The trouble with owning a lot of old cameras is that I’m often shooting one just to check that it’s functioning properly. Old gear is prone to failure, after all. That means I may not be shooting the camera I want, but rather the camera I must. Such was the case recently when I put a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus through a new-to-me Pentax IQZoom 170SL. Fortunately, I like shooting this camera.
Analogue Wonderland in the UK are this blog’s Official Supplier of Ilford’s traditionally grained black-and-white films, HP5 Plus and FP4 Plus. You can get your Ilford films from them, of course, but they offer film from a couple dozen other brands, both in color and in black and white.
I took this small camera along on a series of bike rides at the end of summer. Our hottest season was surprisingly temperate this year, but the sun sure was bright and direct. Where I live, I’m a few minutes away from Indiana’s signature corn and soybean fields and all of the accoutrements attendant thereunto. Like silos.
In case you missed it, I bought this IQZoom 170SL because I dropped and damaged my original one in Germany earlier this year. It still functioned, but the drop bent the film transport, creating distortion. I bought another 170SL that turned out to be a dud. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover it until after the return window had closed. So I bought my third 170SL, and by George I was going to put it through its paces in time this time. Fortunately, this one works properly.
I shot this camera first at a car show, images from which I have not yet shared. A lot of the photos suffered from shake. I had turned off the automatic flash to avoid reflections in the cars’ paint. I needed to be sure that this was the cause, and not something about the camera. Hence this roll of HP5 Plus.
I wish HP5 Plus and FP4 Plus weren’t so similarly named, because I get them flipped around in my head. The last time I shot FP4 Plus I derped, developing it at the HP5 Plus time. This time I did the same, developing this HP5 Plus at the FP4 Plus time. I used Clayton F76+ 1+9. Fortunately, everything turned out well enough.
I tested this camera’s deep zoom to be sure that the lens functioned properly fully extended.
Here’s the same scene from the same place at the widest angle. Sure enough, all appears to be well.
Camera makers offered hundreds of models of point-and-shoot 35mm cameras from the 1980s through the mid-2000s, when digital obliterated that market. I’m sure they follow a normal distribution of performance: most are adequate, some are subpar, and some are brilliant. The Pentax IQZoom 170SL is brilliant. Get one.
Regular readers will remember that I bought a new bike this summer, finally replacing my beloved but tired Schwinn three speed. It lost its pep and verve after I rode it across Indiana on the National Road in 2021. It was 35 years old then. I shouldn’t have been surprised that such a heavy ride used it up. The new Bianchi has been a true pleasure.
I have some FP4 Plus in my Nikon N2000 right now. The last time I used it, I got some blank frames toward the end of the roll. Is it malfunctioning? Only a test roll will tell me. Stand by; a report is to come.
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