It’s good to know that my Pentax IQZoom 170SL is hardy. I dropped it onto a cobblestone street in Cologne. It landed on the front corner, which left a nasty dent and cracked the flash cover.

Dented camera

It also separated the back of the camera a little bit, but I was able to press that back into place well enough. No light leaked into the film chamber, at any rate. It may have damaged the film transport plane however, as some shots show weird distortion in the upper left corner.

When the camera hit the ground, I wasn’t worried about the camera being irreparably damaged. I knew I could buy one just like it for 30 bucks on eBay. I was more worried about not being able to make black-and-white film images on the trip. I was really looking forward to them.

Maybe you’ve noticed that I tend to bring this camera when I travel. It’s proved to be easy to carry and to deliver very good image quality. Its 170mm zoom is useful, too. On my trip to Denmark and Germany, I used the 170SL to shoot six rolls of Kodak T-Max 100, which I developed in Rodinal 1+50 after I got home. Here’s a dumping of photos I made in Berlin.

Berlin - Nikolaiviertel
Berliner Dom
Berlin - Neptune Fountain
Berlin - Alexanderplatz
Berlin - statue detail
Berlin - Spree River
Berlin - Friedrichstraße
Berlin richtung Hauptbahnhof
Berlin - Reichstag

A couple of these rolls of T-Max 100 came out of the tank badly scratched. It had to be error on my part, probably in using my fingers to squeegee excess water off the negatives. It took a lot of tedious work in Photoshop to save the images I could save. If you look closely at these images, on some of them you’ll find scratch remnants I couldn’t edit out.

I like the T-Max 100 in Rodinal 1+50 and will continue using this combination until I’m out of this film. I’m switching to Ilford FP4 Plus after this, as it is also a gorgeous film and it costs a lot less than T-Max. So far I’ve liked FP4 Plus best in Ilford ID-11, which is a clone of Kodak D-76. I don’t keep either of these developers on hand, though. Maybe I need to start.

I ended up buying another one of these on eBay. I like this camera a lot, and it’s good to have one that’s fully functioning.

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23 responses to “Pity my poor Pentax IQZoom 170SL”

  1. brandib1977 Avatar

    Nice collection!!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you!

  2. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    I’m amazed at how robust this camera is…I’ve had three Olympus Stylist Epics, all semi functional and all developed weird light leaks through the front lens mechanism someplace that can’t seem to be fixed. I await the new Pentax point and shoot!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My Stylus Epic Zoom 80 developed the same trouble. Such a shame. Ruined a terrific camera.

      1. Joe from the Resurrected Camera Avatar

        Mine had the same problem. Thankfully it didn’t affect its resale value (I even included a light leak pic in the auction–it means it’s film tested).

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          I was able to sell mine no problem as well, even disclosing the fault.

  3. Kodachromeguy Avatar

    Sturdy camera. You did well to keep using it on your trip. A hint: take some electrical tape with you to wrap the seam where the back meets the body. I’ve done that with old Spotmatic and Nikkormat bodies when I was not sure if the foam seals were light tight.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Would have been nice on this trip to have electrical tape to quell my fears of leaks after that fall.

  4. Nenne Karlsson Avatar
    Nenne Karlsson

    Hey Jim, very nice pictures! Regarding film and developer, I have used Fp4+ and ID 11 in many years and I think they work well together. In stock solution you can develop up to 10 films, but a little longer development time for each film. The 10th film will take its time, but the quality is not degrading. It is a little more environment friendly.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I develop film sporadically and I worry that my ID-11 will start to expire before I finish it, and I won’t know until I get a poorly developed roll of film! It’s why HC-110 and Rodinal are my two main developers — they keep for a very long time.

  5. Dave Powell Avatar

    Hi Jim,

    Great photos… and I’m so sorry about your drop! I think I see what you mean about the distortion … and perhaps a slight darkening too? But not awful. Thank goodness replacements for these great cameras are still available!



    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes, I think you’re seeing it. I’m going to donate this one to Goodwill and start using the replacement I already bought.

  6. tbm3fan Avatar

    Is the IQ170 the same size as the 160? I have the 160 and for a 35mm of it’s kind it seems a little bulky. Not heavy just bulky and doesn’t slip into anything easily. So when in the Philippines for two weeks over Christmas I took my Canon Z155 which slips into a pocket on my cargo shorts easily. On my first trip in 1990 I took my SRT-101 and an extra lens. Big mistake lugging that around the countryside and standing out like a sore and very obvious thumb on the streets of Manila. Nothing but a pure target so from then on these cheap rangefinders. By the way nice shots you have there.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      They’re very different cameras. I’m pretty sure the 170 is smaller.

  7. fishyfisharcade Avatar

    Some nice pictures there Jim. I particularly like the Alexanderplatz shot.

    I too suffered from scratches on negatives. I tried using a squeegee a couple of times – the first was ok, but the second time most of a roll was ruined. I’ve also used the finger-squeegee method, but that’s been less than satisfactory too – not too many scratches, but I end up with drying marks because we have hard water in our area, even with rinse-aid AND a final wash in distilled water! I now use a salad-spinner to centrifuge the worst of the water away and find it works really well, and my fim dries noticeably quicker.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I did some investigating on drying negatives and learned that I wasn’t using enough Photo-Flo. I increased my usage from a few drops to 1 full ml and stopped squeegee-ing altogether — and scratch marks went away.

      We have super hard water here too, but the Photo-Flo seems to be enough to sheet that water away, especially since my final rinse is with distilled water.

      That said, I just scanned a roll of HP5 and found the same scratching. It hit me: my anti-static brush (used to brush dust off my negs) is quite old and is probably the culprit. So I ordered a new anti-static brush.

  8. Keith M Avatar
    Keith M

    Nice pictures, Jim. Hard to believe we bombed Berlin to pieces only 80 years ago.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Just 40 years ago, East Berlin still looked like WW II had just ended! It’s remarkable.

  9. J P Avatar

    You’ve beat Murphy law, which suggests that only delicate, hard to replace cameras get dropped. Good job!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m an equal opportunity butterfingers!

  10. Kev Khayat Avatar
    Kev Khayat

    Jim, these shots are gorgeous. Gives me great hope for the Pentax Espio 928 I just got of ‘the bay’ to take on a beach holiday where constant attachment to a 27kg dog may not allow me to capture all the pics I otherwise would. The 928 does multiple exposures too so looking forward to a good play with that function. Not bad for £20.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Hey Kev! Thanks! I’m just blown away by the image quality this little camera delivers. I don’t know anything about the 928, but I do know that the IQZoom/Espio line was hit or miss — some were great, some were not.

  11. Dave Powell Avatar

    Hi Kev and Jim,

    From what I read in the past, I think the 928 may be one of the good’uns!

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