Kodak Portra 160 in the Pentax IQZoom 170SL


I got a deal on a five-pack of Kodak Portra 160 recently — less per roll than what I pay for my usual color film, Fujicolor 200. I’d never shot this film before and was eager to try it.

I dropped and damaged my Pentax IQZoom 170SL on our vacation in Germany earlier this year. I bought another one on eBay and put a roll of the Portra through it to test it. I just expected it to work flawlessly, but was disappointed when a few images showed light leaks and about half the roll was out of focus, often badly so.

Dilapidated steps

I’ve got a roll of expired Tri-X in the camera now and am shooting it carefully in case the focus issues were due to operator error. If this roll comes out all in focus, I’ll see about replacing the seals. If this roll reveals focus problems, I’ll pitch the camera (as I’m past the return window on eBay) and try again. I like this camera an awful lot and it would be a shame not to have one available

In the front garden

Meanwhile, the Portra 160 performed well. I didn’t expect any less; I’ve seen so many other photo bloggers get lovely results from it. I know Portra is marketed as a portrait film, but I don’t make many of those. I just used it to shoot the stuff I normally shoot. I especially like how Portra rendered the colors of these old houses in pastel.

Russel St.

These cars’ colors are candylike.

Cars on S. Meridian St.

I especially enjoyed how Portra warmed up in early- and late-day sun.

Big old house

It also stands up well in direct noontime sun.

Lucas Oil Stadium

I took a flyer and shot a Sunset Over the Toyota Dealer with it. I have a pretty steady hand and can sometimes get away with shooting handheld at slow shutter speeds. But that daggone light leak showed up here.

Sunset over the Toyota dealer

Despite the problems with the camera, I like this film and am glad to have four more rolls to play with.

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12 responses to “Kodak Portra 160 in the Pentax IQZoom 170SL”

  1. JR Smith Avatar

    Both Portras, the 160 and 400 speed, are lovely films. Wish I could find a bargain on either one.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      If I ever find another bargain on Portra, I’ll alert you.

  2. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Sorry about your camera…the thing that always went wrong with my Olympus Stylists Epics all the years I was shooting them, was the fidelity of focus. I could tell when it was on its last legs when the focus started having a high quantity of “misses”. Next stop was the mysterious light leaks, somewhere around the lens in-and-out mechanism. It’s the thing that keeps me from buying used point and shoots on the internet, and waiting for the alleged Pentax point and shoot on the horizon!

    1. Theron Avatar

      You know, now that Andy has put his Olympus problems to print, I realize that is exactly what happened with my own Stylus. Super little camera…until it wasn’t!

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        TheRon, yessir! I actually owned three of the Stylist Epics, and used them all the exact same way, in my pocket all the time. The first one lasted about eight years, and the last two, only about three or four years each. I was told they moved manufacturing somewhere in there, so I’m assuming my last two were from the secondary manufacturer. The non focus thing was particularly acute, because the camera had a weird program for auto exposure that kept the lens wide open at 2.8, until the shutter speed topped out, then it would start closing down the lens. If you missed, it would miss, big time. Everyone always said they would have appreciated a program that shut the lens to 5.6, as soon as the shutter went over 1/60th. Alas never done.

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve never owned a Stylus Epic long enough for that to happen!

  3. tbm3fan Avatar

    I have the Pentax IQ Zoom 160 and the Canon Z 155 and they are the only two of those kind of point and shoots. I took the Canon (smaller) to the Philippines in December along with one of my Canon S95 digitals. I am not happy with the Z 155 anymore than I was with one of the Pentax P&S back in 1996. Their focus is a bit on the soft side. Depth of field sucks. Don’t even put those pictures next to one from the S95. Night and day. In many ways those two P&S remind me more of how my 120 Kodak Model C box camera renders the edges as the Box is pretty sharp in the center.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oof, those are some weak P&S then.

  4. Steve Mitchell Avatar

    Great shots when the camera was working well! I use a lot of Portra 400, bought a 5 pack of 160 recently in case I want to shoot portraits or events. I also use Portra 160 occasionally in Medium Format. It is a lovely reliable film stock!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I get good enough results with less-expensive Fujicolor 200 and 400 that I don’t usually splurge for the Portras. But when I can find a deal, I’m in.

  5. Sam Avatar

    Some very nice results Jim! Honestly it’s got a look kind of like what the kids are looking for with the digicams. I mean that as a compliment!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Sam!

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