Reviewing the Pentax Zoom 90-WR compact film camera.
The Pentax Zoom 90-WR is a fully automatic compact camera with a lot of features that make it likeable. The camera claims to be water resistant, and by that I think “splash proof” would be a better term. We never wanted to test this with an old camera like this. The name of this camera has a “WR” which is supposed to denote “Weather Resistant.” I wouldn’t trust that and neither should you, seals get old and brittle after 28 years. This camera was made back in 1991 as part of the Espio IQZoom line. We will be reviewing more of this line in the future as it is extensive to say the least. Given that you can pick one of these cameras up for about $14 on Ebay it seems worth looking at in more detail since it appears to offer a lot.
This camera is capable of imprinting in various formats such as Year/Month/Day, Day/Hour/Minute, Month/Day/Year, and Day/Month/Year. The year recording format goes up to 2019 though and as of this writing the camera will never be able to display the correct date. That’s okay though as most of us will never use this.
For those of you who want to shoot with this camera, I’m happy to say that it is a breeze to use. The camera can handle DX encoded film from ISO 25-3200. The camera uses two CR123A batteries, this means that you will have no problem finding batteries for this camera. Our specimen had zero problems but did have an extremely noisy shutter. The shutter made a horrible grinding noise as it shot. However, upon disassembly the shutter assembly wasn’t even worn. The lens is great, it goes all the way from 38-90mm f/3.5 to f/7.8. This is superb for a compact camera. While the camera is fully auto, being sent out with a good zoom lens really gives someone a lot of flexibility.
One novel features that is extremely cute presents itself when you look at the left side of the camera. This camera comes with a remote. With this remote you can change zoom, activate the shutter, and focus. Be aware if looking at these cameras used that if they look like they have a groove on the left side of the camera that they are missing that remote. The remote slides in and out of those grooves which makes for easy storage. This is by far the most cool feature of this camera. I love how useless yet how much care was given to this little device. It’s really well designed and I can totally see family portraits being done with this camera on a tripod. As you can see there is an IR receiver on the back of the camera as well, the remote works from either front or back. For such a minor feature it's very interesting to see so much dedication towards making it work.
Due to the weather sealing this camera has very squishy buttons. All the buttons worked, they were just not very pleasant to use. I kept wondering if I was pressing them hard enough. In more detail about weather sealing, this camera looks like it would do just fine in the rain. As mentioned previously I wouldn’t trust those rubber gasket seals after all these years, but for $14 you might be willing to, and it’d probably be fine.
I love the look and contours of this camera. There isn’t a sharp edge on this camera, it’s just smooth curves and plenty of good, ergonomic, and comfortable design choices. I like how this piece of plastic feels in my hand.
The camera performed pretty much flawlessly when testing a couple rolls. Exposures were consistent with the 400 ISO film we threw at it. The camera never failed, even at -10F in the snow. Judge for yourself but even though these photos aren’t that interesting, the exposures and quality are pretty good. They show that this camera is still worth your time if you are interested in having a compact film camera. The camera screams 90s yet doesn't look out of place alongside the early digital cameras.