorts of people that picked up IQZoom-series cameras at thrift stores for a couple bucks. That seems about right.